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What else is new? Touchdown regression and yet another reason to predict a Garrett Wilson breakout

Garrett Wilson could be a beast this year for the Jets

Syndication: The Record Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last year New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson broke onto the NFL scene in a big way, accumulating 83 catches for 1,103 yards en route to winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Given past winners of this award include wide receiver Jamaar Chase, quarterback Justin Herbert, and running back Saquan Barkley, this alone would be enough to suggest more is to come for Garrett Wilson as he aims further breakout and to solidify himself as a consensus top 5-10 wide receiver in the NFL.

Beyond that rookie of the year pedigree, the Jets took another step to maximize Garrett Wilson’s odds of success as they made a huge improvement at quarterback, bringing in future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers to replace quarterback Zach Wilson. Putting all of this together, it’s easy to see why Garrett Wilson has become a trendy breakout candidate who is already being generally selected among the top 10 receivers in fantasy football drafts.

However, as strong as Garrett Wilson’s 2022 campaign was, one area that left something to be desired was his touchdown output. Indeed, Garrett Wilson only found the endzone 4 times last season. Accordingly, improving his touchdown output would go a long way towards furthering Wilson’s attempts to improve his standing among the best receivers in the game. Based on one statistic, history says that Wilson is likely to do just that.

Specifically, Mike Clay of ESPN recently identified players who were likely to improve their touchdown counts in the 2023 season. Clay’s argument builds from historical data with Clay writing:

During the 2011 to ‘21 seasons, there were 135 instances in which a wide receiver or tight end scored fewer than five touchdowns on 50-plus offensive touches before again managing at least 50 touches the next season. Of those 135 instances, 93 times (68.9%) the player scored more touchdowns the next season.

Based on this, we should expect players with a great deal of touches but few touchdowns to see a positive regression on their touchdown counts in the following year, which is the case for Garrett who hauled in 83 passes on 148 targets.

Furthering his examination, Clay references a statistic he calls “xTD” which stands for expected touchdowns. The premise of xTD is rather simple and explained briefly by Clay in his larger piece:

I‘ll be referencing expected touchdowns (xTD), previously labeled as OTD, which is a statistic that weighs every carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player’s scoring opportunity. Put another way, it is how many touchdowns a league-average player would’ve scored with the exact same opportunity as the player shown.

In relation to Garrett Wilson, xTD posits that he should score about 8 touchdowns in 2023, doubling his 2022 output. This number was benefitted from the quality of Garrett’s targets, including the 13 endzone targets he received, which was tied for the 5th highest number of endzone targets across the entire NFL.

Overall, for those looking for reasons to believe in Garrett Wilson, they don’t seem all that hard to find any. While no breakout is guaranteed, Garrett Wilson’s potential for a breakout seems as high as any player in the league right now.