People say this every year, but this season is truly something special—both the good and the bad kind. Whether it’s the controversial antics of star athletes, the ridiculous number of injuries or the Cleveland Browns no longer being cursed (to a certain extent), the NFL’s unpredictable nature is a grand source of entertainment. All that matters, however, are the numbers week in and week out, and our DarwinTM automated model building technology has been hard at work crunching them.
Before the season began, we used Darwin, which leverages a neuroevolutionary process to find the ideal model for a data set, to predict how many expected points (standard, non-PPR) every player was going to score this upcoming NFL season. Now that it has been trained on this season’s data for multiple weeks, it’s ready to offer weekly projections. Let’s see what Darwin predicts for week 7!
Darwin’s Top 5 Players in Each Position
Darwin’s Take on Quarterbacks
As you can see, Darwin is a little more optimistic than fantasydata in some cases. We don’t blame it (without bias, of course) thanks to Lamar Jackson’s and Russell Wilson’s stellar play this season, especially the former, who’s been torching defenses on a consistent basis except in week 5 when he threw three interceptions. Darwin is also fairly optimistic about Kirk Cousins, which is fair given he threw four touchdown passes last week.
Beyond the top five, in comparison to fantasydata, Darwin predicts San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo will put up a respectable 18 points, with Tom Brady trailing right behind him with 17.8 points. Darwin has also caught on to Aaron Rodgers’ disappointing season, which isn’t entirely his fault given Green Bay’s numerous injuries on offense. That being said, Darwin predicts he will put in a mediocre 16.6 points.
Running Backs (RB)
Darwin’s Take on Running Backs
Once again, Darwin is proving to be quite the optimist. Dalvin Cook, who has managed to avoid injuries thus far this season, is still tearing it up despite last week’s less exciting performance. Darwin views him as an elite RB1, and that won’t change when he takes on Detroit in Week 7. As for people like Matt Breida and Jordan Howard, the model is definitely in their favor despite tough matchups in the coming week. Jordan Howard, for example, will have to contend with one of the toughest run defenses in the league with Dallas. However, that shouldn’t scare you from starting him if he continues to be a goal-line threat.
Sony Michel of New England has upped his game the past couple of weeks despite sharing backfield duties with James White. After analysis, Darwin predicts he’ll put up 15.6 points against the Jets this week. Chris Carson of Seattle (14.8), Aaron Jones of Green Bay (14.6), and Leonard Fournette of Jacksonville (14.5), are also predicted to put up respectable numbers and shouldn’t be benched.
Wide Receivers (WR)
Darwin’s Take On Wide Receivers
These may seem like low numbers for wide receivers, but even Julio Jones is working on bouncing back after a couple of paltry performances. D.J. Chark is not someone you’d expect to the top the list like, say, DeAndre Hopkins, but he’s had himself some solid games so far this year, including a pair of touchdowns and 164 receiving yards against Carolina in week 5. Of the two Minnesota receivers listed in Darwin’s top five, Stefon Diggs is a far more interesting choice after he suddenly broke out with 167 receiving yards and three touchdowns last week.
Michael Gallup, while somewhat inconsistent with two great performances and two duds so far this season, is expected to have an increased role when he plays against the Eagles terrible pass defense. Darwin predicts he’ll put up 8.9 points. Darwin also predicts Julian Edelman to be a safe bet with 8.5 points, especially if Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett are out of the lineup on Monday night.
Tight Ends (TE)
Darwin’s Take On Tight Ends
Both Darwin and fantasydata seem to agree that George Kittle is going to have a good game against Washington, which isn’t a surprise since he’s been pretty consistent this season. You’ll have to keep an eye on Hunter Henry, who only just returned from injury after missing five weeks.
Darwin predicts that Austin Hooper and Travis Kelce will put up 6.5 points and 6.3 points, respectively. Just make sure you don’t put in Will Dissly; Darwin says he will score 6.1 points, but it was announced yesterday that he will need surgery to fix his torn achilles, and thus will be out the rest of the season. As a replacement, consider Delanie Walker who Darwin predicts will score 5.9 points.