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FANTASY FORECAST 2017: Consistency Rankings

One of the most difficult tasks in head-to-head fantasy leagues is trying to determine who the “hot” and “cold” players will be in any given week. You can’t use historical or seasonal averages because, well… by their very definition, averages do not tell you how the average was achieved.

Years ago, I searched for a statistical methodology to quantify player consistency. Mind you, I wasn’t looking for “Tom Brady averages nine 300-yard games a season” or “Julio Jones is an up-and-down player” statements, because they are worthless when filling out weekly lineups—and are usually the province of hack fantasy writers who have bought authoritative-sounding domain names.

I came up with what is now a critical component of our Best Damn Draft Method 2017: the industry innovation known as Consistency Rankings (CR). To help illustrate the value of the CR, consider the following hypothetical situation of two QBs over a four-week period:

Who’s the QB you’d want on your fantasy team? Both Chucker and Thrower have amassed 1,000 total passing yards; both average 250 yards a game. But here’s where the CR becomes important: Thrower’s CR weighs in at 129.09; Chucker’s would be 21.98. The CR would accurately tell us that Chucker is the steadier performer (the lower the CR, the steadier the player).

So what is the CR, and how is it calculated?

The CR is the degree to which a set of data points varies. For those who are mathematically inclined, the CR is a “coefficient of variance”:

For those of you who just want to get to the bottom line, trust me when I say that the math works. I am, after all, a descendant of Archimedes and Aristotle…

The larger the CR is, the more inconsistent the player; the smaller the CR the more consistent the player.

The example above is an over-simplification. Let’s look at a real-world example; let’s take the cases of RBs Jay Ajayi and Frank Gore’s stats from last season:

On the surface, both players seem to have had remarkably identical performances. But for fantasy owners who had to fill out a roster every week, there is no indication of how these stats were accumulated; did Gore get the bulk of his stats in the first half of the season? Did Ajayi rush for 400 yards in two games and 872 in the other 14? In other words, who was the more consistent player from week to week?

This is where the CR comes into play… determining which runner is the most dependable. The results might surprise you.

Remember, the lower the CR means that the player is more consistent. What the CR is telling us is that Frank Gore was more likely to hit his average than Jay Ajayi in any given week.

To a fantasy owner playing in a total points league, this information is no big deal; it’s the players’ total performance which matters most. But in a head-to-head league, Jones provided his owners with a more dependable scoring source than did Brown. In fact, Gore was roughly 78% more consistent than Ajayi!

Listed below are the five most consistent players at each offensive position, according to their 2016 weekly performances (I took out players with insignificant scoring):

Of course, the CR does not make any claims to how good a player is, it just tells you how consistent he is; a really bad player may have a really good CR, i.e., he is consistently bad.

Note: Last year I offered a spreadsheet of Consistency Rankings for every offensive and defensive player to anyone who asked for it. So many of you asked for the data that I’m offering it to you once again this year. If you want a free copy of the 2017 Consistency Rankings, just send me a note at jtgeorgopoulos@gmail.com and I’ll send you a copy. If you find it useful, you can do me a solid in return by subscribing (for free!) to my NSFW talk show at The Riot.

About John Georgopoulos

John T. Georgopoulos is a 23-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions. You can also listen to his weekly, non-sports NSFW opinions at The Riot.