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10 Regression Candidates and Backfield Changes

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: December 2, 2019, 4:41 pm ET

 

10 Regression Candidates

A pass-catcher’s usage (targets and/or air yards) this week is a decent predictor of next week’s fantasy performance. The following pass-catchers were either used more or used less than what their box score indicates, making them positive or negative regression candidates:

1. Mike Evans is back on the positive regression list after only posting a 4-53-0 receiving line on 12 targets and 170 air yards. Evans is arguably the most boom-or-bust receiver in fantasy, but he’s still very much an every-week WR1. A matchup against the Colts is next.

2. A hand injury to Baker Mayfield slowed down Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. OBJ was held to 3-29-0 but did see 132 air yards on his six targets. Meanwhile, Landry had 6-64-0 on 11 targets and 146 air yards. As long as Mayfield is healthy, expect both to have above-average games against the Bengals in Week 14.

3. Christian Kirk was slowed by Kyler Murray’s struggles and CB Jalen Ramsey’s coverage. Kirk only managed 23 yards on his seven targets and 70 air yards. The young receiver should rebound as a WR3 in Week 14 against the Steelers, although that’s not exactly a friendly matchup either. 

4. Jamison Crowder somehow only had eight receiving yards on nine targets against the Bengals in Week 13. Garbage, but it does make him a buy-low option moving forward, especially with Miami on deck.

5. Diontae Johnson only had 14 yards with Devlin Hodges in Week 14 but did see 95 air yards on his five targets. If JuJu Smith-Schuster can’t suit up next week, I like Johnson as an underrated WR4 play against the terrible Cardinals’ defense. 

6. Darius Slayton saw WR2/3-level usage (nine targets and 77 air yards) with Golden Tate sidelined. The rookie deep threat will be firmly in the flex discussion if Tate can’t clear concussion protocol before the Giants face the Eagles next week. Only a couple of rookies have shown more flashes than Slayton this season.

7. Travis Kelce’s 14 PPR points aren’t anything to complain about, but he did see nine targets and 120 air yards in the Chiefs’ blowout win. It could’ve been a much bigger day. Kelce will have to overcome a tough matchup next week (New England), but the usage is extremely bankable. 

8. T.J. Hockenson did nothing with it (6-18-0), but the rookie had elite TE1 usage (11 targets and 68 air yards) on Thanksgiving against the Bears. The Lions’ quarterback situation is amongst the worst in the league and Hockenson is struggling as a receiver, but it’s possible that he closes out the year with at least one bigger game. 

9. Tyler Higbee took advantage of Gerald Everett’s absence by shredding the Cardinals’ nonexistent defense against tight ends. Higbee ended with 7-107-1 as the TE1 overall on the week. He’s certainly on the TE1/2 radar if Everett misses again, but I won’t be confidently playing Higbee in Week 14 against the Seahawks. Sunday was just the perfect storm for an outlier game.

10. Cole Beasley popped for a huge Week 13 game (6-110-1) on Thanksgiving, but nothing about his usage changed. Beasley only had seven targets and 65 air yards, which usually equates to low-ceiling WR4 production for the Bills’ slot receiver. Beasley is a negative regression candidate for Week 14 against a surging Ravens’ secondary.

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Potential Backfield Changes

49ERS - Raheem Mostert took advantage of Matt Breida (ankle) being out. Not only did he do well on his carries (7.7 YPC), but Mostert also leaped Tevin Coleman on the depth chart, handling 19 carries to Coleman’s five. Mostert should be added in all redraft leagues, although Breida’s eventual return will cloud up projected touches. If Breida misses another game, Mostert will be an RB2. 

CHIEFS - Darwin Thompson ended up leading the team in carries with Damien Williams (ribs) out, Darrel Williams (leg) leaving early, and LeSean McCoy (age) showing nothing. It’s unclear if the Williams’ duo will be healthy for Week 14 against the Patriots, but Thompson is a worthwhile add in deeper leagues just in case they can’t play. If you remember, Thompson was electric in the preseason.

COLTS - Coming off two-straight 100-yard games, Jonathan Williams was unpredictably benched in favor of Jordan Wilkins in Week 14. Williams didn’t see a second-half carry and was limited to just 1.8 yards per carry. Wilkins, meanwhile, had 47 yards on 11 carries. The Colts backfield is best avoided in Week 14 with Nyheim Hines also in the mix (6 touches), but Wilkins is a worthwhile pickup in deeper leagues for those desperate for RB help. Marlon Mack’s potential return and the Bucs’ league-best run defense put a cap on Wilkins’ Week 14 upside.

BUCS - Ronald Jones was thought to be the Bucs’ primary runner, but it was Peyton Barber who took over the backfield with Tampa Bay leading multiple scores for most of the game. Barber ended up out-touching RoJo, 17 to five. I’m not rushing to start Barber in the flex against the Colts next week, but it’s safe to say RoJo can’t be counted on with any confidence. 

DOLPHINS - Kalen Ballage (leg) was carted off early, leaving the backfield to rookies Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin. Laird received more usage -- 10 carries and four receptions -- but Gaskin was thought of as the better NFL prospect. It’s unlikely that either back emerges as a reliable flex down the stretch but crazier things have happened.