Welcome to the Knuckleheads how to draft training series. In this video, I’m going to show you how to project yards, and the methodology can be applied to any position. As with any projection, we’re going to use a rate stat—whether it’s yards-per-reception, yards-per-carry, or yards-per-attempt—to predict a bulk stat, which will be total yards.
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To predict yards, you’ll need to have already made a projection for a player’s workload. For quarterbacks, it’s passing attempts, for running backs it’s carries, and for wide receivers and tight ends it’s receptions. If you haven’t yet done that, head back to video V to see an example of how to predict a player’s workload. With that projection already made, all we need to do is multiply it by our efficiency projection for any player to predict their total yards.
Again, we’re looking to determine how perception, or past stats, reflect reality. If a player dramatically outperforms his past efficiency, for example, there’s a good chance his future bulk stats are going to decline.
How to project receiving yards
Let’s try to project receiving yards as an example. It’s important to know that yards-per-reception is a pretty volatile stat and very likely to fluctuate from season to season. It isn’t uncommon to see a player who totaled 15.0 YPR one year average 11.5 YPC in the following year. And unlike with running backs whose fantasy production is typically affected more by touches than efficiency, wide receivers and tight ends—who often see one-quarter of the touches of many running backs—depend heavily on efficiency.
That means it’s important to get that YPR projection right when predicting receiving yards. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll project YPR using a player’s three-year average, when possible. That should provide a superior representation of a player’s true efficiency. Then, we can change the projection based on new information.
Let’s use Cowboys tight end Jason Witten as an example. Over the past three seasons, Witten has averaged 10.5 YPR. To obtain that number, all you need to do is take Witten’s total receiving yards over the past three years and divide it by his total catches. If we were to project Witten at 85 catches, our baseline yardage projection for him would be 893 receiving yards. Remember, you can head back to Video 5 if you want to know more about how to project receptions.
However, we need to factor things we know about Witten into our prediction. The tight end’s efficiency has been steadily declining for years. In the graph to the right, I charted Witten’s yards-per-route in recent seasons. Even though Witten recently broke the record for receptions by a tight end, his efficiency on a per-route basis still declined. If Witten runs fewer routes for the Cowboys in the future—which is expected—his bulk stats will drop.Before you can draft a winning team, you need to do the preparation.
On top of that, Witten is nearing the typical year of decline for tight ends. Over the past two decades, tight ends age 31 have produced only 75 percent of their career peak production, on average. Witten’s low recent YPR will probably increase, but not back up to his three-year average. At 9.9 YPR, we can project Witten for 842 yards.
Let’s run through the process again with Bills running back C.J. Spiller. Again, we’re going to use Spiller’s three-year average for yards-per-carry, which is 5.4. That number is calculated by dividing Spiller’s total rushing yards by his total carries over that time.
Next, we can refine that baseline projection using things we know about Spiller. Although he’s entering the prime of his career, he’ll likely see a decrease in efficiency with more carries. With a heavier workload, we might expect Spiller to average somewhere around 5.0 YPC.
Spiller’s previous career-high in carries came in 2012 with 207. As the unquestioned feature back for the first time in his career, it isn’t unreasonable to expect Spiller to see somewhere around 250 carries. With projections for Spiller’s workload—250 carries—and efficiency—5.0 YPC—we simply need to multiply the two numbers together to get Spiller’s projected rushing yards of 1,250.
Remember, the same methodology can be used for any position to predict total yards; it’s simply workload times efficiency. In the next video, I’ll begin to discuss how to use your projections to create rankings. Thanks again for choosing fantasyknuckleheads.com as your fantasy football training provider. Feel free to check out the forums if you have questions or comments.