Percy Harvin might be the popular fantasy story in Seattle these days, following his activation from the PUP list Monday, but all the news has done is take some of the attention off his more intriguing teammate.
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting your real fantasy story: Russell Wilson.
In one of the richest seasons in history for a quarterback, Wilson has quietly been one of the most productive in the game at the position: He's fifth in fantasy points (167), 10th in fantasy points per game (16.7) and fourth in terms of his Consistency Rating (60.0 percent, or 6 "Starts" in 10 games). And, despite a slow start to the year, he has improved quite a bit of late, with back-to-back 21-point performances, a 66.7 completion percentage, 8.87 yards-per-attempt average and 4.5:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (compare those to his 63.3, 7.93 and 2.4:1 numbers in his career to that point).
Wilson's critics might be quick to point out that the Seattle Seahawks' remaining schedule is a tough one: after their Week 12 bye, they host the New Orleans Saints, visit the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, then host the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams. But Harvin's return is Wilson's wild card; adding him to the stockpile of receivers gives Wilson a greater chance at success in spite of his challenging schedule.
Besides, the Wilson story is all about consistency, isn't it? Beyond simply his 2013 statistics, he has a 53.8 percent Consistency Rating in his NFL career, ranking fourth among quarterbacks since the beginning of 2010. If you're going to play the schedule card, then this should be the crux of your argument:
Career against the best 16 quarterback matchups: 8 G, 8 Starts, 1 Stud, Consistency Rating of 100.0 percent.
Career against the worst 16 quarterback matchups: 18 G, 6 Starts, 0 Stud, 7 Stiff, Consistency Rating of 33.3 percent.
Wilson's opponents in Weeks 13-17, thus far, rank 30th, 27th, 15th, 18th and 21st in terms of fantasy points per game afforded to quarterbacks. Without the angle of Harvin's return, Wilson's rest-of-year prospects might have looked gloomier; the only remotely "soft" matchup he has left comes this week, when his Seahawks host the Minnesota Vikings (second-most points allowed).
With Harvin at his disposal, Wilson should be able to take more chances downfield, alleviating some of the concerns about those matchups. After all, take a look at his career numbers facing the eight worst quarterback matchups (or the bottom 25 percent of the league) comparative to the other 24. The QBR is on all throws; the completion percentage and attempts per touchdown statistics are on throws of at least 10 yards:
Worst eight: 60.6 QBR, 51.5 completion percentage, 13.6 attempts per TD
Best 24: 70.0 QBR, 54.5 completion percentage, 9.6 throws per TD
This, therefore, is one instance in which it's worth ignoring what "strength of schedule" tells you. Perhaps Wilson will fall short of top-five quarterback numbers from this point forward -- having the bye week in front of him hurts his prospects besides -- but there's no doubt he'd be in any of my lineups for every remaining week of 2013.
CONSISTENCY RATINGS BENCHMARKS
Using 2013 statistics, and fantasy points determined by ESPN's standard scoring, the charts contained in this column rate players based on how consistently reliable they are. To familiarize you with some of the terminology:
Start: The number of times the player's point total in a given week was worthy of having had him active in an ESPN standard league.
Stud: The number of times the player's point total ranked among the top at his position.
Stiff: The number of times the player's point total ranked among the worst at his position, making almost any waiver-wire option a smarter choice.
These are the benchmarks for what constitutes a Start, Stud or Stiff performance, numbers identifying the player's rank at his position:
Sat: The number of times the player missed a game. Players are not charged Stiff points for sitting out, but it hurts their overall Consistency Rating.
%: The player's overall Consistency Rating, calculated as number of Start performances divided by scheduled team games.
What, then, of Shane Vereen?
Vereen's impending return from short-term IR might not have received quite the attention that Harvin's return has, but you'll probably hear much said about him and the impact on the New England Patriots' offense if he's activated in advance of a challenging matchup at the Carolina Panthers.
If Vereen plays in Week 11, it'd represent the first time all season that Tom Brady has had Vereen, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola as active receivers; and yes, you read that right: Vereen should get plenty of work as a receiver once healthy. This is with Brady coming off a season-best 33-point Week 9, which was the first all year in which he had Amendola and Gronkowski active and playing at least 40 snaps apiece.
These are Brady's consistency numbers in games Vereen has played or missed since the beginning of 2012:
Vereen played: 14 G, 10 Start, 3 Stud, 2 Stiff, 71.4 percent Consistency Rating
Vereen sat: 11 G, 2 Start, 1 Stud, 4 Stiff, 18.2 percent Consistency Rating
Interesting, considering Vereen has never been known for being great in pass protection during his NFL career, playing fewer than 25 snaps in all but one of his games to date. Those numbers might be perhaps skewed by injuries to Amendola and Gronkowski, but if you're a Brady owner concerned about his challenging schedule, chalk this one up to "one more healthy weapon back for Brady," meaning another quarterback not to fear down the stretch.
(Well, except perhaps for this week.)
Consistency Ratings chart
Players are initially ranked in order of their Consistency Rating, calculated as the percentage of the player's scheduled games -- not games played, scheduled games -- in which his fantasy point total registered a Start score. All categories are sortable both ascending and descending; just click on the headers to sort.
Players must have at least a 25.0 percent Consistency Rating in either standard scoring or PPR leagues for inclusion in the chart. All defense/special teams are included, regardless of whether they met those minimums.
These statistics are for 2013 only. Statistics for games since 2010 can be found here.