The Stats Room: Projecting Rookies Within Team Context
The Stats Room: Projecting Rookies Within Team Context

This article is part of our The Stats Room series.

Projecting football players is tough, and I'm going dive into one of the impossible areas, rookies. There is just not a lot of information to go off with them. It's not like baseball where they've played least a couple seasons in the minor leagues to get a profile. In the NFL, there is their varied college performance, some combine measurements and maybe a few quarters of televised practice. I'm here to provide a clear answer using historical rookie results and team context.

Previously, I just projected rookie running by going off an average production level. There didn't seem to be any measurable production differences between early and late picks.

One item that really bothered me about this analysis was team context. The rookie running backs who got the most work were likely on teams who needed their help. These teams were bad and the running back's production likely suffered from a bad supporting cast. I was looking for a way to add some overall team context and I may have found an answer in Las Vegas.

For years, fans have been able to bet the over/under on a team's wins. SportsOddsHistory.com collected all the preseason expectations from 2001 to 2017. While not a perfect proxy for team talent, it's a starting point. And I have 17 years of data to match up.

I decided to group the preseason odds into three groups:

1. More than nine wins
2. Seven to nine wins
3. Fewer than seven wins

The seven-to-nine

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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