Highlights of the 2013-15 NFL Consistency Ratings

Spoiler Alert: The last guy we talk about is Marcus Mariota. Surprised? We weren’t. (Chat Sports via Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports)

Spoiler Alert: The last guy we talk about is Marcus Mariota. Surprised? We weren’t. (Chat Sports via Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports)

There are a lot of factors that we take into account when handicapping our games. Those who utilize our handicapping consulting services may not always think about how much information has to be processed before a single selection can be made. All that most people will stop to think about is whether their bet won or lost, which is a perfectly reasonable pre-occupation. But those who have read our complete beginners’ guide to sports betting are probably the types to be more interested in assessing player stats for the purposes of forming educated bets. The 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings allow some insight into such assessment.

It should be noted that the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings are largely based around fantasy sports. Nonetheless, they are the result of over two years’ worth of stats. While you might be able to gauge a player’s present quality based upon recent games and off-season practice stats, the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings tell us just how steadily these players have maintained their stats over a much longer period of time.

Below, we will run through each player position and note the top three players in terms of start percentage (how frequently they were started in a standard ESPN fantasy league, a measure of both skill and popularity). We will also note whether or not we expect them to maintain their consistency throughout the current season. If you’d like to see the unabridged list of player fantasy rankings, check out the full rundown of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings on ESPN. Note that, whenever consistency ratings are mentioned, lower numbers are considered to be more consistent.

Kickers

Third down on the list for kickers, the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings name Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens. When he isn’t singing opera or impersonating Matthew McConaughey, he’s making his living as one of the better kickers in the NFL. At the end of Week 2, he was 6 for 6 on field goals and 4 for 4 on PATs. His consistency rating (.596) could use a little work, but Tucker hasn’t given us any reason to doubt his abilities so far this season. The Ravens can always rely on him to deliver the field goal when they can’t finish out the drive.

Second on the list in terms of start percentage is Cody Parkey of the Philadelphia Eagles. Parkey has a better consistency rating than Tucker (.490), but the same cannot be said of his current season performance. Philly fans are probably a bit disappointed with him after a missed kick cost them their season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, although they probably should have seen this coming after he missed multiple field goal and PAT attempts during the preseason. To his credit, he accepts full responsibility for the loss. We do believe he might be consistent this season. But in this case, we aren’t sure that’s a good thing.

ESPN’s list is topped by Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots. He’s got a current consistency rating of .405, and has gone 4 for 4 on field goals at the start of the season. The Pats aren’t having too much trouble finishing out their drives right now, so Gostkowski’s consistency isn’t much of an issue as long as he continues to nail the point after. Gostkowski has previously stated that he treats every stadium about the same, because “it’s not like one crowd noise is different than the other.” So far, that philosophy is serving him well.

We should mention that, while these players are at the top of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings for kickers, none of them is actually the most consistent. The best consistency rating (.177) actually belongs to Josh Lambo of the San Diego Chargers. The Bolts had previously given the designation of placekicker to Nick Novak, but they made a change right before the start of the regular season. Lambo’s a bit of a rookie, so it’s hard to tell how steadily he’ll maintain his performance this season. He was 4 for 5 on field goals at the end of Week 1, so he might be fairly consistent. But consistency doesn’t mean much in a player who’s had few chances to mess up.

Team Defense/Special Teams

Jarryd Hayne is currently the heart of special teams for the San Francisco 49ers. (Gregg Porteous/News Corp Australia)

Jarryd Hayne is currently the heart of special teams for the San Francisco 49ers. (Gregg Porteous/News Corp Australia)

For special teams, we’ll be assessing each team as a whole. We’ll start with the San Francisco 49ers, third on the list for 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. They have a consistency rating of .729, which is better than it sounds when compared to most other teams in the league. San Francisco has been relatively inconsistent in general, opening with a 20-3 win against the Minnesota Vikings before moving on to an 18-43 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. There’s little doubt that the backbone of San Francisco’s special teams is Aussie RB Jarryd Hayne, although relegating him solely to special teams likely played a role in the team’s loss to the Steelers. Either way, with Hayne making the punt returns, San Francisco’s special teams will be consistent. We just aren’t sure we can say the same about their rushing game.

The Carolina Panthers are second on the list for 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings, although their actual rating (.945) is a bit worse than that of the 49ers. Safety Colin Jones should be largely responsible for whatever consistency the Panthers manage to show on special teams this year, providing the team with a great deal of speed (he’s got a 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds) that allows him to consistently deliver on tackles for special teams. There was some fear that he’d be out with a groin injury, but he was able to return before the start of the season in tip-top shape.

Unlike the kicker category, the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings for defense/special teams have listed the team with the highest consistency rating (.555) at the very top. This rating belongs to the Seattle Seahawks, whose special teams didn’t start the season on a very high note. Their overtime loss in their season opener against the St. Louis Rams can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is a failed squib kick by placekicker Steven Hauschka. The Hawks also gave up a 75-yard kickoff return and a 90-yard punt return that made it all too easy for the Rams to take advantage of them. We don’t think Seattle’s special teams will be consistently bad this season (some think they’re getting better every year), but they can’t afford too many games like this. Some football fans overlook special teams, but the Hawks-Rams game showed just how badly they can make or break a performance.

Defensive Linemen

Rookie DE Vic Beasley only just started his career with the Atlanta Falcons, yet he managed to nab the third spot for defensive linemen in the 2013-15 consistency ratings with a .761 rating. Since he’s new to the pro leagues, we can’t really say too much about his consistency. While he was pretty strong before the start of the regular season, he finished the preseason believing he could use some work. If he manages to make the improvements he’s set out to make, he’s going to be one of the strongest pass rushers the Falcons have at their disposal. The Falcons have already beaten a couple of pretty strong teams in the first couple of weeks, but usually by a narrow margin. If he can manage to get off the tackles a bit faster, they might be able to start widening that gap.

Second from the top on this category of the 2013-15 consistency ratings is Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt, who has a .568 consistency rating. He’s played 8 games since 2013 in which his fantasy points were among the worst at his position, and yet his average of 9.9 fantasy points per game is actually the highest of all defensive linemen ranked on ESPN’s list. He’s only been active in the NFL since 2011, yet already has 60 QB sacks and 304 total tackles. His insane defensive prowess might be what caused CBS Sports to exclaim that he was “actually human” after he was bowled over by Carolina RG Trai Turner. Still, one flawed play doesn’t indicate a lack of consistency. We’d venture that Watt is on his way to yet another strong season, even if Houston might not be able to say the same.

Rookie DE Henry Anderson of the Indianapolis Colts tops this category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings with a .137 rating. Despite the somewhat disparaging nickname “Goose” (which is based more on EA’s Madden than his actual performance), Anderson killed it in the Colts’ season opener against the Buffalo Bills with a total of nine tackles. In a crushing loss to the Jets, he recorded the first sack of his NFL career. We don’t expect great things from the Colts, whose offense appears to be struggling right now. But with the strength of his debut, we’re thinking Anderson should have a pretty fair season.

Defensive Backs

Ronald Darby is the most questionable on this list in terms of the consistency of performance he can bring to the Buffalo Bills. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

Ronald Darby is the most questionable on this list in terms of the consistency of performance he can bring to the Buffalo Bills. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

Ricardo Allen wasn’t the most likely candidate to take the third-highest spot on this category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. He went from a college career involving 13 interceptions (four of which were touchdown returns) to being a fifth-round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons. Many have blamed his baffling underdog status on his relatively small frame, as he stands about 5’ 9” and weighs in around only 185 pounds. But his penchant for interceptions is now making a splash in the NFL. A botched pass by the Eagles in Atlanta’s season opener allowed the young Falcons safety to perform a beautiful interception that helped secure a win. His consistency rating of .761 isn’t that great compared to some other defensive backs who have been in the game longer, but we’re still expecting a pretty tight performance from him this year.

Rookie CB Ronald Darby has a much better consistency rating (.386) than Allen, and he managed to record his own interception for the Buffalo Bills in their opening 27-14 win against the Colts. He also managed a fair number of tackles and a couple of blocked passes, which isn’t too bad against a quarterback like Andrew Luck. Still, Darby is a bit worried moving forward. He had already been worried about facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 2, which saw the Bills take a 32-40 loss. While that game is behind him, he’s still got an entire schedule full of quarterbacks who are going to test his mettle in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs CB Marcus Peters is yet another rookie who managed to make it to the top of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings with a .283 rating and a strong chance of delivering the level of defensive skill that everyone’s hoping to see from him this season. First of all, he’s been nominated for NFL Rookie of the Week twice in two weeks, with an interception in each game. And he ran one of those interceptions all the way to the end zone. We were expecting him to be one of the better rookie corners in the league. Now, it’s looking like he might be one of the better corners in general. We don’t know that Kansas City has much Super Bowl potential, but we do expect Peters to make a strong showing this season as an individual.

Linebackers

Poz is third on the list, but he has the best consistency rating of all linebackers specifically named. (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

Poz is third on the list, but he has the best consistency rating of all linebackers specifically named. (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

The linebackers category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings is a bit unique from the other categories we’ve covered thus far, in part because the player third down on the list actually has the best consistency rating (.289) of all linebackers listed by ESPN. This is Jacksonville Jaguars ILB Paul Posluszny, who recorded nine tackles and an interception in Jacksonville’s opening 9-20 loss against Carolina before making seven solo tackles in the team’s 23-20 win against the Miami Dolphins. The News Hub interviewed Posluszny before the start of the season, during which he stated that he believes the Jags could make it to the playoffs this year. We seriously doubt it, but his defense certainly won’t hurt their chances.

Carolina ILB Luke Kuechly missed the first game of his professional career due to a concussion suffered in the season opener against the Jags, but he’s still got one of the better numbers (.391) in terms of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. He was able to run some non-contact position drills this week, so he should be on his way to a recovery. Still, we aren’t sure whether or not he’ll be able to recover in time to promise a consistently high-quality season performance. We’re thinking he’ll be back in the game soon enough, but he’ll need to maintain solid form and a high level of self-awareness in order to prevent similar injuries in the future.

Tampa Bay OLB Lavonte David has the best start percentage of all linebackers listed on the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings, although his consistency rating itself (.344) is in between those of Kuechly and Posluszny. The Bucs didn’t put up much of a defense in general in their opening 14-42 loss to the Tennessee Titans, but we aren’t about to put all the blame on David for their failure to stop Marcus Mariota. David did, however, speak about the Bucs’ passive defense following a penalty early in the game, stating in an interview that Tampa Bay’s defense could stand to be a bit more dominating. They delivered in their 26-19 win against the New Orleans Saints. If David can keep pulling his weight, then he should do alright this year. He tends to deliver around 140 tackles per season, and we’re thinking he can keep up that kind of pace.

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant commands the third sport on the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings as far as receivers are concerned, although the Dallas Cowboys are currently forced to make do without him as he recovers from foot surgery. His consistency rating of .565 is therefore more or less irrelevant, as he will probably be out for most of the season. Still, the Cowboys seem to be holding their own without him. And now that QB Tony Romo is out as well, they could be in trouble. In fact, it was after Romo’s injury during Week 2 that the Eagles started to close the gap on the Cowboys’ lead. As far as receivers are concerned, SB Nation thinks that Terrance Williams will continue to fill Bryant’s shoes. But in order for Williams to deliver the consistency we’d have expected from Dez, replacement QB Brandon Weeden will have to get the ball to him. He played a lot of ground ball in the tail end of that Philadelphia game, so the Cowboys might not have much consistency in their passing game at all for at least a couple of months.

Demaryius Thomas is one of the greatest assets Denver has to offer. He and Broncos QB Peyton Manning work well together, as demonstrated by their Week 2 game against Kansas City. The Chiefs were all but dominating, right up until Thomas asked Manning to pass him the ball more. The Broncs immediately turned things around, maintaining a winning record at 2-0 heading into the third week. This wasn’t some fluke. Thomas may not be the best receiver in the league, with a consistency rating of .602, but he’s known for show-stopping plays of the sort he showed Kansas City. We’re expecting a relatively consistent performance from him as the season continues.

At the top of the list for this category is Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He isn’t the tallest receiver out there, standing only at 5’ 10”. But with a 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds, his consistency rating of .513 can probably be attributed at least partially to his speed. Not only is he a fleet-footed son of a gun, but he’s pretty nimble when it comes to setting records as well. He caught his 400th pass in just 72 games, the third-fastest such record in NFL history. And that’s not his only distinction this early in the season. In Pittsburgh’s 43-18 win against the 49ers in Week 2, Brown racked up 195 yards over 9 catches. There were five NFL teams that failed to record as much passing yardage. And yes, that’s “teams,” not “players.” We honestly don’t know if he can stay consistent this year. Heading into Week 3, he’s already set the bar pretty high. As long as the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the other direction, he’s had a good season.

As was the case with kickers, the best score (.460) in the receivers category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings belongs to a player who did not make the top three. Randall Cobb is one of the strongest offensive weapons Green Bay has to offer. He narrowly recovered from injury to help the Packers crush the Seahawks in Week 2, picking up more than 100 yards in the process. In terms of his consistency, our big questions is whether or not he’ll top the career-high records he set last season when he caught 12 touchdown passes and recorded 1,287 yards. Cobb, who has a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds, has certainly got the speed to deliver a strong performance. As long as he staves of injury and keeps up his current pace, he and the Packers might be sizing their ring fingers when the postseason rolls around.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham is one of the best tight ends in the league, but the Seahawks haven’t gotten much mileage out of him so far. (Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

Jimmy Graham is one of the best tight ends in the league, but the Seahawks haven’t gotten much mileage out of him so far. (Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

Carolina’s Greg Olsen is listed third in the tight ends category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings with a score of .627 despite having been ranked among the worst in his position eight times since 2013 (and only ranked twice among the best). After Week 1, some Panthers fans might have lacked a bit of faith in Olsen’s performance. He only caught one of three targets for 11 yards, the fewest receiving yards he’s ever made in his career. He did a bit better in Week 2, managing 70 receiving yards while catching 6 of 14 targets. He has yet to be targeted in the red zone. To be fair, it isn’t really up to him. But if QB Cam Newton doesn’t start using him more, he won’t have the opportunity to deliver much in the way of quality consistency this season.

Rob Gronkowski is listed second in this category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings, although his actual consistency score (.566) is the best of all listed. This isn’t much of a surprise—it’s no big secret that the Gronk is one of the key offensive players in the Patriots organization. Heading into Week 3, Gronkowski has caught 12 of 21 targets, four of which have resulted in touchdowns. While Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles has caught one more in the red zone than Gronkowski has, Gronk still holds the current league record for tight end touchdowns this season. His coach and his teammates have nothing but praise for him, applauding everything from his on-field performance to his leadership in the locker room.

The Seahawks have gone 0-2 so far this season, but TE Jimmy Graham is still listed at the top of this category in the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. His consistency rating of .713 is the third-highest in the NFL, but he hasn’t actually gotten much of a chance to uphold his legacy this season. New Orleans fans were naturally upset when Graham was sent to Seattle, but now Graham is reportedly starting to resent the move himself. In Week 2 against Green Bay, Graham was only targeted twice. He caught one of them. Coach Pete Carroll acknowledges that this is a problem, but says that they simply haven’t been able to use him. If this apparent disconnect between Graham and the Seahawks doesn’t let up soon, then we can’t expect the star performance we know he’s capable of delivering. Frankly, it’s hard to see that happening. Seattle’s primarily known for launching a ground offensive with star RB Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch on the front line. Even having an ace tight end like Graham on the team isn’t going to change that.

Running Backs

Karlos Williams managed to get a touchdown on his first carry, just like he did in college. (Melina Vastola/USA TODAY Sports)

Karlos Williams managed to get a touchdown on his first carry, just like he did in college. (Melina Vastola/USA TODAY Sports)

The third spot on this category of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings goes to rookie David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals, who’s been given a .262 consistency rating. When he was picked in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Johnson probably had no idea that he’d be making NFL history. But that’s exactly what he’s done. In Arizona’s season opener against the Saints, Johnson made a 55-yard reception. In Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, he returned the opening kickoff for a 108-yard touchdown. In the third quarter of that same game, he rushed for 13 yards for another touchdown. Although the NFL has been around for 96 seasons, no one has ever pulled off this particular three-touchdown combination before. Sports Illustrated notes that the Pro Football Hall of Fame is set to display the cleats and jersey worn by Johnson during the game. In our 2016 Super Bowl predictions, we said that Marcus Mariota was having a historic season as far as quarterbacks are concerned. And yeah, his opening stats were good. But getting your equipment in the Hall of Fame after just two games? Johnson is having the best rookie season ever, regardless of position. We don’t even care if he stays consistent at this point. He could suck eggs for the rest of the season, and we’d still have to give the guy his due respect.

Oh, look. Another rookie. Karlos Williams of the Buffalo Bills is the second running back listed on the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. He’s got a consistency rating of .141, and he’s got a pretty interesting career footnote as far as consistency is concerned. While his first carry for the Florida State Seminoles resulted in a touchdown, the same can be said of his first touch with the Bills. Scoring on his first NFL touch might not sound as amazing when you consider that Detroit Lions RB Ameer Abdullah pulled off the same achievement on the same day, but it’s worth noting that it hadn’t been done in twenty years before them (the last guy was WR Michael Westbrook in 1995). This does not necessarily indicate that Williams is on his way to a consistently strong season performance, but it certainly demonstrates that he’s going in with his head in the right place. Considering he had another run in that same game where he carried his tackler for about four yards before finally going down, we’re thinking Williams is going to deliver this season.

Tevin Coleman of the Atlanta Falcons has the best consistency rating (.083) of all listed running backs. Not only that, but this is actually the best score across all categories of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. This is made even more impressive when considering that, like the two backs we’ve already mentioned, he was only drafted this year. Unfortunately, we might not be seeing much in the way of performance out of him for a while. Coleman started off the Falcons’ Week 2 game by rushing for 32 yards across 9 carries, one of which resulted in a touchdown. Unfortunately, his performance was ground to a halt when he had to be carried off the field with a fractured rib. As of now, it has not been determined just how long this is going to put him out of commission. Coach Dan Quinn refuses to put a timetable on Coleman’s return, at least until he has more information. It could be a few weeks, maybe more or maybe less. Either way, missing a few weeks in his debut year will hurt his season stats a bit.

Quarterbacks

It’s not too surprising that Peyton Manning topped this section of the list. No matter how many people say he should retire, he’s inarguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league. (Anthony J. Causi/New York Post)

It’s not too surprising that Peyton Manning topped this section of the list. No matter how many people say he should retire, he’s inarguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league. (Anthony J. Causi/New York Post)

The final category we’ll be assessing for the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings will be quarterbacks. Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints has a consistency rating of .396, even if he can’t do much to show off his skills right now. Week 2 was a big week for injuries, and Brees was one of the many casualties suffered. Sacked in a loss to Tampa Bay, Brees bruised his rotator cuff to the extent that he was unable to throw during practice this Wednesday. Even so, he’s thinking that he can recover by Week 3. This sounds good, but not if he’s trying to rush his recovery. Getting out there before he’s ready puts him at risk of worsening the damage, and the “Aint’s” really can’t afford to lose one of their better players. Certainly not with the less-than-mediocre performance they’ve been giving the past couple of years.

Andrew Luck has a score of .406 in the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings, but he and the Colts appear to be on the decline this season. Sports Illustrated compares Luck’s career to that of Carson Palmer, another quarterback who appeared to be on a meteoric rise before eventually fizzling out without warning. It’s actually uncanny how similar the two quarterbacks’ stats are when looking at their first fifty starts, a milestone Luck hit in Week 2’s 7-20 loss to the Jets. They both finished fifty stats with about 12-13,000 passing yards from around 1,100 completions (to make about 60% completion percentage), about 5% touchdown percentage, and just over 7 yards per attempt. Actually, Palmer was a bit better in some respects with fewer sacks, a higher passer rating, and one more touchdown pass. The major difference is that Palmer started to decline after suffering a knee injury that most people thought would end his career. Not only did he keep at it, but he and the Cardinals are now on their way to a surprisingly successful season. Luck has overcome no such adversity, so he should have no problem leading Indianapolis to at least one successful game against the Jets. If he doesn’t find a way to start delivering consistent quality again, we might not see too many more endorsements starring him and his beard.

Peyton Manning tops the list, with a .430 consistency rating and the best start percentage out of all quarterbacks on the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings. Now that he’s pushing 40, there are a lot of skeptics out there who think he won’t be able to deliver for much longer. Grantland harps on and on about the lack of feeling in his fingertips, maintaining that Manning should retire. And to be fair, it probably won’t be too long before he does. He’s already at a place where his team has to rest him during Wednesday practices in order to keep him fresh. It’s hard to imagine any football player, let alone a quarterback, lasting too long after that. Still, he’s been tearing it up this season (and pretty much every season), so we’re glad his wife convinced him to keep playing after his neck injury. He’s at well over 69,500 passing yards right now, and we’d like to see him break 70k by the end of the season. He’s also just over 70 away from hitting 6,000 completions. We don’t need too much convincing that he’s one of the best quarterbacks around at the moment. But on the off-chance that this winds up being his last season, we’d like to see him reach a couple of milestones before he leaves the spotlight.

Once again, the best consistency rating (.326) goes to a player not in the top three. And given that Tennessee was our dark horse candidate for the Super Bowl, it seems quite fitting that the player to be mentioned last in our rundown of the 2013-15 NFL consistency ratings should be Titans QB Marcus Mariota. Of course, when we said we’d like to see him win the Super Bowl, we were still pretty awestruck by his opening performance. Week 2 changed things a bit, and Mariota’s ability to perform consistently as well as he did in his opener is already looking doubtful. Of the snaps he’s received pressure on, he’s been sacked on 36% of them. The Tennessean notes that this is the highest rate in the NFL, which certainly puts a damper on the praise we were singing for him just a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully, he’ll learn what he needs to before things get too bad. Otherwise, he may not be in for the whirlwind season we were expecting.