Fantasy football consistency: 14 thoughts to consider when drafting running backs in 2011

These consistency discussions review how good players were in 2010 and how our perceptions, especially now that we’re scouring statistics prepping for the 2011 season, have been altered by certain performances.

I am talking specifically about feast-or-famine players and how they are not as valuable as a more consistently average player.

I didn’t make it perfectly clear in either of the last two posts (other updates coming) but a lot of fantasy football stars are stars because they are consistently average.

Most of the lower tier players may pop out a 20-point game here or there, but studs can give you at least an average performance on a majority of weeks.

I got a little long in the tooth with my quarterbacks post and, as I tend to do, got lost in my own words.

This running backs post will be a little leaner with a little less jargon.

But first, JARGON!

In looking for the most consistent players, I reviewed weekly fantasy point totals for the 2010 season. I wanted to determine the amount of times players A) Scored at an average rate consistently, B) Scored at least as much as the worst fantasy starter at their position, C) Scored a high point total, D) Scored a low point total.

The benchmarks used for each of those were determined by calculations I discussed in the primer and my own personal opinion on high and low scores. Here are the benchmarks:

Starting running back weekly average: 13.46

Worst starting running back weekly average: 9.06

High-scoring: 19.9 points or higher

Low-scoring: 6 points or less

UPDATE: At a reader’s request, here is the list. Ovrnk is rank by total points scored, totpts is total points, pts/g is pretty obvious, avst is the number of games players met the average start benchmark, wst is the number of times a player scored worst-starter numbers, followed by games, high-scoring weeks and low-scoring weeks.

ovrnk Name Tm totpts pts/g avst wst g hi lo
1 Foster, Arian HOU 363.8 22.74 13 14 16 9 1
12 Jones-Drew, M. JAC 230.1 14.38 8 10 14 7 1
6 McFadden, Darren OAK 245.4 15.34 8 10 13 5 1
8 McCoy, LeSean PHI 238.2 14.89 9 11 15 5 0
5 Charles, Jamaal KAN 251.5 15.72 8 14 16 4 1
17 Gore, Frank SFO 179.5 11.22 7 8 11 4 2
3 Peterson, Adrian MIN 262.3 16.39 7 11 15 6 2
4 Hillis, Peyton CLE 260.05 16.25 8 12 16 5 2
9 Mendenhall, R. PIT 235 14.69 10 11 16 4 2
2 Johnson, Chris TEN 262.9 16.43 9 10 16 7 4
14 Bradshaw, Ahmad NYG 213.4 13.34 9 10 16 4 2
13 Jackson, Steven STL 220 13.75 6 12 16 3 0
7 Turner, Michael ATL 245 15.31 8 10 16 6 4
11 Forte, Matt CHI 231.6 14.48 7 10 16 3 0
10 Rice, Ray BAL 231.9 14.49 7 12 16 2 2
15 Green-Ellis, B. NWE 193.3 12.08 8 10 16 2 3
29 Torain, Ryan WAS 130.7 8.17 4 6 10 2 2
20 Moreno, Knowshon DEN 167.1 10.44 6 8 14 3 5
18 Tolbert, Mike SDG 173.3 10.83 5 7 15 3 3
45 Addai, Joseph IND 87.9 5.49 2 4 8 2 2
21 Tomlinson, L. NYJ 166.4 10.4 3 9 15 1 2
22 Blount, LeGarrette TAM 149.1 9.32 5 6 13 1 4
26 Bush, Michael OAK 142.9 8.93 5 7 14 2 7
16 Benson, Cedric CIN 188.9 11.81 5 6 16 2 5
55 Thomas, Pierre NOR 61 3.81 1 3 7 0 1
23 Jacobs, Brandon NYG 146.2 9.14 3 7 16 2 6
19 Jackson, Fred BUF 170.9 10.68 4 5 16 3 6
27 Jones, Felix DAL 141.4 8.84 3 7 16 0 4
30 Woodhead, Danny NWE 130.6 8.16 2 7 14 0 4
31 Mathews, Ryan SDG 126 7.88 2 5 12 1 4
25 Jones, Thomas KAN 143 8.94 5 6 16 1 7
48 Morris, Maurice DET 83.9 5.24 2 4 10 1 5
40 Jennings, Rashad JAC 98.2 6.14 2 4 12 1 5
36 Ivory, Chris NOR 107.3 6.71 4 4 12 2 8
59 James, Javarris IND 52.5 3.28 1 3 7 0 3
35 Stewart, Jonathan CAR 109.3 6.83 4 5 14 0 7
24 Best, Jahvid DET 145 9.06 3 5 15 1 7
49 Westbrook, Brian SFO 82.1 5.13 2 4 11 2 7
28 Jackson, Brandon GNB 131.5 8.22 3 5 16 0 7
47 Brown, Donald IND 85.2 5.32 2 4 13 1 7
80 McKnight, Joe NYJ 25.9 1.62 1 1 4 1 3
38 Goodson, Mike CAR 100.8 6.3 3 4 13 1 8
34 Hightower, Tim ARI 119.2 7.45 3 4 15 2 9
70 Portis, Clinton WAS 40.2 2.51 1 1 5 0 2
32 Brown, Ronnie MIA 125.7 7.86 2 4 16 0 6
62 Williams, DeAngelo CAR 47.2 2.95 1 1 6 0 2
33 Lynch, Marshawn SEA 120.9 7.56 1 4 16 1 7
43 Sproles, Darren SDG 92 5.75 2 5 16 0 9
41 Williams, Ricky MIA 97.5 6.09 2 4 16 0 8
37 Greene, Shonn NYJ 101.6 6.35 2 4 15 0 8
66 Betts, Ladell NOR 42.1 2.63 0 1 7 0 2
46 Williams, Keiland WAS 86 5.38 1 3 13 1 7
39 Williams, Carnell TAM 100.2 6.26 1 4 16 0 8
77 Hart, Mike IND 27.4 1.71 0 2 5 0 3
44 Forsett, Justin SEA 89.6 5.6 2 3 16 0 9
86 Cobbs, Patrick MIA 21.7 1.36 0 2 6 0 4
92 Rhodes, Dominic IND 16.6 1.04 0 1 3 0 2
104 Conner, John NYJ 11.3 0.71 0 1 3 0 2
50 McGahee, Willis BAL 79.4 4.96 1 4 15 0 10
61 Harrison, Jerome PHI 49.5 3.09 1 2 9 1 7
64 Reece, Marcel OAK 44.6 2.79 2 2 9 0 7
67 Bush, Reggie NOR 41.2 2.58 0 2 8 0 5
53 Ward, Derrick HOU 61.8 3.86 1 3 13 0 9
51 Kuhn, John GNB 73.8 4.61 1 2 15 1 10
58 Choice, Tashard DAL 55.5 3.47 2 2 12 0 9
42 Snelling, Jason ATL 95.7 5.98 1 2 14 1 10
54 Buckhalter, Correll DEN 61.7 3.86 1 2 13 1 10
52 Barber, Marion DAL 66.5 4.16 0 2 12 0 9
56 Wells, Chris ARI 59.3 3.71 0 2 12 0 9
71 Graham, Earnest TAM 38.1 2.38 0 1 10 0 7
72 Dixon, Anthony SFO 38 2.38 0 1 10 0 7
73 Darby, Kenneth STL 34.9 2.18 0 1 10 0 7
57 Taylor, Chester CHI 58.9 3.68 0 1 15 0 11
60 Gerhart, Toby MIN 52.1 3.26 1 1 15 0 12
75 Stephens-Howling ARI 28.4 1.77 0 1 11 0 9
65 Redman, Isaac PIT 43.9 2.74 0 2 15 0 13
63 Spiller, C.J. BUF 47 2.94 0 1 14 0 12
69 Ringer, Javon TEN 40.3 2.52 0 1 15 0 13
84 Mughelli, Ovie ATL 22.2 1.39 0 1 11 0 10
68 Scott, Bernard CIN 40.9 2.56 0 1 14 0 13
74 Moore, Mewelde PIT 34.4 2.15 0 1 14 0 13

—–

What follows are some of the big-ticket realizations from my findings:

1. The difference between consistency rankings and final point rankings was pretty dramatic at the top. While most of the top 15 running backs at the end of the year in final points were among the most consistent, there was a lot of shuffling.

2. Except for Arian Foster, who was the most consistent running back in 2011. He had nine high-scoring weeks, pacing the field by two weeks, and had only one low-scoring week. He also scored at least average-starter points in 13 of 16 weeks.

3. The No. 2 most consistent running back was not Adrian Peterson, it was Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD missed two games, but he scored at least as much as you should expect from the worst fantasy starter in 71% of his games and had seven high-scoring games, second only to Foster’s 9.

4. The only other player with that many high-scoring games was Chris Johnson. Johnson, unfortunately for his owners, also had more low-scoring games than any other running back in the consistency top-10.

5. MJD’s final point total ranked him 12th, but only Foster helped owners win more consistently on a weekly basis.

6. The No. 3 most consistent running back was not Adrian Peterson. (Spot a trend here?) No. 3 was Darren McFadden. Like MJD, McFadden missed time with injury, but when he was on the field he put up average performances in 10 of 13 weeks, potential game-winners in five week and only one costly performance.

7. Adrian Peterson, the No. 3 running back in overall points, was the No. 7 consistent running back. He had six high-scoring games, but was not nearly as productive on a week-to-week basis as Foster, McFadden, MJD, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy or Frank Gore.

8. Gore, the No. 17 overall running back based on points scored, missed five games in 2010. However, he scored 19.9 points or more four times, one of only 12 running backs to pull off the feet. Every other back played in at least 13 games and seven of the 12 played in all 16 games.

9. McCoy, Steven Jackson and Matt Forte were the only running backs to score at least 6.1 points or more in every game they played.

10. Knowshon Moreno had five low-scoring games to lead the top 20. He was followed by Johnson and Michael Turner with four each.

11. Inconsistency dropped Turner from a No. 7 back to a No. 13 back, but his fall was not the worst.

12. Inconsistent performances dropped Cedric Benson and Fred Jackson nine slots. Each went from top-20 running backs to the Mendoza line between borderline starter/backup. Still, they did not take the biggest fall.

13. Plummeting from No. 24, a starting running back, all the way to 37 (No. 4 running back), our winner for least consistent: Jahvid Best. Best scored 61.8 points in the first two weeks of the season, likely winning his fantasy owners at least one game. However, after that he was among the least helpful running backs in fantasy football. He scored less than six points in seven of the next 13 contests.

14. The 11-spot leap made by Gore was impressive, but nothing compared to Joseph Addai and Pierre Thomas. Both players missed a majority of the season with injuries. But when on the field, they provided at least average production more often than most of the running backs in the NFL. Addai leapt 25 spots and Thomas rose 30 spots, putting them at 20th and 25th respectively.

I’ve already surpassed my word limit, but hopefully these facts provide you with a different perspective on overall rankings based on fantasy points without being too stat-nerdish to understand.

Before I go, a bonus:

15. I said I wasn’t going to do it, but here are the top 15 most consistent running backs: Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Hillis, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Steven Jackson, Michael Turner, Matt Forte and Ray Rice.

Consistency primer | QB | RB | WR | TE | Overall







3 Responses to “Fantasy football consistency: 14 thoughts to consider when drafting running backs in 2011”


  1. Mark

    Could we get a list format instead of just random thoughts you’ve made about it? I’d really like to see and interpret the data myself.

  2. ep

    Mark,
    Thanks for the comment.
    I added the list to the post and added one to the quarterback post as well.

  3. Sockonfl

    Thanks for the actual stats EP. They do make the post a little more visually clearer as to what you are getting at here.