Football statistics are extremely hard to predict, but history continues to show that projecting touchdown regression to the mean is significantly easier than you might imagine.
During the 2007 to 2018 seasons, there were 144 instances in which a wide receiver or tight end scored fewer than five touchdowns on 50-plus offensive touches before managing at least 50 touches the very next season. Of those 144, 101 (70.1%) scored more touchdowns the next season.
Focusing in on the 46 players in that group who scored fewer than three touchdowns during the first year, 38 (82.6%) scored more touchdowns the next season. Of the 18 who scored either one or zero touchdowns, 15 (83.3%) found the end zone more often the next year. Jason Avant (2010-11 and 2011-12) and Danny Amendola (2018-19) were responsible for the three exceptions.
We see similar results if we run this test on running backs. There are 60 instances in which a back failed to eclipse seven touchdowns on 200-plus touches before managing 200 again the next season. Of those 60, 47 (or 78.3%) scored more touchdowns the next season. Interestingly, there were seven backs who failed to eclipse two touchdowns in the first year but each scored at least five times the next season. The average second-year touchdown total was 8.8!
If you skipped all that, or just tuned out while scanning over the math, the point here is simple: NFL players tend to bounce back -- often in a big way -- when they post an unusually low touchdown number and see similar playing time the following season.
In this piece, I'll be referencing 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's how many touchdowns a league-average player would have scored with the exact same opportunity as the player shown.
A careful examination of the below players' 2019 usage tells us that we should expect an increase in scoring production this season.
Be sure to also check out my column on players who will score fewer touchdowns this season.
Note that this study is limited to regular-season rushing and receiving data.