If you’re playing in a grill club or in a seasonal points league, player consistency isn’t as important to your fantasy.

But in the personal league, consistency can decide your season.

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Let’s take an extreme, impossible example. Let’s say that Nathan McKinnon scores all the planned fantastic points he should have received in the very first game of the season and no more points in the remaining 81 contests.

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Yes, in this surreal example, the Colorado Avalanche had a crazy first game and McKinnon scored 205 fantasy points in the game of the ages. Having accomplished such a feat, he rides to the end of the campaign and does not score a single point.

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At this absurd extreme, BBQ or season points fantasy managers got what they paid for at the draft table. His 205 points still count towards the single-game total just as if they were distributed over all 82 points.

But managers playing head-to-head would be less interested. Of course, Week 1 is a sure win, but the rest of the season gets a bit tricky as their first round picks hit zero points starting in Week 2.

This is where the standard deviation in fantasy points per 60 minutes (FPP60) and the player’s coefficient of variation come in.

Standard deviation (SD) is a measure of how large the variance is in a set of data. In this case, we have fantastic 43 weeks of data from the 2020-21 and 2021-2022 seasons with FPP60 of each player. (I save a snapshot of the league data every Friday, so this data is weekly data from Friday to Friday. There are some exceptions, such as longer weeks for breaks between stars, goodbye, and the start and end of seasons.)

But one standard deviation is not enough to give us a comparable piece of data with other players. Tyson Jost’s SD of 2.06 is more consistent than Jakub Voracek’s SD of 2.13, but that figure doesn’t account for the fact that Jost’s FPP60 over the past two seasons is 3.67 and Voracek’s FPP60 is 5.01. So even though Yost has less variability in his output, part of it is because his overall fantasy is much lower.

This is where the coefficient of variation (CV) comes into play. By looking at how the standard deviation compares to the mean of the dataset it comes from, we get a figure comparable to other datasets. Jost’s SD and FPP60 results give us a CV of 56.2% and Voracek’s 42.6%. The lower coefficient of variation tells us that Voracek’s output is actually less variable than Jost’s, although the standard deviation immediately tells us otherwise.

In other words, the coefficient of variation gives us the ability to compare the volatility of players’ performance over time compared to other players.

Some notable asterisks for this data. I don’t have access to the weekly results of players who changed teams mid-season in the last two years. So I don’t have calculations for players like Patrick Laine, Tyler Toffoli or other players who traded during the season. If a player did not score Fantasy Points for at least 20 of the 43 weeks analyzed, they were also eliminated. And of course, as always, it all uses Sportzshala’s default scoring system to score fantasy points.

Sequence Kings

Victor Hedman, defenseman, Tampa Bay Lightning: He does not have the lowest CV in the last two seasons, but he is close to it. This, combined with some other factors, is perhaps enough to declare Hedman the most consistent fantasy player. His CV of 40.2% is second only to four other players, but his 6.00 FPP60 over these two seasons tops all four of them. Additionally, the only time he scored a nil in one of the 43 scoring streaks included in this data is when he missed the final game of the 2020–21 season. And only once in those 43 weeks did he score less than 3.00 FPP60. No other player in the league has had two weeks or less to break the 3.00 threshold.

This in no way makes him the first choice in head-to-head leagues. But that does make him arguably the best defender for these formats and should certainly count among the top half dozen picks. There is something to be said for reliability at the top of your project.

Alex DeBrinkat and Brady Tkachuk, F, Senators from Ottawa: These new teammates ranked first and second among strikers in CV percentage. DeBrinkat, who played the last two seasons with the Blackhawks, was the top hitter with a 40.6% CV, having gone one week without points and just three weeks under 3.00 FPP60. Tkachuk, meanwhile, finished just behind him with a CV of 41.2%, one week without points and, like DeBrinkat, just three weeks under 3.00 FPP60.

And now the NHL’s most consistent fantasy forwards over the past two seasons are on the same team.

We’ll have to wait and see if Sens decide to use them together in lane (which is no guarantee given how many solid combinations there are with the top six). But DeBrinkat and Tkachuk are sure to combine their talents in Sens’ power play.

Adam Larsson, D, Seattle Cracken: So here we need to take the analysis a little further than standard deviation and coefficient of variation. Larsson had the lowest CV of any NHL player last season at 35.0%. He was, without exception, the most consistent fantasy producer. But again, there is some relativity here that needs to be looked at more deeply.

Just because a player is consistent doesn’t mean they automatically meet the threshold required to be a fantastic asset. Larsson is on the bubble for the minor leagues. If you play in a league of 10 teams with small squads, then last season he just got into the fantasy players. Larsson finished 37th among all defensemen in the 2021-22 season with the Kraken. A year earlier with the Oilers, he performed better and finished 23rd. In the 2022-2023 season, Kraken will be the top team, but will that be enough for the most consistent player to become a fantasy regular?

Some of the others at the top of the consistency list need a similar assessment. Radko Gudas (D, Florida Panthers) finished 47th last season among fantasy defensemen and 51st in 2020/21 but has been very consistent. His CV of 38.7% ranks third overall. Cody Ceci (Q, Edmonton Oilers) sits between Larsson and Gudas with a CV of 38.0%, but has fallen far short of the top 50 defensemen for the past two seasons.

Auston Matthews, F, Toronto Maple Leafs: There’s a real argument that Matthews should be the top pick in the fantasy leagues head-to-head, even if you think Connor McDavid will edge him out in the overall fantasy points race. With a CV of 42.7%, Matthews was slightly more consistent than McDavid’s 44.2%. Sure, the difference is small, but it’s also small between two players as uncomplicated fantasy skaters #1 and #2. while McDavid remains the format choice for the entire season.

Other top consistent defenders: Josh Morrissey, quarterback, Winnipeg Jets (CV 40.1%); Alex Pietrangelo, defenseman, Vegas Golden Knights (CV 40.3%); Rasmus Andersson, guard, Calgary Flames (40.4% CV); Esa Lindell, guard, Dallas Stars (40.5% CV); Brent Burns, defenseman, Carolina Hurricanes (CV 40.7%).

Other top forwards for consistency: Jakub Voracek, forward, Columbus Blue Jackets (42.6% CV); Travis Konecny, F, Philadelphia Flyers (43.5% CV); Kyle Connor, F, Winnipeg Jets (44.4% CV); Ryan Strom, F, Anaheim Ducks (45.1% CV); Taylor Hall, F, Boston Bruins (45.6% CV); Alexander Barkov, F, Florida Panthers (45.6% CV); Thomas Hurtle, F, San Jose Sharks (46.0% CV); John Tavares, F, Toronto Maple Leafs (46.1% CV).

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Constantly inconsistent

Another pitfall in using this methodology to estimate player persistence is the inherent aberrations that can occur with small sample sizes. Trying to sort through 43 weeks of data from 1,000 players would take quite some time, but as I’m trying to find the player who will take the crown as the most inconsistent, I’m going to dig a little deeper.

Robert Thomas, F, St. Louis Blues: With a CV of 147.4%, Thomas initially seems incredibly inconsistent. But it is not. On February 6, 2021, Thomas scored a goal and three shots in a three-minute game against the Arizona Coyotes before he was injured and missed the next few weeks. But due to the way the weeks are separated, those three minutes were captured as part of the whole week of data, giving it a ridiculous 46.00 FPP60. If you choose this week, his CV percentage will be in the 80 percent range. Not great, but not the worst either. He does not take the fickle crown.

JT Comper, F, Colorado Avalanche: The next candidate is Compher with a CV of 111.4%. But it makes us wonder: is the player being used as a depth table to fill in injuries fickle, or is he doing exactly what he’s supposed to do? When Comfer was tasked with playing in the Avs’ top six for the past two seasons due to injury, he stepped up and produced. When he was buried in the third or fourth line, he didn’t. Should he be flagged as inconsistent when he was just doing his job? I do not think so.

Drake Baterson, F, Ottawa Senators: Once again, bad injury timing can be blamed on an inconsistent resume. Baterson has a CV of 86.4%, but like Thomas, he had a bad time. He missed a few games at the end of November last season, but not after finishing one game in Week 5 scoring with 8.8 fantasy points in just 18 minutes of play. This is largely responsible for the increase in his CV percentage. However, with teammates DeBrinket and Tkachuk consistently leading the league, perhaps we can expect more from Baterson this season. But he doesn’t deserve a fickle crown.

Jespery Kotkaniemi, Defensive Player, Carolina Hurricanes: We…