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Highest Standard Deviation Based on ECR (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Mar 29, 2019

Playing alongside Antonio Brown in Oakland, Tyrell Williams carries plenty of risk heading into 2019

Fantasy football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start checking out the rankings. We here at FantasyPros have been hard at work compiling our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). If you’re not familiar with ECR, it’s a cumulative ranking system based on the individual rankings of many experts. Some of the early player rankings have an almost-unanimous result, but some are a little more questionable.

Some players are about as close to “locks” as you can be, with the experts having little disagreement. Saquon Barkley, for example, is the consensus number one pick in this year’s draft, and his standard deviation (STD DEV) is less than one point. Taking a look at some players with a little more risk is a very useful exercise. Let’s say that Player A is ranked at 15 at his respective position with a STD DEV of 10.0. He’s a player with a high floor and low ceiling, meaning the range of outcomes for his final ranking is high. Player B is ranked 25 at the same position but has a STD DEV of only 1.0, meaning he’s far more likely to finish with an outcome close to his projections rather than exceeding it or falling short of it dramatically.

Identifying those players that are “safe” and those that carry a little more “risk/reward” can help to shape your draft strategy — do you want to take a fairly risky prospect with a lot of upside or a guy with less upside and a more consistent floor? Here are some players who have the highest standard deviation among the experts, meaning there is a lot of debate on the outlook and the rankings on these guys can vary wildly.

Note: Not all players were included here. Some players with much higher STD DEV are rookies without teams yet or players ranked too low to really be fantasy relevant at this time. Scoring used for these rankings is standard, and the data was compiled by looking at rankings by position rather than overall.

Running Back

Carlos Hyde (KC) 57 32 70 9.9
Mike Davis (CHI) 64 31 77 8.6
Latavius Murray (NO) 42 22 56 8.1
Ito Smith (ATL) 50 29 62 7.0
C.J. Anderson (LAR) 54 34 68 7.0
Damien Williams (KC) 21 7 37 6.3
Kareem Hunt (CLE) 40 32 63 6.2
Matt Breida (SF) 34 20 52 5.8

All of the guys on this list are guys who are about to join a new team or guys who are coming into their second year with a team. Three of these guys (Hunt, Williams, Hyde) are current or former Chiefs, and the experts are split on their outlooks.

Kareem Hunt will face an eight-game suspension stemming from a domestic assault incident in February. He’s ranked as the RB40 because he’ll only play half of the season and will likely have to share time with Nick Chubb when he returns.

Damien Williams played admirably in Hunt’s absence last season, but it’s clear that the Chiefs don’t trust him as an every-down back. Hyde was signed by the Chiefs just two days after Hyde was released by the Jaguars, and he should immediately push Williams for work.

Mike Davis will fill the soon-to-be vacant “Jordan Howard role” in Chicago alongside Tarik Cohen. He had his moments in Seattle, but he was used as mostly a third-down and pass-catching back, much like Cohen is. He’ll likely open the season as the starter, but that’s not a lock — what his role will be in this offense is yet unclear. Davis’ range of outcomes is RB33 on the high end and RB71 on the low end — a very wide range indeed.

The dissenting opinions on Latavius Murray surprise me a bit. He’s a bigger back than the man he replaced, Mark Ingram, and he can play the role of bruiser to complement Alvin Kamara’s abilities in space and in the passing game. Murray also has a nose for the end zone, scoring 26 rushing TDs over his last three seasons. He’ll be in a timeshare with Kamara rather than operate as a backup as he did in Minnesota. The Saints’ rushing attack is elite behind an excellent offensive line.

The other two guys on this list are backups who have been very successful in relief work. C.J. Anderson, a former Broncos stud, stepped in for Todd Gurley last season and blew up for some huge games. With Gurley dealing with an arthritic knee, Anderson could have some continued success for the Rams in 2019.

Matt Breida stepped up for an injured Jerick McKinnon last year and had a huge season. He also dealt with what seemed like a new injury every week, but managed to play through it. With the recent signing of Tevin Coleman and the (imminent?) release of McKinnon, Breida’s 2019 outlook is foggy at best.

Wide Receiver

Highest Standard Deviation

Tyrell Williams (OAK) 71 42 84 10.4
Adam Humphries (TEN) 50 39 89 9.6
Geronimo Allison (GB) 52 26 88 9.4
Devin Funchess (IND) 63 36 75 9.0
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) 46 22 66 8.3
Tre’Quan Smith (NO) 65 38 72 6.6
Allen Robinson (CHI) 22 18 44 5.8
Doug Baldwin (SEA) 24 21 50 5.5

Three of the guys on this list will be on new, receiver-needy teams in 2019 — Tyrell Williams, Adam Humphries, and Devin Funchess. Williams has the highest standard deviation of all the players on this list, and the difference in valuation isn’t shocking. He is a big-play threat who only needs one huge TD to make him a solid flex play on a given week, but he carries the risk of some very disappointing performances.

He’s had just one 1,000-yard season in his four-year career, but has failed to play consistently from week-to-week. His new team will have him playing opposite Antonio Brown, and with a clear dearth of talent in Oakland’s WR corps, Williams should be more involved in the offense than he was for the Chargers. It should be worth noting that Williams has the worst “best” projection of all these receivers, with no expert projecting him to finish as any more than a mid-range WR4.

Humphries, as a possession receiver, has a higher floor than Williams but certainly a much lower ceiling as well. He should be in for a lot of targets and receptions in the Titans’ passing attack without enormous upside (for my full outlook on Humphries, click here). Devin Funchess will immediately become a red-zone threat for the Colts and give Andrew Luck another weapon to pair with T.Y. Hilton, though his “best” projection is that of a low-end WR3.

Geronimo Allison is a very interesting prospect in this year’s draft because of his volatility. His STD DEV ranks third on this list, but his variance in outcomes (difference of 62 between “best” and “worst”) is easily the highest here. Allison seemed like a lock for at least WR3 production and beyond when he started hot in 2018. He was the WR25 through four games before a groin injury forced him to miss all but one remaining game. He just got a new one-year deal from the Packers, so they obviously like what they see, but there is still a chance of re-injury or another Green Bay receiver emerging as the number-two behind Davante Adams.

Emmanuel Sanders has quietly been a top-tier fantasy WR for years, but due to injuries, age, and a new QB, he’s fallen in the ECR to a consensus WR46 ranking. Because of his talent and his huge production in the past, his “best” is a low-end WR2 while his “worst” is a mid-range WR6.

Allen Robinson is a talented WR, but he’s proven that he’s not elite. Four years later, Robinson is still hanging his hat on a monster 2015 season with the Jags, but he has yet to even come close to replicating that production. His “best” of WR18 is a huge stretch. Tre’Quan Smith is a great deep threat, but he hasn’t proven himself to be more than a one-trick pony yet. He was unable to make a significant impact for the Saints last year despite having Michael Thomas as the only reliable receiver on the team.

Doug Baldwin had a down year in 2018 overall, but he came on in the second half of the season as he got healthier. It’s understandable to have hesitation with Baldwin, but he’s proven to be a reliable playmaker who can reach the end-zone consistently. He’ll likely be a bargain in this year’s draft.


Highest Standard Deviation

Baker Mayfield (CLE) 10 4 16 2.9
Carson Wentz (PHI) 14 7 22 2.7
Cam Newton (CAR) 8 2 25 2.5
Jameis Winston (TB) 9 4 17 2.5
Dak Prescott (DAL) 17 10 23 2.3
Kirk Cousins (MIN) 19 13 21 2.3
Derek Carr (OAK) 24 16 27 2.1
Mitchell Trubisky (CHI) 15 11 21 2.0

This is another interesting group of players because of the talent, potential, and the very realistic range of outcomes that any of these players could experience. Baker Mayfield is currently ranked as QB10 but could finish as high as QB4 or as low as QB16 based on ECR. The Browns’ offense looks like a super team on paper, but it’s not clear yet how well Odell Beckham Jr. will fit in and how well Mayfield plays after a breakout rookie season.

Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate two years ago before season-ending injuries cost him postseason appearances in 2017 and 2018. His talent is undeniable, but his health is responsible for the STD DEV and range of outcomes (QB7, QB22) here. If he stays healthy all season, expect a big season at a discount.

Cam Newton has got to be one of the most frustrating fantasy QBs of all time. He finished as the overall QB10 last year despite missing two games, but as always, his week-to-week production was a rollercoaster, and he went out early in the fantasy playoffs after it was revealed he never should have been cleared to play at all with a bad shoulder. Newton enjoyed his most accurate passing season with OC Norv Turner at the helm in 2018, but his career completion percentage is still under 60.0 percent. It’s unknown how bad his shoulder injury is, lending to his high STD DEV.

Jameis Winston’s huge off-the-field issues and high rate of turnovers on the field cause hesitancy in ranking him too highly here. He’s got the talent and offensive weapons to finish as a top-12 QB, but he hasn’t played consistently for an entire season in his NFL career.

This season could be a great barometer for the current direction and success of the Jon Gruden era in Oakland. The Raiders made big upgrades at WR by signing Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, and improvements on the offensive line with Trent Brown. Carr made three straight Pro Bowls from 2015-2017 and should be back to form after a down 2018. Of course, the Oakland situation could implode without much surprise, hence the high STD DEV.

Mitch Trubisky will try to prove his 2018 breakout wasn’t a fluke. He’ll lose Jordan Howard in the backfield, and the Bears have arguably the weakest receiving corps in the NFC North. Dak Prescott’s season-long production is usually the tale of two halves, as he tends to excel for stretches and fall off the map for others. With Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, the return of Jason Witten, a great offensive line, and one of the league’s best backs, he has no reason not to put up big numbers. His inability to do that over the course of a full season is likely what gave experts cause to pause.

Tight End

Greg Olsen (CAR) 16 10 25 3.6
Jack Doyle (IND) 14 9 22 3.2
Vance McDonald (PIT) 19 11 24 3.2
Austin Hooper (ATL) 11 5 19 3.0
Trey Burton (CHI) 13 6 20 2.7
Jimmy Graham (GB) 20 13 26 2.6
Delanie Walker (TEN) 10 7 17 2.4

Tight end is without a doubt the most top-heavy of any position in fantasy football. Outside of Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle (and possibly O.J. Howard), the TE position is a wasteland of mediocre production, making TE rankings very difficult to predict.

Greg Olsen still hasn’t announced if he will return to the NFL next season, so the jury is still out on his 2019 projections. Vance McDonald has a shot at top-10 production this season. The departures of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Jesse James have freed up a lot of targets for McDonald. Jimmy Graham and Delanie Walker are aging TEs without much juice left, and Tennessee has a better option in Jonnu Smith. Green Bay will likely grab an Iowa TE in the draft this year, majorly cutting into Graham’s value. Jack Doyle has Eric Ebron and Devin Funchess to compete with for targets and red-zone looks, and Doyle looks to be the odd man out among that group. Austin Hooper and Trey Burton had solid 2018 campaigns, but the production at the TE position for the Bears and Falcons has been sporadic in recent years.

Defense/Special Teams

Highest Standard Deviation

NYJ 29 9 30 7.3
SF 30 13 31 6.6
WAS 25 3 32 6.0
GB 22 5 27 4.8
MIA 28 1 29 4.8
DET 24 6 28 4.5
KC 18 5 25 4.4
NYG 26 4 32 4.2

Predicting the value of D/STs from year to year is certainly an imperfect science. That’s why the range of outcomes for those on this list is enormous despite relatively low STD DEV. Except for the 49ers, every team on this list has been ranked inside the top 10 and the bottom five by at least one expert. The teams most likely to finish in the top 10 are:

  • Green Bay – Added Za’Darious Smith, Adrian Amos, and Preston Smith to the defense this offseason
  • New York Jets – Added C.J. Mosely and Brian Poole to an already competent defense
  • Detroit Lions – Added Trey Flowers to a defensive unit that seemed to get it together in the second half of 2018 and may carry that momentum into 2019

The teams most likely to finish in the bottom 10 are:

  • Miami – In full rebuild mode right now and six of their games are against an improved AFC East
  • New York Giants – A team in turmoil without any difference-makers signed in the offseason

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster. 

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