The XFP Report: Week 10

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The XFP Report: Week 10

Hello, and welcome to the Week 10 XFP Report. If you’re unfamiliar with XFP, I’ll get to that in a little bit.

But basically, every week we’re going to be telling you which players are seeing the best volume for fantasy, as measured by Expected Fantasy Points (XFP). We’ll be telling you who the best buy-low and sell-high candidates are, as measured by Points Above Replacement (PAR), or the differential between actual- and expected fantasy points. This is an especially effective approach in DFS, where players are typically priced by production rather than volume, though PAR will regress to the mean. And (at the end of the article) we’re going to be telling you who the best volume-per-dollar DFS plays are.

What is XFP?

Premium subscribers can access XFP (and other advanced stats like air yards, deep targets, end zone targets) here.

Expected fantasy points (XFP) is flat-out the best and most comprehensive way of measuring a player’s volume. It’s telling you – based on a player’s unique usage – how many fantasy points that player should have scored. It’s telling you how many fantasy points a perfectly league-average RB, WR, or TE would have scored with that same exact volume. It looks at every individual carry by down and distance and distance from the end zone and every individual target by depth of target and distance from the end zone, and then cross-references each carry and target to each carry and target with those specific qualifiers over a multi-year sample to tell you what exactly those carries and targets are worth (historically).

Expected touchdowns (XTD), same thing. RBs score from the one-yard line on 54% of their attempts. RBs score from the 17-yard line only 3.6% of the time. So why ever use “red zone carries,” which treats both carries the same, as a fantasy stat? I have no idea.

Why doesn’t everyone point to XFP in their fantasy research? I have no idea. Once you have XFP and XTD you can contrast that with a player’s actual fantasy points or actual touchdown total to tell you how efficient a player has been (PAR). This is especially useful in highlighting regression candidates, buy-low targets, and mispriced players for DFS.

Through 9 weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:

The Top 25

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
[FPG: 18.3, XFP: 19.1, Diff: -0.9]

Prior to injury, Christian McCaffrey had either led all RBs or finished 2nd-best in fantasy points scored in 9 of last 19 games (47%). And he ranked top-6 in 16 of 19 games (84%), or top-8 in 18 of 19 games (95%).

For perspective, Alvin Kamara has finished top-2 in just 16% of his last 19 games. Austin Ekeler has finished top-6 in just 26% of his last 19 games. And Derrick Henry has finished top-8 in just 47% of his last 19 games.

McCaffrey was injured on the first drive of the second quarter in Week 3, and scored just 6.0 fantasy points, but was on pace for 20.0. In Week 9, his first game back from injury, McCaffrey played on only 49% of the team’s snaps, but earned 18 touches and totaled 106 YFS.

And that’s just about all I need to see from him to go back to ranking him confidently as, not just the overall-RB1 in fantasy, but the most valuable player in fantasy.

McCaffrey has played in just 7 of a potential 25 games over the past two seasons. So, the injury risk is still there. And that’s a warranted concern, but he’s also unrivaled in terms of upside, floor, and median projection when he’s actually out there active and on the field. But, of course, that injury-risk may also be something HC Matt Rhule has in the back of his mind. So, perhaps there’s a concern he continues to cap McCaffrey’s usage moving forward (in an effort to keep him healthy), but, then again, McCaffrey still has a long way to fall from “best usage of any player in fantasy” to “second-best usage of any player in fantasy”. (Prior to injury, McCaffrey was — for the third-straight season — leading all players in XFP per game, with 26.6.) And, realistically, 18 touches on 29 snaps in his first game back from injury doesn't seem to hint at a reduction in workload.

So, in conclusion, McCaffrey will be our highest-projected player in Week 10. He’s a lock-button-play on DraftKings ($8,400) and FanDuel ($9,000), priced at $1,500 less than his Week 3 salary on both sites. And, (despite missing five games this year), he should still be the betting favorite to finish as the No. 1 power-law player in fantasy. Which is to say, so long as he stays healthy, it may feel nearly impossible to win your fantasy championship without him on your roster. Or, at the very least, something like 40% of McCaffrey-owners (in ESPN leagues) will make it to their championship game. (In 2019, it was at 48%.)

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
[FPG: 21.2, XFP: 17.7, Diff: +3.5]

If McCaffrey isn’t the No. 1 power-law player in fantasy, it’s probably Cooper Kupp, who leads all players in FPG (26.2), and all WRs by +5.0 FPG. It’s rare to see a WR rank as the most valuable player in fantasy. Usually, the top-3 players by fantasy wins above replacement (WAR) (in any given season) are all RBs. But Kupp is currently the league-leader, and a sizable distance ahead of the next-closest player (Derrick Henry, who is out for the next 6-10 weeks).

But if not McCaffrey or Kupp, my bet would be Jonathan Taylor, who ranks 3rd-best in WAR. And, since Week 4, he leads all players in FPG (25.7), and leads all non-Henry RBs by +3.3 FPG.

Last season, Jonathan Taylor played on only 50% of the team’s snaps. He only eclipsed a 60% snap share three times. He ranked just 19th in XFP per game (13.4). And, yet, he still finished 9th in FPG (16.9). He was a rare outlier in terms of his production in contrast to his limited usage. But his volume and usage has significantly improved in recent weeks. Since Week 6, he ranks 9th in snap share (70%). And he’s finished top-7 in XFP in each of his last three games, averaging 19.2 XFP per game (5th-most).

And his usage is actually at least a little bit more impressive than these numbers seem to imply.

Taylor suffered an injury halfway through the second-quarter of last week’s game. Prior to that injury, Taylor had played on 20 of the team’s first 23 snaps (87%), totaling 18.2 fantasy points in just 1.5 quarters of play. He’d return to the game and end his day with 34.0 fantasy points and 200 YFS, his 6th straight game with at least 21.0 DraftKings fantasy points scored.

The week prior, Taylor played on 74% of the team’s snaps last week, which was the 2nd-most of his career. Most impressively, this was a game Indianapolis lost. And Taylor’s prior-high in snap share, in a game Indianapolis lost, was just 58%.

The week before that, Taylor played on 69% of the team’s snaps (2nd-most of his career up to that point), and more impressively, 80% of the team’s snaps through three quarters (before the game was well out of reach).

And the week before that, in a lopsided (31-3) victory, Taylor played on 65% of the team’s snaps (4th-most of his career up to that point).

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is this: I think Taylor is finally a bell cow. Prior to this recent stretch, Taylor was always seemingly inexplicably capped at something like 55% of the team’s snaps. And that was the only thing holding him back from being “one of the most valuable players in fantasy” as opposed to being (merely) “a low-end RB1.”

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
[FPG: 18.9, XFP: 14.9, Diff: +4.0]

Two weeks ago in this space, we talked about how Chase was not only the most efficient player in fantasy, but the most efficient player I’ve ever seen in my database which spans 15 NFL seasons.

I wrote, “An efficiency regression is inevitable. Now that’s not to say Chase can’t continue to produce like an easy WR1. Just that his efficiency numbers, as they stand, are totally unsustainable. He may not regress in terms of raw production (he’ll just need more volume to do so), but his efficiency surely will.” And well, the efficiency regression hit Chase like a Mack Truck in Week 9.

Chase actually led all WRs in XFP, totaling 28.7 on the back of 2 rushing attempts, 14 targets, 175 air yards, 2 end zone targets, and 4 deep targets. And yet, he scored only 10.9 fantasy points. Up until last week, Chase was out-scoring his expectation by 6.7 FPG. Last week, he fell 17.8 points short, which was the worst differential by any player in any week this season.

The bad news is, like I said, the efficiency regression was inevitable. The good news is, I closed out my analysis with this, “He’s probably going to continue to rank top-10 in PAR throughout the remainder of the season, but probably not quite this high. And he could be the overall WR1 by season’s end, but he’ll need better volume to accomplish that feat." And he is now seeing much better volume; the sort of volume he’d need to see in order to justify a top-5 weekly ranking.

Since Week 7, Ja’Marr Chase ranks behind only Tyreek Hill and Cooper Kupp in total XFP, averaging 20.7 XFP per game (up from 12.0 XFP per game). And since Tee Higgins has returned from injury in Week 5, Chase ranks 9th in XFP per game (18.0), while Higgins ranks 20th (15.2). So, it seems he’s clearly leapfrogged and is now running laps around Higgins as the team’s true alpha WR1. And, so long as this newfound boost in volume isn’t a fluke (it doesn’t seem like it), he should continue to be ranked as an every-week top-5 fantasy WR And a top-3 overall finish is well within his reach.

But, all of this being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Higgins outscores Chase next week (after their bye). I’d expect (because remember, he’s the team’s true alpha WR1) PFF’s No. 3-graded CB Casey Hayward to shadow Chase, leaving Higgins in the far more advantageous matchup. The Raiders rank 7th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (-1.6), but 6th-worst to opposing WR2s (+4.1).

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[FPG: 16.3, XFP: 16.9, Diff: -0.6]

Lamb earned 10 targets and 223 air yards (2nd-most) last week, but caught only two passes for 23 yards. He fell 15.2 fantasy points short of his expectation, which ranks as the 4th-worst game by any WR in any week this season.

Lamb has five games with 85-plus YFS and two games with fewer than 25 YFS. Last week was one of those two “bust” games, but perhaps we can write this off as injury-related. Lamb reportedly sprained his ankle during Wednesday’s practice, four days before the game.

If we write off last week’s game as an injury-outlier, Lamb's numbers look far more impressive, averaging 18.0 FPG (would rank 10th-best), and hitting at least 17.0 in 5 (3rd-most) of 7 games.

And regardless of whether or not we injury-adjust Lamb’s Week 9, it’s clear he’s now the team’s true alpha WR1. Lamb has now bested Cooper in XFP in 7 of 8 games this year. He ranks 13th in XFP per game (16.9) and 16th in FPG (16.3), while Cooper ranks 32nd (14.0) and 22nd (15.4).

While I’ll rank Lamb well above Cooper in our rest-of-season rankings, I’d expect improved production and efficiency from both WRs moving forward. Cooper and Lamb both rank bottom-5 in strength of schedule, worth in real terms a handicap of 2.6 FPG off of their average.

James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
[FPG: 14.7, XFP: 10.2, Diff: +4.5]

In Week 9, Chase Edmonds suffered an injury on Arizona’s first play of the game, and Conner, in his absence, proceeded to break the slate. He turned a 20.0-point expectation (3rd-most) into 40.0 fantasy points, totaling 173 YFS and three touchdowns. He earned 21 of 31 carries and 5 of 5 targets out of the backfield, but, shockingly, just 1 of 1 opportunity inside of the 10-yard-line.

So, he’s now an all-time touchdown regression candidate. He’s scored 11 touchdowns this year (most), but on an XTD of just 5.4 (11th-most). His positive differential of 5.6 leads all RBs by 2.2 touchdowns. He's handled just 14 of the team's 30 rushing attempts inside the 10-yard-line (46%), but he's scored on 8 of them (57%). His 57% conversion rate inside the 10-yard-line is best in the NFL, and well above the league average rate (31%), and his 46% share of the rushing attempts inside the 10-yard-line ranks only 18th-best. (For perspective, Najee Harris and Joe Mixon are both above 80%.)

Conner now ranks 43rd in XFP per game (20.2), 32nd in YFS per game (62.8), and 21st in FPG (14.7). If he were perfectly average in touchdown efficiency (or, really, “touchdown luck”) he’d rank 34th in FPG (11.0).

Anyway, with Chase Edmonds out for the next 4-6 weeks, it’s hard not to like Conner as a fringe-RB1 this week. Yes, he’s due for a heavy regression to the mean, but he’s also locked into the lion’s share of the work on an Arizona offense that ranks 7th in team RB FPG (27.3).

In the only game Kenyan Drake missed last year, Chase Edmonds earned 96% of the team's snaps and 93% of the RB touches (28 of 30). Last week, Conner earned 82% of the backfield XFP after Edmonds went down, and he played on 94% of the first-half snaps in a game that was never really close.

During his Week 9 post-game press conference, HC Kliff Kingsbury was effusive in praise for Eno Benjamin who had 9 carries (0 targets), and has just 11 carries (0 targets) in his career. But I’d be shocked if Conner doesn’t handle at least 75% of the work this week. So, if you take Arizona’s average (remember, 27.3 FPG), and ignore the tough matchup, that would imply a minimum of 20.5 fantasy points for Conner this week.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[FPG: 14.8, XFP: 17.0, Diff: -2.2]

Cooks saw tremendous volume in Week 9, but had little to show for it. He finished the week 2nd in XFP, totaling 24.7, on the back of 14 targets, 135 air yards, 3 end zone targets, and 1 deep target. But he scored only 11.4 fantasy points. A discrepancy like that (-13.3 points) isn’t going to happen too often, and I will say he’s a positive regression candidate, but only slightly so. Rather, I think we should expect Cooks to continue to rank well below average in points above replacement (PAR).

This down-game came in a matchup against a Miami defense that ranked 4th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing WRs. So, that’s a little alarming. You can play devil’s advocate by noting that Cooks did run 43% of his routes lined up against Xavien Howard. However, Howard has given up 18.7 FPG in his four shadow games this year (Stefon Diggs x2, Henry Ruggs, and Antonio Brown), so maybe that’s not a great excuse.

More than anything, I think this is just what you need to expect with Cooks moving forward. He’s the only serviceable player on a woefully inefficient and bottom-3 offense, and thus, the only player opposing defenses really need to account for. So, I think we should expect good volume, but poor efficiency throughout the remainder of the season.

Cooks ranks 6th in yardage share (27%), 6th in XFP% (24%), 8th in targets per game (10.0), 10th in XFP per game (17.0), and 24th in FPG (14.8). So, low-end WR1 volume, low-end WR2 production, bottom-20-overall efficiency. I’d say that feels about right, though I might view him as a mid-range rather than low-end WR2 moving forward.

That said, I’d expect a bounce-back game in Week 11 when he returns from his bye. The Titans rank 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to opposing WRs, and 5th-worst against opposing WR1s (18.5). After flopping in another top-5 matchup last week, he’s admittedly tough to trust in cash, but he remains an excellent GPP-play, having hit 17.5 fantasy points in 5 (3rd-most) of his 9 games. (Though he averages only 8.4 FPG in his other 4 games.)

Quick Hits

Tyreek Hill has a career-high of just 137 targets (2018), but is on pace for 191 this year. Since Week 4, he leads all WRs in XFP per game (23.1). Over this span, he's finished 10th, 5th, 2nd, 20th, 2nd, and 5th (Week 9) among all WRs in XFP… Despite seeing, easily, the best volume of his career, and with a high level of consistency, Hill continues to be one of the most volatile players in fantasy. He averages 33.7 FPG in his four best games, and only 9.4 FPG in his four worst games… But, even in spite of Kansas City’s recent issues, I’d still bet heavily on Hill ranking as one of the most valuable players in fantasy throughout the remainder of the season. Hill ranks 3rd in FPG (20.8) and 3rd in XFP per game (20.9) across the full season. Keep in mind, his prior career-high in XFP per game was just 17.0, set in 2020, when he averaged 22.0 FPG (+5.0 PAR). And, across his full career, he averages 17.4 FPG on just 13.6 XFP per game. Which is to say, if he were as efficient as he typically is (+3.8 PAR, +28%), we should expect him to be averaging somewhere between 24.6 and 26.6 FPG.

David Montgomery is back to being a full-on bell cow. After Khalil Herbert’s recent success, I was legitimately concerned he might be able to force a slight timeshare. But, nope. In his first game back to action (where he was, by the way, a legitimate game-time call), Montgomery played on 84% of the team’s snaps (most among all RBs), earning 13 of 17 carries and 2 of 2 targets out of the backfield. If adjusting for injury, Montgomery has now played on at least 80% of the team’s snaps in 4 of his last 4 games. For perspective, only Najee Harris (86%), Alvin Kamara (81%), and Darrell Henderson (78%) have a snap share above 75% this year. In Week 6, Elijah Moore was the least-efficient WR in fantasy, falling short of his volume-based expectation by a whopping 7.4 FPG. Since then, he’s posted a positive PAR in three straight games, averaging +5.1… Moore, the humble farmer’s son, one of my most-hyped players this offseason, led all WRs in fantasy points in Week 9, scoring 27.4. Was this the breakout game we’ve all been waiting for? Unfortunately, I’d temper expectations. Moore averages 20.3 FPG over the last two weeks, but he’s run a route on only 51% of the team’s dropbacks over this span. And, keep in mind, that’s with Corey Davis out, who will be returning this week.

Similarly, Kadarius Toney leads all WRs in YPRR since Week 4 (3.41). And Rondale Moore ranks 21st since Week 1 (2.02). And yet, Toney has run a route on just 48% of his team’s dropbacks over this span. And just 54% for Moore… Among 96 qualifying WRs, Toney ranks 2nd- (0.32) and Moore ranks 3rd-best (0.29) in missed tackles forced per reception. So, why are these highly electric and efficient rookies stuck as only part-time players? I have no idea and it’s certainly a buzz kill, but I will say this: WRs do tend to see a massive jump in usage, volume, and production in the second-half of their rookie seasons. So, make sure you’re not letting Toney or either Moore sit on waivers for too long. Clearly, the upside is there.

Tyler Lockett saw 13 targets on just 24 routes in Week 8 (54%). He caught 12 of those 13 targets for 142 yards. Lockett averaged just 6.6 FPG over his prior five games, but 28.0 FPG over his other three games… Perhaps this is a sign Lockett is back to full health. After the injury he suffered in Week 3, we warned exactly of this; that Lockett appeared to have suffered a serious injury, and he has a long history of playing through injury but not playing particularly well while injured… And, I suppose, he should be even healthier this week, following their bye. And the same should be said for Russell Wilson, set to make his return. With all this in mind, Lockett seems badly mispriced on DraftKings, as just the WR15 ($6,500), up against a Jaire Alexander-less Packers defense.

It appears Clyde Edwards-Helaire is still a few weeks away from returning, which makes Darrel Williams a solid regression candidate. Since Week 6 he ranks 14th in XFP per game (16.5), handling 67% of the work out of the backfield. And he hit season-highs in both stats last week (22.2, 76%). He gets a top matchup this week, against a Raiders defense that ranks 6th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+3.0).

The Baha Men once asked poignantly, “Who let the dogs out?” And while I could never give them a straight answer, I can say, assuredly, HC Kyle Shanahan has finally let Brandon Aiyuk out of the doghouse. In Week 9, he caught 6 of 8 targets for 89 yards and a score. But still, he ranked just 3rd among the team’s receivers in XFP (14.2), and that’s despite both George Kittle (16.0) and Deebo Samuel (15.2) entering the game seriously hurt. On this middlingly productive and run-first offense, it’s hard to envision an avenue for Aiyuk to become an every-week fantasy contributor, let alone live up to his lofty ADP.

Maybe it was just an outlier-game, or something the defense dictated, but Myles Gaskin was a major bell cow in Week 9, playing on 72% of the team’s snaps and earning 91% of the backfield XFP. In total, he earned 20 of 24 carries and 6 of 6 targets out of the backfield, and, still, he amassed just 57 YFS. Gaskin’s prior highs in XFP backfield%: 82% (Week 5), 60% (Week 7), 60% (Week 3)… I have a hard time believing that this sort of volume will continue, and even if I did, Gaskin would be tough to trust this week in a bottom-7 matchup against the Ravens. The regression hit DeVonta Smith hard last week, though granted it came with Los Angeles’ two starting outside CBs both out. Smith was one of the league’s least efficient WRs heading into the game, finishing in the red in 7 of his last 7 games, and falling 4.7 FPG short of his expectation. But in Week 9 he turned an 11.8-point expectation into 22.6 fantasy points. And, while that’s encouraging, he gets a much tougher matchup this week; Denver ranks 5th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (-4.2).

Jakobi Meyers’ last six games have come against the teams (most-recent to least-recent) ranking: best, 2nd-best, 17th-best, 14th-best, 5th-best, and 9th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs. He gets his softest matchup yet this week, though one which still ranks fairly neutral overall, against a Browns defense that ranks 18th-best in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs.

Diontae Johnson had maybe his worst healthy game ever last week, earning just 6 targets and scoring only 11.7 fantasy points. Chicago was a mostly neutral matchup, but Johnson has had the league’s 3rd-worst strength of schedule this season, worth in real terms -3.1 FPG off of his average. He gets a softer matchup this week, against a Lions defense that ranks 11th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+1.8).

Top Regression Candidates

Most Fantasy Points Negated by Penalty

1. Mark Andrews, TE (12.9) 2. Derrick Henry, RB (12.0) 3. Kenny Stills, WR (11.6) 4. Keenan Allen, WR (11.5) 5. Jonathan Taylor, RB (11.2) 6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (10.8) 6. Josh Jacobs, RB (10.8)

8. Donald Parham, TE (10.6) 9. Khalil Herbert, RB (9.6) 10. Jakobi Meyers, WR (9.5) 10. Ricky Seals-Jones, TE (9.5)

Team XTD%

1. Derrick Henry, RB (34%) 2. Jonathan Taylor, RB (32%) 3. Joe Mixon, RB (30%) 4. Alvin Kamara, RB (29%) 5. Najee Harris, RB (29%) 6. Dalvin Cook, RB (28%) 7. Aaron Jones, RB (27%) 8. Adam Thielen, WR (27%) 9. Diontae Johnson, WR (26%) 10. Damien Harris, RB (26%) 11. Christian McCaffrey, RB (25%) 12. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (25%)

RB Team XFP%

1. Alvin Kamara (30%) 2. Derrick Henry (28%) 3. Najee Harris (27%) 4. Christian McCaffrey (26%) 5. D’Andre Swift (24%) 6. Aaron Jones (23%) 7. Joe Mixon (22%) 8. Jonathan Taylor (22%) 9. Dalvin Cook (21%) 10. David Montgomery (21%) 11. Ezekiel Elliott (20%) 12. Austin Ekeler (20%)

RB Team Pos XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)

1. Najee Harris (92%) 2. Dalvin Cook (80%) 3. Alvin Kamara (79%) 4. Derrick Henry (78%) 5. Darrell Henderson (74%) 6. Austin Ekeler (74%) 7. David Montgomery (71%) 8. James Robinson (68%) 9. Joe Mixon (68%) 10. Aaron Jones (68%) 11. Chris Carson (68%) 12. Ezekiel Elliott (67%)

WR / TE Team XFP%

1. Davante Adams (29%) 2. Diontae Johnson (27%) 3. Cooper Kupp (26%) 4. Deebo Samuel (26%) 5. Brandin Cooks (24%) 6. Tyreek Hill (24%) 7. Calvin Ridley (24%) 8. Tyler Lockett (24%) 9. Terry McLaurin (23%) 10. D.J. Moore (23%) 11. Keenan Allen (22%) 12. Ja’Marr Chase (22%)

DFS Values (DK)

1. Calvin Ridley, WR (3.3X) 2. Diontae Johnson, WR (3.0X) 3. Jonnu Smith, TE (3.0X) 4. Jared Cook, TE (2.9X) 5. Jakobi Meyers, WR (2.9X) 6. Mark Ingram, RB (2.9X) 7. Mike Davis, RB (2.8X) 8. Najee Harris, RB (2.8X) 9. D’Andre Swift, RB (2.7X) 10. Corey Davis, WR (2.7X) 11. D.J. Moore, WR (2.7X) 12. Keenan Allen, WR (2.7X)

Scott Barrett combines a unique background in philosophy and investing alongside a lifelong love of football and spreadsheets to serve as FantasyPoints’ Director of Analytics and Lead DFS Writer.