Who Are the Most Consistent Fantasy Football Quarterbacks?

Who Are the Most Consistent Fantasy Football Quarterbacks?

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last update Jun 7, 2016

John Paulsen's picture

John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John Paulsen on Twitter: @4for4_John.

What are we looking for in a starting-caliber fantasy quarterback? Obviously, it’s a good thing if he tends to score a lot of fantasy points, 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. (Conversely, DFS enthusiasts looking for a big hitter in a large contest may be looking for inconsistency instead.)

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 (e.g. Andrew Luck vs. Brian Hoyer).

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 at least a decent 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. 2015 rookies (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota) or new starters (Tyrod Taylor) will have less data with which to work. 

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.

 

QB Consistency: 2014-15
Player Name Team 2-YR GS 2-YR PPG PPG RANK 2-YR CV 2015 CV
Carson Palmer ARI 21 19.4 7 23% 20%
Jameis Winston TB 15 17.1 14 27% 27%
Jay Cutler CHI 28 16.7 18 33% 32%
Alex Smith KC 30 15.8 24 33% 32%
Tyrod Taylor BUF 13 19.3 8 34% 34%
Tom Brady NE 30 20.6 4 36% 28%
Sam Bradford PHI 13 13.6 30 36% 36%
Mark Sanchez PHI 9 15.7 25 36% 3%
Ryan Tannehill MIA 30 16.8 17 36% 36%
Matt Ryan ATL 30 16.5 20 37% 35%
Blaine Gabbert SF 7 14.9 28 37% 28%
Andrew Luck IND 22 21.7 1 37% 36%
Drew Brees NO 29 20.3 6 38% 47%
Russell Wilson SEA 30 21.2 3 40% 38%
Aaron Rodgers GB 30 20.5 5 41% 44%
Cam Newton CAR 28 21.3 2 42% 38%
Blake Bortles JAX 27 16.8 16 43% 32%
Philip Rivers SD 30 17.6 10 43% 42%
Joe Flacco BAL 25 16.1 23 46% 48%
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ 27 16.9 15 46% 36%
Eli Manning NYG 30 17.6 11 48% 50%
Colin Kaepernick SF 23 15.1 26 48% 58%
Derek Carr OAK 30 15.0 27 48% 44%
Matthew Stafford DET 30 16.7 19 48% 47%
Andy Dalton CIN 28 16.4 21 49% 43%
Tony Romo DAL 19 16.4 22 50% 99%
Teddy Bridgewater MIN 26 13.5 31 51% 59%
Brian Hoyer HOU 21 12.7 32 52% 55%
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 25 18.5 9 54% 56%
Kirk Cousins WAS 20 17.2 13 56% 54%
Josh McCown CLE 18 14.2 29 56% 58%
Marcus Mariota TEN 12 17.3 12 60% 60%
Nick Foles STL 19 11.5 33 63% 68%
Brock Osweiler DEN 6 11.2 34 90% 43%

 

A few thoughts...

  • Carson Palmer has been the most consistent QB over the past two years owning the #7 PPG (19.4) and the #1 CV (23%). 
  • Other than Palmer, Tom Brady has been the best of the bunch in terms of combining a top 10 PPG with a low CV. Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Philip Rivers have been pretty solid in both areas as well.
  • Nine of the top 10 PPG passers show up in the top half of CV. The lone exception was Ben Roethlisberger, who has had a couple of tumultuous seasons due to injury (2015) and a very boom-or-bust 2014, where he had a pair of six-touchdown games but also threw for one or fewer touchdowns in half of his games.
  • Provided the Bills don’t draft a quarterback, Tyrod Taylor is my favorite sleeper at the position. He had the #7 PPG last year but is the 20th passer off the board in early drafts. It doesn’t hurt that he had the 5th-best consistency last year, either.
  • Jameis Winston (27%) was consistent while Marcus Mariota (60%) was not. Some of this had to do with Winston’s ability to stay healthy, but he was also able to put up at least decent numbers in every game. Winston didn’t score fewer than 12.4 FP in any game last year.
  • Blake Bortles was significantly more consistent (32%) in his second season than he was as a rookie (40%).
  • When I did this study last year, Tony Romo landed in the top 10. If he stays healthy, I’m assuming that his CV will drop significantly.
  • Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco are all going in the 14th round or later, yet their respective per-game averages only miss the top 12 by 1.5 points (or less). The cost of QB production is so cheap these days.

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.

Filed Under:
Preseason
,
2015

We are your friend's secret weapon.

  • Get 4 FREE downloads
  • Receive breaking news alerts & analysis
  • BONUS: Learn how to play DFS.
  • Battle-Tested by 40,000+ fantasy football diehards since 1999.