Commentary

Consistency ratings: Week 2

Don't overreact to one (bad) week

Updated: September 14, 2011, 10:46 AM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

One week does not a season make.

Oh, you -- OK, maybe only I -- might hear fantasy owners endlessly grousing about their Week 1 duds, their Chris Johnsons, Ben Roethlisbergers and Vincent Jacksons. The frustration of a loss tends to be amplified the first week of the season.

If you drafted any of those three players, or even a Rashard Mendenhall, Jeremy Maclin or Dwayne Bowe, I understand how you feel. All six suffer the consequences for their poor efforts in the Week 2 Consistency Ratings; this week's new standards for "Stiff" performances put all six squarely in that department.

To better identify those boom-or-bust players, beginning with this week, a Stiff performance will be classified as this: eight or fewer fantasy points for a quarterback, four or fewer for a running back or wide receiver (five for a running back or seven for a wide receiver in PPR scoring), three points or fewer for a tight end, and four points for a kicker.

The rationale is simple: Those represent half the fantasy points a player would be required to have to be classified a "Start"; it assumes that, in addition to the necessary number of players to populate an entire league's starting roster, there would have been a noticeable handful of players who, despite failing to earn even a starter's number of fantasy points, would still have been better plays.

But just because the theme of this week is the "Stiffs" -- doesn't it always feel as if "early-round picks who stink" is the theme exiting Week 1? -- doesn't necessarily mean it's time to hop off the Johnson, Roethlisberger or Jackson bandwagon. Let's re-examine our Consistency Ratings and see how much theirs were impacted.

To generate more meaningful Consistency Ratings in the early weeks of the season, I'm including 34 weeks -- two 17-week seasons' worth -- of statistics. That means this week's data run from Week 2 of the 2009 season through Week 1 of 2011; that's a large enough sample size to ensure accuracy, yet small enough that it doesn't favor players who have long since faded into obscurity.

One other note: "Stack" ratings haven't been permanently removed; they would all merely be zeros because every player, as well as every defense, has faced only one such opponent. For example, the Miami Dolphins have allowed 34 points to opposing quarterbacks this season and Tom Brady scored 34 points against said Dolphins, so his Stack would result in zero. Stack numbers will return in Week 2, and they should increase in usefulness with each passing week.

Players are initially ranked by the percentage of their teams' scheduled games in which their weekly point total was classified a "Start," though they are also sortable by category this week:

Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger: Sure, he was one of the week's worst fantasy scorers with five points (standard ESPN scoring), but look at that number of Stiffs. That's right, in the past 34 weeks -- two seasons' worth of games -- Brady actually would have let you down more frequently than Roethlisberger has. Brady, of course, has a higher Consistency Rating (62.5 percent Start, compared with Roethlisberger's 53.1), and Roethlisberger has missed five games in that span, or more than Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brady combined. (Manning, of course, will now quickly overtake him.) Remember, the opponent was the stingy Baltimore Ravens, a team that has afforded Roethlisberger a ho-hum 210.2 passing yards per game, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 10 career meetings. If you're pressing the panic button on Roethlisberger, you're going to be burned.

Running backs

Chris Johnson: He had two factors working against him: that the Tennessee Titans had planned all along to limit his workload in his 2011 debut and that the Titans were trailing for the majority of the game. Unfortunately, although the former shouldn't remain a persistent problem, the latter might, considering the team's quarterbacking problems. Johnson might have more "Stud" performances than any other player in the game except Aaron Rodgers (18) in the past 34 weeks, but he also has a lot of Stiff (5) performances for a "top-shelf" running back. Frankly, I look at Ray Rice's consistency ratings and would prefer him looking forward.

Rashard Mendenhall: He has only one more Stiff performance (6) than Johnson, but look at the opponent, a Ravens team that has historically been torture on opposing running backs. Working backward, these are Mendenhall's past five fantasy point totals against the Ravens: 2, 5, 19, 7 and 11. They have limited him to 68.8 total yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry in those contests. There's no way you should be changing your preseason Mendenhall opinion.

DeAngelo Williams: I'm throwing him in here despite the lack of mention in the introduction; Williams had only three fantasy points, the same as backup Jonathan Stewart, and he mustered only five more carries (12) than Stewart (7). Granted, Williams' Consistency Rating (28.1 percent) is skewed by all those missed games last season, but even if you calculated it based only on games played -- as some readers want, but a stance with which I don't agree -- it'd be 47.4, or only 19th best among running backs. He's just not automatic No. 2 material.

Wide receivers

Dwayne Bowe: Place the blame on Matt Cassel, who was similarly a Stiff, except that Bowe is the one trusted by a heck of a lot more fantasy owners on a week-to-week basis. Cassel's tendency to play into his matchups has an adverse impact on Bowe's numbers; look how far down the list Bowe's Consistency Rating falls. He's 32nd, and he has been a Start in an ESPN standard league less frequently in the past 34 weeks than Derrick Mason (16), Nate Washington (14) and Braylon Edwards (13). Bowe doesn't even rank among the top 10 at his own position in Stud ratings; he's 11th, tied with Brandon Marshall et al (6). If there's any Week 1 stinker profiled that you should be shopping in fear, it's Bowe.

Vincent Jackson: The San Diego Chargers, and Rivers specifically, should find more time to pass in the coming weeks now that they'll be free of the persistent Minnesota Vikings pass rush. That'll help open things up for Jackson, who, despite only 20 games played in the past 34 NFL weeks, has six Stud performances, tied with the aforementioned Bowe. He'll be boom-or-bust to a degree, but that's a pass-happy offense and, if nagging injuries persist in the Chargers' backfield, even more emphasis might be placed upon Jackson.

Tight ends

Vernon Davis: With four ESPN standard fantasy points, Davis didn't classify as a Stiff, but he was just a point off that designation. His Week 1 output was frustrating, but the five catches and six targets, both of those team-leading numbers, were encouraging. Then there's this: Davis has been a Stud as often as Antonio Gates (11) the past 34 weeks; he has been a Start (22) more often (21); and he's No. 1 in Consistency Rating (68.8 percent) at his position in that time. You'd be foolish to even consider shopping him.

Kickers

The numbers support a patient approach with the majority of those Week 1 stinkers; there's no reason you should be racing to trade them based upon one week of sour returns. After all, remember that there's a reason you spent such significant resources to land them on draft day …

It's that, historically speaking, they've been consistently reliable.

Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter @SultanofStat.