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Fantasy Football’s Most Consistent Players of 2017

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Jan 17, 2018

Fantasy football’s weekly structure demands consistency to truly merit elite status. As much as everyone loves a playmaker who can occasionally carry a squad to victory, stability goes further than a couple of game-changing outings.

Consistency was measured using FantasyPros’ Quality Starts data, in which performance is given a “Poor” (PS), “Quality” (QS), or “Great” (GS) Start grade using standard scoring. Kickers and defenses weren’t tabbed, but this writer created his own parameters so they wouldn’t feel left out.

The thresholds are relatively high for the skill positions, so top-tier players shine above replacement-level types with a low floor and ceiling. Each section will thus celebrate at least one such boringly consistent player, most of whom would headline PPR consistency ratings.

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Quarterback

Player GP PS (<15.3) QS (15.3-23) GS(>23) Q+G PPG
Russell Wilson 16 4 4 8 12 21.7
Philip Rivers 16 4 10 2 12 16.9
Tom Brady 16 4 9 3 12 18.5
Carson Wentz 13 2 5 6 11 21.8
Ben Roethlisberger 15 5 7 3 10 17.4

 
Before tearing his ACL, Carson Wentz levied over 13 fantasy points in all 13 games, clearing 15 all but once. He pocketed seven top-five QB outings without any setbacks one would expect from a sophomore who generates his success from deep balls. He also enjoyed a more favorable schedule than fellow second-year passer Jared Goff, whose single-digit outings came against the Jaguars, Seahawks, and Vikings.

A Seahawks fan wouldn’t describe their offense as consistent. They scored 24 or more points eight times but failed to clear 16 in five games. Russell Wilson‘s passing toiled on days where his feeble supporting cast refused to cooperate, but his legs created a steady landing strip. The NFL’s top fantasy scorer topped 30 three times. After Week 1, he recorded a touchdown and double-digit fantasy points in each game.

Some stable passers would also feature prominently with a looser grading curve. Alex Smith scored 14.4-15.2 points in three of his Poor games. Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees, both of whom attempted their fewest passes in a full season since 2009, each registered double-digit points every game. Brees, however, finished as the No. 11 QB without logging a single Great game. Consider them consistently boring honorable mentions.

Running Back

Player GP PS (<10.4) QS (10.4-17.5) GS (>17.5)  Q+G PPG
Todd Gurley 15 1 6 8 14 21.3
Melvin Gordon 16 4 7 5 12 14.4
Leonard Fournette 13 2 6 5 11 14.9
Le’Veon Bell 15 4 5 6 11 17.1
Alvin Kamara 16 6 4 6 10 14.6
Kareem Hunt 16 6 5 5 10 15.1

 
Seattle stymied Todd Gurley to 50 yards (43 rushing) in Week 5. Among his five games without a touchdown, it was the only time he failed to deliver over 135 yards as a consolation prize. In addition to being dependable, he surpassed 20 standard points in eight of 15 games. That, of course, includes a 107.1-point barrage (123.1 in PPR) from Weeks 14-16 that led happy investors to championships.

Le’Veon Bell averaged just 4.0 yards per carry, his lowest rate since 2013’s rookie campaign. He also stockpiled an absurd 406 touches to cement his spot as fantasy’s best running back behind Gurley. After a preseason holdout limited his Week 1 workload, Pittsburgh’s workhorse provided at least 9.0 standard fantasy points (and 13.0 PPR) in every contest until sitting out Week 17.

When he played, Leonard Fournette delivered. Despite missing three games due to injuries and a disciplinary benching, the highly-touted rookie posted double-digit standard points 11 times. He still trailed Melvin Gordon, whose rare flops occurred at the expense of elite defenses (Eagles, Broncos, and Jaguars).

Kareem Hunt‘s inclusion comes with an asterisk, as investors endured five of his six subpar outings consecutively from Weeks 8-13. (The other was Week 17, when he scored a 35-yard rushing touchdown on his only touch.) Alvin Kamara didn’t blossom into a reliable RB1 until the Saints shipped Adrian Peterson out to Arizona. The rookie standout did, however, collect a couple of double-digit outings before the veteran’s move.

Christian McCaffrey and Duke Johnson Jr. deserve honorable mentions for PPR formats, in which they each amassed a dozen double-digit efforts to finish No. 10 and 11, respectively, at running back.

Wide Receiver

Player GP PS (<8) QS (8-13.7) GS (>13.7) Q+G PPG
DeAndre Hopkins 15 3 6 6 12 14.3
Marvin Jones 16 6 5 5 10 10.3
Michael Thomas 16 6 6 4 10 9.7
Antonio Brown 14 5 1 8 9 15.0
Doug Baldwin 16 7 4 5 9 9.4
Brandin Cooks 16 7 5 4 9 9.8
Jarvis Landry 16 7 6 3 9 9.3

 
It’s pretty surprising to see the lack of consistency among elite wide receivers in 2017. No wideout besides DeAndre Hopkins excelled in more games than the top trio of tight ends. Bonus points to Hopkins for tallying 7-to-8 points (and 24 combined catches) in his four Poor performances. Extra bonus points for staying strong with Tom Savage and T.J. Yates.

Take Marvin Jones Jr.’s unexpected presence with a grain of salt. He tallied 8.5-10 points in four of his five Quality starts. With three or fewer catches in eight games, he was especially erratic in PPR formats despite closing 2017 with 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns. Both combined for 10 Quality and Great starts, but Michael Thomas reeled in at least five receptions in 14 games.

Antonio Brown remarkably topped 100 yards eight times in 14 games. In the other six contests, he produced 36.2 combined fantasy points. He delivered only one of his eight touchdowns during those contests, so the Steelers superstar was more boom-or-bust than usual in standard scoring. Yet few contemporaries fared better on the consistency front.

Even without a PPR cushion, Jarvis Landry offered a Quality performance more often than not. Having compiled an NFL-best 112 receptions, he morphed into a legitimate PPR WR1 with over 8.0 points in all 16 games. A high volume isn’t a guarantee for consistency. Despite trailing Landry by only three catches, Larry Fitzgerald fell short of 6.5 PPR points three times.

Receivers have risen up draft boards in recent years, but running backs should dominate next year’s opening round.

Tight End

Player GP PS (<6.5) QS (6.5-11) GS (>11) Q+G PPG
Zach Ertz 14 3 6 5 11 9.2
Rob Gronkowski 13 3 2 8 10 12.2
Travis Kelce 15 5 5 5 10 10.0

 
Stability at tight end did not come cheap. A clear top tier-all of whom held a preseason positional ADP of No. 7 or higher-emerged as the only trustworthy performers. And even those guys weren’t perfect.

Rob Gronkowski at least had the courtesy to save his catchless vanishing act for Week 17. Zach Ertz etched at least eight standard points and double-digit PPR points in each of his first eight games before injuries derailed a dominant campaign. Everyone who enjoyed Travis Kelce‘s leap to superstardom saw a one-yard anomaly tossed into the mix.

While he lacked the top three’s week-winning upside, Delanie Walker would join this group for PPR purposes. Catching at least three passes in every game, he recorded no fewer than 4.9 PPR points in each contest. It took him until Week 12 to find pay dirt, but at least he scored three times during a crucial four-week window. Jimmy Graham, meanwhile, tallied eight or fewer yards-including a minus-1 tally-in five separate games. He thus missed the consistency cut despite regularly shining from Weeks 3-13.

Defense/Special Teams

Team AS (≤0) PS (<7) QS (7-14.9) GS (15+) Q+G PPG
Jaguars 1 4 6 6 12 12.7
Seahawks 2 4 9 3 12 8.9
Lions 1 5 7 4 11 9.8
Chargers 1 5 8 3 11 10.0
Vikings 0 5 9 2 11 7.5

 
“AS” indicates Atrocious Starts, defined as a defense providing zero points or fewer. Only the Vikings and Eagles avoided one of those disasters all season.

Jacksonville boasted the rare defense demanding must-start status on a weekly basis. Despite relinquishing 38 points to Tennessee in Week 2 and 44 to Jimmy Garropolo’s 49ers in Week 16, they held their weight more often than not. Yet fantasy managers must remember the position’s volatility before investing a high pick on the elite unit next year.

Since they only forced 19 turnovers and generated 37 sacks, the Vikings finished as the No. 12 fantasy defense despite allowing the NFL’s fewest points and total yards per game. That stinginess nevertheless made them one of the safest teams to trust on a weekly basis. While they endured a few duds to open 2017, nobody should have initially used them against the Saints and Steelers.

The Chargers also started slow, not truly finding their next gear until shutting out the Broncos in Week 7. Yet they were relatively dependable aside from three useless weeks at New England, at Kansas City, and hosting Wentz’s Eagles. One can argue Seattle’s placement is sullied by the team mustering two combined fantasy points in its four Poor Starts.

Kicker

Player GP PS (<8) QS (8-13) GS (14+) Q+S PPG
Justin Tucker 16 3 10 3 13 10.0
Stephen Gostkowski 16 4 7 5 12 10.8
Jake Elliott 14 2 10 2 12 9.9
Robbie Gould 16 4 8 4 12 10.6
Matt Bryant 16 4 8 4 12 10.1
Greg Zuerlein 14 3 4 7 11 13.0
Will Lutz 16 5 9 2 11 10.1
Graham Gano 16 5 11 0 11 8.2

 
After accruing 18 points through Week 4, Justin Tucker regained his spot as an elite fantasy kicker once Baltimore’s offense improved. He converted two or three field goals in all but one of the last dozen games.

The kicking version of Wentz, Greg Zuerlein finished as the position’s top fantasy performer despite missing the final two weeks with a back injury. Although he failed to receive a field-goal opportunity in two other contests, he offered elite production in half of his games and 9-11 points in three other tilts.

While he didn’t hit a single 50-yard field goal, Graham Gano delivered boring consistency by making all 29 of his attempts from 49 yards or closer. He tallied 8-to-12 fantasy points in 11 games, making him a projectable placeholder at a typically unpredictable position.

Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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