Who Are the Most Consistent Fantasy Football Quarterbacks?

Jun 24, 2014
Who Are the Most Consistent Fantasy Football Quarterbacks?

What are we looking for in a starting-caliber fantasy quarterback? Obviously, it’s a good thing if he tends to throw (or run) for a lot of yardage and touchdowns, but it’s a bonus if he does so on a consistent basis. That way, we can start him with the confidence that he’s going to produce in any given week. (Streamers will want a QB who performs well on a predictable basis, posting reliably good numbers against bad defenses, but that's another article.)

In order to determine which quarterbacks are consistent, I calculated each passer’s Coefficient of Variation (CV), which is the ratio of the player’s week-to-week standard deviation (in fantasy points scored) to his PPG average.

CV = standard deviation / PPG

Standard deviation measures the amount of variation within a data set, and dividing it by the mean allows us to compare two players with very different levels of production (i.e. Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Tannehill).

CV can be expressed as a percentage, so the lower the number the more consistent the player.

Below is a list of the 34 veteran quarterbacks with a reasonably good chance to start Week 1. In addition to their PPG and CV, I’ve included each player’s games started over the past two seasons. I didn’t include any Week 17 games since teams often rest starters that week. Keep in mind that while all games started are included, it doesn’t mean that the game was successfully finished. I figured that in-game injuries should be included in this study as it’s a part of the overall consistency (and risk) of the quarterback.

Peyton Manning DEN 22.9 30 35% 34%
Drew Brees NO 21.4 30 36% 38%
Andrew Luck IND 18.4 30 36% 37%
Matthew Stafford DET 17.9 30 37% 35%
Chad Henne JAX 11.6 17 38% 37%
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 17.6 27 38% 40%
Matt Ryan ATL 17.8 30 39% 32%
Tom Brady NE 19.0 30 39% 47%
Philip Rivers SD 16.0 30 39% 35%
Tony Romo DAL 17.8 30 40% 43%
Colin Kaepernick SF 17.3 21 40% 48%
Sam Bradford STL 15.5 22 41% 34%
Joe Flacco BAL 14.9 30 42% 34%
Mike Glennon TB 12.6 12 42% 42%
Aaron Rodgers GB 20.6 23 43% 51%
Cam Newton CAR 20.0 30 43% 43%
Josh McCown CHI 23.1 5 43% 43%
Robert Griffin III WAS 19.5 27 43% 43%
Andy Dalton CIN 17.5 30 44% 47%
Ryan Tannehill MIA 14.1 30 45% 32%
Ryan Fitzpatrick TEN 15.0 23 46% 50%
Carson Palmer ARI 14.5 30 46% 47%
Russell Wilson SEA 17.5 30 46% 34%
Alex Smith KC 16.0 24 49% 43%
Michael Vick PHI 17.0 15 49% 70%
Jay Cutler CHI 14.0 24 50% 46%
E.J. Manuel BUF 13.9 10 50% 50%
Jake Locker TEN 13.9 17 57% 67%
Eli Manning NYG 12.4 30 58% 62%
Nick Foles PHI 20.4 15 58% 44%
Matt Schaub HOU 13.6 22 62% 72%
Matt Cassel MIN 12.3 13 67% 58%
Brian Hoyer CLE 13.4 3 73% 73%
Geno Smith NYJ 12.2 15 79% 79%

It’s interesting (though not all that surprising) that most of the league’s top fantasy quarterbacks are also the most consistent, led by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford in the 35-37% range. (Note: Aaron Rodgers would have had a CV of 37% if not for his injury early in the game against the Bears in Week 9 last year, but those are the breaks -- pun sort of intended.)

Scanning the bottom of the list we find a few QBs ranked in the top 15 heading into the 2014 season. Nick Foles had several starts in 2012, but when only 2013 starts are considered, he had a much more respectable CV of 44%. I’m expecting big things from him this season.

Due to injury, Jay Cutler was in and out of the lineup for the Bears, but still posted a 46% CV when only 2013 was considered, indicating that he’s more consistent with HC Marc Trestman calling the shots. If he can stay healthy, I’d expect that CV to drop.

Russell Wilson has a career CV of 46%, but he posted a much better 34% in 2013, which was 5th-best among this group. Interestingly, Ryan Tannehill led the way last season with a CV of 32%, so even if he didn’t set the world on fire from a PPG standpoint, at least he was consistent. Matt Ryan (32%), Peyton Manning (34%) and Joe Flacco (34%) rounded out the top 5 most consistent in 2013.

As a fantasy owner, I want my team to be as consistent as possible, as it will typically result in fewer “wasted” points and more wins over the long haul. I won’t rank the position based on CV, but, like Strength of Schedule, it can be used as a tiebreaker between similarly-ranked players.

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