Consistency key in fantasy football

The final fantasy football draft dates are rapidly approaching, and you are still trying to figure out what to do with your first pick. Now, the norm is to pick a running back with your first pick or two, but I have evidence that suggests you should employ another strategy.

My biggest thing in selecting a player is consistency. I’d rather take a player who has proven himself year after year than choosing the breakout player from last season.

So, who has been and will be consistent going forward? Well I did some research to find out and the results may surprise you.

Look at the top 10 drafted quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers and compare them to the top 10 scorers for each position in each of the past few years. Notice a trend?

Last season, only five of the top 10 drafted running backs finished as a top 10 back. The season before? It again was five out of 10. And in ‘08? Just four of 10. Only one running back makes both lists each year: Adrian Peterson.

For wide receivers, it was similar numbers. Over the past two seasons, only five of the top 10 wide receivers drafted finished as a top 10 wideout. In ‘08, it was just four. And only one guy appears on both lists all three years: Andre Johnson.

It is important to know that three other running backs/wide receivers made the list over the past two seasons: Chris Johnson, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne.

That means that over the past three seasons, only 14 of 30 running backs and wide receivers were able to live up to where they were drafted.

That means over half of the top 10 running backs and wide receivers from the past three seasons were considered busts. Over half.

Alright, now let’s take a look at how quarterbacks did over this time period.

Last year, six of the top 10 quarterbacks finished in the top 10 of quarterback scoring. In ‘09, it was seven. Interesting note: Donovan McNabb was drafted eighth among QBs that year and finished 11th. So even though McNabb didn’t finish in the top 10 among fantasy quarterbacks, owners pretty much got par value for him.

In ‘08 a lot of crazy things happened at the quarterback position. Brady got injured the first game of the season. Romo missed three games. Derek Anderson was being drafted in the top 10. It was also the first year Aaron Rodgers was the starter in Green Bay and the amazing comeback season by Kurt  Warner in Arizona.

And yet, there were still four that made the list, five if you want to count Cassel (filling in for Brady) and Romo would make it six if we looked at it on a per-game basis. Romo finished 12th among quarterbacks that year.

That means 17 of 30 of quarterbacks were able to return on their investment. 19 of 30 if you want to include Cassel and Romo from ‘08 and 20 of 30 if you want to throw McNabb from the ‘09 season in there.

While those numbers aren’t perfect, it’s hard not to notice how much more consistent and safer quarterbacks are compared to the other positions.

So when it comes to your next draft, think twice about taking a guy that you think could be a top 10 running back or wide receiver. There is a pretty good chance that he won’t pan out and be that guy you can rely on week after week. And that, my friends, is factually correct.

Judge Howell is a junior broadcast journalism major from Plano, TX.