When you think of consistent fantasy players, who comes to mind? Superstars such as LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant? Each of them is in the top-25 for game-to-game consistency, but the three most-consistent fantasy players this season might surprise you -- Tobias Harris, Steven Adams and rookie star Luka Doncic.
These are the fantasy metronomes, players who produce night in, night out, seemingly oblivious to changing circumstances. Road games vs. away games. Playing with two days' rest vs. a back-to-back set. Elite defenses vs. cupcake matchups. It's all the same to certain players.
Then there are the 'boom-or-bust' players whose value tends to swing wildly each game. These can be guys who thrive in garbage time, suffer against small-ball lineups, get in foul trouble, depend wholly on their coach's chaotic rotations, or have expanded roles when teammates get hurt, but who otherwise fade into the background. Jaren Jackson Jr., Trey Burke, Kent Bazemore, Nemanja Bjelica and Kelly Oubre all fit the mold.
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Which other players fall in the first category, and which in the latter? Rather than trust anecdotal examples or a 'sense' of players who are consistent, I'll be using standard deviations as a stand-in metric for consistency. Here's my methodology:
1) Take each player's boxscores for the entire season, eliminate DNPs (due to injury or coach's decision) and convert them into fantasy-point totals using the NBA's official fantasy scoring, as seen on Yahoo, DRAFT, FanDuel and other sites
2) Determine the standard deviation of each player's box-score totals, and divide that into their average fantasy points per game to determine their consistency or volatility
If this topic strikes a chord with you, be sure to check out Wednesday's Rotoworld NBA podcast. Matt Stroup and I discuss 'headache' players whose inconsistency threatens to ruin their fantasy value -- you'll see plenty of them below.
You can follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW.
|Consistency Rank||Consistency Index||NBA Official Fantasy Points (per game)|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||95||64.30%||31.88|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||169||45.80%||28.77|
|Wendell Carter Jr.||114||60.40%||28.47|
|Marvin Bagley III||150||50.80%||25.62|
|Dennis Smith Jr.||125||58.00%||25.11|
|Larry Nance Jr.||155||50.20%||22.96|
|Antonio Blakeney||188||36.80%||13.39 |
As mentioned above, raw standard deviations can be misleading. Joel Embiid and Nikola Vucevic have standard deviations above 11.0, which is comparable to Tim Hardaway Jr. and De'Aaron Fox. This means that each player will (roughly) be within 11.0 fantasy points of their average 68.4% of the time. However, because Embiid and Vuc average considerably more fantasy points overall, their actual volatility is much lower.
To account for the disparity, I've included the more accurate column 'Consistency Index' (SD as % of fantasy points). The higher the percentage, the less that player veered from their personal average (i.e. the more consistent that player has been). On the other hand, players with low percentages have veered widely from their personal means so far this season.
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Among elite fantasy producers, the least consistent have been Andre Drummond (70.5%), Blake Griffin (71.8%), Nikola Jokic (67.7%) and Kyrie Irving (66.0%). You can add Hassan Whiteside, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge and Victor Oladipo to the list, which raises a good point -- I'm not discriminating based on injuries. The fact that Oladipo played five minutes during the game when he got hurt skews his 'consistency index' but that's the harsh reality...and he'd look even worse if I were to include the DNPs.
Daily owners will love to note that Anthony Davis has been the king of DFS consistency -- in addition to being the top per-game producer (61.4 fantasy points), his 85.3% consistency is the best among any elite producer until you reach Tobias Harris. Russell Westbrook isn't far behind, and neither are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, James Harden or Joel Embiid. There's a bit more risk on a game-by-game basis when deploying LeBron James, Damian Lillard or Kemba Walker, though, in addition to the guys mentioned in the preceding paragraph.
This analysis is a labor of love, and I went 200 players deep to highlight low-end fantasy options who still produce consistently. Derrick Favors, for instance, is an extremely reliable player...but I would never have guessed it. Rodney McGruder, Jeremy Lamb and Joe Harris also attain 70+ percent consistency. Perhaps most surprising was the inclusion of some players I've mentioned as disappointments in recent weeks -- Jaylen Brown, Kyle Kuzma, Lou Williams and Brandon Ingram. They may not be hitting the value owners expected, but at least they're not hitting that value consistently? Faint praise, indeed.
In a column on Oct. 25, Small Sample Size Statistics, I wrote about Boban Marjanovic: "[He is] doomed to inconsistency. Boban's two-game surge was fun and it will happen again. He'll feast against certain lineups, but to think Boban can routinely match up vs. today's fast, athletic, court-stretching bigs is unrealistic." Based on this week's analysis he's not only doomed to inconsistency but has embodied the very concept. His ridiculous 35.9% variance does not include seven healthy DNP-CDs this season. If we added those, he'd approach 100% boom-or-bust status. Doc Rivers has guided the post-CP3/Blake/DJ Clippers to a 16-7 record, tied for the best in the West, and in the process he's unraveled the 'Free Boban' movement.
Kevin Knox is the actual epitome of inconsistency this season, and plenty of rookies are toward the bottom including Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, Jaren Jackson Jr., Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mo Mamba. Veterans aren't exempt, of course, with Andrew Wiggins, Darren Collison, Marvin Williams, Tony Parker and Tyreke Evans all struggling to help fantasy owners on a daily basis.
This column isn't addressing the 'why' about each player's struggles. You could analyze each player and explain why their value is unreliable, or extremely reliable, on a case-by-case basis. I hope that fantasy owners can use this information to cull the chaos from their lineups, build reliable rosters, err toward consistent DFS value, and at a minimum get some catharsis -- yes, that player who drives you crazy is indeed extremely inconsistent. My final note is that there are only 199 players on the list because I had to eliminate Aaron Holiday. He was so incredibly inconsistent, with a standard deviation (10.17) nearly as large as his fantasy points average (11.18), that he was skewing the formatting. So, I ditched him. Good luck this week!