With fantasy football season quickly approaching as we cruise into the latter half of August, managers are narrowing down their lists of targets with hopes of securing those undervalued, diamond-in-the-rough type assets come draft night.
Equally as important as adding undervalued players, however, is not overvaluing others, which requires a solid grasp on where last season's top fantasy producers are trending, how to analyze their value and, ultimately, where to rank and select them for the 2022 campaign.
This is where regression comes in, but it's not as scary a word as it seems. As Yahoo Sports fantasy analyst Matt Harmon explained: Just because these players are likely to regress, does not mean they're bad picks this year. It just means the way they score points is likely to change, based on a variety of factors.
Bengals star quarterback Joe Burrow is a prime example of a player who should still be exceptional this season, just not in the exact same way he went about doing it in 2021.
Ranking an NFL-best in yards per attempt and third in touchdown rate last season, Burrow is extremely unlikely to duplicate that in those categories this years, mainly because of how much those stats — especially TD rate — typically fluctuate from year to year.
For Burrow to really thrive and reach his ceiling from a fantasy perspective this year, Cincinnati has to throw the ball. A lot. They could very well switch to a quicker-paced, more uptempo style of offence that passes more based on some of their offseason upgrades to the offensive line — which is once again the real x-factor for Joey B and the Bengals.
Even league average play from Cincinnati's o-line will allow the Bengals to play faster and throw more, allowing Burrow to throw at a higher rate and subsequently thrive in that area as the aforementioned efficiency metrics regress.
Though the Patriots running back finished tied for second in the NFL with 15 rushing TD's, Damien Harris finished outside the top-15 in overall carries, and his usage looks poised to decline even more in 2022 as the Patriots potentially morph back into more of a passing team as quarterback Mac Jones continues to evolve in Bill Belichick's system.
Added to that concerning trend from a fantasy perspective is how crowded New England's backfield is, with several Patriots backs likely to factor into the team's offensive workload, especially early in the season, which leaves even less carries for Harris to work with.
He also isn't much of a passing-down back and won't make up his points that way, making him a risky pick at his current ADP.
There's basically no chance of Cooper Kupp repeating what he did last season but, again, that does not mean he's not a solid pick for your fantasy squad.
He likely won't lead the NFL in catches, yards and touchdowns again as a regression is inevitable but he has a mountain top to regress from and can still be a fantasy stud if he takes a step or two back.
Players like Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, Bills star Stefon Diggs and Bengals phenom Ja'Marr Chase could very well outscore Kupp in any or all of those key WR categories this season, which says a lot good about those guys then it does bad about Kupp.
All signs point to Kupp potentially not being that league-wide No. 1 lock receiver he was last year. Still an absolute beast, though.
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