Visualizing Fantasy Football Success with Analytics

With a hint of autumn in the air across the US and NFL training camps in full swing, Fantasy Football “owners” are scouring data looking for an edge in draft preparation.

Simply, effective Fantasy Football draft strategy demands laser-like focus on statistics produced by individual players. High value stats include touchdowns scored at all positions, receiving yards and receptions generated by tight ends and wide receivers, rushing yards and receptions for running backs, and passing/rushing yards for quarterbacks.

Determining the optimal players to select in a Fantasy Football draft involves a number of relative value comparisons that can be considerably strengthened through the use of data discovery and visualization tools.

Consider the case of Philadelphia Eagles Running Back Darren Sproles. For the past three NFL seasons, he accumulated above average reception totals as a weapon in the New Orleans Saints’ passing game.

Now playing a similar role in Philadelphia’s aggressive passing offense, his past receiving production serves as a strong indicator that he’ll continue to generate above average receiving stats in line with his trend (as illustrated in this video of a Spotfire tree map visualization):

The use of predictive analytics can help owners not only assess the statistical histories of individual players but also model productivity likelihoods and calculate a player’s risk level – the likelihood to incur an injury that could either land him on the injured reserve list or limit his statistical production.

Of course, a player’s baseline statistical history is descriptive in nature and will not always tell a complete story about an individual player’s potential.

One analysis conducted by NBC Sports reveals that the heaviest wide receivers in the NFL (those who weigh 217 pounds or more) are 35.9 percent more likely than the lightest receivers (below 196 pounds) to convert red zone targets into touchdowns.

In short, Fantasy Football owners have the opportunity to “flip the field” on fellow competitors by exploiting data-driven insights to improve decision-making in the draft selection process. Fantasy leagues are won and lost in August, with data.

Next Steps:

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