The quest for perfection continues.
Through 12 games, Jamaal Charles has been the most consistently start-worthy fantasy player in the game. He has ranked among the top 25 scoring running backs -- the criteria for a "Start" in this space -- in all 12 contests. In 10 of those games, he finished among the top 11 running backs in fantasy points for the week.
If his current pace holds -- and keep in mind that he's on pace for 264 total fantasy points, or 12 more than any other running back -- Charles would be the first player to post a perfect, 100 percent Consistency Rating since another Kansas City Chiefs running back, Priest Holmes, back in 2003. Charles would also become only the 12th player to manage at least a 90 percent Consistency Rating in the past 10 seasons.
That's not to say that Charles' 2013 campaign has him on track for a season among the all-time greats. That 264-point pace, for instance, would rank only 70th among running backs since 1960. It'd also place him 136 points behind the pace of the 2013 overall leader, Peyton Manning. And here's the key difference between Charles and Holmes: Holmes' 2003 campaign, the fourth best since 1960 among running backs (359) saw him notch 11 "Stud" (a top-five weekly score) performances.
I'm always a fan of the history of the game, and Holmes' 11 Stud scores are one of the most remarkable feats of the 21st century. Four players have managed to be "Studs" -- top-five weekly running backs -- at least 10 times in a season since 2000:
LaDainian Tomlinson, 2006, 12 times: He had a 87.5 percent Consistency Rating (14 "Starts" in his 16 games), en route to the single-season fantasy points record (410).
Holmes, 2003, 11: He's the only player since 1998 to be a perfect 16-for-16 in "Starts."
Marshall Faulk, 2000, 10: He had an 81.3 percent Consistency Rating despite missing two games (13 "Starts" in 14 games played), en route to the second-best fantasy point total among running backs since 1960 (365).
Arian Foster, 2010, 10: He had an 87.5 percent Consistency Rating (14 "Starts" in 16 games), and he scored 313 fantasy points for the season.
Though Charles' five Stud performances in 2013 give him no mathematical chance of joining that group, his value this season has been his consistent production, a critical thing during the fantasy playoffs. Even as his Chiefs have fallen into a recent funk, his production hasn't waned: He had the week's second- and 10th-best fantasy point totals among running backs in Weeks 12 and 13, totaling 44 points.
Even better, Charles doesn't face a single bottom-eight running back matchup the remainder of the regular season (@WSH, @OAK, IND, @SD), and against all that group -- meaning the 24 most favorable matchups -- since 2010, he's 35-for-43 in terms of Starts (81.4 percent Consistency Rating), with 23 top-10 performances and 12 "Stud" (top-five) efforts. It's one heck of a year for him.
CONSISTENCY RATINGS BENCHMARKS
Using 2013 statistics, and fantasy points determined by ESPN's standard scoring, the charts contained in this column rate players based upon how consistently reliable they are. To familiarize you with some of the terminology:
Start: The number of times that the player's point total in a given week was worthy of having had him active in an ESPN standard league.
Stud: The number of times the player's point total ranked among the top at his position.
Stiff: The number of times the player's point total ranked among the worst at his position, making almost any waiver-wire option a smarter choice.
These are the benchmarks for what constitutes a "Start," "Stud" or "Stiff" performance, numbers identifying the player's rank at his position:
Sat: The number of times the player missed a game. Players are not charged "Stiff" points for sitting out, but it hurts their overall Consistency Rating.
%: The player's overall Consistency Rating, calculated as number of "Start" performances divided by scheduled team games.
Feasting upon the weak
A few weeks back, we examined in this space the players who perform the best facing the most challenging matchups. What about the flip side of that argument, the players with the greatest history of success facing the softest matchups?
Success during the fantasy postseason relies not only upon trusting your most talented players, it's also about exploiting any matchup advantage possible. So today, using data since the beginning of 2010, let's identify the 10 most productive players facing top-eight positional matchups. For this exercise, we'll use "Stud" rather than "Start" scores, and set a minimum of five such matchups. Here we go:
LeSean McCoy: 11 Stud performances in 12 matchups (91.7 percent)
Michael Vick: 6 Studs in 7 matchups (85.7 percent)
Maurice Jones-Drew: 9 Studs in 11 matchups (81.8 percent)
DeMarco Murray: 4 Studs in 5 matchups (80.0 percent)
Adrian Peterson: 12 Studs in 15 matchups (80.0 percent)
Brandon Marshall: 10 Studs in 13 matchups (76.9 percent)
Ryan Mathews: 6 Studs in 8 matchups (75.0 percent)
Arian Foster: 11 Studs in 15 matchups (73.3 percent)
Drew Brees: 9 Studs in 13 matchups (69.2 percent)
Julio Jones: 4 Studs in 6 matchups (66.7 percent)
Roddy White: 10 Studs in 15 matchups (66.7 percent)
Vick, Foster and Jones, naturally, aren't of any help to fantasy owners now, but Murray and White are two names that stand out.
Consider that Murray has two more matchups against defenses that rank among the top eight in fantasy points allowed to running backs: the Chicago Bears (third; road game in Week 14) and Washington Redskins (second; road game in Week 16). The Green Bay Packers (home game in Week 15), meanwhile, rank 10th and have allowed 144 points to running backs in their past six games combined. Though the perception might not be as such, Murray makes a compelling case for a weekly RB1 -- or a clear-cut top-10 option at his position -- in every one of his four remaining matchups.
White, meanwhile, has only one more matchup against a top-eight defense (using fantasy points allowed to wide receivers): Week 14 at the Packers, who rank eighth against the position. However, his Week 15 represents another favorable matchup -- his Atlanta Falcons host the 10th-ranked Redskins -- and he's coming off a Week 13 during which he had more targets (14) and catches (10) than he has had in any game since Week 16 of the 2011 season. For at least these next two weeks, White should be a low-end WR2, and there's every reason to believe he might rank, at worst, among the top 25 scorers at his position in each remaining week.
Consistency Ratings chart
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. All categories are sortable both ascending and descending; just click on the headers to sort.
Players must have at least a 25.0 percent Consistency Rating in either standard scoring or PPR leagues for inclusion in the chart. All defense/special teams are included, regardless of whether they met those minimums.
These statistics are for 2013 only. Statistics for games since 2010 can be found here.