Consistency Ratings: Week 2

Updated: September 10, 2013, 6:11 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Two, please.

"That'll be $24."

Boy, honey, these rising ticket prices here at the Overreaction Theater are outrageous. Plus the shows themselves are only becoming more unoriginal and predictable every year. You'd think eventually we'd learn, stay home and just watch TV.

"May I help you, sir?"

Yes, I'd like a large popcorn and two medium sodas.

"That'll be $18."

Fine, here. Now let's at least hurry into the theater so we can still get good seats. Just three minutes left and I want to get in there in time for previews of Ray Rice's 82-yard Week 2 clunker against the Cleveland Browns.

ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! Everything's taken except these two front-row-stage-right seats! Well, at least "Fumbalaya, The Sequel," starring David Wilson, is supposed to be the season's blockbuster, right?

Right?!

A new season always brings with it much energy, much excitement and, among fantasy owners, the urge to overreact to everything is irresistible. We gobble stats like stale movie popcorn, check our live scoring no fewer than 1,000 times … then allow the most unrealistic expectations with our hottest starters get the best of us, while panicking that our Week 1 duds are destined to undermine our season.

This season's fresh set of "flicks," predictably, fits the mold. And as you digest one week's worth of stats -- the most minuscule of sample sizes -- remember that it's tools like the one contained in this space which help keep your expectations grounded; history tells the more truthful tales about your veteran players' weekly output.

Here's what's showing this week at the "Overreaction Theater":

Peyton Manning
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesPeyton Manning easily eclipsed his previous career-best fantasy performance in Week 1.

Peyton Manning: If there's any player about whom I might wind up dead wrong this season, it's Manning and my angle on his declining, late-2012 arm strength. As we pointed out in his preseason profile, Manning completed only 27 percent of his pass attempts of 20 yards or greater during a four-game span from Week 15 of the regular season through the team's divisional playoff loss, down from 45 percent in the Denver Broncos' first 13 contests; he was 2-for-8 on those throws in his two games against the Baltimore Ravens (Week 15 and divisional playoff game) alone.

So, what did Manning do in the season opener? He threw four touchdowns on attempts of 15 yards or greater, becoming (per ESPN Stats & Information) only the third quarterback since 2008 to throw that many in a game, three of them on attempts that traveled at least 20 yards. Many will subsequently kiss his arm-strength worries goodbye, and with good reason, considering Manning possesses one of the deepest sets of receivers in the game, including Week 1 breakout performer Julius Thomas.

But before we get lured by this big-screen tale, let's not forget: The Ravens underwent an offseason defensive makeover and might not have jelled yet. Manning is 37 and still runs the risk of declining zip on his throws, especially as temperatures cool. And perhaps most importantly, Manning's statistical history shows that his Week 1 outburst -- his 46 fantasy points set a new personal best (he previously had amassed 36 on three occasions) -- shouldn't be your weekly future expectation.

It was only his 30th career "Stud" performance -- that's a top-two fantasy point total among the week's quarterbacks -- in 225 games, and his first such effort since Week 3 of the 2010 season. Manning's fantasy appeal is closely tied to his consistency rather than his explosive potential; he has now registered a "Start" -- that a top-10 fantasy point total among the week's quarterbacks -- in 61.8 percent of his games in his 15 healthy seasons. If that number sounds unimpressive to you, check the chart at column's end; only three quarterbacks to have been in the NFL since at least 2010 have a better Consistency Rating since that season. To be worth having had in your lineup almost two out of every three games in a career is extraordinary. You're not resting cozy with the guy destined to top the fantasy leaderboard; you're sitting back knowing you've got the guy with perhaps the best odds at a top-eight total every week.

As an aside, the reason for that "healthy" note: Manning missed the entire 2011 campaign recovering from multiple neck surgeries, if you recall, and as you'll see in the chart at column's end, his Consistency Rating docks him for that missed time. Players are docked for injury absences for the simple reason that they were unavailable for your purposes and should not therefore be rewarded; ask the people who selected Manning 20th overall that season whether they'd appreciate his being given a free pass.

Stevan Ridley: He lost a critical, near-game-ruining fumble midway through the second quarter, was benched for the entire remainder of the game from that point, but more importantly, he'd have had two lost fumbles if not for a close-call challenge on the game's third play that went the New England Patriots' way. Fumbles are nothing new for Ridley; he has committed eight and lost five in his 36 career games (playoffs included), including another notable one during the 2011 divisional playoffs that resulted in his sitting out Super Bowl XLVI.

That said, Ridley's advantage is a fresh opportunity in a desperate circumstance for the Patriots. They play in two days -- they host the New York Jets on Thursday night in Week 2 -- and are now without Shane Vereen, who set a career high with 159 yards from scrimmage on Sunday, for at least the next two weeks. That leaves the team with only LeGarrette Blount (woeful 3.5 yards per carry in 2012-13), Leon Washington (4.7 yards per touch since 2010) or Brandon Bolden (94 career offensive snaps played and fresh off a knee injury) as quick-turnaround alternatives to Ridley. This is fortunate timing for fantasy's No. 9 running back in terms of total points (191) and No. 8 in terms of Consistency Rating (75.0 percent, 12-for-16 in "Starts") last season.

The impact of roles does thwart attempts to cleanly use Consistency Ratings totals for predictive purposes -- a benching, for instance, renders them useless -- but the numbers do illustrate Ridley's value if the Patriots restore him to starter's status. He had the second-most touchdowns (8) on attempts within the opponent's 3-yard line last season, and while his 38.1 percent career conversion rate on those, playoffs included (8-for-21), ranks 44th out of 59 players with at least five attempts since his rookie year of 2011, he's still the team's most-suited option up close.

No overreactions here, but Ridley is definitely on notice this week.

[+] EnlargeWilson
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsUntil Sunday night, the last time David Wilson fumbled was on his second carry of his career last year, also against the Cowboys.

David Wilson: He's mentioned up top, thus warrants a mention, even if Wilson's statistical history is too short to register on the Consistency Ratings charts. He's now up to 112 career touches in 17 NFL games, and two more opening-week fumbles cast a shadow on his season. His New York Giants will also reportedly work out free agents Willis McGahee, Brandon Jacobs and Joe McKnight on Tuesday, meaning it's understandable why anyone -- including the character up top -- is so intrigued by this David Wilson picture show. Overreaction is irresistible.

That said, any of these free-agent candidates offers diminishing returns. McGahee, the most notable, has been a fantasy "Start" only 18 times in 40 games since 2010, having sat nine weeks during that span. Jacobs was just 6-for-14 (resulting in a 37.5 percent Consistency Rating) in 2011. McKnight didn't even register on the charts in any of his past three seasons, and he has but 17 more career touches than Wilson.

I said it in Monday's chat and will reiterate: If you're a frustrated David Wilson owner, you'll be forced to sell too low to have any chance of justification; he's way too talented to vanish from the fantasy radar and my concerns about him are no greater than they were three weeks ago … and they weren't substantial then.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Wait, what? The Jacksonville Jaguars have a bad quarterback? Shocking news, and hardly something every Jones-Drew fantasy owner didn't already know on draft day. Granted, for so long as the team rolls out Blaine Gabbert each and every week, there'll be concern that opponents will consistently stack the box. That said, a lacerated hand will keep Gabbert out for Week 2, and perhaps beyond, and the switch to Chad Henne could be a boon to Jones-Drew. After all, during Henne's six starts last season, the Jaguars saw eight men in the box 3 percent less often than they did during Gabbert's 10.

Besides, even if Gabbert heals quickly and recaptures the job, how have opponents' defensive strategies really changed since Gabbert's NFL debut on Sept. 18, 2011, anyway? Jones-Drew's 2012 was a campaign lost to injury, but Gabbert started 14 of 16 Jaguars games as a rookie in 2011, and Jones-Drew managed 249 fantasy points, his second-best single-season total (255 in 2009).

Jones-Drew's historical Consistency Rating should quell his owners' doubts. His 59.2 percent number is 14th-best among running backs, 13th among those who debuted in 2012 or earlier and 10th among those who debuted in 2011 or earlier. He also, despite a 2012 ruined by a holdout and multiple injuries, went 3-for-6 in "Starts" when healthy, once managing a top-five fantasy effort (24 points, Week 3). Considering Jones-Drew is still only eight months removed from Lisfranc surgery, not to mention he made only three preseason appearances for 10 carries total, he's far more deserving of his owners' patience than this.

Consistency Ratings: 2010-13

Using fantasy points determined by ESPN's standard scoring, the chart below rates players based upon how consistently reliable they have been in the 2010-13 NFL seasons, a span of 52 weeks (or 49 games per team). That sample, rather than merely 2013 results, is published for this opening week for an important reason: Consistency Ratings for 2013 alone would look almost identical to our scoring leaders page. Beginning after Week 2, we will publish two sets of Consistency Ratings: The first one for the current season, then a link to a separate page of three-year Consistency Ratings.

How Consistency Ratings work is explained in the table inset in the column above. Players are initially ranked in order of their Consistency Rating, calculated as the percentage of the player's scheduled games -- not games played, scheduled games -- in which his fantasy point total registered a "Start" score. This means that a 2013 rookie would have his Consistency Rating calculated as a percentage of one game; it is why Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis tops the position's leaderboard, because he's a rookie who managed a top-two kicker performance in his first career game.

All categories are sortable both ascending and descending; just click on the headers to sort. Players must have met at least one of the following minimums for inclusion in the chart: 20.0 percent Consistency Rating in standard scoring leagues, 20.0 percent Consistency Rating in PPR formats. All defense/special teams are included, regardless of whether they met those minimums.

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