Fantasy football owners are always striving for greatness. The quest to make sure their early round picks don't bust and their sleeper picks emerge is a never-ending part of this hobby we all love. Yet, there's an aspect of football prognostication that weighs heavily on our draft tendencies yet goes undiscussed by most -- and that's the value of CONSISTENCY. If you were to poll everyone in your league and ask them to define consistency, chances are you would get a dozen different answers. In fact, a few of your league mates would probably say consistency plays no role in their fantasy prospecting. But they would be wrong, even if their tendencies were buried deep into their subconscious.
No matter how you define consistency, the fact is we tend to value players who we think have a defined range of expectations. And it stands to reason we particularly value those players who have a track record of repeated, elite production.
Roddy White fits the profile perfectly.
White's per catch average has ranged from 12.1 to 15.7 and his touchdowns have ranged from a low of six to a high of 11, but when you've established a floor of 80 catches and 1,150-1,200 yards over a six-year period, fantasy owners are going to value you as a consistent, top tier producer. My basic fantasy rule of thumb is to draft lower risk, high upside players in the first few rounds and then target high risk/high return players in the mid- and late rounds. I see no point in drafting someone like Michael Jenkins as my WR5 when I know he has no shot at being a top 20 fantasy receiver, but by the same token I rarely feel comfortable pulling the trigger on a player in the first three rounds based on some level of production they've never attained (i.e., a major breakout). For that reason, players like Roddy White are perfect pieces to my draft puzzle.
The Julio Jones effect was a myth
When the Falcons traded up to draft Julio Jones two seasons ago, fantasy owners feared the worst. Many worried that Roddy White's WR1 production was as much a result of his being the only option for Matt Ryan as it was about White's own elite skill set. Yet, while Julio Jones has emerged as one of the league's best young receivers, it's barely dented White's value. If you want to quibble that White had 153 targets last year (during Jones' breakout 2nd season) instead of the 191 in 2011, so be it...but that's quibbling since 153 targets is still an enormous amount. What fantasy owners who worried about Jones failed to consider was that the Falcons would a) pass more and b) become a more explosive offense (thus creating more passing opportunities).
The Falcons have evolved from a very conservative team in the early Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era to an aggressive passing team:
- 2008 -- 434 attempts
- 2009 -- 570 attempts
- 2010 -- 577 attempts
- 2011 -- 594 attempts
- 2012 -- 615 attempts
Age is just a number...
To hear some fantasy pundits tell it, Roddy White is on the cusp of collecting Social Security. Yet, he'll turn 32 years old in November, which is hardly an age when we have to waive the white flag. My rule of thumb when it comes to age analysis is very simple, let the data tell the tale. To that end, White remains a low risk proposition to suffer a major drop off:
- White remains a pillar of health, no lingering or compounding injuries that would wear him down
- White averaged 14.7 yards per catch last year, his best mark in four seasons and almost a yard more than his career average
- White caught all 10 of his downfield targets (defined as throws 20+ yards downfield) last year
- White has averaged 94 receptions for 1,296 yards and 8 touchdowns over the last six seasons
- Matt Ryan is in his prime and evolved into one of the league's best quarterbacks
- The addition of RB Steven Jackson should extend the Falcon's average drive and create more scoring opportunities
- White remains a picture of health, and is both a crisp route runner and has unheralded body control and hands
- The addition of Steven Jackson sholud mean a more balanced scoring approach, particularly in the red zone
- The Falcons lost two key offensive line starters this offseason
- Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones are equally explosive, which opens the door for the occassional stinker of a game when the plan calls for more throws their way
Roddy White has been a pillar of consistency since Matt Ryan took over at quarterback and the Falcons began throwing the ball with regularity. White is in his prime, is healthy, has an elite quarterback at his disposal, and has credible weapons alongside him that makes it impossible for defenses to key on White. Whether you're in a PPR league or a standard league, White should be on your short list of options as your #1 target. You should comfortably target White in the late 2nd or early 3rd round and be sure you're securing a piece of a championship puzzle.
White’s overlooked. Early mock drafts have him ranked as the 13th receiver off the board, which is far too late for such a consistent wideout. Mind you, White hasn’t finished with that low of a ranking since his third season in the NFL. And though White finished 2012 with a double-digit ranking, we have to realize that he was just seven points from being the seventh-ranked fantasy pass catcher in standard leagues.
He may be 31-years old now, but there is no doubt that Roddy White has been one of the best receivers over the past six years. And while his teammate has been awesome through his first two professional seasons, is Julio really the better fantasy option at wide receiver? I mean, sure. Julio is younger, more athletic and a bit more enticing for fantasy owners, but Roddy just continues to produce year after year. According to Fantasy Calculator, Julio’s current ADP is 2.09, compared to Roddy’s 3.10. Between that gap, there are five wide receivers ahead of White. Can we really say that Julio is already that much better than White when it comes to fantasy?
More from Jason Wood:
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Preseason Watch List: AFC North - July 22
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Preseason Watch List: AFC South - July 22
Preseason Watch List: NFC South - July 22
Player Spotlight: Andre Ellington - July 21
Preseason Watch List: AFC West - July 21
Preseason Watch List: NFC West - July 21
Preseason Watch List: AFC East - July 21
Preseason Watch List: NFC East - July 21