Consistency is defined as “The achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.” Inconsistency, quite obviously, means the opposite.
NFL players who never touch the ball throughout the season could be considered, given the definition, consistent. They’re just consistently bad, playing at a low level no matter the opponent. But for players who are supposed to touch the rock on a normal basis, high-level consistency is an overlooked, important aspect of fantasy football.
Looking at weekly data, we can tag players with a consistency mark. We can take year-end, cumulative data and see how that data was formulated through these weekly performances. If a wide receiver, for instance, caught 50 passes for 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, but had 500 yards and 6 touchdowns in just three games, we’d see that his sum total doesn’t exactly tell the entire story to his season’s play.
Essentially, if a player ranked high (or low) in terms of weekly performances within his position, but finished with a low (or high) yearlong rank, then that player was more than likely a very inconsistent play throughout the season. In 2012, the players below fit this description:
T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts
We’ll start with an obvious choice: the rookie wide receiver from Indianpolis. In his first season in the NFL, T.Y. (who should called ‘thank you’ by owners who picked him up halfway through the season) ranked as the 23rd best non-PPR fantasy wideout, besting veteran guys like Mike Wallace, Miles Austin and Jeremy Maclin. Interestingly enough, however, Hilton finished tied for eighth in terms of weekly top-12 performances by wide receivers, excluding Week 17 (WR1 numbers in 12-team leagues). The reason is fairly simple; he was a rookie wide receiver who didn’t get into his groove until halfway through the season. Once Week 9 hit, Hilton cashed in six double-digit fantasy performances on his way to being the NFL’s top rookie wideout.
Shonn Greene, Running Back, New York Jets
Sure, the now-Titan running back finished as the 15th ranked runner in 2012, but he also secured 34 of his approximately 160 fantasy points (21.25%) in one game. The mediocre Greene finished with just six double-digit fantasy point games in 2012, and four of those ranked him in the weekly top 12 at the position. Though the boring, plodding runners typically give you a consistent look in fantasy football each week, the opposite was true with Greene in 2012.
Carson Palmer, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders
What do you get when you mix a an aging, strong-armed quarterback with immense fourth quarter deficits? Garbage time points. In 2012, Carson Palmer was the king of trashy value, finishing with more top-12 quarterback games than Eli Manning and Matt Schaub, and the same number as Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman. Still, Palmer finished as the 18th best signal caller in fantasy last season. His final campaign with the Raiders saw a few single-digit performances, but also a four touchdown, 414-yard game against the awful 2012 Tampa Bay secondary. He was a streaming monster in 2012.
Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
Perhaps the quarterback movement in Philadelphia forced Maclin to have one of the most inconsistent seasons of any usable fantasy football player, but whatever the reason, the Philly wideout was anything but steady. In 2012, Jeremy Maclin – yes, Jeremy Maclin – had more top-12 finishes than Julio Jones, Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston. Maclin, however, didn’t even finish the season as a WR2, as 26 different receivers finished with better fantasy totals than Number 18.
Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
It’s becoming the norm to expect Chris Johnson to only perform against porous defenses. In 2012, Johnson finished as the 14th best runner in standard scoring, but had six performances of five or fewer points. Yet, he had just as many top 12 finishes as Stevan Ridley and CJ Spiller, and just one less than stud rookie runner Doug Martin. Johnson is now the poster child for inconsistency, and although his season-end totals usually look attractive, don’t let them fool you when you’re selecting him in your drafts. If he’s going to be your RB2 in 2013, you better get your RB3 early as well.
Josh Freeman, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you remember, there was a stretch of games – Weeks 6 through 11 – where Josh Freeman was fantasy gold. He had six straight games with multiple touchdown passes, and four of those games consisted of three passing scores. But then Week 12 hit versus Atlanta, and it was all downhill for Freeman. In fact, the Bucs signal caller posted a measly one fantasy point against the Saints secondary in Week 15, a typical fantasy playoff round. Freeman finished the season with four top-6 fantasy performances, but just six top-12 ones. In other words, if Freeman was going to perform well, he was going to do so at an elite level. Otherwise, it was a fantasy football disaster.
Golden Tate, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Though he finished as the 34th best fantasy receiver in 2012, Golden Tate had some monster performances that allowed him to be more than fantasy relevant throughout the season. He played in 15 games a year ago, and in those contests, Tate finished with a top-12 wide receiver ranking four times. To put that into perspective, that’s the same number of instances as Roddy White, Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne, and more than Randall Cobb and Torrey Smith. Tate’s five top-24 performances, however, shed light to the fact that he was a boom or bust play in 2012. While he scored over 15 fantasy points four times, he also scored fewer than four points four times.
Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Trust me, I’m smiling as I write this. Aaron Rodgers was inconsistent in 2012. Don’t believe me? Look at his numbers. Rodgers finished in the weekly top 6 at quarterback eight times in 2012 (again, excluding Week 17), which was the most of any quarterback. Yet, Rodgers also finished in the top 12 eigtht times. In other words, Rodgers was either a top-6 signal caller, or one that finished outside of QB1 territory in 12-team leagues. Now, we’ll look at his season from the aspect that he finished as the second best fantasy quarterback – only behind Drew Brees – but week-to-week, Rodgers wasn’t all that reliable. He had six performances under 15 fantasy points, and even a single-digit performance against the Seahawks. It’s not to say that Aaron Rodgers is bad at football or shouldn’t be the first passer off the board in 2013, but he certainly needs to be scrutinized like any other player in fake football.