Saturday, June 19, 2010

The not-so-triumphant return

Hey there. Been a while.

I won't get too heavily into what's been keeping me away from here. Don't worry, it's nothing drastic -- I'm not dying, I'm not in prison, I'm not getting married. I've just been busier at my job than ever before and I just didn't have the energy to try and keep up a blog when I went home in the evenings. I can't guarantee that I will now, but I'd like to still post occasionally, when the mood strikes me, which has been rare as of late. Just don't expect three to four posts per week, like I used to do.

In the meantime, if you're new here, or relatively new, you might have missed out on some of my crude attempts at analysis over the past few years. Now that fantasy football season is nearly upon us again (and I actually work for a company that produces fantasy sports magazines, though not in that department), all the tired old theories are being trotted out again as to why a player will have a better/worse season in 2010. So I thought I'd take a little time to refresh you on what I think on such matters, backed up by more than just selective memory and wishful thinking.

Here are my two most significant findings for you to keep in mind this fantasy football season:

1) The running game has virtually no effect (statistically, at least) on the passing game and vice versa. Don't believe it when someone says, "Running back X will have a great season now that quarterback Y is on his team!" This is often quoted when a RB does have a good year when a new QB arrives (or an old QB does well) and never mentioned when a RB has a bad year with a good QB (or a QB has a bad year with a good RB). For the statement to be true, it must apply in a majority, if not all cases. I got into it a little bit with someone on the PFR blog lately but decided to bow out since my research was a little crusty and spread out.

And here is that old, crusty research! Enjoy!

If you can only read one, read the second one. It contains most of the significant data.

2) A wide receiver's performance has nothing to do with other wide receivers on his team. Larry Fitzgerald will probably see his numbers drop this year, but it won't be because Anquan Boldin left. The absence of Kurt Warner will have a much bigger effect. A complimentary wide receiver (or good-hands tight end) has little to no effect on a player's stats. I covered that concept here:

When it comes to premises like these, I still think it's a case of people just trying to sound smarter than they are or, in the case of fantasy football, trying to make it seem like they're getting a great or emergent player as a great draft pick. Don't buy into it. Remember, Matt Forte was supposed to have an awesome year once the Bears landed Jay Cutler.

Oh yeah, speaking of Jay Cutler...

And here's one last fun little Cutler/Kyle Orton comparison:

Broncos' #1 QB passer ratings:
2008 (Cutler): 86.0
2009 (Orton): 86.8

Bears' #1 QB passer ratings:
2008 (Orton): 79.6
2009 (Cutler): 76.8

Still think that was a good deal, Bears fans?