Quantifying Kicker Ability: Introducing Points Over Expectation

This is the first in what I hope to be the beginning of data-driven projects here on manwithaspreadsheet.com. In the data rich world of sports, it is incredibly difficult to quantify an individual’s performance independent of those around him in America’s most popular sport, football. This study has one primary goal: to quantify the value of kickers by comparing their points against the expected points of their peers.

What is expected points? Expected points is the likelihood of conversion times 3 (points for a field goal). About 2/3 of 50-yard field goals were converted over the time frame of this study (2008 to 2014 seasons). If a kicker were to convert a 50-yard field goal, they would have achieved 3*(1-2/3) POE, where as a failure would result in 3*(0-2/3) POE. Unlike measurements such as WAR, which compare to replacement level, a POE of 0 indicates a league-average kicker. POE is a better measurement than field goal percentage, because it takes into account the distance of the attempted kick. Adam Vinatieri was 30/31 in 2014, but his POE was a point less than Steven Gostkowski who was 35/37 in 2014, because he attempted more difficult field goals. A kicker should not be punished for missingĀ a 60-yard field goal as much as a 25-yarder.

All of the data below was gathered using play-by-play data on nflsavant.com. Blocks were considered the same as a miss for the purposes of this study. Since there are some limitations of data sample size (for instance 25-yard field goals were converted 5% higher than 24-yard field goals) I applied exponential regression to the equation.

Best kickers over course of study:

Player POE Kicks POE/Kick
D.BAILEY 29.9 127 0.235428
J.TUCKER 25.6 108 0.236668
S.JANIKOWSKI 23.6 225 0.104904
R.BIRONAS 21.9 185 0.11847
A.VINATIERI 19.9 200 0.099332

Worst kickers:

Player POE Kicks POE/Kick
N.FOLK -18.8 219 -0.08573
G.GANO -20.2 155 -0.13025
D.AKERS -26.3 253 -0.10407
M.CROSBY -29.1 241 -0.1206
B.CUNDIFF -29.2 169 -0.17298

Greatest value added per kick (min 30 kicks):

Player POE Kicks POE/Kick
J.TUCKER 25.6 108 0.236668
D.BAILEY 29.9 127 0.235428
J.BROWN 17.4 100 0.174388
C.CATANZARO 4.7 33 0.14335
R.BIRONAS 21.9 185 0.11847

Worst season: David Akers -18.2 POE in 2012.

Best season: Blair Walsh 13.3 POE in 2012.

There are no park-adjusted factors for domes or cold-weather stadiums. Also the calculated expectancy uses a sample from 2008 to 2014 even though kicking ability has steadily increased over those 7 seasons. This metric also fails to quantify the kicker’s ability on kickoffs, but perhaps that could come in a future study. Justin Tucker and Dan Bailey have emerged as the stars from this study, accounting for an average of 7-plus points per season since being drafted in the early 2010’s and being worth about 0.4 points per kick more than Billy Cundiff.

Questions/Comments @manwithaspreads

Final Bracket update: 5:45 3/15

Hello all. Getting the finalized bracket in. Last four out: Ole Miss, UCLA, Miami, Old Dominion. Play in games are below

Dayton
16 Hampton 11 Purdue
16 Manhattan 11 BYU
16 Robert Morris 11 Temple
16 Lafayette 11 LSU

Final bracket below:

Cleveland Syracuse
1 Kentucky Villanova 1
16 Hampton/Manhattan North Florida 16
Louisville Pittsburgh
8 St. John’s Oklahoma St. 8
9 Texas Ohio St 9
5 Northern Iowa Utah 5
12 Wyoming Wofford 12
Seattle Portland
4 West Virginia Louisville 4
13 Georgia St Eastern Washington 13
6 Georgetown Butler 6
11 Purdue/BYU Temple/LSU 11
Columbus Louisville
3 Notre Dame Iowa St 3
14 North Dakota St UC Irvine 14
7 San Diego St Oregon 7
10 Indiana Cincinnati 10
Omaha Charlotte
2 Kansas Duke 2
15 UAB Coastal Carolina 15
LA Houston
1 Wisconsin Virginia 1
16 Manhattan Robert Morris/Lafayette 16
Omaha Charlotte
8 NC State Iowa 8
9 Davidson Xavier 9
5 SMU Wichita St 5
12 Stephen F Austin Buffalo 12
Jacksonville Jacksonville
4 North Carolina Oklahoma 4
13 Valparaiso Harvard 13
6 Arkansas Providence 6
11 Boise St Georgia 11
Pittsburgh Columbus
3 Maryland Baylor 3
14 Northeastern Belmont 14
7 Mich St VCU 7
10 Dayton Colorado St 10
Portland Seattle
2 Arizona Gonzaga 2
15 Albany New Mexico St 15

2015 Bracket on Madness Eve

Hello all. Been quite busy lately, but better late than never I guess. Below is the updated bracket 16 hours before CBS airs the selection show. First four out, as we tweeted is: Ole Miss, UCLA, Miami and UConn. UConn can steal LSU’s bid tomorrow (unless we rethink something. Please follow our friends on bracketmatrix.com as well, an excellent resource. Below is the bracket:

Cleveland Syracuse
1 Kentucky Villanova 1
16 Hampton/Manhattan North Florida 16
Louisville Pittsburgh
8 St. John’s NC State 8
9 Texas Davidson 9
5 Northern Iowa Utah 5
12 Wyoming Wofford 12
Seattle Portland
4 West Virginia Louisville 4
13 Georgia St Eastern Washington 13
6 Georgetown Butler 6
11 Purdue/BYU Temple/LSU 11
Columbus Louisville
3 Notre Dame Iowa St 3
14 North Dakota St UC Irvine 14
7 San Diego St VCU 7
10 Indiana Colorado St 10
Omaha Seattle
2 Kansas Gonzaga 2
15 UAB New Mexico St 15
LA Houston
1 Arizona Virginia 1
16 Manhattan Robert Morris/Lafayette 16
Portland Charlotte
8 Iowa Oklahoma St. 8
9 Xavier Ohio St 9
5 SMU Wichita St 5
12 Stephen F Austin Buffalo 12
Jacksonville Jacksonville
4 North Carolina Oklahoma 4
13 Valparaiso Harvard 13
6 Arkansas Providence 6
11 Boise St Georgia 11
Pittsburgh Columbus
3 Maryland Baylor 3
14 Northeastern Belmont 14
7 Mich St Oregon 7
10 Dayton Cincinnati 10
Charlotte Omaha
2 Duke Wisconsin 2
15 Coastal Carolina Albany 15

Questions? Tweet @manwithaspreads

Rest of Season Rankings 10/21: Quarterbacks

We will continue the Rest of Season trade ranks as of 10/21 (injury news pending on a few players). These give a good gauge of tiers for trade evaluation purposes. Hope you enjoy.

Name Pos Tm Bye Tier Rk
Peyton Manning QB DEN 4 Tier 1 1
Aaron Rodgers QB GB 9 Tier 1 2
Drew Brees QB NO 6 Tier 1 3
Andrew Luck QB IND 10 Tier 1 4
Russell Wilson QB SEA 4 Tier 1 B 5
Philip Rivers QB SD 10 Tier 2 A 6
Matt Ryan QB ATL 9 Tier 2 A 7
Nick Foles QB PHI 7 Tier 2 8
Matthew Stafford QB DET 9 Tier 2 9
Colin Kaepernick QB SF 8 Tier 2 10
Jay Cutler QB CHI 9 Tier 3 11
Cam Newton QB CAR 12 Tier 3 12
Tony Romo QB DAL 11 Tier 3 13
Tom Brady QB NE 10 Tier 3 14
Carson Palmer QB ARI 4 Tier 4 15
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT 12 Tier 4 16
Andy Dalton QB CIN 4 Tier 4 17

Rest of Season Rankings 10/21: Running Backs

Name Pos Tm Bye Tier Rk
DeMarco Murray RB DAL 11 Tier 1 1
Matt Forte RB CHI 9 Tier 1 2
Marshawn Lynch RB SEA 4 Tier 1 3
Arian Foster RB HOU 10 Tier 1 4
Jamaal Charles RB KC 6 Tier 1 5
Giovani Bernard RB CIN 4 Tier 1 6
Andre Ellington RB ARI 4 Tier 1 7
Le’Veon Bell RB PIT 12 Tier 1 8
LeSean McCoy RB PHI 7 Tier 2 9
Lamar Miller RB MIA 5 Tier 2 10
Eddie Lacy RB GB 9 Tier 2 11
Ahmad Bradshaw RB IND 10 Tier 2 12
Ben Tate RB CLE 4 Tier 2 13
Alfred Morris RB WAS 10 Tier 2 14
Frank Gore RB SF 8 Tier 2 15
Rashad Jennings RB NYG 8 Tier 2 16
Brendan Oliver RB SD 10 Tier 2 17
Mark Ingram RB NO 6 Tier 2 18
Joique Bell RB DET 9 Tier 3 19
Justin Forsett RB BAL 11 Tier 3 20
Christopher Ivory RB NYJ 11 Tier 3 21
Doug Martin RB TB 7 Tier 3 22
Shane Vereen RB NE 10 Tier 3 23
Jerick McKinnon RB Min 10 Tier 3 24
Ronnie Hillman RB DEN 4 Tier 3 25
Tre Mason RB STL 4 Tier 3 26
Darren McFadden RB OAK 5 Tier 4 27
Trent Richardson RB IND 10 Tier 4 28
Reggie Bush RB DET 9 Tier 4 29
Denard Robinson RB JAC 11 Tier 4 30
Bryce Brown RB BUF 9 Tier 4 31
Bishop Sankey RB TEN 9 Tier 4 32
Anthony Dixon RB BUF 9 Tier 4 33
Montee Ball RB DEN 4 Tier 4 34
Jeremy Hill RB CIN 4 Tier 4 35
Ryan Mathews RB SD 10 Tier 4 36
Bobby Rainey RB TB 7 Tier 4 37
Darren Sproles RB PHI 7 Tier 4 38
Fred Jackson RB BUF 9 Tier 4 39
Steven Jackson RB ATL 9 Tier 5 40
Andre Williams RB NYG 8 Tier 5 41
Isaiah Crowell RB CLE 4 Tier 5 42
Kniles Davis RB KC 6 Tier 5 43
Carlos Hyde RB SF 8 Tier 5 44
Jonathan Stewart RB CAR 12 Tier 5 45
Khiry Robinson RB NO 6 Tier 5 46
Storm Johnson RB JAC 11 Tier 5 47
Benny Cunningham RB STL 4 Tier 5 48
James Starks RB GB 9 Tier 5 49
Chris Johnson RB NYJ 11 Tier 5 50

Rest of Season Ranks 10/21: Wide Receivers

Name Pos Tm Bye Tier Rk
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 4 Tier 1 1
Dez Bryant WR DAL 11 Tier 1 2
Antonio Brown WR PIT 12 Tier 1 3
Julio Jones WR ATL 9 Tier 1 4
Jordy Nelson WR GB 9 Tier 1 5
Calvin Johnson WR DET 9 Tier 1 6
A.J. Green WR CIN 4 Tier 1 7
Brandon Marshall WR CHI 9 Tier 1 8
Randall Cobb WR GB 9 Tier 1 9
Emmanuel Sanders WR DEN 4 Tier 2 10
Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 7 Tier 2 11
Alshon Jeffery WR CHI 9 Tier 2 12
Vincent Jackson WR TB 7 Tier 2 13
Kelvin Benjamin WR CAR 12 Tier 2 14
Mike Wallace WR MIA 5 Tier 2 15
Michael Floyd WR ARI 4 Tier 2 16
Pierre Garcon WR WAS 10 Tier 2 17
Julian Edelman WR NE 10 Tier 2 18
Andre Johnson WR HOU 10 Tier 2 19
Ty Hilton WR IND 10 Tier 2 20
Golden Tate WR DET 9 Tier 2 21
Steve Smith WR BAL 11 Tier 2 22
Roddy White WR ATL 9 Tier 2 23
Michael Crabtree WR SF 8 Tier 3 24
Keenan Allen WR SD 10 Tier 3 25
Rueben Randle WR NYG 8 Tier 3 26
DeSean Jackson WR WAS 10 Tier 3 27
Sammy Watkins WR BUF 9 Tier 3 28
Percy Harvin WR NYJ 4 Tier 3 29
Brandin Cooks WR NO 6 Tier 3 30
Eric Decker WR NYJ 11 Tier 3 31
Marques Colston WR NO 6 Tier 3 32
Brian Quick WR STL 4 Tier 3 33
DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU 10 Tier 3 34
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI 4 Tier 4 35
Reggie Wayne WR IND 10 Tier 4 36
Wes Welker WR DEN 4 Tier 4 37
Mohammad Sanu WR CIN 4 Tier 4 38
Terrance Williams WR DAL 11 Tier 4 39
Torrey Smith WR BAL 11 Tier 4 40
James Jones WR OAK 5 Tier 4 41
Odell Beckham Jr. WR NYG 8 Tier 4 42
Kendall Wright WR TEN 9 Tier 4 43
Doug Baldwin WR SEA 4 Tier 5 44
Cordarrelle Patterson WR MIN 10 Tier 5 45
Andre Holmes WR OAK 5 Tier 5 46
Mike Evans WR TB 7 Tier 5 47
Cecil Shorts WR JAC 11 Tier 5 48
Anquan Boldin WR SF 8 Tier 5 49
Davante Adams WR GB 9 Tier 5 50

Rest of Season Ranks: Tight Ends

Name Pos Tm Bye Tier Rk
Julius Thomas TE DEN 4 Tier 1 1
Greg Olsen TE CAR 12 Tier 1 2
Rob Gronkowski TE NE 10 Tier 1 3
Jimmy Graham TE NO 6 Tier 1 4
Martellus Bennett TE CHI 9 Tier 2 5
Delanie Walker TE TEN 9 Tier 2 6
Travis Kelce TE KC 6 Tier 2 7
Antonio Gates TE SD 10 Tier 2 8
Jordan Reed TE WAS 8 Tier 2 9
Jordan Cameron TE CLE 4 Tier 2 10
Dwayne Allen TE IND 10 Tier 3 11
Zach Ertz TE PHI 7 Tier 3 12
Vernon Davis TE SF 8 Tier 3 13
Owen Daniels TE BAL 11 Tier 3 14
Larry Donnell TE NYG 10 Tier 3 15
Jared Cook TE Stl 4 Tier 4 16
Jason Witten TE DAL 11 Tier 4 17
Charles Clay TE MIA 5 Tier 4 18
Heath Miller TE PIT 12 Tier 4 19