A lot of important information is used to create the NFL fantasy projections on a daily basis including recent performances, historic data, injuries, weather and opposing matchups. This data is then used to create an accurate projection of every player's performance in their upcoming game. NFL fantasy projections can be wildly different from week to week because football is such a matchup dependent game.
A talented wide receiver is going to have a much harder time finding a way to score points when playing against the best cornerback in the league than he would against a poor defense. The same can be said for the other skill positions on a fantasy football team. The expected outcome of the real game also has a big influence on the fantasy projections. A running back is going to have a hard time scoring a lot of fantasy points if his team is expected to lose the game in a blowout. Since his team will likely spend most of the game passing in attempt to score quickly, that does not bode well for the running back.
You may look at our NFL fantasy projections and think that they are too low for most players, but that is common with projections. The goal is to provide a projected point total that is closer to their average or within reasonable standard deviations of the mean. Outlier projection totals can’t be relied upon and for this reason, you won’t see outrageous projection numbers. While it is certainly possible for the top quarterback in the league to throw for six touchdowns, the projections will never expect this type of performance. Those high-scoring games only happen a few times a year, so they are extreme outliers. The goal is to have all of projected fantasy point totals to be within one or two standard deviations of the mean. This results in slightly lower projected scoring totals, but that will actually help your fantasy football team win on a consistent basis.
When building out fantasy football projections, volume is always the first thing we want to look at. Whether that is on a weekly or seasonal level, players who get their touches, have a steady floor. A running back who rushes for four yards per carry, but gets 20 rushing attempts per game, we can at least rely on seven to nine fantasy points just based off rushing yards alone. This gives us are initial range of outcomes for a projection. Barring injuries, volume is the easiest thing to project. A workhorse running back is going to see 20-25 touches a game. A top wide receiver is going to tend to see nine or more targets a game.
Of course volume is going to have a stronger correlation with PPR and Half-PPR scoring formats, as targets for wide receivers are going to go hand in hand with receptions. This is why drafting safer high volume players early on is key. Those boom or bust weekly wideouts don’t have quite the floor of a receiver who is a key part of the offense. Volume can help mask some efficiency issues as well. A WR2 in an offense that sees five targets a game, but relies on the big play to produce fantasy points isn’t going to be as safe as a player who sees eight targets a game, and thrives on receptions.
For fantasy football, we really want to prioritize touches over everything else, especially snaps. You can have a player be on the field 60+ snaps a game, but they have to be involved in the offense. A tight end who has a job of blocking might have more snaps than the receiving tight end, but that doesn’t make him a better fantasy player. Third down backs who are involved more in the passing game are not going to see heavy snaps, but we should be looking for the touches they receive instead.
Another area to look at for volume is the red zone. No surprise to see players that get red zone touches and targets also have higher touchdown totals. One thing to note for running backs is that a red zone rush attempt is much different from on the 18-yard-line in comparison to inside the five. Breaking down the amount of rushing attempts within the ten is a real area to look at. Occasionally teams will have goal line backs for their smaller running backs. We also see taller and larger tight ends favored in this area as well.
Factoring In Efficiency
There is always more to the story when looking at efficiency stats. After looking at volume, we do want to see what players can make the most of that volume, whether it is a large set of touches or small. Position players that excel in creating yards for themselves are going to have a huge advantage. They become less reliant on an offensive line that struggles, or an inept quarterback throwing to them. Efficiency is slightly more important for quarterbacks. If a quarterback isn’t throwing at a high volume, efficiency is going to be king. Russell Wilson has become a prime example of efficiency over volume because he still finishes as a top fantasy quarterback, yet his team tends to be in the bottom ten in pass attempts.
Touchdown rates for quarterback is a good place to look, even though we see some high variance at times. This is an area where we can see some positive and negative regression. Quarterbacks that also add on rushing numbers are going to be efficient fantasy scoring quarterbacks each week. Back to the other skill positions, yards created, and yards per route run are a good way of separating the efficient from the non-efficient. It is a smaller piece of the equation for factoring in a projection for a week or a season. Even for a position like kicker, we still want volume over efficiency. We tend to take efficiency more into consideration for players with lesser volume, like a running back in a committee or wide receivers and tight ends who don’t see as many targets.
Important Notes For Factoring In Matchups
Throughout a fantasy season you will see plenty of articles, such as who to start and who to sit, as well as streaming options. These tend to solely focus on matchups, and they look more at fringe players. You might have heard this term before, but “start your studs” is just a way of saying you are not going to sit your top players just because they are in a bad matchup. Those players who see a bulk of the volume are going to be starters regardless of the matchup. Volume is still triumphing every other factor when setting a lineup.
During the offseason and when you are drafting your season long teams, you are likely to wander into the strength of schedule area for players. This is going to give you an overall look at how a season shakes up against opposing defenses. For an example, if you are looking at Kirk Cousins, he might have a tough start to the year against some defenses, and then things open up in the second half. Keying in on players who have good matchups when it comes to fantasy playoffs is looking ahead quite a bit, but something to take into consideration.
This can also create a chance to buy low and sell high on players. If a running back is struggling because of the matchups early on, there might be a chance to take advantage of a trade if the schedule is more lenient in the second half of the season. Now we don’t want to weight overall seasonal matchups too heavily. There are always a lot of moving parts and variance. Just because a team was ranked 5th against the pass last season, doesn’t exactly mean they will be there again in the future season. Defenses might see some positive or negative regression, but also could see a departure/additions of key guys.
Once the season gets going, you are going to be faced with choices to make based on production but also matchups for singular weeks. Weekly projections are going to of course factor this into what they are predicting to happen. There is more to just viewing your wide receiver takes on the number three ranked pass defense this week. That number won’t change if say an opposing star cornerback is injured. This is where people can make the mistake and just rely on a ranking for the matchup.
A factor that you might not be including in your research is how game script can have an effect on volume. If a team is playing a better than average defense, but are also expected to be trailing for most of the game and need to throw more than usual, this is an upgrade for the passing game. If a team is expected to win handedly, rushing attempts would go up. This could negate some of the downside of facing a decent run defense.
How Injured Players Change Projections
Injures are a frequent part of the football season, and it has a major effect on how we operate our fantasy teams as well as project players. Throughout the season, injuries are going to play into the weekly projections. There are many ways this can happen, starting with maybe the not so obvious as offensive line injuries are very important. A running back needs a strong offensive line, and if they are banged up, the efficiency might not be the same. A quarterback might be under pressure a bit more as well. Looking at injuries outside of skill position players can give you a solid edge.
As far as the skill position goes, we often have seen negative correlation with a backup quarterback. This isn’t the case for all teams, as some have invested in a decent backup that can keep things afloat. But for the Steelers in 2019 it was an offense that struggled once Ben Roethlisberger went down. We often are going to be intrigued with a backup of other positions. When a running back goes down, it can create a waiver wire option to step into volume right away. That isn’t always the case, as we have seen teams still lean on a committee approach, which is always a fantasy downside.
When running backs go down with an injury, we can see a few different things happen. One of the more overlooked aspects of a running back injury is that the team can throw more. If that reliable run game isn’t so reliable anymore, teams can opt to throw the ball instead. As mentioned above there can be a committee approach, and if we are lucky a stable running back can step right in and see similar volume. When we hear those words league winning pick-ups, we are getting a running back in a good situation behind a good line that sees stable volume.
As for wide receivers and tight ends, if a major player within the offense goes down, the targets will become up for grabs. We often see a shift in value, as names will move up the totem pole. A once WR2 will have some more value, or a TE1 will see a bigger shift in value. It is less likely to see someone lower on the depth chart really move into a prominent role. Even a running back might see a few extra targets a game because of this. This can have a negative effect on an offense, because a WR2 might not be suited for a WR1 role, and a quarterback losing a top target can be a bad thing.
Looking at how we come to weekly projections during these scenarios, some of it will rely on historical data if we have seen these injury secures occur before. A lot of it is going to be about where we believe the volume will now go to, and we value talent more over just another body in the mix. We might also get some news from a coaching staff mid-week and update accordingly, but for the most part they are not going to tell their hand. If we are lucky, the situation will be extremely straight forward, where we can confidently project a backup player or the surrounding players.
Fantasy Football Projections Frequently Asked Questions
Projected fantasy points are a predictive number to showcase what the expected outcome will be for a single season or a single game. A quarterback might have a 23.3 fantasy point prediction for their matchup, or 358 fantasy point prediction for a season.
What Do The Red And Green Numbers Mean In Fantasy Football?
If you see numbers in red or green in your fantasy football league, it often signifies a negative and positive. A green number could be a positive matchup or a projection change. If it is red, it might be a bad matchup or negative projection change.
Projected fantasy points are created by a formula that factors in various aspects. They can factor in things such as historical data, matchup, touches, and efficiency. Those projections are showing what to expect for an upcoming season or a game.
Back on December 7th, 2003, Clinton Portis ran for 218 yards and had five rushing touchdowns. He also had 36 receiving yards. Portis ended up with 55.4 fantasy points, which is the highest in history for a single football game.
In 2018, Patrick Mahomes recorded the most fantasy points in a single season. He threw for 5,097 yards and had 50 throwing touchdowns. He also rushed for two touchdowns and 218 yards. This season surpassed the previous record holder, LaDanian Tomlinson.