We all know Andy Lee is the man. He can punt as well as just about anybody in the league and the stats prove it. Some folks have been pushing Ben Graham of Arizona as a better punter. Raider great Shane Lechler certainly gets his share of love. Well, according to Football Outsiders, Andy Lee was the best punter in the NFL in 2009. They determine this by:
[A]nalyzing what the net value of every punt would be if the other team had a league-average return on that punt. A "league-average" return is based on the length of the punt and the yard line where it is caught. We don't have measures of hang time, and of course the net value of an unreturnable punt doesn't need to be adjusted for a "league-average" return. But this allows us to separate the value of punters from coverage teams without over-valuing punters who get high gross punting averages by kicking touchbacks that don't improve field position as much as shorter kicks downed inside the 20. We also adjust for weather and altitude... which, as you will see, ends up being particularly important in 2009.
According to FO, Lee finished first because he was better at keeping punts away from return men leading him to more fair catches and punts downed or out of bonds. He also finished higher because of the weather adjustment for Candlestick Park. Well, that and the fact that he's so awesome. But that's a story for another day. Once again, bow down to whatever higher power you believe in that the 49ers matched the Pittsburgh Steelers offersheet back in 2007.