Thursday, May 6, 2010

Advanced Statistics and Conferences

Thanks to fnatasy sports and the increasingly competitive nature of the major sports, a whole arena of advanced statistical analysis has arisen. As a result there are even conferences with plenary speakers and academic research presented. About a month or so ago, one such conference was held. Here are some links to some of the items. The ESPN one will actually be an interesting video of a number of executives from the NFL and NBA and it is quite an enjoyable viewing. Enjoy:

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Panel Discussion Video (ESPN)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2010 NFL Draft Grades

Post-NFL Draft grading/evaluation is kind of a funny thing to do when you think about it. Maybe half of the drafted prospects gain a career? It's like flipping a coin almost. I know there is the human element involved. It's like playing the ponies rather than playing the lottery. So the chances are better than no human evaluation. But it's the future, and you just don't know which players are going to perform or be complete flops until around 6 years pass and we see which players for which teams do what.

There are two different kinds of draft grades. Draft grades immediately following the NFL Draft (by the way, here is 2010's results) are measuring how teams did acquiring talent relative to where the players were expected to go in the draft. Of course, that runs into unreliable narrator issues, since draft aficionados are the only ones setting the market value publicly and they are the same ones deciding value relative to draft position and they don't all agree. However, NFL Draft grades years from now measure how effective the teams were at acquiring talent, with the hindsight of those players's NFL performance. They're two totally different ways of looking at the draft. Obviously, one seems more legit and objective than the other.

Nonetheless, here are some of the more prominent 2010 NFL Draft grades available on the internet:

Mel Kiper, ESPN (Insider required)
Scouts Inc./ESPN Stats and Information (Insider Required) Fan Balloting
Daniel Wolf, Bleacher Report
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Rob Rang, CBS Sports/
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
Chris Burke, AOL Fanhouse
John Czarnecki, FOX Sports
Clifton Brown, Sporting News
John McClain, Houston Chronicle (AFC) (NFC)
Jarrett Bell, USA Today
Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly (AFC) (NFC)
Gregg Rosenthal & Evan Silva, NBC Sports
Wes Bunting, National Football Post

While most of these articles used a standard A/B/C/D grading system, Scouts Inc. used a different scoring model. Utilizing ESPN's Stats and Information, they built a formula (explained here, ESPN Insider required) calculating NFL team's needs, draft pick value (based on Scouts Inc.’s player ranking), and trade value (a subjective point total ranging from +5 to -5) to rank each NFL team. The lower the score, the better the draft.

While Football Outsiders evaluates NFL Drafts 6 years later (2004 [1998], 2005 [1999], 2006 [2000], 2007 [2001], 2008 [2002], 2009 [2003], 2010 [2004]), they took the Wisdom of the Crowds/Conventional Wisdom approach to peer into how this year's NFL Draft is perceived by the draftniks, which is an objective measure. Most NFL Draft grades are assigned to how well individual teams did overall in the draft. Each individual pick is not necessarily analyzed. Most important picks/trades/strategies are understood in the context of an NFL team's work on the Draft. Here is Football Outsiders objective measure of how the draftniks perceived NFL teams performed in this year's and prior years NFL Drafts:

2010 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2009 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2008 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2007 NFL Draft Report Card Report
2005 NFL Draft Report Card Report

5/13/10 UPDATE:
Do Instant Draft Grades Mean Anything? Not Really
In NFL Draft, Numbers Do Matter