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Quality Starts: Runningbacks (PPR) - Footballguys

Quality starts for 2017 for Running Backs using PPR 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 2017 season, I decided first to take the #12 RB for the year (Ezekiel Elliott, 205.2 fantasy points) and take that fantasy total and divide it by 16 for a per game average. My next step, however, was to take all of the Top 50 running backs from 2017 and sort them on a per game average. That method can account for missed games or a per-start performance metric, which is how most fantasy team owners would decide their roster for the week. The RB12 on a per-game average basis last season was Carlos Hyde, with 235.8 fantasy points in 16 games, or a 14.7 points per game average - significantly lower than Elliott's 20.5 average. Now I also acknowledge that taking RB12 seems a bit arbitrary, but if you are looking for a bare minimum of quality, the 12th RB should be the "worst starter" in your fantasy league as an RB1 and a great RB2.

Next, we move on to the more meaningful question - one of quantifying the quality. At what point do we decide whether or not a running back has given us a quality performance? Here is where it gets a bit murky, but looking at the distribution of RB performances by starters over the season and it becomes evident that the using the 12th RB average and adding or subtracting a percentage gives us a good range for an RB Quality Start.

Using the RB 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:

RB Start Type
Fantasy Points
Bad Start
0 to 11.0
Quality Start
11.1 to 18.4
Excellent Start

Table 1: 2017 RB Quality Start and Fantasy Point Ranges - PPR Scoring

Table 2 shows us the breakdown of all the Top 50 RBs and how many of each type of start resulted for each:

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