Quality Starts: Wide Receivers (PPR)

Quality starts for 2018 for wide receivers 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 2018 season, the first attempt was to use the #24 WR for the year (Adam Humphries, 188.7 fantasy points) and take that fantasy total and divide it by 16 for a per game average. The next step, however, was to take all of the Top 75 wide receivers from 2018 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 WR24 on a per-game average basis last season was Tyler Lockett, with 222.9 fantasy points in 16 games, or a 13.93 points per game average - significantly different from Humphries’ 11.8 average for the season. The reason that this is the better baseline comes from four strong examples of receivers that were outside of the Top 24 wide receiver performance list for the season, but averaged more than 14 points per game. Cooper Kupp, A.J. Green, Will Fuller V and A.J. Jeffery were all fantasy starters when they were healthy, and their strong points per game averages pointed to that fact. Therefore, using the per game average is by far the best method. Now it is reasonable to also acknowledge that 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.

Next, 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 10.4
Quality Start
10.5 to 17.4
Excellent Start
17.5+

Table 1: 2018 WR Quality Start and Fantasy Point Ranges - PPR Scoring

Table 2 shows us the breakdown of all the Top 75 WRs from 2018 and how many of each type of start resulted for each:

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