Hello, and welcome to the Week 8 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 7 weeks of action, here are the top-25 players in expected fantasy points (XFP) per game:
The Top 25
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
[FPG: 20.9, XFP: 12.7, Diff: +8.1]
Chase ranks 3rd among all WRs in fantasy points scored, averaging 20.9 FPG. That’s also the most by any WR through their first seven career games all-time.
Heading into last week, Marlon Humphrey was PFF’s No. 23-graded CB in coverage. He hadn’t once given up over 100 receiving yards in 38 consecutive games. And then Chase tagged him for 201 on Sunday.
Chase isn’t just having the best start to a rookie season all-time, he’s having one of the best seasons of any fantasy player all-time. Chase has out-scored his expectation by a league-high +8.1 FPG, with 64% of his fantasy points coming on efficiency rather than volume (most). You can contrast that to the 2nd-most efficient player in fantasy football, Cooper Kupp, at +5.5 (25%). Or last year’s league-leader, Davanete Adams, +6.1 (31%) in an all-time great season (5th-most FPG by any WR all-time).
Chase’s 2.87 fantasy points per target average currently ranks 3rd-best since targets became a stat in 1992. His PAR (points above replacement) of +8.1 (or 64%) would be the most by any player at any position in any season since at least 2008.
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.
Chase ranks just 42nd in XFP per game (12.7) but 4th in FPG (20.9). How often does a WR put up top-5 numbers on WR4-levels of volume? The answer is never.
And we can, with confidence, pinpoint one key area where the regression will surely come. And that’s deep ball efficiency; a fairly un-sticky / un-stable statistic we often look to to find regression candidates. Chase has scored a league-high 70.5 fantasy points on deep targets, though he ranks just 3rd in deep targets (16). That’s 48% of his total fantasy points, and 41% more fantasy points scored on deep targets than the next-closest player. His 4.40 fantasy point per deep target average leads all players, and ranks well above the league-average rate (2.36). Expect that number to fall throughout the remainder of the season.
Though, yes, the Burrow-to-Chase deep-ball-connection was also elite in college. Yes, Chase is an elite, elite, elite generational prospect, who should be viewed no-less than as the second-coming of Julio Jones. 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.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
[FPG: 12.5, XFP: 15.2, Diff: -2.7]
Chase has fully stolen the show in Cincinnati, and, as an unintended consequence, Higgins is sort of looking like chopped liver. On paper, Chase no doubt now looks like the team’s true alpha WR1, and Higgins looks like the beta soymilk-guzzling WR2. But is that true?
In actuality, Higgins is seeing significantly better volume than Chase. He ranks 24th in XFP per game (15.2), well above Chase (42nd, 12.7). He ranks 10th among all receivers in XFP% (23%) and 8th in target share (26%). Higgins has seen better volume than Chase (as measured by XFP) in 4 of the 5 games the two have played together, including last week (22.6 vs. 17.1), when Higgins actually led all players in target share (39%).
Of course, Higgins has been pretty inefficient (-2.7), but like with Chase, that’s something that should regress to the mean.
But then again, it might have to. If both receivers keep playing like they have, it’s not unreasonable to think Chase continues to see more volume at Higgins’ expense. With that concern fully baked in, I’d still be viewing Higgins as no-worse than a low-end WR2 in my rest-of-season rankings.
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. You can contrast that to the position leader in XFP Cooper Kupp, who has 3 top-10 finishes in 7 games.
On a per game basis, he ranks: 10th in FPG (20.9), 3rd in deep targets (2.6), 2nd in targets (11.6), 2nd in XFP (20.9), and 3rd 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.
Coming off the bye, Johnson gets an ideal matchup against the Browns, who rank worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+7.5). His DFS salary, for the millionth week in a row, is embarrassingly low, priced as just the WR11 on DraftKings ($6,700).
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
[FPG: 18.6, XFP: 14.8, Diff: -3.8]
Across the full season, Brown ranks 6th in air yards per game (123.3), 26th in XFP per game (14.8), and 9th in FPG (18.6). Over his last 15 games (including the postseason), he averages 17.2 FPG (would have ranked 8th-best last year), hitting at least 12.5 fantasy points in 13 of those 15 games.
Brown was fairly productive in Week 7, scoring 19.0 fantasy points, but his performance should have been quite a bit better than that. He led all players at all positions in XFP, totaling 27.3 on the back of 14 targets, 313 air yards, 1 end zone target, and 6 deep targets. Brown’s 313 air yards, 233 unrealized air yards, and 6 deep targets were the most by any player in any week this season.
And this sort of (elite deep threat) usage hints at Brown’s week-winning / slate-busting upside in games Baltimore is trailing by multiple scores, in desperate need of a big explosive play to get back in the game. That typically doesn’t happen too often — Baltimore leads all teams in point differential since 2019, with +136 (45%) more than the next-closest team — but could happen again in your fantasy championship (Week 17) when the Ravens face off against the Rams.
And, in Brown’s defense, this was a fairly tough matchup. Cincinnati came into the week ranking 4th-best in FPG allowed to opposing WRs on deep passes (4.7 FPG).
But, yes, Brown is an extremely valuable fantasy commodity. If he’s not being viewed as a high-end WR2 at-worst, he needs to be. And, of course, at age 24, his dynasty ADP still makes absolutely zero sense (ADP: WR46).
James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[FPG: 17.4, XFP: 15.2, Diff: +2.2]
In Week 6, prior to the team’s bye, Robinson played on 85% of the team’s snaps (2nd-most), handling 17 of 17 carries and 4 of 5 targets out of the backfield. Over the past five weeks, he averages 17.3 carries, 4.0 targets, 2.5 10-zone opportunities (3rd), 17.3 XFP (9th), and 21.7 FPG (5th).
Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde’s snap share has declined in three straight games (33% to 26% to 13%). No other RB played a single snap in Week 6.
So, Robinson is now looking like a full-on bell cow and, as such, should be viewed no differently than the James Robinson of 2020. Over the past two seasons, and despite abysmal gamescript (see: Jacksonville’s 2-20 record), Robinson ranks 6th among all RBs in FPG (17.8), behind only Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, and Aaron Jones (min. 7 games).
He’s woefully mispriced this week, as just the RB10 on DraftKings ($6,300), up against a Geno Smith-led Seattle team that ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+8.1).
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
[FPG: 13.2, XFP: 12.0, Diff: +1.2]
Jerry Jeudy suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 1, which kept him off the field for the team’s next six games, but he will (confirmed) be back this week against the Washington Football Team.
Jeudy’s injury came early in the third quarter, capping him at just 47% of the team’s total snaps. But he still walked away with a team-high 72 yards, catching 6 of 7 targets. (So, on pace for 171 receiving yards.) And he ran 78% of his routes from the slot, up from 30% a season ago. That’s equally encouraging, as that’s his natural position.
Saban makes it clear at the end, that - though Jeudy is also capable on the outside - he prefers him in the slot. Though, that will most certainly be KJ Hamler's role in Denver. https://t.co/14p9N99NZk— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 28, 2020
This week Jeudy gets a Washington defense that ranks worst in total FPG allowed to opposing WRs (51.0). They’ve given up the most FPG (27.4) to opposing outside WRs and the 2nd-most (18.1) to opposing slot WRs. He’s egregiously mispriced on DraftKings this week, as just the WR34 ($4,900).
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
[FPG: 20.3, XFP: 23.1, Diff: -2.8]
From the Week 7 XFP Report (updated):
Ladies and gentlemen, Harris is now your new XFP leader (23.1). Yes, ahead of Derrick Henry (22.2).
With Ben Roethlisberger looking 2015 Peyton Manning-levels of cooked, and with Pittsburgh’s offensive line playing about as poorly as we all anticipated (3rd-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), 4th in XTD per game (0.88), 1st in XFP per game (27.3), and 2nd in FPG (24.2, just 0.16 off of Henry for the lead). 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.
Ja'Marr Chase deserves all of the accolades in the world, but don’t let him completely overshadow the other rookies. Because there’s at least one other uber-elite and generational rookie breaking records. Kyle Pitts totaled 163 yards in Week 7, second only to Chase. That was his second consecutive 100-yard game. Among TEs, and over the past four weeks, Pitts ranks 2nd in targets per game (9.7), 1st in air yards (117.0), 1st in XFP per game (18.6), and 1st in FPG (19.7). Among wide receivers, he’d rank 14th, 16th, 9th, and 9th. Oh, and there's quite a bit of points being left on the table. Pitts is our No. 2 touchdown regression candidate at any position, scoring only once despite a 3.2 XTD. So, the question I’ll pose to you is this: Should we be treating Pitts exactly as we would Darren Waller, or maybe even as Darren Waller-plus? Because although he’s the highest-priced TE on the Week 8 slate (with Travis Kelce and Waller both off the main slate), he’s $950 cheaper than Waller’s average salary this year.
Updating our blurb from last week’s article: Jaylen Waddle is averaging (roughly) 9.3 targets, 75.7 receiving yards, and 20.9 fantasy points per four quarters with his former Alabama teammate Tagovailoa under center. On the full season, he ranks 30th in XFP per game (14.1) and 25th in FPG (14.5).
Dallas Goedert’s usage was strong but his volume wasn’t quite as good as we had anticipated. On an 88% route share (3rd-most), he scored only 10.0 fantasy points on a 7.5-point expectation. Either this was just a down-game, or we should fully embrace DeVonta Smith as the team’s clear No. 1 receiver (with Goedert as the No. 2). Smith has led the Eagles in XFP in 5 of 7 games, averaging 14.7 XFP per game. That ranks 27th best among WRs, though he ranks just 50th by FPG (11.2). Either way, better days lie ahead for both Goedert and Smith, who will benefit from Zach Ertz's absence (10.5 XFP per game in Philadelphia).
Snap share data for RBs seems highly skewed this week. With so many blowouts this week (10 two-score victories, six by 22 points or more), we see a high number of RBs who were receiving a bell cow workload throughout the first three quarters of the game only to sit on the bench in the fourth quarter (once the game was well out of reach). Some of the RBs who qualify as having seen a much better workload through the first three quarters of the game in contrast to the fourth quarter: Devontae Booker (94% vs. 55%), Khalil Herbert (87% vs. 56%), Jonathan Taylor (80% vs. 37%), Chase Edmonds (78% vs. 44%), Aaron Jones (76% vs. 55%), Elijah Mitchell (71% vs. 45%), Joe Mixon (60% vs. 33%), Leonard Fournette (60% vs. 31%), and Damien Harris (58% vs. 11%). Of course, blowout victories of this magnitude are rare, and especially so for some of these teams. But it’s notable for fantasy in the sense that, for instance, Jones is seemingly a much better DFS-play in competitive games, rather than blowout victories (where A.J. Dillon is used as the closer). In the fourth quarter of Green Bay’s four blowout wins, Jones is out-snapped by Dillon and Kylin Hill (combined) 37 to 22. Jones has a 71% snap share when Green Bay has trailed by three or more points this year… So, that being said, Green Bay heads to Glendale as 6.5-point underdogs against Arizona. The Packers will be without Davante Adams, though LT David Bakhtiari has not yet been ruled out. Over the last three seasons, Jones has averaged 29.1 FPG across the six games Adams has missed.
Joe Mixon’s Backfield XFP%: 86% (W1), 82%, 70%, 81%, 25% (injury), 59%, 46%… So, yeah, Mixon’s usage last week was fairly concerning. Granted, eight of Perine’s 11 rushes came after Mixon’s final touch of the game, in a 41-17 beatdown. But even before the game got well out of hand, Mixon only played on 60% of the team’s snaps through the first three quarters. And Perine saw a target on the first drive and received the first carry of the third drive of the game. Most of Perine’s work came as a receiver, earning a 42% route share to Mixon’s 34%. I think Mixon’s ankle injury could be a significant factor here, but then again, maybe they just don’t really love Mixon in passing situations (we have a five-season sample backing that up). And so, I’d expect this sort of usage is going to continue to carry over for the remainder of the season (with Perine running more routes than Mixon), though Mixon should see quite a bit more work (than he did last week) moving forward.
In Week 7, D’Andre Swift led all RBs in XFP (22.2) and fantasy points scored (28.4). This marked the fifth time through seven weeks Swift has finished top-6 at the position in XFP. And he continues to receive more and more work at Jamaal Williams’ expense. His share of the backfield XFP has jumped to 78% over the past two weeks (76% Snap%) after averaging just 62% over the first five weeks of the season (66% Snap%). He now ranks 4th among all RBs in both XFP per game (19.3) and FPG (19.6)… Swift is averaging 13.3 receiving FPG, which, on just that alone, would be good enough to make him the RB19 / WR34. He also leads his team and all RBs in yardage share (22%). And as such, he should be viewed almost no differently than Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler moving forward… Yes, he’s been very garbage-time dependent, but this is the Lions we’re talking about. Why wouldn’t we expect this to continue?
Last week, Cordarrelle Patterson finished 11th among all RBs in XFP (15.8) and 18th in fantasy points scored (14.1). And, well, that might not seem particularly great, but I’m now more bullish on Patterson than ever before. Over his last two games, he’s averaging a 65% snap share (up from 35%). He’s also now being used as a true RB/WR hybrid and not just as a scatback. Over his last two games, he’s averaging 20.0 WR routes per game (up from 6.8). And, over his last three games, he’s averaging 37.3 air yards per game, up from -6.7… Oh, and Mike Davis continues to perform at league-worst levels (-4.0). So, volume may continue to climb from here. Since Week 2, Patterson ranks 10th in XFP per game (16.3) and 5th in FPG (21.4). And yet, he ranks just 13th in salary on DraftKings this week ($6,200).
The Jets clearly made a point to get Michael Carter more involved following their bye-week. He played on 72% of the team’s snaps (up from a prior high of 50%), earning 11 of 21 carries and 9 of 16 targets. So, despite the high snap share, he’s still clearly not a bell cow (52% share of the backfield XFP), but this was good enough to see Carter rank top-6 on the week in both XFP (19.1) and fantasy points scored (18.4).
Over the past three weeks, with Logan Thomas out, Ricky Seals-Jones has played on 100% of the team’s snaps, averaging 7.3 targets and 12.0 FPG. If including plays negated due to penalty, he’s averaging 8.0 targets, 66.7 receiving yards, and 14.4 FPG. He’s a bell cow TE and an easy mid-to-low-end TE1 until Logan Thomas returns.
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 five weeks, he ranks 3rd in target share (21%), 6th in targets per game (7.25), 7th in XFP per game (12.4), and 2nd in FPG (17.7). Although he feels like an obvious sell-high with Michael Gallup designated to return from IR, I’d still bet on Schultz putting up TE1 numbers throughout the remainder of the season.
Chase Claypool is probably a lot more DFS-viable than most think. He ranks just 35th in FPG (13.2) but 19th in XFP per game (15.6). The bulk of his value comes as a deep threat, averaging 2.2 deep targets per game (8th-most). Of course, Ben Roethlisberger has been woefully inaccurate on deep passes, completing just 29% of his deep throws (4th-worst). And Johnson is being used more as a deep threat (2.6 deep targets per game, 3rd-most), and more often than Claypool. But, I guess, who knows. Maybe Roethlisberger’s arm strength and accuracy will be a little bit better this week coming off of the team’s bye.
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 in Week 6, prior to the team’s bye, 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 (7th-worst)… So, is he a regression candidate or is he a trap? I suppose it depends on your initial evaluation.
Since Week 3, Taylor Heinicke (199) ranks behind only Lamar Jackson (287) and Jalen Hurts (217) in rushing yards.
Dak Prescott went into the team’s Week 7 bye in a walking boot, so maybe this isn't super relevant now, but he is a major touchdown regression candidate. He has zero rushing touchdowns despite a 2.2 XTD, which includes six rushes inside the 10-yard-line. Basically, this alone is the difference between him ranking 6th (23.6) and 9th in FPG (21.6).
Top Regression Candidates
Most Fantasy Points Negated by Penalty
1. Mark Andrews (12.9)
2. Kenny Stills (11.6)
3. Keenan Allen (11.5)
4. Ezekiel Elliott (10.8)
5. Donald Parham (10.6)
6. Bryan Edwards (9.6)
7. Jakobi Meyers (9.5)
8. Derrick Henry (9.4)
9. Josh Jacobs (9.0)
10. Jonathan Taylor (8.9)
RB Team XFP%
1. Alvin Kamara (32%)
2. Najee Harris (28%)
3. Derrick Henry (28%)
4. Christian McCaffrey (25%)
5. D’Andre Swift (24%)
6. David Montgomery (23%)
7. Jonathan Taylor (23%)
8. Aaron Jones (22%)
9. Ezekiel Elliott (21%)
10. Dalvin Cook (21%)
RB Team Pos XFP% (The Bell Cow Stat)
1. Najee Harris (93%)
2. Alvin Kamara (82%)
3. Darrell Henderson (81%)
4. Dalvin Cook (80%)
5. James Robinson (78%)
6. Derrick Henry (77%)
7. Austin Ekeler (71%)
8. David Montgomery (68%)
9. Chris Carson (68%)
10. Aaron Jones (67%)
WR / TE Team XFP%
1. Cooper Kupp (28%)
2. Davante Adams (28%)
3. Diontae Johnson (28%)
4. Deebo Samuel (26%)
5. Terry McLaurin (24%)
6. Brandin Cooks (24%)
7. DJ Moore (24%)
8. Calvin Ridley (24%)
9. Tee Higgins (23%)
10. Tyreek Hill (22%)
DFS Values (DK)
1. Diontae Johnson, WR (3.1X)
2. DeVante Parker, WR (3.1X)
3. Najee Harris, RB (3.1X)
4. Jared Cook, TE (3.0X)
5. Jonnu Smith, TE (3.0X)
6. Calvin Ridley, WR (3.0X)
7. Tee Higgins, WR (2.9X)
8. Rob Gronkowski, TE (2.9X)
9. Brandin Cooks, WR (2.9X)
10. Keenan Allen, WR (2.9X)
11. Jakobi Meyers, WR (2.8X)