Winning Week to Week: RB Consistency Rankings
August 15, 2013 | Scott Watson
Last week, I took a look at week to week fantasy scoring by QBs in 2012. If you missed it, it’s still (and always will be) available here. One of the observations I pointed out in last week’s column was the weekly value of Michael Vick. The overriding perception of Vick among most fantasy owners is that he misses a lot of games, making him too much of a risk. This has impacted his perceived fantasy value, and consequently his ADP. But when you look at his weekly scoring, in the games that he does play in, he is a great fantasy option. And sure enough, when we saw him play in the preseason against the Pats, we were all reminded of how good he can be. Week to week consistency ranking can be a useful way to see players through a different lens providing you with a new perspective .
This week, I am reviewing the RB position. I made an executive decision to base these rankings off of PPR scoring. The majority of my leagues are PPR, so I figured that might be the most useful format. In terms of consistency ranking, I am focusing only on those who ranked as Top 12 RBs or Top 24 RBs for the week. And as was the case last week, this data comes directly from ProFootballFocus.com.
A spreadsheet with all the data is available here. Below, is an abbreviated chart showing those RBs with at least four Top 24 weekly finishes through Week 16, followed by some player observations that you should keep in mind while prepping for your Fantasy Football Draft…
— Starting off at the top of this chart we have LeSean McCoy. After last year, most folks probably still have a bad taste in their mouth about this guy because of the games he missed due to injury. While McCoy only played in the first 11 games last year, he was a Top 24 RB in every one of those games. That bad taste in your mouth might be changing when you recall that in 2010 & 2011, McCoy and Arian Foster were the only two RBs to finish as a Top 12 RB or better in ten or more weeks. Oh, and did I mention he’s only 25. Oh, and he is the 9th RB going off the board this year. Oh yeah, and his coach really likes to use RBs.
— Speaking of Arian Foster, he is just behind McCoy in Top 24 consistency %. We have all heard that Foster’s YPC has declined in each of the last three years. What you may not have heard is that this has had no impact on his weekly fantasy consistency. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Despite a career low 4.1 YPC in 2012, he ranked as a Top 12 RB in 12 weeks! In 2011, he had 11 such weeks, and in 2010 he was a Top 12 RB in ten weeks. Foster is the only RB to rank as a Top 12 RB in ten or more weeks each of the last three seasons. The Texans may try to conserve Foster this year by using Ben Tate more, but Foster is a very efficient and consistent runner, and that should not be lost in the YPC debate.
— Another seemingly forgotten RB leading into fantasy drafts has been Ray Rice. Each of the past two years, Rice has been a Top 24 back in 14 of his first 15 games (through 16 weeks), something no other RB has been able equal. Additionally he was a Top 12 RB in eleven weeks last year. In 2011, he had 13 such weeks. Certainly this season will be different with the loss of several offensive players, but one thing that Rice has been able to do over the last several years is consistently deliver strong fantasy numbers week in and week out.
— A risky RB in this year’s draft who could pay off is DeMarco Murray. We all know he has a history of missing games, last year he played in only nine games. However, he was a Top 24 RB in eight of those games. If he falls in your draft, there is no reason not to take a chance on him as your RB2. As of now, he is 100% healthy.
— The big negative against Doug Martin has been that his 2012 stats were skewed by those two big games against Minnesota and Oakland. Well, truth be told, nearly a third (32%) of his fantasy points through Week 16 came from those two weeks. However, if you removed those two weeks from his total (91.6 points) and replaced them with his average score for weeks when he ranked outside the Top 24 (14.8 points) he would still be a Top 12 RB through the first 16 weeks. Considering that he was a Top 24 RB in 12 of 15 weeks last year, and this year his O-Line will be whole again, I am not scared away by those two monster games.
— Stevan Ridley appears to suffer a bit in these consistency rankings because they are based on PPR. Ridley is not known for his pass catching and ranked as a Top 24 RB in only 8 of his first 15 games last year (fewer games than Mikel LeShoure). While PPR may be to blame, it is worth pointing out that Alfred Morris, another victim of PPR devaluation, was a Top 24 RB in 11 weeks last year.
— Jamaal Charles was the quintessential boom/bust RB last year. This year, Charles has a new coaching situation, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect to see a similar consistency score once 2013 is in the bag, but it’s worth pointing out what a boom/bust player looks like. Those who owned him may want to look away for fear of reliving some difficult times. Through Week 16, Charles was a Top 24 RB in eight weeks last year and posted an average of 23.1 points in each of those weeks. He ranked outside the Top 24 RBs in the 7 remaining games, posting an average of just 7.2 points, a difference of 16 points. That type of bounce sends fantasy football owners over the edge.
— An example of ADP not matching consistency ranking would be Darren Sproles. Sproles had the tenth most Top 24 weeks (10) among RBs despite missing three games. His ADP places him as the 17th RB off the board. In each of the last two years, Sproles has ranked as a Top 24 RB in ten or more weeks. Only six other RBs have done that each of the last two seasons: Foster, McCoy, Lynch, Forte, Rice and Steven Jackson. If you are in a PPR league, feel confident with Sproles as your RB1.
— One of the more interesting things I noticed was how consistent the Detroit RBs were last year, despite being such a pass-heavy team. Joique Bell and Mikel LeShoure were Top 24 RBs in more than half of their games through Week 16. Both are being drafted outside the Top 40 RBs, and yet both of them ranked as an RB24 or better in half the weeks they played last year. Of course the white elephant in the room is the impact Reggie Bush will have on their fantasy fortunes. It is very likely that Bush will assume much of their playing time, but if that is the case, based on the success of Detroit’s RBs last year, Bush could be a consistent RB fantasy force.
Another source of RB consistency goodness could be in Denver. Last year, either Willis McGahee or Knowshon Moreno finished as a Top 24 RB in 11 of the first 15 weeks. Like Detroit, the situation in Denver is different with the introduction of Montee Ball and the re-introduction of Ronnie Hillman. Peyton Manning has the ability to manufacture primo RB opportunities, so hopefully Denver will settle on a single back so that fantasy nation can reap those spoils, as well.
With the re-emergence of the RB-RB draft strategy this year, it is important to evaluate RB prospects from as many perspectives as possible. RB Consistency Rankings provide an additional vantage point that may influence who you select on draft day.
That wraps up the RB edition of week to week consistency. Feel free to peruse the full spreadsheet (found here) and share any observations you find in the comments section below. Next up will be WRs.