FantasyPros recently published its first article in the 2022 Measuring Consistency series, which leveraged data from 2021 to highlight the best performing quarterbacks last season. By understanding the average production and volatility of each newbie player, fantasy managers can more effectively prepare for their drafts. This allows managers to better assess and target players who fit their desired roster building strategy. Risk-averse managers may prefer low average production players with greater weekly score stability. In comparison, others may want the high-ceilinged, low-floor players who can single-handedly win or lose a game every week.
Each of the four-part articles in the Measuring Consistency series highlights each bootable players’ weekly performance to understand their average production before grouping and indexing them against their respective position groups. After looking at the best players in each position group in a standard league 1QB, 3WR, 2RB, 1TE (i.e. top 18 QB, top 24 RB, top 36 WR and top 18 TE) , some stellar and average performances turn out. Based on the player’s average production and volatility, measured by its coefficient of variation (CV), fantasy managers can better understand the underlying types of the fantastic production that each player possesses beyond the aggregated data.
With quarterbacks already done, running backs are next.
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Analysis and recommendations
Running backs, usually the most valuable position in fantasy football, featured slightly more variety than quarterbacks. Top players like Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler were on their own level throughout the season (Christian McCaffrey would be included if he didn’t suffer another injury-plagued season, as Derrick Henry would). These elite fantasy artists take managers to championships, so identifying who to recruit and how best to build a fantasy roster is essential.
Beyond those fantastic MVPs, however, there have been some incredible running back performances at big values in 2021, namely Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon, Najee Harris and D’Andre Swift (pre-injury). Alternatively, the disappointing seasons of Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott, among others, have frustrated managers who have spent a lot of money drafting them. Hitting the high-value picks while avoiding the costly volatiles is key to succeeding in fantasy.
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- Austin Ekeler (third top scorer; 19.4 PPG; 0.42 CV)
- Leonard Fournette (sixth top scorer; 16.2 PPG; 0.61 CV)
- Aaron Jones (13e best striker ; 13.5PPG; 0.67 HP)
- Dalvin Cook (16)e best striker ; 14.4 PPG; 0.58 HP)
This data suggests that fantasy managers should anticipate volatility regardless of which running back they pick, unless McCaffrey gets them down and stays healthy all season. Using FantasyPros consensus RB draft rankings, the players to target in 2022 are Alvin Kamara (currently ranked RB9), Saquon Barkley (RB10) and Travis Etienne (RB20). Although Kamara and Barkley possess rather high average draft positions (ADP), their elite advantage should not be overlooked, which makes their current costs incredibly advantageous for keen managers. Likewise, Etienne’s elite receiving prowess should provide stability and high production potential in his first healthy season in the NFL.
Alternatively, players to avoid include Dalvin Cook (RB4), Nick Chubb (RB12) and Ezekiel Elliott (RB16) as they are highly rated players who offer medium or higher volatility with serious obstacles to their upsides (that’s i.e., Cook’s injury history, Chubb’s lack of a receiving role and Elliott’s significant backfield competition with Tony Pollard).
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning list of fantasy football tools while you navigate your season. Of our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal range based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wizardwho lets you quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered for this fantasy football season.
Jared Lese is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more on Jared, check out his archive and follow him @JaredL_FF.