The XFP Report: Week 7


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The XFP Report: Week 7

Hello, and welcome to the Week 7 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 6 weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:

The Top 25

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
[FPG: 15.4, XFP: 16.7, Diff: -1.3]

Sutton finished 5th among WRs in XFP last week (19.8); his 4th top-15 finish over the past 5 weeks (most). Over this span, he ranks 7th in XFP per game (19.0) and 12th in FPG (17.9). His target quality is a little bit better than his target quantity, as he ranks just 8th in targets per game over this span (10.4), but first in air yards per game (169.4), first in deep targets per game (3.2), and 2nd in XTD per game (0.78).

Obviously, he’s a glaringly obvious sell-high candidate with Jerry Jeudy on the mend. But with Jeudy doubtful for Week 6, you should get at least one more week of WR1 production out of him. He gets a Browns defense that ranks worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+9.0). And what that means is, basically, (based on the matchup) you can tack on an extra 9.0 points to Sutton’s 17.9-point FPG average.

Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
[FPG: 20.3, XFP: 23.1, Diff: -2.8]

Ladies and gentlemen, Harris is now your new XFP leader (23.1). Yes, ahead of Derrick Henry (22.3).

With Ben Roethlisberger looking 2015 Peyton Manning-levels of cooked. And with Pittsburgh’s offensive line playing about as poorly as we all anticipated (2nd-worst in PFF run block grade), Harris is understandably a little inefficient (-2.8 PAR). But that doesn’t really matter much at all, given the elite levels of volume he’s seeing.

Harris has three top-3 XFP finishes over his last four games. Over this span, he ranks 4th in carries per game (20), 1st in targets per game (9.8), 3rd in XTD per game (0.88), 1st in XFP per game (27.3), and 2nd in FPG (24.2). Across the full season, he ranks 1st in snap share (87%), 2nd in XFP market share (28%), and 1st in XFP positional market share (93%).

Basically, he’s like a slightly less efficient healthy Christian McCaffrey. Or, a more consistent and gamescript-proof but less efficient Derrick Henry. Or, a deeper cut for loyal XFP devotees, if 2019 Leonard Fournette were allowed to score touchdowns. Which is to say, he’s an elite bell cow and an easy top-3 RB at least until McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley return from injury.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[FPG: 15.8, XFP: 17.0, Diff: -1.2]

Cooks was an obvious regression candidate heading into Week 6:

Through the first three weeks of the season, Cooks ranked 5th in DK FPG (22.6, low of 21.2) and 4th in targets per game (10.7). Over the next two weeks, he ranked just 72nd in FPG (7.5).

But, in his defense, he did walk away with a 54% YMS in Week 4 (12th-highest of any player in any week this season). And in Week 5, we expected him to flop, as New England always sells out to stop an opposing team’s top weapon. This opened things up for the rest of the offense, as QB Davis Mills posted a shocking and impressive 21/29-312-3-0 line, though only 3 catches and 23 yards went to Cooks.

In Week 6, against the Colts, Cooks totaled 22.1 XFP (9th-most), turning 13 targets (30% target share) and 159 air yards (5th-most) into 17.9 fantasy points.

Across the full season, Cooks ranks: 3rd in target share (34%), 3rd in yardage share (36%), and 5th among WRs in XFP% (25%).

DeVonta Smith vs. Antonio Brown

What’s the difference between Smith and Brown? Efficiency.

Smith and Brown rank tied for 25th among WRs in XFP per game (14.7). But Smith ranks bottom-10 in efficiency (PAR), while Brown ranks top-10.

And, as such, Brown ranks 6th in FPG (19.1) and Smith ranks just 48th (11.3).

Obviously, given the bottom-/top-10 rankings, we should be expecting a major efficiency regression to the mean for both players. But Brown should also continue to pace Smith for the remainder of the season in fantasy points scored. Smith is no doubt an elite prospect and the team’s clear WR1, but he’s also just a rookie. And Brown, meanwhile, is inarguably one of the 5 greatest fantasy WRs of all-time. Further, with WRs, it’s crucial to note the impact of QB efficiency on a player’s performance. Maybe Smith is playing well, but his QB is the bigger issue. And in this regard, Antonio Brown has a massive advantage catching passes from the GOAT.

One point of optimism for Smith-owners: WRs tend to play much better in the second-half of their rookie season, earning a 51% uptick in targets and a 55% uptick in fantasy points. That should also benefit the next name on our list, and, though it’s scary to think about, maybe also Ja’Marr Chase, who is currently on pace for the most receiving yards by any rookie WR in NFL history.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
[FPG: 14.4, XFP: 14.1, Diff: +0.3]

Last week, Waddle hit 13 targets for the second time in four games. He averages 8.5 targets per game across the full season (25th), ranking 30th in XFP per game (14.1) and 27th in FPG (14.4).

But, with QB Tua Tagovailoa back and fully healthy, I like him quite a bit more this week than these numbers imply.

On a small sample size, Waddle is averaging about 9.9 targets, 71.4 receiving yards, and 23.5 fantasy points per four quarters with his former Alabama teammate Tagovailoa under center. Clearly they have a special rapport; Waddle has comprised a team-high 26% of Tagovailoa’s pass attempts (next closest sits at 15%), a team-high 26% of his passing yards, and 100% (3 of 3) of his passing touchdowns.

Waddle’s usage was also a little different with Tagovailoa under center. In the two games he started and finished, Waddle has seen his per-game air yardage totals jump 1.87X, with deep targets per game also jumping 5.0X. But even if Waddle’s high-volume / low-aDOT-role was all he had going for him, that’d be enough for a mid-range WR2 expectation. (Basically Jakobi Meyers-plus.) Because Waddle showed in college, a target for him is more valuable than a target to just about anyone else.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
[FPG: 18.4, XFP: 20.9, Diff: -2.5]

FantasyPoints-favorite Diontae Johnson, remains an absolute monster. And, I assure you, he is still being severely underrated.

Over the past two seasons, Johnson has played in 20 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center. He's been hurt in five of those games and was once benched for drops. Including the two injury games this season, but removing the other four games, Johnson has hit double-digit targets in 15 of 16 games, averaging 12.1 targets, 79.7 receiving yards, and 19.6 FPG.

And he’s even more of a monster this season, hitting at least 14.5 fantasy points in 5 of 5 games (despite 2 injury games). He's finished top-10 in XFP in 4 of his 5 games this year. And you can contrast that to the position leader in XFP Cooper Kupp, who has just 2 top-10 finishes in 6 games.

On a per game basis, he ranks: 11th in FPG (20.9), 3rd in deep targets (2.6), 2nd in targets (11.6), 2nd in XFP (20.9), and 1st in XTD (0.74). So, keep in mind, Johnson's usage is not only significantly better, but he's being used in an entirely different way. He's jumped 2X in deep targets per game and 2X in XTD per game from his numbers last season.

The Steelers are on a bye this week, and then, in Week 8 Johnson gets an ideal matchup against the Browns who, remember, rank worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+9.0). I have no idea what his DFS salary is going to be, but I know it’s probably going to be too damn low, like it is every week.

Quick Hits

Contrary to public opinion, Jakobi Meyers is not a massive touchdown regression candidate. He ranks just 78th among all WRs in XTD (0.98). He totals 54 targets on the season, but zero end zone targets and just one target inside the 10-yard-line. He averages just 0.16 XTD per game, after averaging just 0.14 last year. You can contrast that to CeeDee Lamb’s 0.66, who is tied with Meyers’ 9.0 targets per game. So, just know, he’s probably never as GPP-viable as you think he is.

A better touchdown-regression candidate would be Kyle Pitts, who has found the end zone only once, which is 2.1 shy of his volume-based expectation (3.1)… Among all TEs and on a per-game basis, Pitts ranks: 3rd in targets (8.0), 5th in air yards (69.6), 1st in red zone targets (1.8), 2nd in XTD (0.61), 3rd in XFP (15.0), but only 9th in FPG (12.2). He also ranks 5th in route share (80%) and 4th in yardage share (23%).

Kadarius Toney has massive league-winning upside whenever he should return from injury. He ran just 4 routes last week, but was targeted 3 times (0.75). Over the last three weeks, he’s been targeted on 35% of his routes, ranking 2nd in between Antonio Brown (36%) and Cooper Kupp (32%). Granted, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton have missed some time over this stretch, but also, these aren’t ordinary targets. OC Jason Garrett is going out of his way to scheme his production via designed screens and pick plays. The way I see it, Toney could be in for a 2014 Golden Tate-type season.

Last week, Jalen Reagor scored zero fantasy points on 5 targets and 124 air yards. And, well, that's not great. But he did have 95 DPI yards (most by any player this season, let alone in one game). So, that’s a positive sign, and unless you’re Torrey Smith, something that will probably regress towards the mean over time.

After Stefon Diggs hit last week, Calvin Ridley is now probably your No. 1 buy-low WR. Among all WRs, Ridley ranks 25th in FPG (14.6), but 3rd in XFP per game (20.5), 5th in air yards per game (132.5), and 3rd in targets per game (11.5). I’d still bet heavily on WR1 production throughout the remainder of the season.

Over the past two weeks, with Logan Thomas out, Ricky Seals-Jones has played on 100% of the team’s snaps, averaging 7.5 targets and 12.5 FPG. If including plays negated due to penalty, he’s averaging 8.5 targets, 74.5 receiving yards, and 16.0 FPG. He’s a bell-cow TE, so start him this week as a mid-range TE1 against a Packers defense that ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (+4.7).

Michael Carter averages 11.3 XFP per game (~RB28). His market share over the backfield in those games: 53%, 50%, 59%, 43% (Week 5).

Although Dalton Schultz's target share dropped to 11.8% in Week 6 (down from 27% over the prior three weeks), he ran a route on 73% of the team's dropbacks (11th-most), and has remained within the 73-76% in each of his last three games… Over the last four weeks, he ranks 3rd in target share (21%), 6th in targets per game (7.25), 8th in XFP per game (12.4), and 2nd in FPG (17.7).

A.J. Dillon continues to eat into Aaron Jones’ share of the backfield XFP. Dillon’s positional XFP% over the last four weeks: 26%, 35%, 43%, and 29%. But what’s interesting is, that’s had little impact on Jones’ share of the team’s total XFP. Jones’ total XFP% over the last four weeks: 20%, 21%, 20%, and 25%. So, maybe Dillon’s touches aren’t really coming at Jones’ expense. Or at least not to the degree that you think it would… Over this span, Jones has handled 65% of the backfield XFP (vs. 63% last year) and 21% of the team XFP (vs. 23% last year). One big concern, however, is Dillon totals 3 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line over his last two games, versus just 2 over his prior 15 games.

In Week 6, Allen Robinson earned 21.7 XFP (10th-most) on 8 targets and 206 air yards but scored just 9.3 fantasy points. He’s failed to reach 10.5 fantasy points in all 5 games this season, ranking just 44th in XFP per game (12.5) and only 75th in FPG (8.4)… I have to admit, I really did think Robinson — who totaled 1,400 yards with Blake Bortles (2015) and 1,250 last year with Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles — was wholly immune to poor QB play, but, yeah, this is rough.

The regression has hit Robert Tonyan like a Mack Truck. He’s actually seeing better volume this year, averaging 6.9 XFP per game, up from 6.8 XFP per game last year. But he’s averaging just 4.4 FPG after averaging 11.0 (TE5) last year.

On just a 58% route share, Dallas Goedert ranks 23rd in XFP per game (7.9). Zach Ertz, on a 59% route share, ranks 10th in XFP per game (10.5). It’s hard to say what kind of role Goedert is in line for now with Ertz gone. My best guess is this: let’s say he’s now the clear TE1 (taking Ertz’ XFP per route rate) and in line for an 80% route share. That would put him at 14.3 XFP per game, which would rank 4th-best.

After Myles Gaskin barely played in Week 4 (24% of snaps), and then saw a bell cow workload in Week 5 (67%), HC Brian Flores went back to the three-way committee in Week 6. Gaskin played on just 35% of the team's snaps, in between Malcolm Brown (37%) and Salvon Ahmed (26%). Gaskin saw significantly better usage (13.8 XFP) than either Brown (3.7) or Ahmed (7.1), but he wasn't at all effective, scoring just 3.4 fantasy points… You can call Flores any name in the book, but you can’t call him a liar. He warned us of exactly this in the offseason.

With D.J. Chark out, Laviska Shenault has been moved from the slot to the outside (79%) and is now playing a full-time role (80% route share), no longer coming off the field in 2WR sets. Fantasy players have long begged for Shenault to see more target volume, and though that came last week, it didn’t amount to much (11.4 fantasy points on a 17.5-point expectation). And that’s been an issue for Shenault most of the year, falling 19.2 points short of his expectation (9th-worst)… So, is he a regression candidate or is he a trap? I suppose it depends on your initial evaluation.

Dak Prescott is in a walking boot, so maybe this isn't too relevant now, but he is a major touchdown regression candidate. He has zero rushing touchdowns despite a 2.2 XTD, which includes 6 rushes inside the 10-yard-line. Basically, this alone is the difference between him ranking 6th (23.6) and 9th in FPG (21.6).

After totaling just 11 yards on 11 targets last week, Robby Anderson is now a top positive regression candidate at any position, falling 30.0-points shy of his volume-based expectation (worst). He's seeing mid-WR4 levels of volume (12.7 XFP) but producing like a mid-range WR7 (6.6 FPG). After totaling 1,096 yards last year, and 750-plus yards in two seasons with Darnold captaining the Jets, I’m not sure what’s going wrong. Initially, I wanted to blame the inherent high-volatility of his deep target role, but he ranks just 23rd in deep targets. And he actually hasn’t been at all inefficient in that department (16.2 fantasy points vs. 20.5 XFP on deep targets). So, I’m not really sure what’s going on here.

Khalil Herbert was a major bell cow last week. He scored 19.2 fantasy points on a 17.7-point expectation (9th-most), earning 19 of 19 carries and 3 of 3 targets on 89% of the snaps (most).

D.J. Moore led all WRs in XFP in Week 6, totaling 26.4 on the back of 14 targets, 242 air yards, and 6 deep targets (most by any player in any week this season). But he scored only 12.9 fantasy points… Moore now ranks 6th in targets per game (10.8), 7th in XFP per game (18.6), and 9th in FPG (18.6)… In an attempt to account for the fact that Moore played in three positive blowouts where the game was no longer competitive by the start of the 3rd quarter… In just the first half of games, Moore ranks: 2nd in targets (35), 1st in receptions (25), and 2nd in receiving yards (335)…

Cooper Kupp is just 94% of Davante Adams’ salary on DraftKings this week, priced as the WR3, but Kupp is 4% better by XFP (WR1) and 22% better by FPG (WR1).

James Robinson is looking like a full on bell cow. Last week, he played on 85% of the team’s snaps, handling 17 of 17 carries and 4 of 5 targets out of the backfield. Over the past four weeks, he ranks 8th in XFP per game (17.2) and 7th in FPG (21.7). He gets his bye this week though, so I'll save a longer write up for next week's XFP Report.

Last week's write up on Leonard Fournette seemed fairly poignant. Ronald Jones still got his 4.5 XFP, with 2.8 XFP also going to Giovani Bernard. But Fournette totaled 30.7 fantasy points (most) on a 28.9-point expectation (2nd-most). He now ranks 9th in XFP per game (16.4) and 16th in FPG (16.3).

I’ve written up D’Andre Swift in this space every week, so I’ll spare you a lengthy write-up this time around (though if you want it you can find it in this week’s Start/Sit), but, just note, I’m more bullish now than I ever was before. In Week 6, Swift hit a new season-high in snap share with 77%, up from 66%. And he hit a new season-high in backfield XFP% with 80%, up from 62%… He ranks 10th in FPG (18.2), and already 4th in XFP per game (18.8). But if he saw an 80% share of the backfield XFP every week, he’d average 23.5 XFP per game, which would lead all players at all positions.

I’ll save a longer write up for Darrell Henderson as well, who is still looking like a high-end bell cow, despite HC Sean McVay’s comments heading into last week’s game.

Top Regression Candidates

RB Team XFP%

1. Alvin Kamara (31%)

2. Najee Harris (28%)

3. Derrick Henry (28%)

4. Christian McCaffrey (25%)

5. David Montgomery (23%)

6. Joe Mixon (23%)

7. D’Andre Swift (23%)

8. Jonathan Taylor (23%)

9. Aaron Jones (23%)

10. Ezekiel Elliott (21%)

11. Dalvin Cook (21%)

12. Darrell Henderson (21%)

13. Kareem Hunt (20%)

14. Nick Chubb (19%)

15. James Robinson (19%)

RB Team Pos XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)

1. Najee Harris (93%)

2. Dalvin Cook (80%)

3. Alvin Kamara (79%)

4. Darrell Henderson (79%)

5. James Robinson (78%)

6. Derrick Henry (77%)

7. Josh Jacobs (73%)

8. Austin Ekeler (71%)

9. Aaron Jones (68%)

10. David Montgomery (68%)

11. Chris Carson (68%)

12. Ezekiel Elliott (66%)

13. Joe Mixon (66%)

14. D’Andre Swift (64%)

15. Christian McCaffrey (64%)

WR / TE Team XFP%

1. Davante Adams (28%)

2. Diontae Johnson (28%)

3. Cooper Kupp (28%)

4. Brandin Cooks (25%)

5. Deebo Samuel (24%)

6. Calvin Ridley (24%)

7. Terry McLaurin (24%)

8. D.J. Moore (23%)

9. Tyler Lockett (23%)

10. Tyreek Hill (23%)

11. DK Metcalf (22%)

12. Keenan Allen (21%)

13. Stefon Diggs (21%)

14. Adam Thielen (21%)

15. Courtland Sutton (21%)

DFS Values (DK)

1. Dante Pettis, WR (4.8X)

2. Mike Davis, RB (3.1X)

3. D’Andre Swift, RB (3.1X)

4. Calvin Ridley, WR (3.1X)

5. Elijah Moore, WR (3.1X)

6. DeVante Parker, WR (3.0X)

7. Rashod Bateman, WR (2.9X)

8. Preston Williams, WR (2.9X)

9. Sterling Shepard, WR (2.8X)

10. Jonnu Smith, TE (2.8X)

11. Brandin Cooks, WR (2.8X)

12. Rob Gronkowski, TE (2.8X)

13. Tee Higgins, WR (2.7X)

14. DeVonta Smith, WR (2.7X)

15. Zach Ertz, TE (2.7X)

16. Jakobi Meyers, WR (2.7X)

17. Chris Godwin, WR (2.7X)

18. Robby Anderson, WR (2.6X)

Scott Barrett combines a unique background in philosophy and investing alongside a lifelong love of football and spreadsheets to serve as Fantasy Points’ Chief Executive Officer.