Roundup 9/26

The roundup is back. Here are some interesting links relevant to NFL analysis. I've been negligent in keeping up with this feature, so although there are some items that are a few months old, they're still good reads.

Nick Higgins asks if WRs really do tend to break out in their third year.

Chris Brown of Smart Football breaks down the "NFL Offense." He also looks at Aaron Rogers' take on the number of pass protectors. He also walks us through a primer on pass coverages and how to attack them. More on high-variance strategies for underdogs. Chris makes the case that it wasn't Steve Spurrier's offense that failed in the NFL, but the coach himself. Jason looks at the effect of age on sack leaders.

Via the Fifth Down Blog, James Robinson says the NFL should make preseason games more interesting by letting the backups start the game and the starters finish. Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders tells us what innovations to look for this season.

Game theory and bunting from MGL.

A friend of mine at work showed me this interesting Gladwell article on underdog strategies. Great example of a girls rec league basketball team that presses on every play.  Gladwell points out that it is often an outsider that innovates because he's not ingrained in the current conventional wisdom. In this case, it's an Indian-born soccer fan who couldn't understand why basketball teams immediately retreat and surrender 60% of the court after each score. Smart Football commented on the article here. The WSJ's Daily Fix comments here.

Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post on Zorn's 4th down decisions from Week 2.

Gregg Easterbrook on 4th down courage. has rolled out a number of new features this year. Lots of football trivia goodness. The best players by uniform number from Chase. Jason Lisk (the artist formerly known as JKL) poses his theory on why rushes may be much more punishing to a RB than receptions. Chase says Jason Witten may be on track for the HoF, and he puts Shaun Hill on our radar. Doug looked at how teams are constructed--how players are acquired.

Cold Hard Football Facts looks at QBs who can carry a team to victory.

The Count at looks at Vick's running ability. What's interesting here is a new book from Wayne Winston (and eponymous team ranker Jeff Sagarin) on mathematical analysis of sports. It seems they have re-discovered the Expected Points method of valuing a play. Their book is called Mathletics in case anyone is interested. Here is Winston's promotional blog.

Phil Birnbaum asks (and answers) why mainstream reporters tend to ignore sabermetrics despite the discipline's accomplishments. Phil on r vs. r-squared.

Back in July, Texans tackle Eric Winston writes about the differences between left and right tackle.

Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics looked at NBA free throw percentage.

Here's a new NFL stat blog with some potential. Visit and leave some comments when you have the time. Luis, the author, seems like he's on the right track.

Some really interesting stuff on the frequency of overtimes in NBA games. Ties in regulation are far more common than you'd normally expect.

Toni Monkovic at The Fifth Down pointed out how meaningless pre-season estimations of schedule strength are. Now is good time to reflect. Remember how the Patriots and Steelers would be unbeatable, and how Denver would be a mess? Some people picked the Redskins to win the NFC. The Jets would be lucky to win with a rookie QB. Since we can't predict how well teams can do any better than a monkey, we shouldn't expect to be able to predict strength of schedule any better.

Luck vs. skill in poker, from the WSJ's Numbers Guy.

And don't forget about the Advanced NFL Stats Community site. It's a place where anyone can publish his own analysis. I'm happy to post just about anything--stats research, opinion, even (or especially) items critical of my own analysis. If you're trying to start up your own site, cross-posting here might be a good way to get some clicks and some momentum. There's also raw data available to download. I haven't been publicizing 'Community' since the end of last season, but I'd like to keep it rolling this year.

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3 Responses to “Roundup 9/26”

  1. DSMok1 says:

    Good roundup, Brian. I wish there were a few more NFL "sabermetric" sites... There's so much more about baseball.

  2. Anonymous says:

    fantastic list... giving me reading for the whole day

  3. Anonymous says:

    More of these, please, I eat this up. Fantastic collection.

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