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2011 Draft Prep: Why consistency matters

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It sounds obvious, but to win your Fantasy leagues year in and year out, you must first make the playoffs. That has to be the goal from Day 1: to build a team that will do well enough week in and week out to get you into the dance and give you a chance to take home the biggest prize.

Show me an owner who has made the playoffs 10 out of 10 years and never won the big one versus a player who won two titles during that span and missed the playoffs the other eight times and I'd tell you the ringless wonder is actually the better Fantasy player. Why? Because he is consistently productive and consistently in the hunt for the money and the title.

For more from Nathan check out his website at thefantasyconsultant.com

Many people are too hung up on the final season totals of a player and are not focused nearly enough on how players got to those totals. The journey to those totals is at the very least as important as the totals themselves because you need consistency on your team to win week in and week out. For example, Player A has 130 points after 13 weeks and so does Player B. Player A just chugged along with 10 solid points every single week. Player B, on the other hand, had five games of 21 points and eight games of 3.1 points. They both would finish in the exact place in the rankings, but Player A would have been the better player in eight of the 13 weeks and Player B would have had those Fantasy crippling duds in 61.5 percent of his games. Yuck.

Here is a better real world example from the last few years: In 2005 Santana Moss was the third-ranked Fantasy receiver and yet he only gave you 100-plus yards or a touchdown in six games. A closer inspection reveals that eight of his nine total touchdowns and 108 of his 202 Fantasy points came in four monster games. That's right, over 50 percent of his production occured in just four games. He had only six games of double digit Fantasy points and in his other 10 games he averaged just 7.0 points per game and had four duds with less than 60 yards and without a score.

So yes, Moss was the third-ranked Fantasy wide receiver that year, but in 10 of his 16 games he was average at best. Not surprisingly, Moss was not even among the top 20 players in terms of being on the highest percentage of championship teams that year.

In that same year, Larry Fitzgerald produced 205 Fantasy points (so he was basically the same as Moss), but he was far more consistent. Fitzgerald gave you 100-plus yards or a touchdown in 12 games that year, best among all wide receivers. He had four big games like Moss (although not quite as big) and had three duds himself, but in 12 of the 16 games you got solid, consistent and winning double-digit production. Does it shock you to learn that Fitz was the receiver on the highest percentage of championship teams from that season? Of course not, and if you had to pick between the two on Draft Day, Fitz would be the easy obvious choice despite averaging just .18 points more per week based on the end of season totals.

So how do I quantify consistency among the various positions? While we can debate on what the thresholds should be, the following is how I have been determining the consistency of a player at the various positions.

For quarterbacks: Any game with 300 yards passing (as many leagues give a nice bonus at 300 yards) or 300 total yards (to help running QBs) with a touchdown or any game with 200-plus yards and two-plus touchdowns will count.
For running backs: Any game with 100 yards rushing, 150 total yards or a game with a touchdown will count as a good game.
For wide receivers: A game with 100 yards or a touchdown.
For tight ends: A game with 60-plus yards or a touchdown.
For kickers: A game with multiple field goals made.

It should also be noted that games missed due to injury or suspension do not help your Fantasy teams, so they do not help the players in the consistency rating. It truly tells the flat percentage out of 16 games every year that a player will deliver a solid Fantasy total to your team whether they are active or not ... period. After all, truly being consistent means being on the field and producing points week after week.

So now that you can see why this matters, how do you use it to your advantage? I find that the consistency rate data is very helpful both in the preseason when drafting and also during the regular season when seeking out trade targets. For drafting purposes, a player's historical consistency rate both in the prior season and over the previous three years helps me choose between similarly ranked players and as you may have guessed, early on in my drafts, I will always go for the more consistent player to anchor my roster.

Charting the consistency data has also allowed me to identify trends among the positions which have helped me to shape my draft strategies. In a nutshell, I have found that the elite quarterbacks and the elite tight ends are the most consistent producers each year (definitely on a games played basis) and are the most reliably consistent producers year after year. On the flip side, the running back and wide receiver positions have lower consistency rates each year among the starters than the other positions, while also having much more turnover at the top year in and year out (to the tune of 50 percent year over year).

Not only do you have big bunches of running backs and wide receivers with similar consistency rates, but the individual players who are in the top 24 changes dramatically year after year. That is why, in a nutshell, I think you want to have a consistent stud quarterback and an wlite tight end on your teams while loading up on as many good running back and receiver candidates as you can possibly get. Sure, you need target some consistent anchors at running back and receiver early in the draft, but then you want to grab as many good options as possible at those spots and hope you hit on some lottery tickets.

Now that you have a little background on what the consistency rates are and how they can be helpful to you, here is a look at the consistency leaders by position in 2008, 2009, 2010 and then across all three years.

Glossary
Target Conversion Rate or Catch Rate (TCR): The percentage of a player's targets (passes thrown to them) that are converted into receptions. Over 60 percent is excellent, 66 percent is elite and under 52.5 percent is worrisome.
Yards per Target (YPT): A player's receiving yards divided by his targets. In other words, the numbers of yards a team gains on average every time they attempt a pass to a certain player. Over 10 is exceptional, over 8 is solid and 6 or lower is horrendous.
Red Zone Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 20 yard line
Red Zone TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Red Zone opportunities that result in a TD
Goal Line Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 5 yard line
Goal Line TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Goal Line opportunities that result in a TD
Consistency Rate: The percentage of quality starts a player gives you out of 16 games. For QBs that is a game with 300+ yards passing OR multiple TDs. For RBs/WRs: A game with 100+ yards rush/rec or a game with a TD. For TEs: A game with 60+ yards receiving or a TD. For a Kicker: A game with multiple FGs.
Big Game Rate: The percentage of dominant starts a player gives you out of 16 games (games missed with injury count as a bad game since they do not help your Fantasy teams). For a QB that is a game with 300+ yards and 2+ TDs or 200+ yards and 3+ TDs. For a RB/WR that is a game with 100+ combined rush/rec yards and a TD or a game with multiple TDs. For a TE that is a game of 60+ yards and a TD, 100+ yards or a game with multiple TDs.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Nathan at @TFConsultant .

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Player News
Colts WR Reggie Wayne again absent from practice Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:51 pm ET) An elbow ailment again prevented Colts veteran wideout Reggie Wayne from practicing Thursday.

Though an MRI has revealed no significant damage, Wayne has yet to participate in any session this week. His availability for the Sunday clash with Pittsburgh remains cloudy.


Bucs' Vincent Jackson: 'I'm happy here in Tampa'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:50 pm ET) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson said Thursday he is flattered by the trade speculation, but he has heard nothing from the front office about being dealt, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Jackson added, "I'm happy here in Tampa."

Jackson isn't a free agent until after the 2016 season. He has 25 catches for 344 yards and two touchdowns through six games in 2014.


Cowboys LB Bruce Carter back at practice Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter returned to practice Thursday after missing the last three games due to a strained quadriceps. The Cowboys are preparing to face the Redskins in Week 8.

LB Darin Drakeford back with Chiefs
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(12:42 pm ET) The Chiefs have signed linebacker Darin Drakeford to their practice squad. He played briefly with that team in 2013.

Drakeford was cut by Atlanta before the regular season.


Browns QB Brian Hoyer: 'Maybe it's good we lost last week'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:08 am ET) Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer has expressed both anger over his effort Sunday at Jacksonville and hopefulness that the dud of the team performance will prove to be a positive in the long run.

Hoyer had his worst game with Cleveland, completing just 16 of 41 passes for 215 yards. He also threw an interception, lost a fumble, had four tosses batted down and finished with a career-worst passer rating of 46.3.

"Of all the games I've every played, that's the worst I've ever felt after one, and it's something you have to deal with learning on the job," he told the Akron Beacon Journal. "...For the first time in my career in the NFL, I played a bad game, and it sucks. I take a lot [of blame] on myself, and that's why I probably wasn't too pleasant to be around the past two days."

Hoyer, however, claims that the team could benefit from the 24-6 defeat to a Jaguars team that had been winless entering play. After all, the Browns are preparing to play the 0-6 Raiders in Cleveland on Sunday.

"Maybe it's good we lost last week," he said. "I don't think we underestimated anyone. But I think now we see that no matter who we're playing, we have to be at our best, and there's no excuses and we have to go out and execute."


Jets WR Percy Harvin to media: Mum's the word
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Newly acquired wideout Percy Harvin has told media members covering the Jets on Wednesday that he has been instructed not to conduct any interviews with them, per the New York Daily News.

It remains to be seen if Harvin fulfills media obligations by being allowed to speak on Friday, as the team promised.

With the Jets already having careened out out of the playoff race, the controversial acquisition of Harvin from Seattle has undergone great scrutiny. Harvin spoke on Monday about the circumstances involed in his departure from the Seahawks - including fights with fellow receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate.


Falcons WR Harry Douglas back at practice, might play Week 8
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) After missing the last 10 practices, Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas finally returned to the practice field Thursday, coach Mike Smith announced. Smith added Douglas, who has missed the last four games, was limited in practice.

Smith hinted at a possibility of Douglas playing Week 8 against the Lions. Smith said the team will have to monitor Douglas' status over the next few days, per the team's official website.


Titans' Whisenhunt explains why Akeem Ayers was traded to Patriots
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt expressed Wednesday part of the reason the team traded Akeem Ayers to the Patriots was that he didn't provide a big enough boost on special teams, according to The Tennessean. Ayers, who was inactive for five of the team's seven games, was a second-round pick in 2011.

"I think we had an opportunity, and I think it was good for both parties,'' Whisenhunt said. "It gave Akeem a chance to get a fresh start, and it gave us a chance to get something in exchange for that.

"I think really a big part of it was special teams. When you're in that role, you've got to be able to contribute special teams wise, and we needed that, and we just didn't feel like we were getting enough in that area."


Healthy Gerhart could put squeeze on Jaguars RB Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:30 am ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart appears on the verge of returning to game action after missing the last two weeks with a foot sprain. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.

"He said he felt pretty good," Gus Bradley told the Florida Times-Union. "I think the last two weeks have been tough on him, but today he felt a lot better and felt like it was beneficial to have that time off."

Now it must be determined if he's still the featured back. He managed a 2.6 YPC average in 48 attempts before going down. Meanwhile, Denard Robinson emerged in Week 7 to rush for 127 yards on just 22 carries in the team's first victory of the season, a lopsided defeat of Cleveland.

"I think we'll continue to mix and match a little bit," said offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch. "I don't exactly how that will all play out yet."

The Jaguars host Miami on Sunday.


Seahawks coordinator 'disappointed' about Harvin's tenure with team
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell expressed his disappointment wide receiver Percy Harvin wasn't able to have more personal success with the team prior to being traded to the Jets last week. Bevell, who was the Vikings offensive coordinator during Harvin's first two years in the NFL (2009-10), was hoping his history with Harvin would be a major factor during his tenure with Seattle.

"I was disappointed, you know. I was disappointed. I did have a history with him, and I thought it would be a different outcome. But I guess that’s just the way it went," Bevell said, per The News Tribune. "I think we have a phenomenal atmosphere here. It’s led by coach (Pete) Carroll. I think he gives the guys great freedom to be who they want to be. I think he sets the tone for the whole program. It’s an upbeat program. Obviously we are very positive here. It’s just disappointing."

Harvin recently expressed his disappointment with how he was used on offense in Seattle. Bevell said he called bubble screens and hitch routes for Harvin to keep teams from double-teaming him downfield.

"I had many conversations with him about it, just about his role and the things that we would ask him to do. He never articulated that to me," Bevell said. "I mean, he caught a deep ball in the Washington game (40 yards for what would have been a touchdown but for a personal foul on guard James Carpenter that negated the catch); unfortunately it got called back. But the thing was we wanted to make sure he was going to be involved in the game and get the touches. You know, you can just double team somebody and just take him out of the game (with deeper balls). He never did. But we’ve moved on past that. It’s left in the past."


 
 
 
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