Consistency Reports: Kicker Edition
The question of valuing players is the seemingly never-ending issue when it comes to fantasy football. Should you target a player with upside, or should it be someone who might have a lower ceiling but provides you with consistency week to week? What about if you had a way to combine both elements in one ranking? Well, here at FFStatistics, we have attempted to do just that with our Consistency Rating (COR). COR is created by taking a player’s calculated ceiling and dividing it by their coefficient of variation (more information on these and the math behind them at the bottom of the article).
Using COR, we can get an easy snapshot of where players rank weekly. We can also compare their COR value to their average fantasy points total. By looking at the difference between the two values, we can identify various subsets of players. Some players posted an average that looked great but using COR we can find out whether they were reliable or not on a week-to-week basis. The same goes for players who posted average points totals, which were not significant. Some did it and were wildly inconsistent, and others were pretty reliable.
In this final edition of the 2018 consistency reports, it is time to look at the kicker position. Which kickers were nothing more than a lottery, and who was a must-start every week?
Kicker Consistency Rankings
|1||Greg Zuerlein - LA||124||11||11.27||3.04||0.27||8.24||14.31||53.13||7||8||10||10|
|3||Harrison Butker - KC||141||16||8.81||3.15||0.36||5.67||11.96||33.5||4||7||7||11|
|4||Justin Tucker - BAL||151||16||9.44||3.78||0.4||5.66||13.21||33.02||8||9||10||11|
|5||Ka'imi Fairbairn - HOU||158||16||9.88||4.65||0.47||5.23||14.52||30.87||6||9||10||10|
|6||Aldrick Rosas - NYG||135||16||8.44||3.41||0.4||5.03||11.84||29.34||4||8||11||11|
|7||Wil Lutz - NO||140||16||8.75||4.02||0.46||4.73||12.77||27.77||6||6||7||8|
|8||Cairo Santos - TB||64||9||7.11||2.67||0.38||4.44||9.78||26.07||0||2||4||5|
|9||Stephen Gostkowski - NE||134||16||8.38||4||0.48||4.38||12.37||25.92||2||7||9||10|
|10||Robbie Gould - SF||130||16||8.13||3.81||0.47||4.31||11.94||25.45||4||7||9||10|
|11||Adam Vinatieri - IND||121||16||7.56||3.58||0.47||3.99||11.14||23.55||2||6||8||9|
|12||Jason Myers - SEA||141||16||8.81||5.43||0.62||3.38||14.24||23.11||3||8||8||10|
|13||Jake Elliott - PHI||115||16||7.19||3.27||0.46||3.92||10.46||22.98||1||3||6||8|
|14||Matt Prater - DET||124.32||16||7.77||4.08||0.52||3.69||11.85||22.58||4||8||8||8|
|15||Mason Crosby - GB||134||16||8.38||4.98||0.59||3.4||13.35||22.46||6||6||7||7|
|18||Mike Badgley - LAC||74||10||7.4||3.95||0.53||3.45||11.35||21.26||1||4||4||5|
|19||Greg Joseph - CLE||78||14||5.57||1.99||0.36||3.58||7.56||21.18||0||0||1||2|
|20||Daniel Carlson - OAK||81||12||6.75||3.19||0.47||3.56||9.94||21.01||1||4||4||4|
|21||Ryan Succop - TEN||112||16||7||3.52||0.5||3.48||10.52||20.92||1||5||6||7|
|22||Brett Maher - DAL||131||16||8.19||5.33||0.65||2.86||13.52||20.76||5||8||9||11|
|23||Dan Bailey - MIN||95||13||7.31||4.01||0.55||3.3||11.32||20.63||2||4||5||6|
|24||Stephen Hauschka - BUF||99||15||6.6||3.42||0.52||3.18||10.02||19.34||3||5||5||5|
|25||Dustin Hopkins - WAS||111||16||6.94||4.01||0.58||2.93||10.95||18.95||2||7||8||9|
|26||Chris Boswell - PIT||88.08||15||5.87||2.68||0.46||3.2||8.55||18.76||2||2||3||4|
|27||Chandler Catanzaro - NYJ||84||13||6.46||3.45||0.53||3.01||9.92||18.55||2||4||6||6|
|28||Randy Bullock - CIN||100||16||6.25||3.38||0.54||2.87||9.63||17.82||2||5||6||7|
|29||Brandon McManus - DEN||99||16||6.19||3.37||0.54||2.82||9.56||17.55||2||4||5||5|
Interestingly all of the top-four kickers drafted finished in the top-10 when to consistency. However, the latest any of them were drafted was at the end of the 15th round in standard. Given that four of the top-10 most consistent kickers went undrafted that does not seem a great use of a late-round pick.
Of the top-15 in the consistency rankings, 10 were drafted in 12-team leagues, and only Jake Elliott, Sebastien Janikowski, and Cairo Santos finished outside the top-ten on less than six occasions.
The Overvalued Options
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
Bryant managed to finish 13th among kickers on an average basis, but a lowly 16th when it comes to consistency. That is a real problem when ADP had you fifth off the board amongst the position. Part of the problem was that the Falcons were chasing the game a lot, and therefore passed up field goals and extra points.
Bryant was still reasonably solid when he got the opportunity, but injury and age have led to him looking for a new home. That leaves Giorgio Tavecchio as the Falcons kicker this season. If the Falcons defense is back at full strength this season then Tavecchio could be a solid option, as this Falcons offense should be in the opposing half plenty.
Daniel Carlson, Oakland Raiders
Carlson actually started last season as a rookie kicker for the Vikings, before being waived and later signing with the Raiders. In total, he played 12 games, but only finished as a top-16 kicker on four occasions. In his time with the Vikings, his unreliability cost them a victory, as he made just one of his four attempts. He bounced back with the Raiders, but their stuttering offense meant he saw limited opportunities. Until we see evidence that the Oakland offense is going to be better this season, Carlson is someone you are best leaving well alone.
Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers
It was a really bad season for Boswell, who was constantly under pressure all season. He ended the season a dreadful 31st amongst kickers in weekly average and 26th in the consistency ranks. As the 8th kicker off the board that is a disaster for his fantasy owners. Even worse from a kicking point of view is that Boswell’s numbers were boosted by a passing touchdown. Entering 2019 the Steelers may be trusting Boswell again, but fantasy owners should not be.
The Surprise packages
Ka’imi Fairbairn, Houston Texans
Fairbairn was as good as it got amongst kickers last season. He finished joint second behind Zuerlein in terms of top-five finishes, but joint first in top-ten finishes. He benefitted from an explosive Texans offense, who at times had trouble finishing drives. His numbers are fairly similar in both of his first two years of his career, so we know what to expect percentage-wise in 2019. The question is whether the Texans are as explosive but as bad at finishing as they were in 2018. At fifth overall in kicker ADP this season, you are going to have to pay up to find out.
Aldrick Rosas, New York Giants
Rosas succeeded despite the stuttering Giants offense, thanks in large part to missing just two kicks all season. In contrast in 2017, he missed seven of his 25 attempts at field goals, and three of 23 extra points. The question is can Rosas be that close to perfect again? The Giants offense was essentially middle of the pack last season, and without Odell Beckham, there is a chance they get worse in 2019. It would be a brave fantasy owner to gamble on Rosas, given the inconsistency shown from year to year, and the likelihood of a decline in the offense.
The Math Behind the Stats
For those of you interested here is how all of the numbers that make up the consistency rating (COR) are produced. I am going to go full geek mode here so I fully understand if you just want to bypass this section and take my word for it!
Standard Deviation and Coefficient of Variation
First, we need to look at the average and standard deviation for that player. The standard deviation quantifies how spread out the numbers are. However, raw standard deviation numbers are messy to look at and hard to take in. They are also biased by the average of the player. A player with a lower average will have a bigger change in standard deviation for smaller relative changes in fantasy points than a player with a larger average weekly score. Therefore, we use another factor called the coefficient of variation (C.V.). C.V. takes the standard deviation and divides it by the average, allowing you to compare two players side by side regardless of their weekly average.
There is a downside of using C.V. If a player is consistently bad he will have a low C.V. and rank highly if we simply ranked players by that metric. Therefore, we need to look at a way to incorporate a players weekly points total. To do this we can calculate a players floor and ceiling, using their average and standard deviation. Over time the fantasy points scored by a player follow a normal distribution. With normal distribution we see the percentage of observations fall within one, two, or three standard deviations either side of the mean.
68% of the observations will fall within one standard deviation either side of the mean. 95% within two standard deviations and 99.7% within three standard deviations. The wider we go with the standard deviations the harder it is to accurately predict a player. Therefore, the floors and ceilings are calculated by looking at the values which fall one standard deviation either side of a players weekly average.
Finally, the COR itself. COR is calculated by taking a player’s calculated ceiling and dividing it by the C.V. The higher the number the better that player ranks as a risk/reward play for fantasy owners. COR gives weight to players who have a high ceiling, but also to those who are consistent. Players who consistently put up big points totals rank highly and players who are highly variable fall further down the rankings.