Where are Tony Pollard’s touchdowns?

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20)

Tony Pollard’s real-life workload hasn’t matched up to his fantasy production. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A simple look at a box score or a study of fantasy categories doesn’t always tell the whole story of how a player is performing. Dalton Del Don attempts to identify misleading numbers that are worth a closer look.

Yes … The Numbers Do Lie.

Garrett Wilson’s 10.4 fantasy points per game are a lie

Wilson isn’t going to live up to his ADP with Aaron Rodgers out, but we can expect much better fantasy production moving forward. The Jets have faced an abnormally high number of strong pass defenses to open the year, including a couple of the league’s top shadow corners over the last two games. G. Wilson saw a healthy dose of coverage by Patrick Surtain last week, when he still nearly had multiple big plays.

Zach Wilson continues to be a real problem, costing countless fantasy points last week. But the young QB is also clearly improving (and has a +2.1% CPAE) and continues to pepper Wilson with targets. Wilson hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2 but has seen seven red-zone targets (four inside the 10) over that three-game span. A.J. Brown, Calvin Ridley, CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson all haven’t seen seven red-zone targets this season.

Wilson ranks sixth in target share and seventh in unrealized air yards but is the No. 33 fantasy wide receiver this year. His turnaround starts this week against an Eagles funnel defense that ranks first against the run but 19th versus the pass in DVOA. Philadelphia allows a bigger percentage of its fantasy points to wide receivers than any team in the league. An unleashed Breece Hall will help the Jets’ offense too, so the window to trade for Wilson is closing.

Matthew Stafford’s five touchdown passes are a lie

Stafford is playing far better this season now healthy, but his touchdown production doesn’t show it. He has the fourth-most passing yards — the other four in the top five of that category have an average of 10.5 touchdown passes this season. Stafford has the second-most attempts in the league but ranks 17th in TD passes. He has the most incomplete air yards on dropped passes in the league.

The Rams have the sixth-highest pass rate over expectation this season and just got Cooper Kupp back. Suddenly Los Angeles is loaded at wide receiver with Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell (who just missed a long TD from Stafford last week) and a healthy Kupp. Stafford is one season removed from throwing 41 touchdowns and might have better weapons now. The Rams play indoors in eight of their next 10 games, so Stafford is a screaming buy low in fantasy leagues.

Lamar Jackson’s Week 5 stats were a lie

Jackson was barely a top-20 fantasy QB last week, throwing for just 236 yards without a touchdown. Jackson wasn’t perfect (his worst throw of the day was a crushing late interception), but he deserved far better. The Ravens had more drops in the first half (six) than they had all season prior (five), finishing with the most in a game this season. Baltimore dropped three touchdown passes in the nightmare performance, while Zay Flowers lost his footing on another possible 75-yard score. Jackson’s numbers should’ve looked far better. Expect a huge bounce-back this week against a pass-funnel Titans defense in London.

Joe Mixon’s one touchdown is a lie

Mixon suffered bad touchdown luck last season too, so at some point it falls on the player. Still, even an inefficient Mixon behind shaky run-blocking should produce more scores moving forward given his role. He’s top-five in carries inside the five-yard line this season but was stopped at the one three separate times last week, when he had by far the highest RB fantasy usage (but didn’t finish as a top-15 RB).

Mixon is the RB24 in fantasy scoring this season but the RB11 in expected fantasy points per game. He doesn’t have a favorable matchup this week against a pass-funnel Seattle defense that ranks No. 2 in run defense DVOA while allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game (59.3) to running backs. But most importantly, Joe Burrow finally looked healthy and like his old self last week (after entering with the lowest YPA in NFL history for a QB with 150+ passes), and Cincinnati’s schedule eases up over the second half. Mixon will start hitting paydirt soon.

Tony Pollard’s two touchdowns are a lie

Like Mixon, Pollard is a repeat offender in this column who deserves some blame for failing to cash in on so many scoring opportunities. After being one of the most efficient backs in the league throughout his career, Pollard is getting just 4.2 YPC and is last in the league in avoided tackle rate. He hasn’t scored since Week 1 despite leading the NFL in rush attempts in the red zone, inside the 10 and inside the five.

Pollard is the RB5 in expected fantasy points but the RB18 in actual fantasy points per game this season.

A drop in efficiency isn’t totally unexpected given Pollard’s new workhorse role, and it’s likely he’ll start breaking tackles again closer to his career rate. The Cowboys finally got their offensive line healthy and fully together last week, when Dallas played in yet another matchup with a wild game script. The average margin of victory in Cowboys games this season has been 27.8 points!

Pollard is a major touchdown regression candidate once all these fluky factors normalize. It should start Monday night against a run-funnel Chargers defense, so throw out trade offers for Pollard.

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