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How reliable are fantasy projections?

When you sit down to set your fantasy lineups, you may look at a number of things: How strong is the opposing defense? Will an injury force a no-name into the starting lineup? Maybe your favorite player has had a few big games in a row, and you’re expecting that trend to continue.

Using projected points as a baseline is helpful to weigh all these factors and more. But how reliable are these projections? Jock MKT pays out based on final scoring across all players, so if we’re paying a premium price for a top player, how often does that player payout match his projected value?

Looking at the last 2+ years of NFL games, and using projected points from Rotowire.com, we ranked every player by projected and actual points. For this analysis, we separated by position for quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers (sorry, tight ends) to determine which positions had the most reliable rankings.

So what did we find? In short, the top projected running backs are much more reliable than other positions, and top wide receivers virtually never match their pregame projections. Read on for more!

Quarterbacks

80% of all quarterbacks in our sample were projected in the top 60 each week, so we would expect less variance than with other positions. For those QB’s projected in the top 10, 20% finished in the top 10, and 37% finished in the top 20. Interestingly, QB’s projected 11-20 were slightly more likely to finish in the top 10 (29%), than if they were projected to finish top 10 (26%).

Noteables:

  • Patrick Mahomes: Projected in top 10 all but 3 weeks in his career, top 10 hit rate 40%.
  • Tom Brady: Only finished in top 10 3 of 23 weeks when he was projected to finish there.
  • Aaron Rodgers: Has never finished in top 10 in the 11 times he was projected to do so.

Running Backs

Ball carriers are most consistent of the three positions we studied. For those RB’s projected in the top 10, 39% finished in the top 10, and 62% finished in the top 20.

Noteables:

  • Todd Gurley: Projected in top 10 in 22 weeks, and matched his projection 12 times (55%).
  • Alvin Kamara: Also projected top 10 in 22 weeks, but was half as reliable as Gurley (28%).
  • David Johnson: Only finished in top 10 one time since 2017, when he was projected to finish 34th.

 

Wide Receivers

The wild west of fantasy projections. You’re better off targeting WR’s lower on the board that you think have a chance to break out. For those WR’s projected in the top 10, only 5% (!??!!) finished in the top 10, and 14% finished in the top 20.

Noteables:

  • Julio Jones: Accounts for 19 of the 75 top 10 WR projections, but only 2 of the top 10 finishes.
  • Odell Beckham Jr: 7 top 10 projections, and 0 top 10 finishes.


So what did we learn?

Everyone’s a fantasy genius before the games are played. Paying top dollar for wide receivers is virtually never a good idea, and you’re better off targeting a cheaper option. But you can rely on your stud running backs to deliver. Whether you’re building your Jock MKT portfolio, playing on one of those other DFS sites, or betting player props, make sure you recognize which projections you can trust.

Now let’s Jock ‘n’ Roll!

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