Recently, I took some time to look over the weekly fantasy performances of NFL quarterbacks throughout the 2010 season.
The reasons why are discussed in detail in the consistency rankings primer, but to summarize: I was hoping to discover which players were the most consistently good in 2010. I was left with a pile of information.
What follows are some of my findings.
First, let’s get some glossary items out of the way. For this review, I looked at four variables: How often a player scored at least as much as 2010′s worst starter averaged, at least as much as 2010′s average starter averaged, high-point totals and low-point totals.
Here are the benchmarks:
Worst starting quarterback: 18.08 points
Average starter at quarterback: 21.93 points
High-scoring: 28.9 points or more
Low-scoring: less than 10 points
UPDATE: Before I go any further, let me reiterate that I am trying to determine the players who were most consistently average on a week-to-week basis in 2010. That means a player who scores 20 points on three consecutive weeks is more valuable than a player who scores 40 one week and 10 points the other two weeks.
The consistency rankings make you look at regular rankings differently. For instance, by looking at consistency compared to overall points, Matt Schaub goes from being the No. 7 overall quarterback to the No. 16 overall quarterback. From a relatively early QB pick to a fantasy football backup. Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel go from 11th and 14th respectively to 24th and 25th when consistency is factored in.
A reader requested a list be posted in my running back discussion, I figured I should add it here too.
Here is the full list of QBs I reviewed. 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.
1. For the most part, stud QBs were stud QBs putting up at least as much as the average scored by the worst fantasy starting quarterback more than 60% of the time.
2. The one interesting exception was Tom Brady. Although they didn’t score in all 16 games, Kyle Orton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jon Kitna and David Garrard all matched the worst-starter benchmark at a more desirable rate than Brady. I’m not saying anyone should draft Ryan Fitzpatrick over Tom Brady in 2011. Brady and Drew Brees were the only quarterbacks in the top-10 who had no games with less than 10 points or fewer in 2010. But Brady is the third quarterback going off the board, according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP, which is too high. Chad Ochocinco‘s arrival may give him a credible threat and change Brady’s production, but I wonder how many of those people know how many times Brady was below-average last year. Brees and Philip Rivers are better choices.
3. Garrard posted at least worst-starter performances in 57% of his games last season. He produced average starter totals in 42% of his games. He was the 12th-most consistently average starting fantasy quarterback in 2010. Like I said in the primer, consistently average can be pretty good. However, Garrard also posted three games under 10 points, tied for the most in the top 20.
4. The Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert as their quarterback of the future, but Garrard is likely the starter for 2011. Garrard posted QB ratings of 122 or better in five games last year and ended the season posting 91.1 or greater in three-of-four weeks. With Mike Thomas as a legit No. 1 receiver threat in 2011, Garrard could be a potential consolation prize for owners who wait on quarterbacks in deep leagues. Be prepared to handle the meltdown weeks.
4. Because of the nature of consistency rankings, a few injured players provided an interesting twist. Most of the time when you see average fantasy points per game, it includes games missed due to injury, negatively affecting the average. Taking a deeper look at the performances from Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford (and their backups) reveals some potential draft-day values.
5. Take Romo and his backup, Jon Kitna, who both had the same weapons to work with in the same offense, add their performances together and that combo produced at an elite level. They were as consistently good as Aaron Rodgers and Rivers.
6. Do the same with Stafford and his backup, Shaun Hill, and you find a similar starter-handcuff tandem that produced at starter-level consistency.
7. When they were healthy, Romo and Stafford scored in the top-6 in consistency rankings. Obviously, handcuffing is mandatory with injury-prone players, but as described above, you didn’t lose much from starter to backup in 2010 in either case. And because of their injuries last year, the starters will be cheaper than usual in 2011.
8. Speaking of injury prone, Michael Vick, who did not play in four weeks due to injury, was the most consistently great fantasy quarterback in 2011 by a significant margin. He scored at least as many points as an average starter in 11 of 12 games. Worth the injury risk? Absolutely.
9. Vick also had the highest percentage of high-scoring weeks (28.9 or more points) at 41.6%. Despite playing in only 12 games, Vick had five games over the mark. The only other player with that many was Rodgers, who had six, but played in three more games.
10. The fact the Eagles brought in Vince Young (big arm, very mobile and who posted at least 17.7 points in three of eight games last year) means handcuffing Vick won’t be as useless as it was last year.
11. Considering all of that, don’t be surprised if I make Vick a top-5 overall selection in my upcoming preseason rankings.
12. Only Vick, Brees, Rodgers and Peyton Manning scored average-starter-level numbers in 10 or more games in 2010.
13. I was hoping Kyle Orton would go to Arizona and start tossing to Larry Fitzgerald. Orton is another useful option for fantasy owners who wait on quarterbacks. Last season, Orton had more high-scoring games than Brees and Ben Roethlisberger and as many as Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez. Orton was also average more consistently than Brady, Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman. He had one game under 10 points, something Schaub, Ryan, Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler cannot say. Chances are every one of those other quarterbacks will be significantly more expensive than Orton on draft day.
14. Orton’s Denver teammate (and necessary handcuff if both players are Broncos), Tim Tebow, is a very interesting pick in 2011. I’ve read that he’s not ready, but at the end of last year he resembled a legitimate fantasy football asset. His consistency rankings are down because he was used as a bit piece throughout the season. However, if we just look at the games where he was the starting quarterback, Tebow breaks the system. He scored at least average starter and worst starter numbers in all three games. He also posted high-score numbers (again, 28.9 points or more) in two of the three contests. That would put him at the top of the list for all four variables I studied.
15. With Tebow out of the way, it is a good time to point out some flaws in my findings. Besides looking at only 2010 performances, the review only looked at total fantasy points, not football performances. Still, it was a fun exercise that revealed many interesting things.
16. Schaub is being drafted in the fifth round as the eighth quarterback overall this year, according to Fantasy Football Calculator. At least one owner has selected him in the late third round. In 2010, Schaub had a 41-point game and a 36-point game that skewed his final statistics. According to the consistency numbers, his peers were David Garrard and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Unlike Schaub, both of those quarterbacks face job uncertainty.
17. Replace Schaub’s name with Joe Flacco in the above sentence and it would be correct as well. Except, Flacco didn’t post a single performance of 28.9 points or more in 2011. Both Schaub and Flacco scored less than 10 points twice last season.
18. Only 10 players had three or more high-scoring games in 2010: Rodgers (6), Vick (5), Peyton Manning, Rivers, Brady (4 each), Kitna, Orton, Eli Manning, Palmer and Sanchez (3 each).
19. If 2011 preseason fantasy football rankings were based solely on the 2010 variables I looked at (consistently worst starter, consistently average starter, high-scoring, low-scoring), the top 15 quarterbacks in order would be: Mike Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Kyle Orton, Jon Kitna, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Shaun Hill, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and David Garrard.
20. Notable players outside the top-20: Matt Cassel, Sanchez, Freeman and Matt Hasselbeck.
21. Kevin Kolb, a coveted backup who signed with the Cardinals, started four games last year and scored points in six games. In two of the games he scored less than 10 points. He only had one notable game, a 30.1-point performance against Atlanta. Matt Flynn, Kerry Collins, Alex Smith, Charlie Batch and Jason Campbell, who all lost their starting jobs or were mere injury fill-ins for a few weeks, were better. Kolb is currently being drafted as the 18th quarterback, behind Tebow, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford. Arizona quarterbacks were sacked 50 times last year and picked off 19 times. There is no reason to reach for Kolb.
22. Tampa Bay’s emerging QB, Josh Freeman, only scored average-starter-level fantasy points once last season, but it was also a high-scoring total (30.45). He did, however, score at least worst-starter numbers in nine of 16 games, putting him even with Ryan, Brady and Eli Manning in that category. Freeman scored less than 10 points once.
23. New Vikings signal-caller Donovan McNabb did not play in three games, but did not score under 10 points in any game last year. He also had a high-scoring game and scored at least as much as the worst fantasy starter in almost half (6 of 13) of the games he played.
24. All of the top-9 quarterbacks, and 12 of the top 14 scored 10 points or less in one game or no games. Remember that’s the consistency top-9 and it includes Kyle Orton and Jon Kitna.