NFL Fantasy Forecast: Consistency rankings help in H2H leagues

Publish date:

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 implored Mighty Max, the Sports Grumblings supercomputer, to implement a statistical methodology to quantify player consistency. Mind you, I wasn't looking for "Brees averages six 300-yard games a season" or "Tomlinson consistently starts the season slowly" statements, because they are worthless when filling out weekly lineups.

Max came up with what is now a critical component of our Best Damn Draft Method 2009, the industry innovation known as the Sports Grumblings' 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 just trust me when I say that the math works. I am, after all, a descendant of Archimedes and Euclid...

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 rookie RBs Matt Forte and Chris Johnson from last season:

On the surface, both players seem to have had similar performances; if anything, you might say that Forte had a slightly better year due to his better receiving skills. But for fantasy owners who had to fill out a roster every week, there is no indication of how these stats were accumulated; did Johnson get the bulk of his stats in the first half of the season? Did Forte score 4 TDs in two games and 4 in the other 14? In other words, who was the more consistent player?

The results might surprise you. Mighty Max took the weekly fantasy scores for both players; he produced the following CR for each player:

Remember, the lower the CR means that the player is more consistent. What the CR is telling us is that Forte not only produced the higher average weekly score, he was more likely to hit his average than Johnson. As a matter of fact, Forte was the most consistent running back in the NFL last season!

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, Forte provided his owners with a more dependable scoring source than did Johnson. In fact, Forte was roughly 50 percent more consistent than Johnson.

Listed below are the five most consistent players at each offensive position, according to their 2008 weekly performances:

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.

So when you're in the middle of your draft and need to make a decision between to equally productive, you may want to have the Sports Grumblings' Consistency Rankings handy!