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2013 Consistency Breakdown: Quarterbacks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Consistency Breakdowns: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

In a perfect universe you'd want a quarterback to deliver at least 20 points per week without fail.

You might as well wish for a money tree in your backyard.

The next best thing, though, is a quarterback who is expected to land 20 points per week with gusts up to 25, 30 and beyond. No one complains about overachievers in Fantasy.

If 20 points is the minimum for a good game in Fantasy then it shouldn't be a surprise that the average Fantasy point total for the Top 12 quarterbacks this season was 21.5 points per game. The number is actually down a sliver from 2012, when the average was 21.8 Fantasy points per game. Point is, in an age where passing records are being broken and everyone crows about the passing game taking over, we're still not seeing the Top 12 quarterbacks overperform to the point where 20 Fantasy points aren't enough.

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The nightmare situation for a Fantasy owner is a quarterback who is capable of getting 20-plus-points from week to week but doesn't. The unpredictable quarterbacks always require a leap of faith to start unless they are staring a juicy matchup in the face. And while many Fantasy owners love the versatility of taking two quarterbacks on Draft Day and playing the matchups, sometimes the frustration that comes with it makes the whole process not worth it -- particularly when the wrong quarterback is picked.

Only two quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning and Drew Brees -- had more than 10 games with 20-plus Fantasy points. Peyton had 11 games with at least 30! Those are the plug-and-play quarterbacks you'll aim for on Draft Day (Aaron Rodgers will be in that group also). Everyone else you'll feel good about drafting but might not call a lock to be consistent.

Let's look at the quarterbacks who were mostly consistent and often inconsistent in Fantasy in 2013.

Consistent: Nick Foles, Eagles

Fantasy point average: 27.7 over 11 games / 20+ points: 9 of 11 games (81.8 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS DNP n/a DNP n/a 19 35 5 DNP 59 28 21 bye 29 21 39 22 20 305

Rare is the quarterback who emerges from the waiver wire and becomes a reliable Fantasy starter, but Foles did it. He wound up being a very reliable quarterback from Week 9 on and a huge part of the Fantasy playoff picture in leagues (not to mention a huge part of the Eagles' playoff push). It especially helped Foles that he had just two interceptions and two fumbles lost, numbers that will probably go up in 2014. But even so, Foles is at the helm of a convincingly good offense bolstered with a strong O-line and capable receivers. There's reason to believe he's just getting started.

Consistent: Matthew Stafford, Lions

Fantasy point average: 20.3 over 16 games / 20+ points: 10 of 16 games (62.5 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 24 21 25 17 16 31 32 28 bye 24 26 21 25 6 9 6 14 325

We'll remember Stafford for his four-game meltdown to end last season, but he can't be judged entirely by it. Calvin Johnson's knee issues were a clear factor in that output, but Johnson was also a big positive for Stafford in 10 of the 11 games he had with him before Week 14. While it's unfortunate that he'll have a new offensive coordinator this year, the reality is that Stafford will remain at the helm of an offense ripe with weapons, and it should mean more big games.

Consistent: Jay Cutler, Bears

Fantasy point average: 19.8 over 10 games / 20+ points: 6 of 10 games (60.0 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 20 23 13 20 26 24 n/a bye DNP 14 DNP DNP DNP DNP 25 15 19 198

You shouldn't be too impressed with Cutler's 19.8 average, but there are some valid reasons why he's listed as a consistent quarterback. For starters, the 60 percent rate with 20-plus Fantasy points ranked ninth among all Fantasy passers. His stretch to begin the year with 20-plus in five of six games is also a positive. But when Cutler missed parts of six games he made way for Josh McCown to post four 20-point games in what amounted to six games. If you were to combine Cutler and McCown's numbers you'd have a quarterback with 11 20-point performances in 16 games (Cutler's six, McCown's four and their combined numbers in Week 10) and the third-best passer in terms of Fantasy points behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. It's a big credit to Marc Trestman and his offense.

Consistent: Sam Bradford, Rams

Fantasy point average: 20.2 over 7 games / 20+ points: 4 of 7 games (57.1 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 23 32 15 10 26 22 14 DNP DNP DNP bye DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 142

The sample size is small, but Bradford really showed signs of improvement before a torn ACL robbed him of his year in Week 7. With four 20-point efforts in seven games (six he actually finished), he had as many as he posted in all of 2011 and 2012 combined! I'd like to see the Rams add more talent to their receiving corps, but Tavon Austin should be a dangerous weapon for Bradford in 2014. He's another late-round sleeper to think about.

Inconsistent: Alex Smith, Chiefs

Fantasy point average: 18.9 over 15 games / 20+ points: 8 of 15 games (53.3 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 20 25 13 28 8 7 15 25 4 bye 26 27 25 17 40 4 DNP 284

Smith is probably the only quarterback who notched over 250 Fantasy points that no one will really target in drafts. When he was on, he was really on, as he had seven games with 25-plus Fantasy points (only Peyton Manning had more). But he also had six games with 15 points or less. What should help Smith's case to establish some stability in his production is a boost to his receiving corps this offseason. Anything the Chiefs can do to improve Smith's group of receivers will go a long way in making him a more reliable Fantasy option. It would also help make up for the likely regression in rushing yards in '14 after posting a career-best 431 in his first year in Kansas City.

Inconsistent: Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Fantasy point average: 19.3 over 16 games / 20+ points: 7 of 16 games (43.8 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 16 12 29 9 26 16 25 18 25 25 22 bye 34 11 17 11 12 308

Right when you felt comfortable with Wilson he'd disappoint you. In fact, Wilson had 20-plus Fantasy points in back-to-back games only three times all last year, down from the five back-to-back 20-point efforts he had as a rookie. His rushing touchdowns went from four as a rookie to one in 2013 while his passing stats were basically the same. Sure, you could say Wilson needs Percy Harvin to help his numbers out, but the reality is that Wilson needs to simply throw more to become a better Fantasy option. The 407 pass attempts he had in 2013 ranked 22nd in the NFL. Until he's given more of a leash, he's going to be a tough player to count on from week to week. But here's a hint: If the Seahawks make another move at receiver this offseason, it might mean they're ready to give him more than the 25.4 pass attempts per game he had this past season.

Inconsistent: Andy Dalton, Bengals

Fantasy point average: 21.4 over 16 games / 20+ points: 7 of 16 games (43.8 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 19 18 17 5 8 30 32 41 6 18 17 bye 11 36 23 39 23 343

Dalton finished the season as the third-best Fantasy quarterback but ranked 18th in consistency, third-worst to Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick among the Top 12 passers. But he managed to finish ahead of everyone except Peyton Manning and Drew Brees because of five games with at least 30 Fantasy points, tied for third-best at quarterback. Also, he, Luck and Kaepernick each had three games with 18 or 19 Fantasy points, meaning they were very close to getting more 20-point games (maybe just a turnover too many). I know there will be a lot of hesitation in considering Dalton in 2014, but if the Bengals offense makes some improvements and there isn't a threat to his job as the starter, maybe Dalton should be on your radar.

Inconsistent: Andrew Luck, Colts

Fantasy point average: 20.3 over 16 games / 20+ points: 6 of 16 games (37.5 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 28 19 14 22 21 7 35 bye 30 15 18 15 10 40 19 15 17 325

Luck was pretty darn close to having nine games with 20-plus points: he was four passing yards shy of 20 in Week 2, 18 passing yards and 9 rush yards from the number in Week 11 and one measly rushing yard away from the threshold in Week 15. Oddly enough, he had the exact same amount of 20-point games and near-20-point games as a rookie. In his second season he threw 57 fewer passes for pretty much 550 fewer yards with nine fewer interceptions. It's only an incremental improvement, but if he can just get a tad closer in more games he'll be a more reliable Fantasy quarterback.

Consistency Rankings
Rank Player GP FPTS/gm 20+ Consistency Rank Player GP FPTS/gm 20+ Consistency
1 Nick Foles 11 27.7 9 81.8% 11 Philip Rivers 16 21.3 8 50.0%
2 Peyton Manning 16 32.3 13 81.3% 11 Cam Newton 16 20.6 8 50.0%
3 Drew Brees 16 26.6 12 75.0% 11 Jake Locker 6 18.0 3 50.0%
4 Josh McCown 6 26.2 4 66.7% 11 EJ Manuel 10 14.6 5 50.0%
5 Aaron Rodgers 8 24.5 5 62.5% 15 Robert Griffin III 13 17.9 6 46.2%
5 Matthew Stafford 16 20.3 10 62.5% 16 Andy Dalton 16 21.4 7 43.8%
7 Jay Cutler 10 19.8 6 60.0% 16 Russell Wilson 16 19.3 7 43.8%
8 Sam Bradford 7 20.3 4 57.1% 16 Ben Roethlisberger 16 19.1 7 43.8%
9 Tony Romo 15 20.9 8 53.3% 16 Matt Ryan 16 18.2 7 43.8%
9 Alex Smith 15 18.9 8 53.3%

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

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(12/19/2014) 49ers running back Frank Gore (concussion) was a limited participant in practice for the second consecutive day on Friday. San Francisco officially designated him as questionable for Saturday's home game against San Diego.

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