100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 38: Weekly Consistency Among RBs
Earlier this morning, C.D. Carter tweeted out a nugget from my book Fantasy Football for Smart People: What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know, so I figured I’d post it here. If you aren’t familiar with C.D., he’s the author of How to Think Like a Fantasy Football Winner–a book I highly recommend and one I read cover to cover in two days.
My hypothesis was that running backs who catch passes might be more consistent on a weekly basis than non-pass-catching backs because they have more ways to beat defenses. Like Percy Harvin—one of the few receivers I deem as possessing weekly consistency—running backs who can contribute as receivers necessarily have a lesser degree of volatility because they can score points in two ways.
To take a look at my hypothesis, I sorted all running backs with at least 750 rushing yards over the past two years by the number of receptions they recorded. The top 25 running backs in terms of catches turned in an average of 10.3 “quality starts” per season. I defined a “quality start” as posting at least 6.0 percent of their year-end yardage total in any given game (and thus controlling for differences in talent and system). The pass-catching backs in this group included just who you’d imagine—Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and so on.
On the other hand, the bottom backs in terms of receptions—think Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, and Cedric Benson—recorded an average of only 9.0 “quality starts” per season. Remember, backs needed to turn in just 6.0 percent of their own year-end yardage total to obtain a “quality start,” so the total production from each running back was irrelevant.