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Delving Into a Numbers Game: Part II: Comparisons

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Last entry I posted about a rating system for all players in general. To recap here’s the system in a nutshell.

Turnover Opportunity – Own Side: -5 points
Turnover Opportunity – Opponent Side: -3 points
Loss of 2 or more: -2 points
40% of necessary yardage on 1st down*: 1 point
60% of necessary yardage on 2nd down*: 1 point
100% of necessary yardage on 3rd down*: 1 point
100% of necessary yardage on 4th down*: 1 point
Extra Yards on 1st/2nd down: .2 per yard
Extra Yards on 3rd/4th down: .5 per yard
11+ Yards: 1 point
21+ yards: 2 points
31+ yards: 3 points

So on and so forth Up to 91+ yard: 9 points

* Indicates that if that yardage isn’t met it’s a failure, which is a result of -1 points.

If you have further questions, see my last blog entry entitled “Delving Into a Numbers Game”.

In the last entry, I surmised that a 0.00 to 0.5 point score would be production of an average to slightly above average back. A 0.5 to 1 is an above average back, a 1 and above is a very good back. Conversely, -0.5 to 0.00 is a below average back and -0.5 to -1.0 score is a bad back. I set out to see if those numbers were correct, and in the end I think the points are more of an indicator of production value where wins and losses is more of the indicator of a back’s consistency.

I ran the numbers on five NFL running backs. Four from the 2010 season and one from the 2009 season. First, I looked at the three backs who carries the most times for the Washington Redskins: Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams and Clinton Portis. Next, I looked at Jamaal Charles’ 2010 season with Kansas City and Chris Johnson’s superhuman season with Tennessee in 2009.

Just a quick note… If there was a holding penalty on a rush attempt, I threw out the attempt. I feel like the penalty could throw off the numbers, so you’re going to notice that with these numbers, Johnson didn’t rush for two thousand in ’09. It’s not an error.

Let’s start off with the Redskin numbers. I’m not going to post a game by game breakdown in this article simply due to space, if you’d like me to break it down further into how they did in each game, feel free to ask.

We’ll start off with Ryan Torain.

Ryan Torain:
162 carries for 738 yards (4.55 YPC)
4 TD, 1 FUM
70 Wins, 94 Fails (.74:1 Win:Fail Ratio)
75.2 Total Points (.46 PPC)

Keiland Williams:
65 carries for 261 yards (4.0 YPC)
3 TD, 0 FUM
34 Wins, 31 Fails (1.09:1 Win:Fail Ratio)
33.5 Total Points (.51 PPC)

Clinton Portis:
54 carries for 227 yards (4.2 YPC)
2 TD, 0 FUM
28 Wins, 36 Fails (.77:1 Win:Fail Ratio)
30.2 Total Points (.55 PPC)

So what do these numbers tell us?

When it came to points per carry, Clinton Portis was the leader of the Redskins. Keiland Williams was next and Ryan Torain finished last amongst the group.

When it came to win to fail ratio, Keiland Williams was the best, Clinton Portis was next, and Ryan Torain finished last amongst the group.

Obviously, Torain’s sample size was a bit higher, and seeing how this is something I’m just beginning to look into, I’m not sure what effect that has on the results. But let’s keep in mind the points per carry stat.

Now, let’s take a look at the other two rushers I took a look at.

Jamaal Charles, KC (2010)
228 carries for 1456 yards (6.38 YPC)
5 TD, 2 FUM
129 Wins, 100 Fails (1.29:1 Win:Fail ratio)
246.1 Total Points (1.07 PPC)

Chris Johnson, TEN (2009)
352 carries for 1954 yards (5.5 YPC)
4 TD, 1 FUM
155 Wins, 194 Fails (.79:1 Win:Fail Ratio)
358.6 Total Points (1.01 PPC)

Chris Johnson, despite having a win to fail ratio similar to Ryan Torain, still managed to give over a 1.0 points per carry statistic. That shows his big play ability. But amazingly, looking at the numbers this way, Jamaal Charles 2010 season looks to be better than Chris Johnson’s 2009 season in every way except touchdown to fumble ratio. In the traditional stats, Charles has a better yard per carry, and more touchdowns (in less carries). In the “new” statistics, Charles has more points per carry and a MUCH better win to fail ratio.

Both of these backs proved to have good seasons.

The point of this posting was to give some back bone to the original article. If there are any players you’d like to see looked at, feel free to let me know. I’ll try my best to get to the requests.

Updated 01-18-11 at 01:24 PM by KDawg

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