Applying analytics to draft day strategies

By: Steve Catalano - @Steve2PointOh - July 16th, 2018

 

I wanted to come up with a system that could quantify projecting a player’s chances of having a good statistical season for their respective team to help me make decisions between certain players during drafts. I ended up combining five different factors to come up with an overall final score for each team/player at their respective positions: 2018 Projected Strength of Schedule, 2017 Total Team Offense, 2017 Total Team Points, 2017 Rushing/Receiving Yards per Game, and 2018 Projected Offensive Line Strength.

 

The SCORE System

  • Strength of Schedule

  • Total Team Offense

  • Total Team Points

  • Rushing/Receiving Yards Per Game

  • Offensive Line Strength

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Let me first explain my thought process as to why I chose to factor in these specific statistical categories into the scoring system. Strength of schedule factors in how well the respective position matches up against each team on their upcoming season schedule. How well does the opposing team defend the run, the passing game, etc.? I believe this to be a good base to help you choose a certain player over another, but just because Todd Gurley has the hardest schedule for runningbacks in the league, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not drafting him as a top two fantasy player overall.Total Team Offense and Points Scored are good stats to indicate how good of an offense the player plays in, and how much they send the ball down field, and ultimately into the end zone. I love drafting players on good offenses who produce points year in and year out, like the Chargers, Patriots, Saints, Chiefs, Falcons, etc. Yards per Game is a pretty easy one to show how much that team likes to either pass or run the ball. Unless there was a coaching change, you shouldn’t expect a coordinator to change his style of play calling from one season to the next. Lastly, Projected Offensive Line is my favorite factor on the list. A football team lives and dies by their offensive line, and so do the fantasy football points associate with that team. You can’t move the ball downfield far or often if you don’t have the blockers to give you protection to piece together drives and execute the plays effectively. We’ve seen plenty of offenses fail year after year because of the lack of talent at the offensive line position. Dallas runs the ball with ease with that shining offensive line led by Zach Martin, and they also make it easier on mobile Dak Prescott to be successful at such a young age in the league. You can expect the players on the teams with a good offensive line to have an advantage over the ones who don’t.

Now of course there are some anomalies in this overall final score for certain situations such as injuries on the team, suspension, etc., which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it as a reference, but you should make note that these things can impact the final score each team/player receives. For example, Aaron Rodgers missed more than half the season for Green Bay in 2017, which is a large factor why they finished in the bottom third of the league in both Total Team Offense and Points, yet they are projected to be a playoff team in 2018. Another example would be the Giants finishing almost last place in most of the factored categories largely related to a lack of run game/offensive line, as well as Odell Beckham’s absence.

Using this system could help you make the decision of either drafting Saquon Barkley, who received the second worst score on this list, or Alvin Kamara who received the third highest score. Here are the results applying these five factors to the runningback and wide receiver positions.

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 Strength of Schedule Source: The Fantasy Footballers

Strength of Schedule Source: The Fantasy Footballers