Fantasy Football Consistency Risers/Fallers: Running Back
I hope you enjoyed the first article of this four-part series, where I examined the consistency and inconsistency at the quarterback position in 2016. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. Today we will be moving along to the running back group, which seems to lack quality outside of the top five options.
Hopefully, with this data, you will be able to pinpoint some great sleeper and value picks, in addition to spotting some potential bust candidates for the upcoming season. Below you will find tables showing the consistency and inconsistency at the running back position in 2016. The tables are broken up into four groups: Super Consistency (20+ points), Consistency (15+ points), Inconsistency (<12 points), and Super Inconsistency (<8 points).
It is very easy to get carried away with just looking at a player’s total numbers from the past season, but this analysis breaks it down into game-by-game production, which is crucial in Fantasy Football. In head-to-head leagues, consistency proves to be more important than boom-or-bust production.
A Few Things to Consider
– When looking at the consistency tables, keep an eye on the “Gms W/10+ Touches” category, as that can be very telling as to why a certain player might have a low percentage. For example, James White’s 13 percent looks terrible at first glance, but keep in mind that he only had one game with more than 10 touches. If you project him to get more touches this season that number should go up.
– Same thing with the inconsistency tables. Look at how many games the player had with fewer than 10 touches before judging their score. If Derrick Henry had nine games with fewer than 10 touches that could explain his high inconsistency rating of 71 percent.
– All percentages are based on the number of games played, regardless of how many touches the player received.
– The higher the percentage on the consistency and super-consistency tables, the more consistent the player was in 2016.
– The higher the percentage on the inconsistency and super-inconsistency tables, the more inconsistent the player was in 2016.
– For best results, read this article on a computer rather than a mobile device so you can get a clearer view of the tables.
– All ADP data and research for this article was found using the Fantasy Pros ADP Composite.
– The statistics used for this data is based on ESPN’s PPR scoring format. Here is a quick overview of the scoring breakdown for RBs:
- Rushing Yard = 0.1 Point
- Rushing/Receiving TD = 6 Points
- Reception = 1 Point
Super Consistency (20+ points)
|Player||20+ Point Game||Gms W/10+ Touches||Games Played||Consistency %|
Consistency (15+ points)
|Player||15+ Point Game||Gms W/10+ Touches||Games Played||Consistency %|
To no one’s surprise Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott top the list of most consistent running backs of 2016. What jumps out most is perhaps the strong, super-consistency ratings of Mark Ingram, Carlos Hyde, and Bilal Powell. Ingram and Hyde were right up there with the likes of DeMarco Murray, Melvin Gordon, and Devonta Freeman, who are all going several rounds before them in drafts this year.
While Powell’s super-consistency percentage of 25 isn’t quite as good, it is still extremely impressive when you consider he didn’t have more than eight carries until Week 14. The data compiled on the super-consistency chart shows that Ingram, Hyde, and Powell are certainly capable of big games and that they have RB1 potential if the touches are there.
Top 5 Most Likely To Improve Their Consistency Rates in 2017
#1) Paul Perkins (NYG)/Eddie Lacy (SEA)
You know the saying, “there is nowhere to go but up”? Well, you can go ahead and apply that here. I’m not excited about either guy, but both will surely improve on their consistency score of zero. Perkins is slated to be the starting back for the G-men and is one of the few starting RBs available after the sixth round. Eddie Lacy finds himself in a similar role, but with a little more competition with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. I view both guys as RB3s that you could plug and play during bye weeks and favorable matchups.
- Perkins PPR ADP: 29th RB/75th Overall
- Perkins Consistency Score: 0 %
- Lacy PPR ADP: 28th RB/77th Overall
- Lacy Consistency Score:
#2) Mike Gillislee (NE)
Gillislee’s consistency score of 15 percent is pretty much irrelevant since he was in a backup role, running behind LeSean McCoy in Buffalo. He made the most of his opportunities and it landed him in a potential starting role with New England, taking over for LeGarrette Blount. I say potential because who knows how Bill Belichick will handle the running back approach with James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead on the roster. Nevertheless, Gillislee’s upside is through the roof as he is the lead candidate to take over the starting role which netted Blount a league-leading 18 touchdowns last season. The 26-year-old is no slouch near the goal line either as he rushed for eight touchdowns despite only carrying the ball 101 times as a backup. Gillislee’s 5.7 yards per carry average over the past two seasons is another reason for optimism.
- PPR ADP: 26th RB/71st Overall
- Consistency Score: 15 %
#3) James White (NE)
Coming in at No. 3 on the list is Gillislee’s teammate, James White. Of all the running backs in New England, White probably has the most defined role as their third-down back and pass-catching specialist. White has posted consecutive seasons of 40 or more receptions and is coming off a career-high 60 catches in 2016. However, his most impressive stats came in the Super Bowl where he caught 14 passes for 110 yards and a score, which would be a 31-point fantasy outing. He also added two touchdowns on the ground and 29 rushing yards. To put that in perspective, he really had a 46-point fantasy night. If that is any indication of things to come, you would be wise to consider the PPR-specialist in the ninth or 10th round.
- PPR ADP: 39th RB/110th Overall
- Consistency Score: 13 %
#4) Todd Gurley (LAR)
Despite being one of just four running backs with 16 games of 10+ touches, Gurley recorded a consistency score of 31 percent. He averaged an atrocious 3.2 yards per carry and scored just one touchdown for every 46 carries. Having said that, Gurley is a popular bounce-back candidate. The new coaching staff led by offensive guru and head coach, Sean McVay, is a step in the right direction and could bring some excitement back to the Los Angeles (Rams) offense. While he is still a high-risk selection in the second round, Gurley also has little to no competition behind him and should see a heavy workload yet again in 2017.
- PPR ADP: 10th RB/21st Overall
- Consistency Score: 31 %
#5) Jay Ajayi (MIA)
The ultimate boom-or-bust performer last year had to be Ajayi, at least at the RB position. His 27 percent consistency rating is in the same range as guys like Ty Montgomery, Bilal Powell, and Darren Sproles, who all saw significantly fewer touches. Furthermore, the three-year pro had the same amount of 20+ point performances as 15+. I see Ajayi in a very similar position as Gurley. They both have very little competition, both are high-risk Round 2 picks, and both should be in improved situations and in line for a workhorse type of role. Despite not being a fan of either at their current ADP, both should improve their consistency ratings based solely on the amount of touches they have in store.
- PPR ADP: 9th RB/18th Overall
- 2016 Consistency Score: 27 %
The next two tables are going to analyze the inconsistency of RBs in 2016.
Inconsistency (<12 points)
|Player||< 12 Point Game||Gms W < 10 Touches||Games Played||Inconsistency %|
Super Inconsistency (<8 points)
|Player||< 8 Point Game||Gms W < 10 Touches||Games Played||Inconsistency %|
Even though he had seven games of 10+ touches, Perkins led the way with the worst inconsistency percentage with 77 percent. He was followed by a couple of backups in Derrick Henry and Duke Johnson. Right off the bat, this makes me very wary of drafting Perkins. His numbers suggest that he struggled mightily last season despite having the opportunity to seize the starting role for the Giants. Isaiah Crowell and Jay Ajayi are a couple of guys with a high ADP who showed signs of struggling with consistency last season. Their inconsistency percentages of 31 and 27 were likely crippling to their fantasy owners and are red flags to consider when drafting this year.
Remember, consistency is key in fantasy football, especially when it comes to your early draft picks. On a positive note, take a look at Theo Riddick sitting at the top with the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson. That just goes to show you how important receiving backs can be in PPR formats. With a very similar role in place this season, it also makes it quite clear that Riddick is a huge bargain at his current ADP of the sixth or seventh round.
Top 5 Most Likely to Move up the Inconsistency Charts in 2017
#1) Latavius Murray (MIN)
Going from the starting role in Oakland’s very good offense to a backup role in Minnesota’s conservative offense is the No. 1 reason why Murray is going to see his inconsistency percentage increase. It is very possible that Murray is used as the goal line back for the Vikings after scoring 12 rushing TDs for the Raiders in 2016. However, Dalvin Cook was not drafted in the second round to sit on the bench. Cook will likely see the lion’s share of the touches, with Murray working as a short-yardage specialist, which ultimately kills his fantasy value and makes him nothing more than an RB4.
- PPR ADP: 49th RB/135th Overall
- 2016 Inconsistency Score: 21 %
#2) LeGarrette Blount (PHI)
Blount finds himself going from the best situation in the NFL to a good one. He will still be a productive fantasy player as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, but cutting his TD total of 18 in half is a much more realistic expectation for this upcoming season. The bruising back will work as the unquestioned starter in Philly with Darren Sproles spelling him on third downs and in sure passing situations. Blount is a bit more appealing in standard scoring formats since he has not recorded more than seven receptions in a season over the past six years.
- PPR ADP: 34th RB/83rd Overall
- 2016 Inconsistency Score: 6 %
#3) Theo Riddick (DET)
Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, and Theo Riddick. Sorry, but one does not belong. Even though Riddick was among the most consistent backs when it came to scoring more than eight fantasy points per game, it’s an unsustainable percentage moving forward purely as a receiving specialist. His inconsistency score of zero percent is a testament to his receiving abilities and the Lions commitment to implementing him into the game plan. Riddick is likely to remain pretty consistent as he is in the same role as the previous two campaigns where he’s averaged just over five catches per game. A great value at his current ADP? Yes. Likely to stay at a zero percent inconsistency rate? No.
- PPR ADP: 31st RB/79th Overall
- 2016 Inconsistency Score: 0 %
#4) DeMarco Murray (TEN)
At 29 years old, and with Derrick Henry pushing him for playing time, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to see Murray fall off a little bit. After a strong start to the 2016 season, Murray showed signs of fatigue down the stretch. He scored just one touchdown and failed to reach 100 yards rushing in a single game through the final six weeks of the season. The Titans would be wise to use their one-two punch of Murray and Henry in efforts to keep the Oklahoma product fresh for a potential playoff push.
- PPR ADP: 8th RB/16th Overall
- 2016 Inconsistency Score: 6 %
#5) Mark Ingram (NO)
Ingram posted career-highs in rushing yards (1,043), yards per carry (5.1), and receiving touchdowns (four) this past season. He was quietly one of the more consistent fantasy running backs despite seemingly being in Sean Payton’s doghouse at times. The additions of Adrian Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara are pretty significant blows to Ingram’s fantasy value. Peterson will likely steal carries and goal line touches while Kamara could steal some of Ingram’s targets through the air.
- PPR ADP: 21st RB/54th Overall
- 2016 Inconsistency Score: 13 %