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Fantasy Football: Using expected sacks to identify IDP regression candidates in 2024

2T5TF4K New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) lines up for a play in the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

• The most predictive and stable metric for defensive linemen indicates big years for top names in 2024: Aidan Hutchinson, Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams should all come through in 2024 after slightly down seasons in 2023.

• Undervalued and overvalued regression candidates included: See where the likes of Kayvon Thibodeaux, Alex Highsmith, Josh Sweat and Justin Madubuike factor into the projections for 2024 based on their 2023 expected sack totals.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

When it comes to IDP fantasy football, specifically along the defensive line, sacks are king. These are among the highest-scoring plays, regardless of league settings, so it’s no surprise to see IDP managers chase the prior year's sack totals and fantasy points when drafting the following year.

The problem with focusing on those past totals is that they are simply not indicative of future numbers. Instead of chasing unstable numbers, we can bank on proven stability and predictive metrics.

I have developed a metric called “expected sacks,” a stable resource year-over-year that also translates heavily to actual sacks. Expected sacks applies an expected sack rate for each stable metric for individual players based on how they performed in those metrics. That then produces an expected sack rate, which when multiplied by a player’s pass-rush snaps generates the expected sack total.

We'll start at the edge position. The chart below shows how much more reliable the expected sacks metric is compared to other forms of pass-rush analysis.

Stable Metrics for Edge Rushers; Updated From 2023 Season

Pass-rush snaps, pass-rush grade and other underlying metrics are good but imperfect correlators year-over-year. Combining everything into one expected sacks metric helps make up significant ground in predicting future sack totals. Pass-rush win rate comes the closest when looking at year-to-year stickiness, but it isn’t as closely aligned with actual in-season sacks as expected sacks.

With all this in mind, we can dive into the edge defender leaders in expected sacks from this past year.

Top 24 Expected Sack Leaders in 2023 (EDGE)


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