Well, you'd be wrong.
For most fantasy football leagues, the goal each week of the season is to outscore your opponent; doing so garners you a win for that week and puts you one step closer to the playoffs. To give yourself the best chance each week, you want guys that not only score a lot of points, but consistently score a lot of points. You can win by 50 one week and lose by five the next, and you'll be 1-1 over that two-game stretch, even though you put up a +45 point differential for the two weeks.
Let's go back to Turner and Gore. While both put up virtually the same amount of points, Gore was by far the most effective of the two running backs. He gave his fantasy team a chance to win virtually every time out. Let's look at their game-by-game fantasy point production for the first ten games of 2008 side by side to see the difference. This is for a non-PPR league, one where Turner's lack of influence in the passing game is mitigated a bit.
Turner: 34, 4, 28, 5, 18, 5, 5, 13, 15, 20.
Gore: 20, 13, 22, 13, 13, 17, 6, 15, 9, 20.
Gore disappeared just once in that stretch, rushing for 11 yards and catching three balls for 50 yards to come away with six points in Game 7. Conversely, Turner laid a goose egg 40% of the time in that ten-game stretch, giving his owners next to nothing in Games 2, 4, 6, and 7. Even though both guys scored about the same number of points, Gore owners worldwide had a better chance at wins over those 11 weeks than did Turner owners. With that being said, Turner was consistently fantastic after that last five-point game, but his lack of work in the passing game makes it unlikely he'll repeat that feat in 2009.
While prepping for your draft, I suggest you target some of the Kings of Consistency. Trading a bit of upside for more stability is the easiest path to fantasy football success.
The following players are guys that should get a bump up for being great performers week in and week out. I picked these in particular as most of them have stability in their offense from 2008; it's a little hard to predict consistency from players in new places. If you can get a couple of the guys below on your team, you'll have a great foundation for a high-scoring team most weeks.
Drew Brees: He turned in a remarkable season and is getting drafted as one of the top two QBs in the league this year. Going back to Week 6 of 2007, Brees has only failed to score double digits in my league twice in a 28-game stretch, just once in each calendar year. With the Saints being a pass-first, pass-second, and pass-third kind of offense, it's a good bet that Brees won't put you behind the 8-ball more than once this season.
Kurt Warner: With Warner, you just have to hope for a healthy season, because when he's on the field he's giving your team great production 95% of the time. Since Week 10 of 2007, Warner has scored 13 points in all but one game, that being a blowout loss to New England in the snow that saw Warner benched for the second half with the game out of reach.
David Garrard: The Jaguars QB got out to a rough start in 2008, scoing a total of 19 points in his first three weeks. He then turned the jets on, scoring double digits in 11 of his final 13 games. The double-digit game is a staple of Garrard's fantasy profile, as he scored at least 14 points in 11 of 12 games in 2007, the lone exception being a game that he left early with injury. He's got an easy schedule for QBs this year, so I fully suggest taking advantage of his low price.
Shaun Hill: Hill took over as the 49ers' starter in Week 9 of 2008, and in the fantasy stretch run he provided double-digit performances in all nine games (eight starts) he was on the field. If Hill wins the starting job in San Francisco, he's the kind of no-risk, consistent-reward player you want on your bench ready to play. If you wait till the end of your draft to land a QB, Hill's consistency could make him a better bet to contribute than the previous handful of QBs that were drafted.
Matt Forte: When looking for consistent scorers at the RB position, you want to find backs that catch a lot of balls, even if you don't play in a PPR league. Last year, Forte had five games where he didn't rush for 75 yards or rush for a touchdown. In those five games, the rookie scored 8, 18, 10, 9, and 7 points. Even when good rushing defenses shut the Bears' ground attack down, Forte can still get you points with his hands out of the backfield. You can't say that about several elite backs.
LaDainian Tomlinson: Don't let him slip too far in drafts. Even with the emergence of Darren Sproles, Tomlinson was able to score in double digits in nine consecutive games to close out the season. Once he shook off the turf toe, he was old, reliable LT, with a few less huge 20+ point games. A return to health in 2009 should mean a return to weekly success for the San Diego Super Charger.
Kevin Smith: In an 0-16 season, Smith averaged 10 points per game and was only shut down twice (three carries, 14 yards against SF in Week 3 and 12 carries, 22 yards against TEN in Week 13). Considering Detroit was playing from behind most of the time, that's pretty impressive. Smith scored six-to-eight points five times and double digits nine times in the remaining 14 games. If the Detroit offense can take a step forward this year (likely), Smith could take off as a fantasy back.
Derrick Ward/Earnest Graham: The combination of Graham, Warrick Dunn and Carnell Williams got it done in 2008. Here's what the top fantasy scorer of that trio put up each week last season: 11, 18, 5, 17, 8, 12, 12, 6, 10, bye, 11, 18, 8, 8, 9, 3, 22. That's Marion Barber and Gore territory. Furthermore, Graham finished 2007 with 13+ points in seven of the eight games played in Weeks 7-15 before suffering an injury. With a shaky situation at QB, the running game will be leaned upon heavily in 2008, so the opportunity is there for more consistently-solid numbers.
Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald reached double digits in 12 games last year and scored 5-9 points in the four "disappointing" games. In 2007, after a two-point Week 1, eight-point Week 2, and six-point Week 3, Fitzgerald never failed to score over seven points the rest of the way. With the presence of Anquan Boldin and now Steve Breaston, it's virtually impossible for a defense to get a competitive advantage against Fitzgerald on the field.
Greg Jennings: While guys like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, and Brandon Marshall were non-existent at times in 2008, Jennings put up 7+ points in 14 of 16 games. In 2007, he scored 10+ points in 10 of 13 games. The Green Bay WR reached the end zone in 18 of those 29 games, meaning it was very hard to keep him off your fantasy scoreboard. For this reason, he's my favorite second-tier WR and No. 5 in our WR rankings.
Wes Welker: The No. 2 WR for the Patriots catches a lot of balls every game, and because of that, Welker is a good bet to give you solid production each week. In the first 16 weeks of 2008, he scored three points three times, six points once, seven points four times, and double digits in the other seven games. Now he gets the franchise QB back; if he can maintain the consistency of 2008, he'll be a huge asset in 2009.
Hines Ward: After a huge 2007 for the Pittsburgh passing offense, the Steelers' air attack regressed last year. In the last eight games of 2008, Ward was only shut down twice (two one-catch efforts against the Bengals and the Cowboys). He caught no less than five balls in each of the other six games in that stretch and didn't score less than seven points in any of those games. Usually drafted as a WR3, Ward has the benefit of not disappearing for stretches of your fantasy season.
Zach Miller: The Oakland tight end emerged as a threat in Week 4 of 2008, where he caught five balls for 95 yards and a TD. After that game, Miller scored at least four points in 10 of his next 11 games, despite not reaching the end zone once. It's nearly impossible to find a TE that will consistently put up good yardage totals, and this one comes at a highly-discounted price.
While you'll likely need some big fantasy performances at the end of the season to win the title, you have to get to the playoffs first. Using consistently-solid players makes that goal all the more easier.
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