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Consistency: The Key To Winning Your Fantasy Football League

Consistency (noun): the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly over time.

Often times in fantasy football the team with the most total points falls short of winning your fantasy football league title. In order to win fantasy football leagues, team owners must draft consistently productive players. ESPN writer Tristan Cockroft introduced five stats to distinguish the consistently productive players from the rest.

Using 2013 statistics and fantasy points determined by ESPN standard scoring, these five metrics identified the reliable players.

Start: the number of times that the player’s point total in a given week was worthy of having him active in an ESPN standard league.

Stud: the number of times the player’s point total ranked among the top at his position.

Stiff: the number of times the player’s point total ranked among the worst at his position.

Sat: the number of times a player missed a game. Players are not penalized with stiff points but it lessens their overall consistency rating.

Consistency rating %: the number of “start” performances divided by scheduled team games.

Consistency: The Key To Winning Your Fantasy Football League

Here were the top 10 most consistent quarterbacks for 2013.

P. Manning 75%
D. Brees 68%
A. Luck 50%
M. Stafford 50%
R. Wilson 50%
C. Newton 43.8%
C. Kaepernick 43.8%
N. Foles 43.8%
A. Smith 43.8%
A. Dalton 37.5% (tied w/ 5 other QBs)

One approach is to draft a sleeper quarterback like Russell Wilson. Wilson, the number 10 QB on draft day, was the 5th most consistent starter. Only 4 times all season did he score lower than 14 points. One way of approaching a fantasy draft is to find reliable value at the QB position and look for superstars at the RB/WR/FLEX positions.

Of the top 17 scoring leaders last year, 14 were quarterbacks. The other three running backs, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, and Matt Forte are extremely valuable because they scored the most points relative to other players at their position. They also posted much higher consistency numbers than any quarterback.

Last year, Andrew Luck (279 points) and Geno Smith (179 points) combined outscored Jamaal Charles (295 points) and Andre Johnson (161 points). Does this mean that Luck and Smith combined are better fantasy players? Not at all, because teams are only allowed 1 quarterback and multiple running backs and wide receivers. It means that the performance of a QB is easier to replace than a running back. RBs have more variance in production, so the few elite are very valuable. Cam Newton had the 4th highest point total but should not be drafted 4th overall.

Implementing a dual QB approach can also be effective. Starting a QB based upon the opposing defense is a sound strategy. One way of preparing is looking at team schedule to see which QB is playing a particular soft or tough defense.

Lets say I draft Carson Palmer and Alex Smith. It’s week 3 and Palmer faces off against a tough 49ers defense. I would start Smith against the Dolphin’s below average pass defense.

Then, for week 12, I would start Smith against a soft Oakland Raider pass defense while Palmer faces a tough Seahawks defense. This is in contrast to elite RBs, who tend to perform at a high level regardless of the opponent.

Running Backs
Player Consistency Rating %
J. Charles 93.8%
L. McCoy 93.8%
M. Forte 87.5%
K. Moreno 81.3%
E. Lacy 81.3%
C. Johnson 75%
F. Jackson 75%
R. Matthews 75%
M. Lynch 68.8%
D. Murray 68.8% (tied w/ 3 other RBs)

Jamaal Charles would have had a perfect consistency rating if it weren’t for the Chiefs clinching the number 5 playoff spot following week 15. Charles is an outstanding talent but there are legitimate questions as to whether he can sustain 2013’s performance. McCoy, Forte, and Moreno play with better quarterbacks, making it more difficult for teams to focus on the rush.

I doubt that the aging Chris Johnson will post another 75% consistency rating this season. Defenses will try to stop the run because Geno Smith lacks the ability to throw the ball down field.

Wide Receivers
D. Thomas 75%
B. Marshall 75%
A.J. Green 68.8%
A. Brown 68.8%
D. Bryant 68.8%
J. Gordon 62.5%
C. Johnson 56.3%
A. Jeffrey 56.3%
J. Nelson 56.3%
L. Fitzgerald 56.3%

It’s not surprising one of Manning’s wideouts is rated the most consistent performer. Wes Welker posted a 50% consistency rating despite missing weeks 15-17. The Bears offensive attacks poses multiple threats so look for Brandon Marshall to have his share of opportunities on game day. I expect the speedy and elusive Dez Bryant to post similar 13’ numbers in 14’.

Tight Ends
J. Graham 68.8%
V. Davis 56.3%
J. Thomas 56.3%
J. Cameron 50.0%
G. Olsen 50.0%
J. Witten 43.8%
C. Clay 43.8%
A. Gates 43.8%
T. Gonzalez 37.5%
M. Bennett 37.5%

Matthew Berry ranks Jimmy Graham the 9th best fantasy football player. It’s very rare to see that kind of output at the TE position. Graham was rated a “stud” 8 times last year, no other TE managed that feat more than 4 times. If you can’t draft Graham, it’s best to wait until the very end on a tight end.

S. Gostkowski 68.8%
J. Tucker 56.3%
S. Hauscha 56.3%
P. Dawson 56.3%
M. Prater 50.0%

It’s hard to imagine Gostkowski will have many opportunities to be consistent this year, particularly with Gronkowski healthy. I expect the Patriots to be better at scoring TDs in the red zone, which will inevitably reduce Gostkowski’s consistency rating.

Defense/Special teams
Panthers 68.8%
49ers 68.8%
Seahawks 62.5%
Bengals 62.5%
Chiefs 50.0%

It’s best to wait on defenses. The Chiefs and Panthers were drafted in 3.5 and 3.9 percent of ESPN leagues.

It will be interesting to see how useful the consistency rating metrics are at projecting performance amongst seasons. It’s much easier to be consistent within a 16 game season than to perform at a high level across multiple seasons.

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