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5 Second-Year Regression Candidates (Fantasy Football)

It might not always be fun to hear, but regression is something we have to be aware of in fantasy football. 2023 brought us some excellent rookie performances but if we apply a truthful look, which of them are primed for regression in their second-years? Here are a few second-year players prime for fantasy football regression in their sophomore season.

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Fantasy Football Second-Year Regression Candidates

Here are a few fantasy football players who could take a step back in year two.

Sam LaPorta (TE – DET)

Nobody is saying you shouldn’t draft Sam LaPorta, after all, he just had the best rookie tight end season of all time, dominating at a position where we’re always crying out for players to stand up. LaPorta became the second rookie tight end ever to score double-digit touchdowns in his first year in the league, and these were a large part of what made him a difference-maker in 2023. If LaPorta had scored three fewer touchdowns, bringing him in line with Mark Andrews, George Kittle and David Njoku, then his total points and points per game would have brought him down to TE4, a significant drop-off.

The way the Lions use LaPorta is as creative as any tight end in the league with him being motioned around the line of scrimmage to a point where it has similarities to Tyreek Hill‘s usage, albeit slower, but much bigger, and that remains LaPorta’s biggest hope for 2024, that the Lions continue to feature him as much as possible. However, touchdowns aren’t sticky, they are one of the least sticky stats in fantasy football and if LaPorta can’t make the jump to 6.5 touches per game, up from the 5.1 he had in 2023, then he’ll need the touchdowns to stay consistent. That’s a big ask when that stat is unpredictable year over year. For now, LaPorta might be best left to other people unless he falls past his current average draft position (ADP).

De’Von Achane (RB – MIA)

Regression might not be a bad thing for De’Von Achane if he can find his way to a more consistent role in 2024. Achane’s rookie season was filled with incredible highs like the 51.3-point game against the Broncos, but also four games outside the top 28 running backs and seven missed through injuries.

The knock on Achane coming out of college was that his 5-foot-9, 188-pound frame was too slight to hold up in the NFL. After playing over 30% of the snaps in just eight games, it’s hard to argue that isn’t true. With Raheem Mostert signing an extension and Jaylen Wright acquired via trading up in the draft, it’s clear the Dolphins don’t view Achane as a three-down back. However, if he can stay healthy and find a consistent role in this explosive offense it might not matter if he regresses from the absurd 7.8 yards per attempt he boasted in 2023.

Luke Musgrave (TE – GB)

The Packers double-dipped at the tight end position in the 2023 NFL Draft taking advantage of a tactic that paid off handsomely for the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 when they landed on Mark Andrews, despite the disappointment of Hayden Hurst in the same draft. The tight end position is tricky and teams tend to be rewarded by taking plenty of shots at draft prospects and the Packers seem to have found themselves in the rare position of having hit upon two. Luke Musgrave was selected with the 42nd pick before the Packers circled back in round three at pick 78 to take Tucker Kraft.

During Weeks 1-11, Musgrave dominated the tight-end work with a 70.3% snap-share, which he turned into a 14% target share. Kraft languished with 31.1% of snaps and a combined total of 9.3 PPR points. When Musgrave suffered a lacerated kidney and went on injured reserve it opened the door up for Kraft to see more opportunities, which he seized, playing 93% of snaps and averaging 10.5 PPR points per game for the rest of the season, making him the TE11 in that time. It seems very unlikely the Packers put Kraft back in the box after being a key part of their playoff push in 2023. Musgrave, who is still being drafted ahead of Kraft, might find himself in the kind of timeshare that’s hard to break out of.

Rashee Rice (WR – KC)

All Rashee Rice had to do this offseason was stay out of trouble and be injury-free. He looked like an almost lock to be a top-36 pick in fantasy drafts this year. So far Rice has managed to stay injury-free, but that’s about it after being caught speeding and allegedly getting into an altercation with a photographer that is currently being investigated by the police. The thesis around Rice being a top-36 pick would have talked about how Travis Kelce is 34 years old and Rice averaged 17.0 PPR points per game from Week 11 onwards in 2023.

All of that remains true, but with reports swirling that the Chiefs are bracing for a suspension as lengthy as eight games, and with Marquise Brown and Xavier Worthy added to the mix, Rice might find himself struggling to make such an impact as he did over the second half of last season. Rice still profiles as the most likely slot receiver on this offense. Volume and trust can be king in fantasy football but it could be pragmatic to take a wait-and-see approach on how things play out for Rashee Rice this offseason.

Tank Dell (WR – HOU)

Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell burst onto the scene in 2023 with six games over 17 PPR points, including four top-12 weekly finishes, before sadly fracturing his fibula while blocking on a run play. The hope and expectation was that Dell could recover and return to being a dominant player for the Texans and fantasy teams in 2024, but the Texans seem to be building with depth in mind.

Stefon Diggs was acquired from the Buffalo Bills. Joe Mixon was brought in from the Bengals and rewarded with a new contract. The Texans seem intent on pushing the chips in while CJ Stroud is on his rookie contract. It’s the right move to make, but with established veterans competing for targets, it will be substantially harder for Dell to earn double-digit targets in games, something he did in four games of his best five games last year. The future is bright for Dell, but 2024 might be a little less flashy than 2023 was.

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