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Quality Starts: Wide Receiver

Quality Starts for 2016 for Wide Receivers Using Standard Scoring

There are some fantasy football players that believe that the lineup you pick can lose you a game just as much as it can win a contest. Having a player give you a consistent performance week after week can be considered more valuable than a player who goes off every third week and then takes two weeks off between those fantastic performances. Consistency has a value, and it does not take much of a leap to understand that players that you can rely on for solid games when you need them (such as in your postseason) are a huge advantage.

Baseball has a term called "Quality Starts" for pitchers, which is a statistic that represents how often a starting pitcher will put up a good (not great, just good) performance in a given game. The bar is set neither high nor low (six innings pitched, three earned runs or fewer) so as to gauge a decent performance. The theory behind it is that if your pitcher gives you a Quality Start, your team has a fighting chance to win a given game.

So now we need to translate this to football. What is "quality" for each position? How do we define a "Quality Start" for quarterbacks or running backs or any other position? Looking back at the 2016 season, I decided to take the #24 WR for the year based on a points per game ranking, rather than based on total points as I had done in some previous years.  The reason is simple - when stud wide receivers are available (like A.J. Green or Dez Bryant), you play them - but when they are hurt, you don't.  So rather than exclude studs who get hurt for several games from the analysis, elite receivers with high averages are now included even though he missed time.  That changes our outlook just slightly, as now our WR24 is Kenny Britt (129.2 fantasy points, or 13.3 per game over 15 games) instead of Marqise Lee (134.2, 8.4 per game).  It is a subtle change, but I think a better one, so I will use that for receivers going forwards.  Also, taking WR24 seems a bit arbitrary, but if you are looking for a bare minimum of quality, the 24th WR should be the "worst starter" in your fantasy league as a WR2 and a great WR3.

So now we move on to the next question - one of quantifying the quality. At what point do we decide whether or not a wide receiver has given us a quality performance? Here is where it gets a bit murky, but looking at the distribution of WR performances by starters over the season and it becomes evident that the using the 24th WR average and adding or subtracting a percentage gives us a good range for a WR Quality Start.

Using the WR Quality Start range, we can also define a bad performance or an excellent performance as either falling below or exceeding the Quality Start range. Table 1 gives us the fantasy points that it takes to fall in each of the three areas:

WR Start Type Fantasy Points
Bad Start 0 to 6.4
Quality Start 6.5 to 10.7
Excellent Start 10.8+

Table 1: 2016 WR Quality Start and Fantasy Point Ranges - Standard Scoring

Table 2 shows us the breakdown of all the Top 75 WRs from 2016 and how many of each type of start resulted for each:


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