Using STATS X-Info NFL Data

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The start of the 2015 NFL season is only a month away, and, like all football fans, we at STATS can’t wait for the games to begin. Among other things, it gives us an opportunity to showcase the remarkable depth of our company’s NFL data. A big part of our NFL client support package comes from STATS’ proprietary X-Info data—specialty stats such as sacks allowed, yards after contact, burned defenders and numerous other categories that are the product of long hours of videotape analysis by STATS personnel. This in-depth data is used throughout pro football by NFL GMs, scouts and coaches. Just as importantly, X-Info helps us provide compelling and unique content to our broadcast and digital media clients.

As a way of demonstrating how X-Info data is used in action, we thought it would be fun to show you a few statistical nuggets from the 2014 NFL season — all of them culled from the game notes we produce each week for our NFL broadcast clients. We’ll begin with a note highlighting the defensive dominance of the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt:

 J.J. Watt of the Texans ranked in the top two of nearly every major defensive line category in 2014, and in some cases led by quite a distance over the next closest player.

Watt, 2014 – w/NFL Ranks

Sacks20.52nd(J. Houston, KC – 22)
Knockdowns601st(next closest: J.Houston, 29.5)
Hurries31.51st(next closest: J.Galette, 28.5)
QB Hits511st(next closest: C.Dunlap, 28)
Tackles for Loss291st(next closest: J.Houston, 23)
Batted Passes101st(next closest: A.Ogletree, 7)

That looks like a pretty special player, wouldn’t you say? Sticking with defense, here’s a note about another defensive stalwart, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks:

Over the last 20 seasons, no defender has allowed a lower passer rating when targeted than Richard Sherman of the Seahawks (minimum 300 times targeted).

Lowest Passer Rating Allowed When Targeted Defender – Since 1995 (Reg & Post)

(Minimum 300 Times Targeted)

Richard Sherman40.9
Deion Sanders42.3
Tyrone Braxton47.9
Patrick Surtain52.3
Nick Collins53.3
John Lynch53.8

When a broadcaster can present data that puts a defensive player in the category of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, that’s pretty compelling stuff.

Shifting over to the offensive side of the ball, X-Info can also help demonstrate why Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch is known as “The Beast”.

No NFL running back averaged more yards per contact last season than the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch.

Most Yards After Contact per Rush – 2014

(minimum 100 rushes)

Marshawn Lynch, Sea2.75(771/280)
Eddie Lacy, GB2.63(647/246)
Chris Johnson, NYJ2.53(392/155)
Steven Jackson, ATL2.46(468/190)
C.J. Anderson, Den2.43(435/179)

X-Info can also show why some statistics can be deceiving — for instance, the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III’s increase in completion percentage last year compared to 2013.

One likely reason for Robert Griffin’s increase in completion percentage last season (from 60.1 in 2013 to 68.7 in 2014) was that he was throwing a lot more short passes. In 2013, just 17.3 percent of Griffin’s passes were thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage. But last season, his percentage of such passes nearly doubled to an NFL-high 30.8 percent.

Highest Pct of Passes Thrown At or Behind the Line of Scrimmage – 2014

(Minimum 150 Attempts)

Robert Griffin III, Was30.8(66/214)
Russell Wilson, Sea30.8(139/452)
Alex Smith, KC28.7(133/464)
Kyle Orton, Buf28.0(125/447)
Nick Foles, Phi27.3(85/311)

And X-Info can shed some light on why particular teams struggled on defense in 2014.

No NFL defense missed more tackles last season than the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Most Missed Tackles by Team, 2014

(Plays from Scrimmage Only)

Jacksonville Jaguars118
New Orleans Saints97
St. Louis Rams97
Oakland Raiders93
Arizona Cardinals89

That’s just a few examples of STATS X-Info in action, and we’ve really only showed you the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous other areas in which STATS X-Info can provide compelling and illuminating information to NFL teams, broadcasters and fans. X-Info is just one more reason why STATS continues to be the worldwide leader in sports data, technology and information.

By: Don Zminda, STATS Vice President/Director of Research

What NFL ADPs are Telling Us

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Can you imagine taking a cross-country road trip without a map? You could certainly do it and eventually find your destination, but there’s a good chance that you’d take a few wrong turns along the way and spend more time on the road than you expected.

With that in mind, shouldn’t you also ask for a road map before heading into your all-important fantasy football drafts? Of course you should—and those road maps are out there and can be very useful for making every single pick a good one.

The road maps in our industry are called Average Draft Position lists, better known as ADPs. The National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) has the best ADPs in the industry because these ADPs represent a composite of every single pay draft from March through September. These ADPs are updated every day after drafts are completed and can be sorted by last 21 days, last 14 days and even last 7 days. These ADPs will show the latest drafting trends from people who pay anywhere from $125 to $20,000 per league and can also show different formats such as 10-team leagues, 12-team leagues and 14-team leagues.

The best thing about NFCC ADPs is that they show you where players have been going in recent drafts—it represents the composite road map of hundreds of pay drafts. But just because you have this road map doesn’t mean that you have to go directly off the ADPs and draft how everyone else drafts. Instead, look for players who you think are rising, and make sure you jump on them before they are gone. Likewise, if you see players you like who are slipping in drafts, then make sure you jump in early and grab them before someone else does. ADPs are a great resource for planning your draft before your draft date arrives.

What have we learned about fantasy drafts from our ADPs so far? Here are the nuggets:

  • No Consensus on No. 1: This is easily THE WILDEST fantasy football season ever, starting with the first round. There is no consensus top player this year; in fact, during our first 40 Rotowire Online Championship Leagues, where the grand prize is $100,000, EIGHT different players were picked first overall, including Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Jamaal Charles.
  • PPR Leagues: Wide receivers are also dominating drafts, with 24 of the first 48 picks being wideouts and 48 of the first 100 picks being WRs. The game has changed recently, and WRs are dominating in point per reception fantasy leagues like the NFFC. To win in fantasy football these days, you need a couple of top wide receivers who can score 18–20 points per game, and to do that you need to draft them early. Seven wide receivers are going in the first round, with Jordy Nelson and Calvin Johnson joining Brown, Beckham, Jones, Bryant and Thomas.
  • Be Patient with QBs: Even in the NFFC, where touchdown passes are worth 6 points, people are waiting on QBs. Andrew Luck (21) and Aaron Rodgers (23) have the highest ADPs, but after that there’s a three-round wait as Peyton Manning goes 53rd and Drew Brees goes 59th. Seven different QBs will go between picks 70 and 98: Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Cam Newton. Last year only one point per game separated the 5th through 14th QBs, which is further proof why you can wait on QBs and still get a productive one.
  • Top Rushers: Elite running backs are hard to find and should be high on your list. Only four RBs averaged 20 fantasy points per game last year, led by Le’Veon Bell at 22.1 PPG. The top four RBs going this year (and the only RBs going in the first round) are Bell, Peterson, Charles and Lacy. Backs on the rise include C.J. Anderson (ADP of 16), Justin Forsett (28), rookie Melvin Gordon (35) and rookie Todd Gurley (58).
  • Wait on Kickers and Defenses: Stephen Gostkowski is the top kicker at pick number 176, but 11 different kickers go from 195–225. You can afford to wait on kickers, as the point differential between the second kicker last year and the 12th kicker was just one point per game. As for defenses, Seattle goes first at pick 138, with Houston, St. Louis, Buffalo and the Jets going between picks 152–168. But, after that, you can wait on defenses as the difference is no more than 1 point per game.

Follow the NFFC’s ADPs and we believe they will lead you to your final destination— the championship of your fantasy league.

For more information on the NFFC, go to nffc.stats.com.

By: Greg Ambrosius

Using In-Depth Data to Enhance Video Games

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The line between reality and simulation is blurred each time a video gamer powers up their PlayStation or Xbox console. The new technology in each system improves over time, but with sports video games, there’s one constant: statistics.

Whether it’s keeping track of the game within the game or using numbers to delineate the best players from the rest of the pack, statistics help bridge the divide and make it easier for gamers to pick their favorites.

That’s where STATS comes in: providing video game developers with the statistical content to help form player ratings. Sure, your typical numbers like touchdowns or scoring average are integral in the creation of player ratings, but the information that comes from STATS products like X-Info and SportVU technology pave the way for developers to form all different kinds of player rating categories and even reshape the formulas for their existing player ratings.

The player tracking system from SportVU, utilized in every NBA arena, has opened up the door for many new statistical opportunities. For 2K Sports’ best-selling “NBA 2K” franchise, the statistical data from STATS combined with the numbers from SportVU technology can boost rating performance like never before.

Patty Mills may be a role player on the San Antonio Spurs, but he has led the league each of the last two seasons in average speed at 4.8 mph. Because of SportVU, the quickness of Mills on the court can be quantified with data, allowing for an increase in his speed rating.

Enes Kanter finished outside the top 15 in rebounds per game last season, but SportVU technology found that he was a top-10 player in contested rebounds—the amount of rebounds when there is an opposing player within 3.5 feet. While Kanter averaged 4.6 contested rebounds per game for the entire season, it was his 26-game stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder that saw him grab 5.9 contested rebounds per game that placed him behind the top two rebounders in the NBA, Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan. That information can help raise Kanter’s rebounding rating to among some of the NBA’s best.

With the integration of online gaming over the last several years, adjustments in player ratings occur during the season with regular roster updates. Those roster updates take into consideration both the player’s in-season statistics and the input of keen-eyed game developers. Impatient gamers don’t have to wait so long to see the improvements or declines reflected in the ratings of certain players.

As the technology in video gaming improves, the advancements in statistics move right along with it. STATS will be right there too to help provide the crucial data needed to make those games look as realistic as possible. Who knows what the future has in store?

By: Qumar Zaman