Winning Week to Week: QB Consistency Rankings
August 7, 2013 | Scott Watson
If you’re anything like me, by the time you prepare for your upcoming fantasy football draft, the details of the previous season are a complete fog. After pouring over the season ending stats it slowly starts to come back; however, if you’re solely relying on those season ending stats you aren’t getting the full picture.
How did these players accumulate their season ending stats? Was it a few fluke games, did they get off to a hot start, a strong finish? Most fantasy football leagues are set up in a head-to-head format, which means that if your top player doesn’t show up one week – you better hope that your other players do.
Consistency Rankings are another tool for the draft day tool box that can help answer some of those questions. Over the next few weeks, I will put together articles about week to week consistency among RBs, WRs, and TEs. First let’s kick it off with QBs….
All data for this column came from ProFootballFocus.com and are based on Weeks 1-16. Each QB who played a minimum of 25% of their team’s weekly snaps qualified. Each qualifying QB was evaluated based on their weekly fantasy points: either ranking as a Top 6 QB, a Top 12 QB or a Bottom 12 QB.
The full chart with all qualifying QBs can be downloaded via Excel here. Below, is an abbreviated version of the chart (focusing on QBs who played at least 7 games) along with some observations:
* Right at the top of the chart is Drew Brees, the King of Consistency. In 12 of the 16 weeks, Brees finished as a Top 12 QB which is exactly what you want from a QB you draft early. Maybe you aren’t shocked by this because Brees was the top scoring QB last year, but consider that the three QBs behind Brees for 2012 fantasy points had 10, 9 and 9 Top 12 Weeks. If you had Brees instead of those who finished just behind him, you had two or three extra weeks of QB1 points at your disposal for head to head matchups.
* Aaron Rodgers had the most Top 6 weeks of any QB (8), but he also finished in the Bottom 12 three times. Those three weeks along with the fact that Rodgers posted his fewest Top 12 Weeks of his career (9), may explain why many Rodgers owners were frustrated with him last season.
* On the other end of the spectrum, Mark Sanchez had the most Bottom 12 weekly finishes (10) which is another indication for why Geno Smith was drafted.
* Russell Wilson was a tale of two halves. Through the first seven weeks of the season, Wilson finished as a Bottom 12 QB five times; however, for the remaining eight weeks, he was a Top 12 QB seven times, only missing out during the 58-0 beatdown of the Cardinals in Week 14. There is no reason to think Wilson won’t be able to pick up where he left off.
* When he was good, he was good: no QB posted more points during Top 12 Weeks than Robert Griffin III (average of 27.5 points). However, no QB outside of Nick Foles had a higher point differential between Top 12 Weeks and the remaining weeks (-15.0 points) than RG3.
* While much has been made of Alex Smith’s high QB Rating while he was in San Francisco, that stat did not translate to the fantasy landscape. Of his nine games last year, Smith finished as a Bottom 12 QB four times. The year prior, he played 15 games and in eight of them he was a Bottom 12 QB. Draft him as a LRQB/QBBC at your own risk.
* The success of Smith’s replacement, Colin Kaepernick can be easily seen by looking at week to week fantasy scores. For the seven games that Kaepernick played, he was a Top 12 QB four times while never a Bottom 12 QB. Quite an improvement from Smith.
* Sam Bradford is another intriguing LRQB/QBBC. Lots of potential and lots of new weapons has led to a lot of positive preseason buzz for Bradford. In 2012, Bradford posted only 3 fewer points per game than Russell Wilson, but he was a Bottom 12 QB seven of those first 16 weeks and a Top 12 QB for only four weeks. In fact, of the 40 games in which he has taken at least 25% of the game’s snaps, he finished as a Bottom 12 QB 21 times (53%) and as a Top 12 QB only six times (15%). Granted, he has never had the weapons he has this season, but until I see something more from him, I will let someone else take the chance on him.
* Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler were punching bags in 2012, finishing as Bottom 12 QBs in more than half of their weeks. While this is certainly cause for concern, both should benefit from new coaches in 2013. Additionally, both have the benefit of past success. Over the last five years, 46% of Cutler’s weeks resulted in a Top 12 finish, while 59% of Rivers’ weeks finished with a Top 12 fantasy point total.
* Let’s not forget about Michael Vick come draft day. Though he only played eight games last year, Vick was a Top 12 QB in five of those games. When you draft Vick, you have to expect him to miss games, and then plan accordingly. In 2010 and 2011, he only played in 12 of the first 16 games. In both of those years, he had at least eight Top 12 finishes. Translation: When he plays, there is a good chance he will post Top 12 QB fantasy numbers…just be sure to have a backup plan.
* One potential QB to pair with Vick is Andy Dalton. His Top 12 Weeks improved from 2011 to 2012. While less than half his weeks put him in the Top 12, he did finish in the Top 6 for one-third of his weeks. More Top 6 weeks than guys like Stafford, Manning and Luck.
* Josh Freeman is still a bit of a mystery. He started the year slowly, and then came out of the bye week on fire posting three consecutive Top 6 QB weeks. After that, he couldn’t string together two consecutive Top 12 weeks.
These consistency rankings are just another tool for your draft day preparations. Used in combination with other sources, they can help provide a better picture of who to target.
Take a look at the full file here, and feel free to leave any additional observations you see based on 2012 QB Consistency Rankings in the comment field below.