One of the more recent trends in Fantasy Football is using a player’s weekly consistency to determine his value rather than his overall, year-end total points. Bob Lung has a phenomenal E-book that breaks down consistency ratings for all of the top players. After reading it, I began to wonder whether I had been going about my draft strategy all wrong.
A Good Old Fashioned Player A vs. Player B Argument
The basis of the comparison between the two strategies can be boiled down to one example. Which player would you rather have:
Player A: scores a total of 160 points, exactly 10 points every week
Player B: scores a total of 176 points, but his variance from week to week goes from 5 points to 25 points
Now I am tackling this debate from the more common, weekly head-to-head league perspective. So in this format, the team with the most points at the end of the season can theoretically be left out of the playoffs (which is not the case in some leagues with non-standard rules which will be an article for another day). Therefore, Player A’s consistency is more valuable since you are just trying to win each week individually, right?
Evans or White? Wallace or Johnson?
Let’s look at two similar players from last season, Mike Evans and Roddy White. They both ended the season with around a 15-16 points per game average (PPR leagues). White though, had a 19% higher consistency score (79% to Evans’ 60%). That means that even though Roddy White scored about a point less per game than Evans, he was a consistent starter about a third more of the time.
This is where it gets tricky though: Mike Evans had two games with more than 30 points and three with more than 25. Do you know how many instances Roddy White had of either? Zero. In fact, Mike Evans hit the 30-point barrier just as many times as Roddy White hit the 20-point mark in a game.
Another good example with players a couple of tiers down would be comparing Mike Wallace and Andre Johnson. Again, both average just around 13 points per game on the season, but Johnson had a higher consistency score of 73 percent to Wallace’s 69 percent. Their 20-point games were similar with two instances for Johnson and three for Wallace, but the 16-point games stand out more significantly. Mike Wallace reached that plateau six times last season while Andre Johnson only did three times.
What I kept coming back to when comparing the players’ consistency was would I rather have a guaranteed 10 points a week but won’t score more than 18 or a chance at 25 points from a player even though I might only get five?
How Many Wins Does Your Team Need?
When I got to this point in my research, I started to realize that each league is different as far as the goal for the season. I mean obviously everyone wants to be undefeated, but with different leagues, a different amount of teams make the playoffs. So while in some leagues eight out of 10 teams make the post-season, some have only four out of 12 teams play on.
With that in mind, a Fantasy team’s goal for its regular season win total really varies. In the above mentioned 10-team league, you can probably skate by and make the playoffs with just a 4-9 record. However in the 12-team league, you are going to have to win at least eight out of 13 to even have a chance.
I think this divergence should help the Fantasy Player decide which route to take in the weekly consistency vs. year-end point total. If your team only needs to win a handful of games to get in the playoffs, why not take the chances for a boom-or-bust type team that can make a run in the playoffs? Now if every regular season game matters, I could see sticking to the more consistent guys that give you a chance to win every single week.
Now take the two routes of drafting, weekly consistency vs. year-end total points, and compare what beats what. A consistent team beats a total points team on a low week, has a 50/50 shot against another consistency squad, but will lose to a high week from a total points team. A team drafted with upside on total points that has a good week will beat both the bad week as well as consistent teams, with a 50/50 shot at another total points team with a good week. So a strictly consistent team has a chance to lose, even on their high weeks, while the total points team with upside always has a shot to win.
Give Me More Points!
Personally, I prefer the player that will have the higher year-end total points. Look, I know that you can’t always have a “good week” but you are fooling yourself if you think you will win in the playoffs without one. I want my team to have a chance in the playoffs, no matter how much my opponent’s team goes off.
I also feel safe that no matter what league I am in, if I lead in total points scored then I will be in the mix at the end. You obviously want a player with high year-end total points that is also consistent weekly, but those are the players you can only secure in the early rounds. When it comes to a mid-round pick, I will take a higher point total over consistency.
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