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Week 10 Fantasy football analysis: Expected production so far

Oct 21, 2018; London, United Kingdom; Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis (33) is pursued by Los Angeles Chargers strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) on a 36-yard run in the fourth quarter during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Titans 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to the Week 10 Actual Opportunity report. This is our weekly look at the players with the most fantasy potential based on volume, and how effective they’ve been with it. If you’re unfamiliar with Actual Opportunity, you can read the in-depth explanation here.

Essentially, we’re using an 11-season sample of play-by-play data to calculate expected fantasy points from a player’s seasonal or weekly usage. We look at each target (by distance from the end zone and depth of target) and each carry (by distance from the end zone and down and distance) and add this up to determine how valuable a player’s role was for fantasy purposes. We can contrast this with fantasy production to measure efficiency.

In layman’s terms, Actual Opportunity is “how many points a player should have scored” given his workload, based on what the average player would have scored. “Expected fantasy points” will be used interchangeably with “Actual Opportunity” throughout this article.

After nine weeks of action, here are the top-30 players in expected fantasy points per game:

Top regression candidates

Based on fantasy points per game over expectation, the following players are due for the greatest statistical decline in the coming weeks: Melvin Gordon (+8.1), Michael Thomas (+7.2), Cooper Kupp (+7.1), Kareem Hunt (+6.7), Calvin Ridley (+5.9), Todd Gurley (+5.8), Tyler Lockett (+5.6), James Conner (+5.3).

Gordon has scored 10 touchdowns this season (fourth-most) but totals only eight opportunities inside the 10-yard line (27th-most). That screams “unsustainable efficiency” and implies a looming regression to the mean. Of course, Gordon isn’t going to continue scoring at some a high rate without more work inside the 10, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s very deserving of a bump down your rankings. He’s one of a few true bell-cow running backs in the league, and isn’t someone to sell-high on. In his case, less efficiency likely just means more volume. He’s also one of the more efficient players in the league because he’s one of the best players in the league.

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