The Consistency Reports: Wide Receivers
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). If you do not fancy doing the math yourself, then our consistency tool provides you with all the data. As an added bonus you will also find out how often players scored within certain brackets, top-five, top-12, 13-24, 25-36 and beyond.
Using COR, we can get an easy snapshot of where players rank on a weekly basis. 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 great. Some did it and were wildly inconsistent, others were actually pretty reliable.
This article will take a look at the consistency of the wide receiver position as a whole. Then we will dive into a couple of players whose ranking by COR differed from their ranking based on their weekly average points total.
2018 Consistency Ratings
|Player||Team||G||Average||Std Dev.||Weekly Floor||Weekly Ceiling||CV||COR||COR Rank||OVR Rank||COR vs. OVR|
|Odell Beckham Jr||NYG||12||18.59||6.86||11.73||25.45||0.37||69||6||8||-2|
For the large part, there were once again no shocks in the wide receivers top-20 when it came to the consistency rankings. The most surprising name was perhaps Julian Edelman climbing up to the two spot. However, when you are Tom Brady’s go-to guy you are always going to have a nice chance to be consistent. The only other guy in the top-20 who was a way apart from his weekly average ranking was Tyler Lockett, but more on him later.
It was fun to see the emergence of some young receiving talent late in the season. Hopefully, some of those can kick on in 2019 and force their way into next years top-20!
High Variance Wide Receivers
Amari Cooper, DAL
The 2018 Amari Cooper story is somewhat of a roller coaster. His time in Oakland was up an down like a yo-yo, before flat-lining in Weeks 5 & 6. A trade to the Cowboys breathed new life into Cooper as a fantasy option, but even so, there were some tough times. In 15 games, Cooper finished outside of the top-36 receiver options on eight occasions. Four of those were in six weeks with the Raiders, but four were also after he had arrived with the Cowboys. In fact, his fantasy playoff performances with the Cowboys were diabolical, with 4.2, 2 and 1.1 fantasy points in Weeks 15 through 17.
Overall, Cooper finished 47th among the COR rankings, having finished 22nd in weekly average. The positive is that in the seven weeks he was fantasy relevant, he was a top-12 option in four and a top-five option in two. Cooper’s talent means there is absolutely a high ceiling, as we saw in breakout games for the Cowboys last season. With a full offseason in the Cowboys offense, and working with Dak Prescott, should give Cooper a chance to be a much more consistent fantasy option in 2019.
Robby Anderson, NYJ
Anderson provided a head-scratching experience for fantasy owners last season. He flashed his undeniable talent, finishing as a top-five fantasy receiver on three occasions. However, that was in some ways canceled out with nine finishes outside the top-36. In fact, when you consider that Anderson only finished between those two extremes on two occasions it is fair to call him a boom or bust option last season. However, playing with a rookie QB is always going to have growing pains and that was evident in New York.
The positive is that the Jets did not really bring in anyone to challenge Anderson as the number one receiver on the outside. They did add Le’Veon Bell in the backfield, but that could actually aid Anderson by forcing opponents to commit more resources to stop the run than they had to next year. Do not be fooled by Anderson’s mixed 2018 season, this young receiver has a lot of potential to make 2019 a big season for both himself and his fantasy owners.
Calvin Ridley, ATL
Ridley’s fantasy performances in 2018 were a wild ride for fantasy owners. Three times he was a top-12 contributor and five times a top-24 contributor. However, he failed to finish as a top-36 option 56% of the time (9-of-16), which is concerning. The issue for Ridley was the number of mouths to feed in Atlanta. It was bad enough that he was the third receiver behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Then there was also Austin Hooper and the running backs in the mix to make it worse. Unfortunately, that situation has not resolved itself particularly this offseason. Yes, Tevin Coleman has moved away from the Falcons, but he is likely to simply be replaced by Ito Smith. There is a real chance that 2019 could be another frustrating season for Ridley and his fantasy owners.
Lower Scoring But Consistent Wide Receivers
Tyler Lockett, SEA
This is really just to highlight how good Lockett was last season. If you simply look at his weekly average then Lockett finished 25th among receivers. However, his COR rankings suggest so much more, as he came in 15th in that category. Where Lockett was an issue of sorts was his ceiling and ability to have monster weeks. If you look at the top-20 COR options among players who played eight games or more, Lockett had the last amount of weeks as a top-12 option (one). In fact, as a top-24 option, he was among the lowest too, finishing with just four finishes in the top-24. However, his position leading seven finishes in the top-36 underlie that as a flex or in deeper leagues Lockett was right up there with the most reliable week to week options for fantasy owners.
With Doug Baldwin departing there will likely be a lot of hype around Lockett this season. However, the Seahawks offense is not necessarily built to make studs out of wide receivers. Their offense often leans on the run and they have the ability to get other receivers involved. Lockett should still be a safe receiving option and return you consistent production next season. However, these numbers show you it may be risky to expect him to suddenly become a stud receiving option for fantasy owners.
Curtis Samuel, CAR
Samuel is another interesting receiver option who often seems to fall through the cracks. Last year he finished 40th among receivers in terms of average weekly total. However, he actually managed to finish in the top-30 when it came to COR rankings (26th). That is largely thanks to a strong second half, after missing the first three games of the season. In total, Samuel had five receiving touchdowns and scored eight or more fantasy points in 7-of-13 games last season. However, in the second half of the year, he had five performances of eight or more fantasy points in those final eight weeks.
It will be interesting to see this season how Samuel’s role grows. The second round pick from 2017 was always going to have a little bit of project status around him in the NFL, but we saw that starting to come to fruition in 2018. However, there is now some doubt over his playing time in 2019. The arrivals of Torrey Smith and Chris Hogan has feasibly pushed Samuel to fourth on this depths chart. If that is the case then expect to see him struggle to provide us the consistency numbers of last season. However, after watching Hogan struggle to separate last season, it would be a shock if Samuel was not able to win that job. The lack of defined role could make Samuel a cheap option in drafts this year, and an option that could be a surprisingly useful, and consistent, contributor on 2019.
Willie Snead, BAL
I just want to end this article touching on Snead, who finished 29th in the COR rankings. To some extent, this is where consistency rankings can lie to us. A 29th ranking suggests that Snead was not far off a flex play in most leagues, but when you dig deeper that is hard to swallow. Snead finished as a top-36 fantasy option in just 4-of-14 games. That means that even in 16 team leagues he was not a usable option as one of your top two receivers 71.5% of the time. He was an extremely consistent option but there just was not enough upside to make him a reliable regular fantasy option.
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.