The Consistency Reports: Tight Ends
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 tight end 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|
There will have been no surprises to see Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz near the top of the COR leaderboard. George Kittle would only have been a surprise before the season because of his injury. The hype around Kittle was reach fever pitch prior to the injury scare, and he proved this season why that was the case. It was also great to finally see Eric Ebron step up and fulfil his potential as an offensive weapon. He benefited massively from the Colts lack of reliability among their other pass catchers, and it will be hard for him to repeat next year. 2018 was the season that health finally caught up with Rob Gronkowski, and it looks to also be the last time we will see him on the football field.
Interesting names to note are the young guys on the list. OJ Howard was immense when he was on the field. Evan Engram developed through the season and should benefit from the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. As for Trey Burton and David Njoku, we will talk about them now…
High Variance Tight Ends
Trey Burton, CHI
Tight end is a frustratingly inconsistent position but Trey Burton might have been the biggest offender last season. So much was expected of Burton, in his first year as the featured tight end in an offense. However, he failed to deliver any kind of consistency to his fantasy owners last season. On the positive side, Burton was a top-five tight end on three occasions, and top-12 seven times. However, in five of 16 weeks, Burton finished outside of the top-24 at the position. Now five out of 16 does not seem too bad, but it was the most out of the tight ends that finished in the top-15 in weekly average.
Now there were some limiting factors which did not help Burton. Mitchell Trubisky was not the image of consistency himself, and that does not help a pass catcher. Additionally, it was the first year for this offense together, and in this scheme. With another full offseason to build more of the offense, and build the chemistry there s every chance Burton could be a more reliable fantasy tight end next season.
Jared Cook, OAK
Guess who finished second to Burton in terms of the most times finishing outside the top-24 at the position. Yes it was Jared Cook, but then if you watched Oakland last year this is unlikely to be a surprise to you. At times last season Cook was as good as it gets, and he finished top-five on five occasions. Sadly though he was only a top-12 tight end on one other occasion, finishing between 13th and 24th on six further occasions. By no means was it a disaster but his average points total is somewhat misleading, as it was driven in large part from those five good weeks.
In 2019 the story surrounding Cook could be extremely interesting. His move to the New Orleans Saints offense has the potential to be a gold mine. However, the Saints tight ends last season did not provide much consistency last year. The reason for that is partly down to the offense, but also due to the fact that neither Ben Watson or Dan Arnold are as good at this stage of their careers at making plays as Cook. In that offense, with his talent, 2019 could be a fantastic season for Cook and his fantasy owners.
David Njoku, CLE
If we extended our scope out to the top-20 tight ends in weekly average and looked for who finished outside the top-24 the most, then Njoku would be the answer. Last year, in his 16 games, Njoku finished outside the top-24 on six occasions. What makes that all the more frustrating is that he was a top-five tight end on four occasions. The offensive instability of that whole situation early last year will not have helped, but there was and is a bigger issue.
Even in 2018 there were a lot of mouths to feed in Cleveland. They had Njoku, Jarvis Landry, Duke Johnson, Nick Chubb and a bevy of young receivers. In 2019, that situation is even worse. The Browns went out and added Odell Beckham Jr. to be their number one. It is is unlikely the Browns would have made that move if they did not envisage Beckham being their most targeted pass catcher. That means that at best Njoku is going to be third in the pecking order this season when it comes to targets. Njoku is a talents tight end, but he is one you are likely better staying away from in 2019.
Lower Scoring But Consistent Tight Ends
Vance McDonald, PIT
McDonald finished last season just behind Njoku in terms of weekly points average. McDonald did not have the same ceiling of Njoku, but he actually shaded him in COR. The reason for that is that McDonald finished as a top-24 tight end on 12 occasions (80%) last season. One of the reasons McDonald was not even more consistent last season was the presence of Jesse James. With James gone to Detroit this season, McDonald is going to be the clear number one pass catching tight end next season. Hopefully McDonald can take that consistency and turn it into top-12 production next season.
Ian Thomas, CAR
Thomas is an interesting case because he entered the season as his teams clear second option at the position. However, when Greg Olsen went down Thomas got his chance to shine. In total Thomas played 10 games, three with Olsen and seven without. In those 10 weeks he was a top-12 option on four occasions, top-24 a further one time, and outside the top-24 on five occasions. Three of those five occasions came with Olsen on the field.
Therefore, in seven games without Olsen, Thomas was a top-12 tight end 57% of the time, and top-24 71% of the time. His stats in those seven games without Olsen were 5.86 targets, four receptions and 38.3 yards per game. Additionally, he also had two touchdowns in the final two games of the season. Interestingly, those games were without Cam Newton on the field also. Olsen is expected to return in 2019, but his injury history is chequered at best. There is every chance Thomas will have the shot to be a first choice tight end for the Panthers this season. If he is then he should also be among the first choices for your fantasy team.
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.