I’ve always been a big proponent of drafting for yards and hoping/assuming the touchdowns will follow if a knock on a player was that he didn’t score enough. My reasoning was that it would seem to make the most sense that the best players rack up the most yards. I’ve seen too many friends fall victim to guys like Reggie Williams who followed a 629 yard, 10 TD season in 2007 with a 364 yard, 3 TD one in 2008. Don’t stay away from guys who seem to be allergic to the end zone was always my mantra. If you are patient, the touchdowns will come.
I didn’t come up with this out of nowhere. I’ve found consistent value in players a year after they had their fantasy seasons destroyed by low touchdown totals. Let’s take Jason Witten for example (a TE I loved in 2007). Once upon a time, Jason Witten was a TE with three straight 750-yard seasons but only 13 TDs total. I scooped him up in 2007 (1145 yards, 7TDs) solely because I knew the yardage would be there. He would be consistent. I strayed away from him every year since. In the last two years, he only has 6 TDs. He is now going just ahead of Brent Celek as the 5th tight end… He looks attractive yet again.
Being the fantasy football nerd I am, I wanted to quantify whether or not my theory actually makes any sense. If ever anyone asked me about why I preferred to draft for yards instead of TDs, my answer was…. “Because it’s worked a few times in the past.” Instead of relying on a few good picks, that were probably lucky anyway, I compared rushing yards to rushing TDs for the top 30 rushers every season over the past decade. With 300 data points, I had exactly what I needed to run a fancy schmancy regression.
As it would turn out, my premonition was right on target. I found that you could expect one touchdown for every 120 yards (roughly) on the ground. Basically, this means that for every twelve points you can expect to receive from yardage, you should only expect another six from touchdowns.
The touchdowns will come. Any more than one touchdown per 120 yards is just icing on the cake. Last year, Adrian Peterson scored seven more touchdowns than he should have, inflating his fantasy value (keep in mind, the biggest knock on AP coming into last year was that he didn’t get into the end zone enough). Others that outperformed last year based on their yardage include MJD, Thomas Jones, Joseph Addai, and LT, just to name a few. As for those who underperformed, we have Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson (by 7 touchdowns), Cedric Benson, and Fred Jackson.
Obviously, this is not a concrete method. Some players just get into the end zone more than others, but next time you’re worried about a guy who gets a lot of carries and a lot of yards but not many touchdowns, remember that eventually they will come.
Some players I would expect to get more touchdowns if they can accumulate similar yardage to last season are: Steven Jackson, Matt Forte, Cedric Benson, Ray Rice, Fred Jackson and Cadillac Williams.