Data Viz Special: Mid Season RB Recap - DFS Karma
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Data Viz Special: Mid Season RB Recap

Mid Season RB Recap

Welcome back to the Data Viz DFS NFL Preview utilizing data science & data visualizations – today we will recap the 1st half of the year and look forward to the 2nd half by looking at red zone touches, red zone rushing yards, & total TDs for RBs.

I think everyone should take a moment and go back and read my Mid Season WR Data Viz Recap & my Mid Season TE Data Viz Recap to get familiar with the key data science terms utilized in this article – not to mention I’m a phenomenal writer & you are missing out on quality entertainment if you don’t. But if you’re feeling lazy or your mouse click stopped working I’ll make it easy for you – here is a quick refresher.

Key Terms:

Scatter Plot: A graph where the values of two variables are plotted along two axes (x & y), the pattern of the resulting points reveal if any correlation is present. The purpose of a scatter plot is to show possible associations or relationships between two variables.

Correlation: The process of establishing a relationship or connection between two or more variables.

Positive Correlation: The values of one variable increase as the values of the other increase. Basically if you improve one variable – you will see improvement in the other.

R Squared Score / Correlation Score: The main purpose is to predict future outcomes on the basis of other related information. In general the higher the R-squared score, the more confident you can be when predicting future outcomes.

Okay blah blah blah – get to the good shit. Okay – lets jump right in.

For this weeks analysis we will be utilizing RB red zone statistics. After running a correlation analysis – I found red zone touches (targets+rush attempts) has a .73 correlation score, red zone rushing yards has a .54 correlation score, & total TDs has a .72 correlation score when compared to fantasy points per game. If you recall from last week or the past 2 articles – this means these statistics all have a strong relationship or connection to fantasy points per game & more importantly a strong positive correlation – as one increases the other has a very high probability of increasing as well.

Today’s first viz is 3 different scatter plots – each statistic on the x-axis is compared to fantasy points per game (y axis). The three statistics on the x-axis are: total red zone touches, red zone rushing yards, & total TDs. Each circle represents a different WR, the color is based on total fantasy points (blue is good & orange is bad), & all are positively correlated based on their high r squared score (>.5). 

Key Takeaways:

Total red zone touches (targets+rush attempts) has an outrageously high correlation score (.72). This is fantastic news for us – as we will be utilizing this statistic as a baseline statistic to predict future performance with relative confidence. The more likely the RB will touch the ball in the red zone – the better chances that RB will have a big fantasy week.

Total red zone touches has a higher correlation score than total TDs (.73 to .72). Obviously total TDs are important for producing fantasy numbers, but according to the statistics total red zone touches is a better indicator that total TDs (barely). This means we will use total red zone touches as well as total TDs to predict future performance & since both correlation scores are so high – we feel very confident in our process.

Red zone rushing yards has a correlation score of .54. This is a very good corrlation score (anything > .5). We will be trying to find the RBs who gain a lot of rushing yards in the red zone. This will most likely lead directly to fantasy points

Obligatory obvious take – we want a RB that has a lot of red zone touches, produces red zone yards, & scores TDs. 

These are not hard and fast rules – just interesting observations with statistics to back them up. The point of the statistical analysis is to point you in the correct direction when preparing for the week / season. At the end of the day, you must feel comfortable with the picks you make – even if that means sometimes going against the stats. My goal is to present a cogent argument utilizing statistics – but as we know human elements often play a huge role in fantasy performance. So use the stats to get you started then rely on that beautiful gut of yours for the final decision.

Continue reading for an in depth analysis.

This viz is a stacked bar graph ordered by red zone touches, the width of the bar represents red zone rushing yards, & the color of the bar represents total TDs (blue is good & orange is bad). All three statistics represented have a positive correlation when compared to fantasy points per game – continue reading for the key takeaways from the first half of the season & a look forward to the second half.

High Volume RB Red Zone Touches (Min 3 Games & 8 PPG)

Key Takeaways:

Ezekiel Elliott is far and away the most used red zone RB. Zeke leads the NFL with 39 red zone touches & 108 red zone rushing yards, third in red zone TDs (6) but is only 6th in fantasy pts per game. After seeing those stats it’s kind of a surprise that he ranks outside the top 5. All the statistics point to Zeke being a top 5 RB, so I am going to bet on Zeke for the 2nd half of the season. He will continue dominating in the red zone – expect Zeke to be a force in the second half.

Leonard Fournette is an anomaly among top RBs for a few different reasons. Anomaly #1: Leonard has the 2nd most red zone touches among RBs but has only scored 1 TD. Normally RBs with this many red zone touches will accidentally stumble into the end zone more than once, but not Leonard. Anomaly #2: Despite only scoring 1 TD – he still has the 7th highest fantasy pts per game. To put that in perspective the 9th ranked RB (Chris Carson) has 9 total TDs & the 21st ranked RB (Tevin Coleman) has 6 total TDs. Leonard has been über successful in fantasy this year even with his aversion to the end zone. I do not expect this trend to continue for the 2nd half – bet big on Leonard. Injury withstanding Leonard will be break the seal on the end zone time and time again – finishing inside the top 5 RBs at the end of the season.

Sony Michel is the guy for the Pats. Michel is a force in the red zone – ranking 3rd in the NFL in red zone touches & scoring 6 red zone TDs. Its obvious Belichick trusts Michel to be the guy in the red zone & I don’t see that changing any time soon. Count on Michel to at least keep up this production (currently ranked 17th) – but I have a sneaky feeling he will climb up the rankings the rest of the season.

Dalvin Cook & Christian McCaffrey will continue doing what they do. Nothing really else to say besides these 2 studs will continue being studs for the 2nd half of the season.

I don’t know what to make of Aaron Jones. Jones has the 3rd most fantasy pts per game, leads RBs in TDs, & plays on one of the most explosive offenses in the league. But for some reason I don’t fully trust him. Sure there will be weeks where he will have unbelievable games (s/o week 5 & 8) but there will also be weeks where he doesn’t show up at all (s/o week 1 & 6). He has been much more consistent over the past 2 weeks so that may be a sign of things to come. The stats back him up, but for some reason I don’t love Jones for the second half of the season. This take may come back to bite me in the ass but we shall see.

Im nervous for Nick Chubb’s second half of the season. Chubb has been stellar this season but as we know Kareem Hunt is due back soon. Hopefully this doesn’t hurt Chubb too bad, but I think it will. He is currently the 5th ranked RB, there is no way that is going to keep that uo with a crowded backfield. I expect Chubb to slip in the second half of the season & fall outside the top 10.

Mark Ingram is steady. Mark Ingram is currently ranked 10th in total fantasy points & 14th in red zone touches. I believe Mark Ingram will continue this pace & end right around the 10th ranked RB. Ingram has proven week in and week out he can make the most of his touches. With Jackson’s ever looming threat to take off – it gives Ingram space that other RBs do not get.

Latavius Murray is the better Saints RB. Per the numbers – Murray is superior to Kamara in overall RB rank (19 to 20), red zone touches (22 to 14), total TDs (5 to 2), red zone TDs (3 to 1) & red zone rushing yards (65 to 22). Until Kamara is fully healthy & producing – Murray is the Saints RB with the best value, easily.

For the mid & low volume RBs – keep scrolling scrolling scrolling scrolling uhhhh (said with a backwards red NY hat). I decided to add a one sentence takeaway for the mid RBs – see if you can decide why i came to that conclusion. For the low RBs – just the viz.

Mid Volume RB Red Zone Touches (Min 3 Games & 8 PPG)


Key Takeaways:

LeSean McCoy should be better than he currently is (31st ranked RB).

I expected Austin Ekeler to have more red zone touches.

Royce Freeman & Phillip Lindsay are a true split backfield.

Derrick Henry is successful despite his poor red zone performance.

David Johnson is probably screwed going forward.

James Conner needs to be involved more in the red zone.

Kamara stinks – even when he was healthy.

Low Volume RB Red Zone Touches (Min 3 Games & 8 PPG)

Ask me any questions about Data, Visuals, DFS, etc. on Twitter (@StephenDataViz) or Instagram (@StephenDataViz)

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