Predict-Ability Week Four Breakdown
Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun. We are already a quarter of the way through the NFL regular season and that too means we are a quarter of the way through our fantasy seasons and in most leagues we are nearly a third of the way through the fantasy regular season. The importance of winning early and winning often is feeling as important as ever as though 0-4 teams begin to press the panic button and those 1-3 teams fear another loss will put them in a terrible position to attempt a playoff run. To put ourselves in a better position to turn those 0-4 and 1-3 teams around or to continue cruising forward with our teams that have been a success so far. Week four proved to be the coming out party for many quarterbacks as four of the top six hit that ranking for the first time this year and two of the top six had their first top 12 performance. The biggest surprise had to be Deshaun Watson who showed up his impressive performance against the Patriots a week ago by leading the position in fantasy scoring this week. The running back position was the tale of two groups as the top three at the position all were top 12 draft picks heading into the year. The rest of the top 12, however, was made up of seven of nine running backs hitting the top 12 for the first time this season. Expect that trend to continue with the position being more injury-riddled than ever and only a few elite running backs rising to the top consistently. At wide receiver, there continues to be a ton of turnover at the top as the entire top six hit that mark for the first time. Tight end meanwhile continues to be the position that caters most to streaming as the majority of the top 12 performers were being drafted outside the top 12 of the position over the summer. Being a quarter of the way through the season, players are starting to show their true colors. Let’s take a deeper look into some particular players who have had impressive starts to the season thus far.
What is Predict-Ability?
Predict-Ability is a weekly study that will accumulate data as the year progresses to track how consistent players are on a weekly basis in tandem with how often they post performances at the top of their position. Being able to identify players who are more predictable and understanding a players weekly ceiling allows us to make better start/sit decisions and build our fantasy teams to have a mix of consistency and upside. To make better start/sit decisions, it is important to understand the ability of each player to return on a given projection or their likelihood to exceed expectations and perform amongst the elite of their position on any given week.
Quarterback Consistency Stand Outs
Drew Brees, NO: CoV (13.615), Top 12 25%, Top 24 100%
On paper, Drew Brees’ consistency might seem overblown. It is easy to look at his draft cost, see he only has one top 12 finish and assume that he hasn’t lived up to the value in which he was drafted. Meanwhile, if we only evaluated quarterbacks based on points per game, Brees is currently sitting 6th and appears to be a reliable asset to any fantasy team. This is why coefficient of variation is such a powerful tool for getting a glimpse at the whole picture thus far. Brees has been the most consistent quarterback through the first four weeks, scoring between 18.5 and 25.8 points each week. Brees is one of only three quarterbacks to finish in the top 15 each week, joining Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott.
Carson Palmer, ARI: CoV (29.41), Top 12 50%, Top 24 100%
After a disappointing opening week to start the year, the loss of David Johnson has pushed Bruce Arians’ to turn to his quarterback to lead the team. Carson Palmer has met that opportunity by being more consistent than any other quarterback during that three-week span. Palmer has performed inside the top 15 of the position in each of his past three performances. In each of those performances, Palmer has thrown the ball for over 300 yards and in his past two games, he has done so while being forced to throw for over 48 attempts each game. Palmer gets a Philadelphia defense that is in the top eight in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and in a game that Vegas has the Cardinals projected to lose, Palmer will be forced into a similar game script as his past two appearances.
Quarterback Elite Production Stand Outs
Alex Smith, KC : CoV (35.19), Top 3 (25%), Top 6 (50%), Top 12 (75%), Top 24 (100%)
Alex Smith has to be one of the biggest surprises for me and the majority of the fantasy community so far this season. He is currently one of only five quarterbacks to post multiple top six performances and one of a separate five with three or more top 12 weeks. Smith has been extremely impressive, posting two games of over 30 fantasy points and never falling below 16 points in a single performance. Smith has gone from a player that most people passed up on drafting to a must-start week in and week out.
Russell Wilson, SEA: CoV (52.187), Top 3 (25%), Top 6 (50%), Top 12 (50%), Top 24 (100%)
After a slow start to the season, in which Russell Wilson failed to produce a single top 12 performance and barely stayed inside the top 24, Wilson has blown up with two back to back performances of over 30 fantasy points. Wilson has produced in two very different game-scripts the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, Wilson found himself in a close game in which he had to throw 49 times and for four touchdowns and still lost a close battle. While this past week he was doing the opposite; he was extremely efficient and buoyed his fantasy production with a rushing touchdown. Being able to beat a defense in a variety of ways is what continues to make Wilson an exciting fantasy starter.
Running Back Consistency Stand Outs
Carlos Hyde, SF: CoV (27.856), Top 12 (50%), Top 24 (100%)
Carlos Hyde had a bit of a down week this past week against a tough Arizona rush defense that is giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs. What is impressive in that is how he was still able to produce as a top 24 performer and score 14 points in such a tough situation. Hyde has proved so far this season that he has a high enough floor in the 49ers offense to be an every week play. Going up against the Colts this week, in what should be a winnable matchup for the 49ers, Hyde becomes a player that is a must-start with his consistent floor and a player that gives any fantasy team an exciting ceiling play as well.
Tevin Coleman, ATL: CoV (28.034), Top 12 (0%), Top 24 (50%)
Tevin Coleman had his best finish of the season finishing as the 13th highest scoring running back this past week. Coleman’s elite weeks tend to be a bit deceiving as he has only made the top 24 twice, but what is impressive is his consistency at an inconsistent position. Coleman has actually finished inside the top 30 at running back each week this season. From a fantasy point per game standpoint that has Coleman as the 20th best fantasy performer so far, but to me the consistency is the most impressive part. Having a running back that is trustworthy enough to put up double-digit points week in and week out makes for a fine start in a second running back position or as a high floor flex in a matchup where more floor than upside is needed.
Running Back Elite Production Stand Outs
Ezekiel Elliot, DAL: CoV (52.712), Top 3 (25%), Top 6 (25%), Top 12 (75%), Top 24 (75%)
Anyone who drafted Ezekiel Elliot this season has to be happy with how things have turned out so far. With a suspension looming over his head, Elliot has proved that his 2016 season was no fluke. Elliot is one of only three running backs, joining Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley, to have three top 12 performances so far. This past week was his best performance of the year so far and it wouldn’t be surprising for him to build off of that this week going up against a Packers defense that is allowing the 10th most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Duke Johnson, CLE: CoV (59.596), Top 3 (0%), Top 6 (0%), Top 12 (50%), Top 24 (50%)
Through the first four weeks of the season, Duke Johnson has proved to be the Cleveland running back to own in fantasy over his teammate Isaiah Crowell who was being drafted five or more rounds above Johnson this summer. Johnson has boom/bust so far this year, but he is coming off back to back 20 plus point performances and is trending in the right direction. Johnson gets the luxury of facing off against a Jets defense this week that has given up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing running backs on the season. He is a player that needs to find his way into line ups this week.
Wide Receiver Consistency Stand Outs
Randall Cobb, GB: CoV (15.39), Top 12 (33.33%), Top 24 (66.67%), Top 36 (100%)
DeVante Parker, MIA: CoV (32.82), Top 12 (0%), Top 24 (33.3%), Top 36 (100%)
Similar to Randall Cobb, DaVante Parker has only had three starts so far this season but has been a top 36 performer in each of his appearances thus far. Parker is one of only 11 wide receivers to have three or more top 36 performances, but having done so in only three games he becomes one of only five wide receivers to do so in every start they’ve had this season (with the exception of Will Fuller who has one top six performance on one start). Parker and the Dolphins have a phenomenal matchup heading into week five as they face the Tennesee Titans who have given up more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other team through the first four weeks of the season. Parker is in prime position to have his best performance of the year and is a nearly a must start with his secure floor.
Wide Receiver Elite Production Stand Outs
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU: CoV (31.18), Top 3 (25%)%, Top 6 (25%), Top 12 (50%), Top 24 (75%)
Our top wide receiver performer of the week, DeAndre Hopkins is no stranger to fantasy success this season. He currently sits at 4th in fantasy points per game and has never fallen below 14 fantasy points. One of the main reasons for this success is that Hopkins is leading all wide receivers in targets through four games, currently pacing to finish the season with just under 200 targets. As Deshaun Watson continues to get comfortable in the offense, Hopkins seems to be the main beneficiary.
Cooper Kupp, LAR: CoV (53.95), Top 3 (0%), Top 6 (0%), Top 12 (50%), Top 24 (50%)
One of the biggest surprises at the wide receiver position has to be the boom/bust performances of Cooper Kupp. Kupp is one of only nine wide receivers to post multiple top twelve performances so far this season. With him performing so well to start the season Kupp becomes an interesting sell target for me with some tough matchups coming up for the Rams. After starting the season with one of the easiest schedules for wide receivers they have one of the five hardest schedules over their next six games.
Tight End Consistency Stand Out
Evan Engram, NYG: CoV (25.87), Top 3 (0%), Top 6 (0%), Top 12 (50%)
Finding consistency at the most inconsistent position for fantasy is a tall task. Evan Engram has been up to that task. The Giants rookie tight end is currently a top ten tight end in points per game but his consistency has really made him an every week starter at the position. Engram has yet to fall below eight points in a single matchup but faces his toughest matchup of the season against a Chargers defense that has been top ten against the tight end so far this season. With the limited consistency amongst other options on that offense, though, Engram continues to be a player fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting if no exciting streaming options exist.
Tight End Elite Production Stand Out
Travis Kelce, KC: CoV (77.95), Top 3 (50%), Top 6 (50%), Top 12 (75%)
It should come as no surprise that Travis Kelce found his way into the top three for the second time this season. Only himself and Rob Gronkowski have had multiple top-three finishes. Being that both were drafted as the top two tight ends heading into this season they have been the one consistent predictable thing in the most inconsistent of positions. They’ve shown that outside of the elite of the position, there isn’t much reliability. One of the most impressive features of Kelce’s game is his ability to thrive after the catch. In his last 20 games, Kelce has had a phenomenal eight games over 100 receiving yards. With this elite production, Kelce continues to be an every week must start, who can be elite any week he pairs a touchdown to his fantastic yardage.