Targeting Consistency in Running Backs

Kyle Soppe evaluates the running back position and gives you a few names that experience an increase in value thanks to consistency.

| 3 years ago

Targeting Consistency in Running Backs

AlfredMorris400x300Acquiring big numbers from a player is great, but I’ll trade some year-end production for week-to-week consistency. The fantasy season is about winning individual weeks, and the best statistical approach is to own players that offer solid performance on a weekly basis as opposed to game-breaking options that finish one week as the top overall player and another as a fringe starter. This may not be a ground-breaking idea, but you need to realize what you’re getting when you look at any expert’s Top Whatever players for 2014: those are the analysts best guess for who will finish the season with the best statistics. That’s all well and good, but it places no importance on consistency as these two samples would be treated as essentially equal performances.

Player A: 40.7 fantasy points (PPR scoring format)

Week 1 – 65 total yards, 3 receptions, 0 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost

Week 2 – 107 total yards, 3 receptions, 2 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost

Week 3 – 45 total yards, 1 reception, 0 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost

Player B: 37.7 fantasy points

Week 1 – 54 total yards, 1 reception, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble lost

Week 2 – 120 total yards, 2 receptions, 0 touchdowns, 0 fumbles lost

Week 3 – 73 total yards, 0 receptions, 1 touchdown, 0 fumbles lost

Player A (2013 Knowshon Moreno) may have scored more fantasy points and thus you would have been correct in saying he’d “rank” higher through three weeks, but wouldn’t you have rather had Player B (2013 Alfred Morris) occupying your tailback position?


The knock on Morris is that he isn’t sexy. He is thought of as a boring back that picks up yards three at a time, whereas Robert Griffin III is the one that dominates the highlight shows and all of the discussion. Maybe I’ve missed the boat, but are highlight plays now a category in most leagues? Isn’t it statistical production we are worried about?

Morris joined Adrian Peterson as the only player to rank in the Top 10 in PFF’s Elusive Rating, Top 10 in Breakaway Percentage, and notch at least 515 carries over the last two seasons. Maybe he doesn’t set YouTube on fire, but those numbers indicate a running back with fantasy staying power, and one that is valuable on a weekly basis. That skill set has allowed Morris to tally at least 100 yards or a touchdown in 69 percent of regular season games for his career, and that’s the type of consistent production that should net him the value of a second round pick, ahead of some players that may finish with more total fantasy points.

HONORABLE MENTION: DeMarco Murray has averaged at least 83.08 total yards per game in each of his three professional seasons, good for a respectable 1,329 yard pace for a 16-game season. He has saddled fantasy owners with just three “red” games in three seasons, making him a safe play when healthy.

Has the hate gone too far on Chris Johnson? If you based rankings simply on venom spewed via social media, Johnson either wouldn’t be selected or he’d be assigned to that owner that shows up 25 minutes late to the draft and started his preparation on the drive over. Johnson (it is fair, however, to no longer refer to him as “CJ2K”) has rattled off at least 14 runs of 15 yards in each of the past six seasons, averaging 29 yards on those carries. He has 110 such runs in 95 career games and has never had less than 1,400 total yards as a professional.

Much like Jordy Nelson, Johnson has made a career out of the big play, but he has displayed the unique ability to consistently make that one play that saves the day, and there comes a point where you have to acknowledge it as a skill more so than luck. He should be the starting running back in New York, and given his current ADP, there is value to be had in this motivated burner who is capable of breaking one big play per week, thus giving you solid fantasy numbers more often than not.

  • Alex

    I understand the argument (and more or less agree with consistency being desired). However, hard to accept the above comparison when Morris’ production was ~62% of Moreno’s, which is a statistically…huge gap. There must have been a better boom/bust pick to compare Morris with to slam your point home (especially given that these players are polar opposites with regards to PPR receptions). Also, it’s easy to pick Moreno’s first three weeks seeing as how he averaged a little over 11 ruAtt/game compared to the 16ruAtt/gm average over last 13 weeks. Again, i agree that consistency is preferred – just wish it was comparing two players statistically close with regards to EOY point total.