I do an incredible amount of unpaid work. The most intense is the 50 hour work week late June and late August when I stat out projections for every team, position group, and player. I even stat out backup quarterbacks and tight ends.
Why do I put myself through this every year, spending 100 hours on it? Winning my hometown fantasy leagues and making like $800 isn’t really worth it. So why spend so much time on it?
First off, because I love it. I love digging into the last 3-4 years worth of stats for every player and team. I love knowing coaching tendencies and how it affects team and player output. I love learning which teams are projected to play the fastest and run the most plays, so I can use that info to attack those games in DFS and player prop betting.
I’m a pretty good sports bettor 2 years in, but the other sports don’t come close to that of my football results. That’s because of my projections.
I want everyone to be able to see these stats so I’ll be creating a downloadable to send straight to your emails once I have my finalized versions late August. If you want the June version that I’m finishing today, just send me a DM on Twitter @hydeandzeke.
Stats that Matter: What Stats to Consider for NFL Player Projections
What stats do I put into these projections? How far back do I go? What part of it is intuition and my overall thinking compared to just an average of the last few seasons?
Love these questions. Let’s try to address them in order.
Which stats matter the most and give me the best insight for fantasy, DFS, and sports betting?
Here’s a sneak peek into my process. The first thing I do is find the hard data. No projections, just objectively what has happened over the last 3 seasons. The first 2 stats I find are
- The amount of plays a team has run per game
- What their Run/Pass split percentage is.
This info is huge when statting out everything else. If I project Kyler Murray to take all the QB snaps for the Cardinals, and Kingsbury and Murray have averaged 65 plays per game with a 60/40 pass run split, what insights does that provide?
If I’m statting out Murray for a 16 game season (I always stat out assuming all healthy players miss 1 game. Last year for a 16 game season I projected over 15 games. This year it’ll be 16 unless a player has a ton of health concerns where I might project over 11 or 12 games.) assuming 65 plays per game for 16 games (65 times 16 equals 1,040) and 60% pass plays (1,040 times 0.6 equals 624) I can project Kyler Murray to attempt 624 pass attempts on the season. This number comes in HUGE later when projecting pass catcher stats and Murray’s own stats.
I also use this same info to project out team carries for the season. Same formula of 1,040 plays times 0.4 equals 416 team carries. Many will go to Murray and then I will split the rest between their running backs later based on many stats.
So already from these 2 stats I know how many plays a team projects to run (based on last 3 seasons + any new insights, coaching or personnel changes) and how many pass attempts and rush attempts they’ll have as a team.
Okay then, I get how we find those numbers, but how can we break up those pass attempts and project them to go to the right players with a high degree of accuracy? I’m glad you asked.
The third stat I look at is Target Share for the last 3 years.
Now that I know Kyler Murray is going to have roughly 624 pass attempts, how many of those are going to each position?
This fills out the next 50% of what we’ll need to do all our statting and projections. I then look at QB and coaching tendencies based on how often a QB or coach targets their WR1, 2 and 3, as well as teams that have an alpha WR1 and how many targets they garner.
I was a bit off last year in Hopkins first year in ARI ( I only projected him 145 targets) but the way I then projected all of Hopkins stats were based on his yards per reception combined with Kyler’s yards per attempt and Hopkins’ catch rate. Out of 145 targets, and giving Hopkins a 65% catch rate,12.1 yards per reception that stats out to 94 catches for 1,137 yards.
I then do the same thing for WR2, WR3 TE1 RB1 RB2 etc. until all of Kyler’s 418 completions (624 attempts times .67 for 67% completion percentage) are accounted for.
After that, it’s time to look at QB TD% over the last 3 seasons and try to determine where they’ll be this season. There’s some flukes some seasons (Mahomes as a rookie, Lamar in 2019) and we have to determine how much they’ll creep back toward the average.
Here’s where some personal intuition comes into play. If Kyler throws a 5% TD rate on 624 attempts, that’s about 31 touchdown passes. How do I divvy these up? I dig into the receivers and tight ends end zone target percentage and extrapolate from there.
I do the same thing for INT%.
That’s the passing game. You have attempts, completions, passing yards, passing TDs, interceptions, targets, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns.
Now we gotta get to the run game.
How to Create Your Own Rushing Projections
Run game is a bit easier and more coaching staff influenced. We already determined the amount of plays a team is going to run and how many of those plays are going to be a pass and how many of those plays are going to be a run.
Now we gotta divvy that up accordingly. Maybe I’ll give Deebo Samuel and Mecole Hardman a couple carries but for the most part let’s focus on the QB, RB1s, 2s, and 3s. Many teams I won’t even project out for the RB3 as a specific person, I’ll just give RB1s and 2s a smaller piece of the pie.
Just follow the steps we did for receiving and that’s how we do rushing.
Using the Data to Win Bets and Your Fantasy League
Your mindset will completely change on NFL prop bets and DFS and fantasy football if you go through this exercise.
I don’t suggest it because it sucks, but you now have the blueprint on how to do it. If you’d rather have me do it for you, click here.
Here is a sneak peak of my 2021 NFL Player Projections:
With this data you will win more prop bets, you will be a better DFS player, and you will have the best fantasy draft in your league. This is my secret to betting football and I want you all to join in on the fun.
For more sports betting strategy and different ways to win your fantasy league, check out our blog.