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2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Fantasy Football Consistency: Starter Consistency

LeVeon Bell and Consistency
Photo Credit: Brook Ward

Consistency is one of the biggest keys to a successful Fantasy Football team. If the players on your team are not consistent, then it will be hard to make the playoffs in your league.

I have written before that I am a bigger proponent of year-end point total than a consistent scorer. For example, I said I would take the guy who has three 30-point games and two duds, instead of the person who scores 12 points in all five games.

While I have come around a bit on consistency, there is still the size your league and the playoff format that factor into the equation. If it is a deep league with a small playoff structure, consistency means more because every regular season game counts. If you play in a smaller league or where most of the league makes the playoffs, you want the big-game performers because it all comes down to having the highest scoring team in the playoffs.

The one problem I have always had with consistency charts and analysis is that they use every player in the category. By that I mean players that no one in the world started that week are used as part of the rankings.

I am much more interested in finding the consistency of players within the pool of start-able guys.

Starter Consistency

When I say “starter consistency” I am meaning the pool of players that are seen as starters at their position and the consistency within that pool. If a stud running back gets hurt on the first play of the game and his backup ends up as the leading scorer of the week, that does not tell the whole story.

For this analysis, I am focusing on the Top 24 scoring running backs, the 36 highest scoring wide receivers and the Top 18 quarterbacks and tight ends.

I know, no one could possibly predict the leading scorers pre-season. I do think that these groups are panned out after the first three or four games though. At that point, you know which players are truly worthy of starting outside of a matchup here or there.

So what I am finding is which players are the most consistent within these groups. I used these numbers since most leagues are a setup of 2RB/3WR or 2RB/2WR/1FLEX with most flexes as wide receivers. I added a few more tight ends and quarterbacks since these positions get streamed a little more.

For these charts, we will see how many times a player is “Elite” at his position. For WR and RB, this would be finishing as a Top 12 option. With QBs and TEs, it would be a Top 6 finish. We will also see how often the player finished in the top half of that “1” group, or what I will call a “Stud.”

I am also using 0.5 points per reception scoring. This way it is in the middle and can somewhat represent both standard and PPR scoring. You will see the “Rk,” which is the player’s final ranking at the position. The “%” rankings are where he finished within each range.

 

Running Backs

 

Player Rk. 1-6% 7-12% ELITE %
LeVeon Bell 3 58.33 41.67 100.00
David Johnson 1 68.75 25.00 93.75
Ezekiel Elliott 2 53.33 40.00 93.33
LeSean McCoy 4 53.33 33.33 86.67
DeMarco Murray 5 43.75 37.50 81.25
Melvin Gordon 7 53.85 23.08 76.92
Devonta Freeman 6 31.25 37.50 68.75
LeGarrette Blount 8 18.75 43.75 62.50
Jay Ajayi 11 26.67 33.33 60.00
Latavius Murray 13 21.43 35.71 57.14
Carlos Hyde 15 30.77 23.08 53.85
Tevin Coleman 18 15.38 38.46 53.85
Jordan Howard 10 33.33 20.00 53.33
Frank Gore 12 12.50 37.50 50.00
Todd Gurley 17 0.00 50.00 50.00
Lamar Miller 19 21.43 28.57 50.00
Isaiah Crowell 14 18.75 25.00 43.75
Matt Forte 20 28.57 14.29 42.86
Jeremy Hill 22 13.33 26.67 40.00
Jonathan Stewart 24 23.08 15.38 38.46
Mark Ingram 9 25.00 12.50 37.50
Spencer Ware 16 14.29 21.43 35.71
Bilal Powell 21 25.00 6.25 31.25
Terrance West 23 6.25 25.00 31.25

 

  • The obvious lead off here is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT for LeVeon Bell. That is ridiculous. Every time Bell started a game, he finished as an RB1. I know there are injury concerns, but he is the obvious option for the top overall pick to me.
  • David Johnson was not far behind him. He even had a higher percentage of finishing as a stud.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is tied with David Johnson if he did not sit out Week 17. Zeke had just one single week outside of RB1 status but still scored 10.7 points.
  • After the first three, there was a clear second tier. McCoy, Murray, and Gordon each provided over 75% of RB1 weeks, with McCoy/Gordon having a few more stud games.
  • The biggest thing I learned from this exercise: 16 of the 25 running backs were between 35% and 68%. Basically, the majority of starting-worthy running backs gave you one- to two-thirds games as RB1s.
  • Mark Ingram was the ninth-highest scoring running back but was near the bottom in consistency. I think he managed his total by sheer volume, which isn’t a bad thing unless Adrian Peterson just joined your team.
  • After the obvious top two tiers, I would argue that 8 of the last 18 ranked guys were not drafted as starters. So almost half of the “start-able” guys were undrafted or picked as late-round flyers. This is a major factor in my soon to be unveiled “Single-RB Theory.”

 

Wide Receivers

 

Player Rk. 1-6% 7-12% ELITE %
Antonio Brown 3 33.33 33.33 66.67
Julio Jones 6 42.86 21.43 64.29
Mike Evans 2 25.00 37.50 62.50
Jordy Nelson 1 43.75 12.50 56.25
Odell Beckham 4 18.75 37.50 56.25
Michael Thomas 7 20.00 33.33 53.33
T.Y. Hilton 5 37.50 12.50 50.00
Terrelle Pryor 21 12.50 37.50 50.00
Dez Bryant 32 30.77 15.38 46.15
Davante Adams 8 25.00 18.75 43.75
Michael Crabtree 11 25.00 18.75 43.75
Tyreek Hill 14 18.75 25.00 43.75
A.J. Green 34 40.00 0.00 40.00
Jarvis Landry 15 12.50 25.00 37.50
Tyrell Williams 16 12.50 25.00 37.50
Rishard Matthews 19 12.50 25.00 37.50
Brandin Cooks 9 18.75 12.50 31.25
Doug Baldwin 10 31.25 0.00 31.25
Amari Cooper 12 12.50 18.75 31.25
Larry Fitzgerald 13 18.75 12.50 31.25
Demaryius Thomas 17 6.25 25.00 31.25
Golden Tate 20 25.00 6.25 31.25
Kelvin Benjamin 24 12.50 18.75 31.25
Allen Robinson 26 6.25 25.00 31.25
Brandon LaFell 33 18.75 12.50 31.25
Willie Snead 31 6.67 20.00 26.67
Emmanuel Sanders 22 25.00 0.00 25.00
Mike Wallace 23 12.50 12.50 25.00
Adam Theilen 29 12.50 12.50 25.00
DeAndre Hopkins 30 6.25 18.75 25.00
DeSean Jackson 35 6.25 18.75 25.00
Sterling Shepard 36 0.00 25.00 25.00
Kenny Britt 27 6.67 13.33 20.00
Julian Edelman 17 12.50 6.25 18.75
Jamison Crowder 25 12.50 6.25 18.75
Pierre Garcon 28 6.25 12.50 18.75

 

  • Surprise, surprise: Antonio Brown tops the list. Some saw his season as a disappointment because he wasn’t the highest scoring receiver. It just shows how great he really is that finishing as the third-highest scorer at your position and being the most consistent is a failure.
  • The Top 7 scorers stayed the same in some order for consistency and I imagine they will be the first seven wide-outs off the board this season.
  • Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson and A.J. Green had the highest stud percentage. This makes sense as these guys tend to thrive off of big plays.
  • Dez Bryant and Terrelle Pryor are the risers from their overall points’ rankings. Both were amazingly consistent when they were on the field. Now Pryor gets a massive quarterback upgrade in Washington, and Dez starts the season fully healthy. Very intriguing guys to pick up in the second and third rounds.
  • A. J. Green is in a similar boat to Dez and Pryor, except he has now missed significant time in two of the last three seasons. However, when he is on the field, he is a strong bet for consistent scoring.
  • While 16 different running backs are RB1s in this format at least half the time, only eight wide receivers accomplished that number. Furthermore, only 16 receivers finished as WR1s at least 33% of the time.
  • My takeaway from these tiers: you want to get at least two of these more consistent wide receivers. There were 12 players at 43.75% and getting two of those should be a priority. This will further lead to my Single-RB Theory.

Tight Ends

 

Player Rk. 1-3% 4-6% ELITE %
Kyle Rudolph 2 31.25 25.00 56.25
Jimmy Graham 4 12.50 37.50 50.00
Greg Olsen 3 18.75 31.25 50.00
Travis Kelce 1 37.50 12.50 50.00
Jordan Reed 9 23.08 23.08 46.15
Zach Ertz 6 28.57 14.29 42.86
Antonio Gates 11 14.29 28.57 42.86
Hunter Henry 16 6.67 33.33 40.00
Delanie Walker 5 33.33 6.67 40.00
Dennis Pitta 10 12.50 25.00 37.50
Martellus Bennett 8 18.75 18.75 37.50
Cameron Brate 7 20.00 13.33 33.33
Eric Ebron 14 15.38 15.38 30.77
C.J. Fiedorowicz 18 13.33 13.33 26.67
Charles Clay 17 13.33 13.33 26.67
Jack Doyle 13 12.50 12.50 25.00
Coby Fleener 15 12.50 12.50 25.00
Jason Witten 12 12.50 6.25 18.75

 

  • Kyle Rudolph had the quietest elite season of anyone I can remember. In some scoring formats, he was the top-scoring tight end. It probably has to do with all of the failure to live up to previous expectations that have put a sour taste in peoples’ mouths.
  • After Rudolph are the usual suspects of Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed. I think the drop-off after these guys is massive and will do everything I can to lock one of them into my roster. The consistency scores are not as bad, but when the guys below them don’t score big, they don’t score at all.
  • Notice that Rob Gronkowski is not on the chart. He did not finish in the Top 18 at the position last year. Obviously, he is probably the most consistent if he’s on the field. He’s just never on the field. I will not be drafting him this year.
  • Delanie Walker is another silent assassin. Every year he gets passed over, and every year he is a quality starter.
  • Something I noticed looking at each player’s game log: Eric Ebron is arguably the most consistent scorer. He had the highest percentage of games with at least 5 (.5PPR) points of ALL tight ends. As far as never laying an absolute dud, you can do worse than Ebron in the late rounds.

Quarterbacks

 

Player Rk. 1-3% 4-6% ELITE %
Aaron Rodgers 1 50.00 18.75 68.75
Andrew Luck 4 20.00 40.00 60.00
Drew Brees 3 37.50 18.75 56.25
Matt Ryan 2 31.25 18.75 50.00
Tom Brady 18 41.67 8.33 50.00
Kirk Cousins 5 12.50 31.25 43.75
Derek Carr 12 6.67 33.33 40.00
Matthew Stafford 7 18.75 18.75 37.50
Russell Wilson 9 12.50 25.00 37.50
Ben Roethlisberger 17 21.43 14.29 35.71
Marcus Mariota 14 26.67 6.67 33.33
Dak Prescott 6 0.00 31.25 31.25
Cam Newton 16 12.50 18.75 31.25
Tyrod Taylor 11 20.00 6.67 26.67
Blake Bortles 8 6.25 12.50 18.75
Philip Rivers 10 0.00 18.75 18.75
Jameis Winston 13 12.50 6.25 18.75
Andy Dalton 15 6.25 6.25 12.50

 

  • Just like tight ends, the usual suspects are in the Top 5 for consistency. These elite five guys were tops in points per game as well. I am not a fan of the opportunity cost at rostering one of the elite signal-callers. There is a feeling of safety that it achieves.
  • Ben Roethlisberger was being argued in the previous group last year, and I had more than one draft in which he was the first quarterback taken. A 17th place finish in points scored at the position put a “bust” label on him. I am completely fine with that, as now he is a post-bust sleeper going as the 12th quarterback off the board. His elite consistency was there though. He had the sixth highest “stud” percentage.
  • Surprisingly, Marcus Mariota had the FIFTH highest “stud” percentage. You could do worse with your Round 11 pick than taking the Titans’ signal caller.
  • Dak Prescott is in line for a sophomore slump, Fantasy wise. I think his rushing touchdowns are a bit unsustainable and I do not think he will have a massive increase in passing numbers. He doesn’t need to produce at that level. I am staying completely away from him this year.
  • While Tyrod Taylor actually ended the year eighth in Fantasy points per game, he was 14th in starter consistency. He seems a little too boom or bust for me to use as my quarterback. I want a bit more safety at that position.
  • Jameis Winston is a hot name rising up the early draft boards. However, I am a bit skeptical. He was an elite quarterback less than 20% of the time last season. I was a big promoter last year, strictly due to his schedule: New Orleans twice in the Fantasy Playoff Weeks. He did not deliver though.

 

Final Takeaways

This exercise accomplished what I wanted. I found the players that are time and again consistent at an elite level in comparison to the other Fantasy Starters at the position. It also helped me confirm my suspicion. While the Elite RB top tiers are smaller than the same levels of wide receiver, the drop off is bigger. What I mean is that there is a larger amount of wide receivers that produce at a consistently elite level.

The next group is so much less consistent. I do not want to have to count on one of them as my WR2. As opposed to the running backs, where there is a plateau of about 20 players that produce at about the same level. This will be the driving factor for my Single-RB Theory.

Michael Tomlin
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Michael Tomlin

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog, Dirkland.blogspot.com, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.
Michael Tomlin
Follow Me

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog, Dirkland.blogspot.com, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.

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