Published: 15 January 2016
January started with an all new feature, AFA University. It's a series of short, simple tutorial videos on the basics of football analytics in the style of Khan Academy. The first video was on the Expected Points concept
I looked at how the infamous non-pass interference call affected the Lions-Cowboys game
In January I added a follow-up AFAU video on Expected Points Added
The division round playoff games featured a couple of really interesting games. Here's my analysis on all four
, including 2 point conversion and weather considerations.
The Seattle comeback over Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game was one for the history books. Lots to analyze in that one
: a fake FG, 2-pt decisions, onside decisions, sliding after an interception, 4th downs, and the 4-minute offense.
The AFC Championship Game was a blow out, but it won't be remembered for anything other than Deflategate. Here is my early contribution on the question of how much atmospheric considerations could affect the footballs
based on the ideal gas law.
One of the notable benefits of less-inflated footballs is an improved grip and better ball security. Here is my analysis of New England's fumble stats in recent years
. Here is a follow-up that estimates how much NE might have benefited from improved fumble rates in terms of Win Probability
. Of all the hype and advocacy "research" surrounding this issue, knowing what we know now, I think these two posts stand up well to the scrutiny of time.
I had my research assistant put together a compendium of all of AFA's tools and features
. There are a lot, some I had even forgotten about!
February brought us one of the most memorable Super Bowls of all time. Two big things stand out in the analysis, SEA's final play call that led to the interception
and Belichick's decision not to use a timeout
. The weird thing is Belichick's mistake probably cost his team as much as Carroll's decision to pass, but because of the way things came out, one will live in infamy while the other is forgotten.
After the season, I added a new tutorial on Success Rate at AFA University
March began with a monetary valuation of what a good analytics program could be worth to a team
Free agency opened with a blockbuster signing. Here's how the Ndamukong Suh signing
and the Ngata trade
look through the lenses of EPA and WPA.This article might be one of my all-time favorites
. It stitches together mathematical proofs, advanced metrics, and previous findings to produce a lasting lesson in roster construction: spread free agent money as evenly as you can. And it provides a theoretical underpinning to what we can already observe without stats.
The Bayesian Draft Analysis Tool returned in April
in time to look ahead to the annual selection meeting. There were two major improvements to the model this year, team needs and player positions
, plus a special enhancement for the QB position
I waited in vain for years for someone to do a redo of the Massey-Thaler draft value research. I decided to do it myself, and found the same general results
. I think I added some improvements to the methodology along the way.
One of the most interesting aspects of how teams trade picks is how little the value the future. I had some fun at the Bills' expense with this post, offering a special Buffalo Bills Visa Card with 500% interest
And applying the lessons of the Massey-Thaler model and the time-value of picks, I created an all-new feature--the Draft Trade Evaluator
. There are others out there, but this is the only one that compares multiple models (including the traditional Johnson Chart) and can properly account for time-value.
Ever wondered what Indiana Jones had to do with football rosters? Neither did I, until April when I demonstrated the power of heavy-duty optimization algorithms by creating the best possible all-star team within the salary cap
. I think this approach points the way forward for analytics in roster construction. Here's how I handled backups in the model
I'd be remiss if I left out Dave Collins' podcast
episodes of 2015, featuring Neil Paine of 538, John Urschel of the Baltimore Ravens, myself, and a look behind the scenes at the Sloan Sports Analytics Hackathon.
Not bad for 4 short months. You might be wondering why I'm posting 2015's best of now rather than at the end of the year. That will become clear shortly. In the meantime here's a stroll through previous years' Best Of
's.Best of 2014
Best of 2013Best of 2012Best of 2011Best of 2010Best of 2009