Absorptions Over Expectation

Another thing we can look using our updated Markov model is how teams were expected to perform based on where they took over on the field. In other words, based on starting field position, how many touchdowns was a team expected to score on the year? And further, how many touchdowns did they actually score.

Not surprisingly, New Orleans, Green Bay and New England were the top three offenses in terms of touchdowns scored above expectation. Drew Brees and the Saints scored just shy of 26 additional touchdowns above expectation at the start of their drives. That's a whopping 182 points. By comparison, the St. Louis Rams scored 193 points total in 2011.

Click here to see the full table of expected number of each drive-ending state based on starting field position over the course of 2011 for each team.

San Francisco was given the most advantageous starts, which should have resulted in about 31 field goals and 47 touchdowns on average. Akers kicked a record 44 field goals but SF scored a miserable 32 offensive TDs. Other notable expectations are the Broncos' expected 104 punts and Giants' expected 102 punts, the most and second-most in the league.

Now let's look at each team's absorptions over expectation (OE). They are color coded green (above expectation) to red (below expectation). All categories are such that positive numbers are better. So, TD OE is total touchdowns scored above expected touchdowns, while INT OE is how many fewer interceptions were thrown than expected. Note: turnover on downs, safeties, and missed field goals were removed from this table, but the full table can be seen here.

What pops out most is San Francisco's seven fewer fumbles and 12 fewer interceptions than expected. One of the biggest reasons for the Niners success in 2011 was their ability to limit turnovers. Turnovers are one of the most variable stats (especially fumbles) on a year-to-year basis, so don't expect as steep a difference between reality and expectation in 2012.

We can also do this type of analysis looking at specific situations -- downs, distances, spots on the field -- to get an understanding of how the team is performing tasks versus expectation in those situations.

Update: Check out Defensive Absorptions Over Expectation here. You can also download a sortable spreadsheet here (make sure you click the "Click here to start download from sendspace").

Keith Goldner is the creator of Drive-By Football, and Chief Analyst at numberFire.com - The leading fantasy sports analytics platform.  Follow him on twitter @drivebyfootball or check out numberFire on Facebook

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9 Responses to “Absorptions Over Expectation”

  1. nottom says:

    Its interesting to me that Punt OE seems well above expectation for most of the league (only 3 teams were below 0) , but none of the other stats seem to share such a significant bias. Where are all the missing punts?

  2. RZ0 says:

    Interesting stuff. I note only 3 teams had not pints than expected, which may suggest drift in your long-term average.
    Also, the Eagles were hurt a lot by turnovers.

  3. Keith Goldner says:

    Yeah, I noticed that discrepancy in the punts as well. Looked into it, and I think the issue is end of half/end of game drives. I didn't strip those out of the data so the expectations has more total drives than the actual absorptions (by 500-600). Since punt is the most frequent expectation at the start of a drive, if we removed those expected absorptions, we will get a lot more of a balance in PUNT OE.

  4. tgt says:

    Can we get the same table for defenses? Also, Field Goal Attempts seems more important thank Makes or Misses for this table.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What's up with SD's incredible punt numbers? Even looking at the bigger table, it's really the only one of their numbers that is significantly higher or lower than average.
    They were second in points in the AFC, but only tied for 5th overall, and were significantly behind each of the 4 teams above them (the big 3 and the Lions). The interception number is pretty bad, but it's just about cancelled out by the positive fumble stat and isn't nearly enough to explain the punting. Does anyone have an explanation, or did they just have a bunch of drives go right into the half and the end of the game, as suggested above?

  6. Keith Goldner says:

    tgt - I can look into a defensive table this weekend, same logic applies and I'm guessing you'll see the exact same thing for SF (huge turnover margins based on turnovers forced).

    Anon - SD was also 6th in TDs over expectation which will have a sizable impact. And this only tells half the story, as tgt said, there is defensive absorptions over expectation too.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Where is the chart that shows expected points and how many points above/below expectations these teams are? And will there be data for past seasons?

  8. James says:

    Anyway we can turn this into a sortable table?

  9. Keith Goldner says:

    James/tgt -

    You can get a spreadsheet to sort here: http://www.sendspace.com/file/a64mlk

    That table also has defensive absorptions over expectation (same issue with punts). You can see those tables here too:



    Anon -
    Brian has his EPA tables based on his expected points model on the site. I've had a few posts with season/historical values on drivebyfootball.com but you can get the model here:

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