Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky and the Importance of Sample Size

I tend to ignore the specifics of most NFL mock drafts, but I was happy to see Rotoworld’s Josh Norris recognize the importance of sample size while recently predicting that the analytical wizards with the Cleveland Browns will prefer Deshaun Watson to Mitchell Trubisky come draft day.

(We should mention that everything written below regarding Watson’s larger sample also applies to Patrick Mahomes, who had more pass attempts than Watson at a similar yards per attempt.)

To those who are familiar with statistics generally, the concept that the Browns would want a larger sample for their potential franchise quarterback isn’t tremendously difficult to grasp. But it was still a pleasant surprise to see someone in the larger draft community weave this thinking into his analysis, especially when some mock drafts still forecast the Browns to make terrible strategic decisions from an analytical perspective, including taking a running back in the middle of the first round. Continue reading “Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky and the Importance of Sample Size”

Foreman, Fournette and Mixon Lead the 2017 RB Success Model

We have roughly a month until the 2017 NFL draft, when we will learn where our favorite (or not so favorite) prospects will land this coming season. While draft position and landing spot are huge factors for forecasting the success of any running back prospect, I’ve found that we can accurately predict whether a running back will be successful largely based on his production profile and athletic measurables.

We know that collegiate production isn’t everything for wide receivers, it’s the only thing. For running backs, the situation is wholly different. Production matters, but size-adjusted speed is king for determining which running backs will be successful in the NFL.

You can define success many ways, but I’m choosing to use a top-12 fantasy point season (PPR) for running backs. The model’s dependent variable for early NFL success is whether or not a player had such a season within his first three years in the NFL. Continue reading “Foreman, Fournette and Mixon Lead the 2017 RB Success Model”