NFL Draft: The Phenom Index

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NFL Draft: The Phenom Index

Post by dead_poet » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:42 pm

I thought this was quite fascinating.
In the distant corners of your sports memory, does the name Danny Almonte ring a bell? He was the kid who struck out 16 en route to a perfect game in the 2001 Little League World Series. The trouble with Danny, however, was that his father forged his birth certificate to sneak him under the tournament’s age limit. Instead of being a 12-year-old phenom, he was a 14-year-old padding his stats against younger kids. Of course he was dominant! I share this story as a reminder that age does matter. It’s the reason there are birthday cutoffs for junior sports, but, for some reason, we seem to forget that fact when it comes to NFL prospects.

Consider that most people graduate from high school and enter college sometime around their 18th birthday. When accounting for a possible redshirt year, this means that the vast majority of college football players are between 18 and 23 years old, with the average starter being somewhere around 21 or 22. Based on this information, what type of player would you choose, a 23-year-old who dominated or a 19-year-old who dominated? The answer is clear -- the 19-year-old -- but there hasn’t been a good way to incorporate that directly into the stats, which is why I created the Phenom Index.

The Phenom Index is my way of adjusting production based on how old a prospect is when they produce it. It works for several fantasy football relevant positions, but for this article, we’ll be focusing on wide receivers. To calculate the index, we need two variables from a player’s final college season: age and production. For age, it’s just how old they are on December 31 of their final year. For production, we use Dominator Rating (DR), which was coined by Shawn Siegele. If you’re not familiar, DR summarizes the percentage of a passing offense for which a player is responsible. So, if a receiver caught 1,000 yards of a possible 2,000 his DR would be 50%. I use this instead of raw stats because it doesn’t care if a player comes from an option offense or a 5-wide scheme; it just looks at how dominant they were relative to their opportunities. The numbers look something like this: ... enom-index
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