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An Introduction to Kyle Yates’ Fantasy Projections (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Kyle Yates | @KyleYNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 10, 2020

There’s no one clear path to building out your fantasy football rankings. Some experts in our ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings) choose to go with gut feeling and measure players up against one another to determine their place in their rankings. Other experts will stick close to ECR and make slight tweaks here or there as they see fit. There are also other experts who build out their rankings through the use of projections for every single player on every team.

Let me be clear, there’s no one “right” way to build out your rankings. Some of the top experts every year do it one way, while others will deploy a totally different methodology.

With that being said, one of the main things that I will be providing this NFL season is a break down of my methodology for rankings construction every single week here at FantasyPros. I’ll have one giant article that will break down every fantasy relevant player for each matchup with my projected stats that can serve as a guide for you to build your ideal fantasy lineup.

The next two weeks, I will be publishing a preview of my projections to give you a glimpse into what the weekly in-season article will look like. However, before I roll those out for you to read, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you a “peek behind the curtain” as to how I determine these projections and the specific process that I utilize.

The Process

I’ve spent the last two years building out and refining my projection template. Several years ago, I was writing everything down on paper with a pen, so this is a dramatic improvement. I’ve made significant changes as I incorporate more data into my projections and my template has significantly cut down my time investment into the process of building out projections.

The process starts by going through and doing team-by-team projections. For the sake of this article, we’ll look at the Atlanta Falcons and break down their player-by-player projections.

The first step is to determine the projected passing/rushing volume for the team for the upcoming season. If we look at the Falcons offense in previous seasons, we can see that they’ve been very pass-happy and that’s unlikely to change this year.

YEAR RUSH ATTEMPTS PASS ATTEMPTS TOTAL PLAYS RAN
2017 430 530 960
2018 351 617 968
2019 362 684 1046

With Dirk Koetter back at Offensive Coordinator last season, the Falcons easily led the league in overall pass attempts. While this may have been more than they wanted with the defense playing poorly for the first half of the year, we can safely project another pass-happy offense in 2020.

With that in mind, I have the Falcons down for 624 pass attempts and 384 rush attempts this season.

With those numbers now figured out, we can now move forward to breaking down the rushing splits & target share percentages. This determines how much of the “pie” each player will receive this season.

First, here are my projected rushing splits for the Atlanta Falcons backfield.

PLAYER CARRY PERCENTAGE TOTAL CARRIES
Todd Gurley 57% 219
Brian Hill 20% 77
Qadree Ollison 15% 58
Ito Smith 0% 0
Matt Ryan 8% 31

These numbers will obviously fluctuate from team to team. A team like the Carolina Panthers will have their RB Carry Percentages look drastically different, while the San Francisco 49ers will have even more of a balanced approach.

After those numbers have been tweaked to fit what we believe the backfield will look like, we can move on to the target share breakdown.

PLAYER TARGET SHARE TOTAL TARGETS
Todd Gurley 13% 81
Brian Hill 5% 31
Qadree Ollison 0% 0
Ito Smith 0% 0
Julio Jones 27% 168
Calvin Ridley 20% 125
Russell Gage 12% 75
Laquon Treadwell 3% 19
Christian Blake 0% 0
Olamide Zaccheus 0% 0
Hayden Hurst 17% 106
Jaeden Graham 3% 19
Khari Lee 0% 0
Jared Pinkney 0% 0

These numbers fluctuate based on offensive coaching philosophies and what positions are heavily targeted more than others, but this is a quick and easy way to break down each of the fantasy relevant players.

After the targets and carries have been projected, it’s simply about plugging in the Catch Percentage, Yards Per Carry, and Yards Per Reception for these players. These numbers can be determined based on their previous stats and how they’re used in the offense. For example, a field stretching WR is not suddenly going to jump up to a 70% catch percentage after finishing around 55% in previous seasons.

Additionally, a useful tool in projecting touchdowns is Expected Touchdown Rate. This takes the overall average yards-to-touchdown rate from the last season and allows you to build out a baseline for what a player’s touchdowns should be. For example, last season a WR scored a TD – on average – every 168.13 yards. With the numbers that I’ve plugged in for Ridley above, combined with his projected catch percentage and Yards Per Reception, he’s projected to finish with 1,071 receiving yards. To determine his “baseline” Expected TD output, we simply divide 1,071 by 168.13.

This indicates that Ridley’s expected receiving TD number should be 6. However, we know that he’s exceeded that total both of his first two seasons in the NFL with 10 touchdowns in 2017 and 7 in 2018 (in 13 games). With that in mind, we can project higher than the average and allot Ridley with 9 receiving touchdowns in 2020.

Summary

There’s no right way to do projections. Depending on who you talk to in the industry, there’s going to be varying opinions on a player’s projected output for the season. This is what leads to incredibly passionate debates on podcasts and it’s ultimately why we created the Expert Consensus Rankings.

It’s also an ever-evolving process too. My process this year is incredibly different from last year and more information is being added all the time to better myself as a fantasy football expert.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, you’re going to see several projection breakdowns of notable players and how I see their 2020 season playing out. This season’s going to be fun and we’re just getting started.

 



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Kyle Yates is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Kyle, check out his archive and follow him @KyleYNFL.

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