My Three-Year Projection Experiment: The Half Report

Welcome back everyone for round two of my four round series on how this thing I made up before the season started is working out. And when I put it like that, how could you not be interested?

In any case, I won't belabor the details a third time. If you want to understand what I've done and am trying to do, please check out the original thread and the subsequent quarter check. This thread is all about showing off how things are going now that the season is roughly halfway through for everyone.

This thread is also about showing how I may have overreacted to some small samples last time...

To update you on what you'll see here: To keep my sample sizes credible, I'm only including quarterbacks in the real stats/projected stats comparison who have started 3 of every 4 games. At this point, that means at least 6 starts. I figured I was going to have to make some kind of exception for the teams that have still only played 7 games, but it ended up not being an issue. Nice how that worked out. I have also corrected my stupidness that led, in the quarter report, to some of the "actual stats" being several yards off. So, yay for that.

Let's see how things went. Remember, the top line for any quarterback is his projected line based on the number of attempts he's had, and the bottom line represents his actual numbers.

This first chart shows quarterbacks who, by ANY/A through the first half, are within a half-yard of their projection.


Some Thoughts:

So far so good! Last time, the projection system nailed 10 QBs within half a yard of their actual stats. This time, the ante has been upped to 11. Last time, I got all hella lucky about Brandon Weeden. This time I got all hella lucky about Andrew... well, yeah. Kolb longer exists here, so in theory I've actually gone from 9 to 11 if you only count the QBs who appear on both lists.

Last time, I said that despite some aesthetic improvements, Sam Bradford has been pretty much as unproductive as always. That's still true! I also said that Mark Sanchez has sucked, but isn't as far from his career as we might expect. That's also true! It's amazing that the fact that he's gotten worse has actually created a scenario in which there is a sensible statistics-based argument to start Tim Tebow. So, as always, lol Mark Sanchez.

I mentioned that Drew Brees was pretty close to where he should be last time, and he's only gotten closer. His projection is pretty darn close to nail-on-the-head territory, in fact.

I called Fitzpatrick a prime candidate for very real regression, and he has been, though his TD numbers are still pretty. He's just not throwing for as many yards as one would expect, and he's doing good damage with his sacks, to boot.

Andy Dalton has fallen back in line with his projection, though he's still a good candidate to diverge from it going forward because of the relatively small amount of data we started with for him. Flacco, Schaub, and Eli Manning are misters predictable, and it was obviously a mistake of mine in the last thread not to point out Flacco and Schaub as good regression candidates. Sorry, fantasy owners! My bad.

I also may have overreacted to a good 4 game sample from Cam Newton. He's now playing exactly like 2011 Cam Newton, but on a bad team in a little sophomore slump, which I think was all pretty fair to predict (if not also project). He's still a good candidate to surprise the system because of his small data pool, but he probably hasn't made the surprising progress I'd credited him with last time. That said, he's still bringing decent production, and appears to be far from the biggest problem on that team.

Lastly, I suggested last time that maybe we shouldn't expect Matt Ryan to regress. Well, lol. I should have just trusted the system. He's now back within a very fair margin of his projection--though of course still having a very fine year. Lesson learned: AER. Always Expect Regression.

(Except for the guys I expected regression for... more on that later.

Overall, though, I'm extremely pleased with the first group. As the samples have gotten bigger, the projection system appears to have gotten better, and that's a very fine thing, indeed. Yes, a very fine one.

Onto the next group! These quarterbacks are all coming in within 0.6 and 1.0 yards of their projection, which is still in my "this is accurate enough to be happy about" group.


Some Thoughts:

Hey, still doing great. Now We're up to 21 QBs clocking in within a single yard of their projection (last time it was 18 of 32, this time it's 21 of 30... NICELY DONE, ME). You can see the luck still creeping in a bit here: Wilson, Gabbert, and Ponder are all tough guys to peg because of available data, but I'm still pretty pleased. That said, among the guys with just one year under their belts, we've now seen Dalton, Newton, and Ponder all regress toward their projection. I'm not sure if this is pure luck or good stats work, but it's kind of nice to see nonetheless.

Last time, I said Alex Smith was a sack rate regression away from being REALLY good. Well, he got a minor sack rate regression, and we can see the difference it made. I'm not sure how fair it is to expect a lot more regression there, though, because of the new history under Harbaugh. Basically, he gets sacked a lot more under Harbaugh's rule. Normally, sack rate is pretty QB independent, but occasionally a coaching scheme (Martz is the obvious example) can jack it up. Harbaugh seems to preach one of these--at least with Smith behind center. Still, it's a nice season for Alex. Even with the INT rate regression, which everyone should have seen coming several hundred miles away, he's improved demonstrably over last year and is now modestly outperforming his projection. He's very nearly a top-10 producer.

There's not a lot else of note on this particular list. Brady, Roethlisberger, and Palmer are all pretty predictable, and doing what you expect. Matt Cassel was an interesting guy to watch because his numbers have been so inconsistent, even in his three-year data set. The projection system pegged him to be pretty bad, but he's actually been astonishingly bad. In fact, he's been the least productive quarterback in the league--a league featuring Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Tannehill, and this year's versions of Tony Romo, Michael Vick, and Philip Rivers--by a half yard over the next closest guy. Time for the Chiefs to swing a trade for Shaun Hill, methinks (at this point, that trade would realistically make the same difference--which does not mean impact--as replacing Carson Palmer with Tom Brady).

And, oh, Jay Cutler. Last time I said that while he's looked worse than usual, he's not been much worse than one should expect. That's still true. I will add this time, though, that one should probably not expect him to be very good. I've defended the guy in the past, but he's really not been very productive at all since Shanahan and may just have been a good system quarterback then.

And, oh yeah, Matt Stafford continues to be pretty much the most overrated quarterback in the NFL, and predictably so.

The next group is where things get a lot less accurate. We're now looking at guys between 1.1 and 1.5 yards of their projection:


Some Thoughts:

Hey, not very many of these jerks. Last time, Rodgers was in the fourth group, so his placement here actually represents a strong regression toward his projection, which we all expected but is still nice to see. In fact, a good amount of the difference between his current stats and his projected stats comes from a surprisingly high and perfectly regressable sack rate, and what appears to be a more conservative overall approach. After a rough start, it's conceivable that he decided to sacrifice a few yards (like, 400 or so) for efficiency in order to get back on track. It's working. Nice to see that his inclusion in this group is actually a good thing for the system, though. He's getting back to expectations.

Weeden is a rookie, so the system gets a pass for that. Peyton Manning now appears to be producing at a level he hasn't seen since 2006. Is it fair to expect regression? I'll defer to AER, with a healthy dose of "Although, it IS Peyton Manning" just to cover my butt.

Where I get really silly, though, is Michael Vick. He's seriously underperforming his projection, and last time I went out on a very deliberate limb and pegged him as a guy to expect good things from. He was at his low-water mark after 4 games, and it seemed reasonable that his value was only going to go up. Well, it hasn't, and there may be a reason why. A close look at his numbers shows that not only is he getting sacked more, but he is also being far less productive on the ground than ever before. An even closer look at his numbers suggests that he is 32 years old. There may be a connection here. If you accept the premise that he's old and that his mobility is finally beginning to fail him, then his current numbers make 100% sense (and it's definitely time to cut bait). If not, then he's just a TD and sack rate regression away from being a pretty nice piece again (and you should keep him a bit longer).

And now the last group. This is the group affectionately known as WTF.


Some Thoughts:

Again, at least there aren't very many of these jerks.

I'd say again that the system gets a pass on guys like Griffin III and Tannehill. Freeman was also an exceptionally hard guy to project. His data pool was just a little bit on the small side to begin with, but was also wildly inconsistent on top of it. In his career, he's been a coin with two sides, and the projection system gets stranded having to guess that he'll land on his edge. Anything could happen with him for the rest of the year. He could be great. He could suck. He could land on his edge. But he's been really, really nice for about four weeks here. And I honestly don't know what that means.

And that leaves us with Philip Rivers and Tony Romo. Rivers is now getting to the point, as I said last time, where his prolonged period of suck is beginning to consume his history of being nigh Godlike. He's the weirdest quarterback I've seen in a long time, but it's getting fair to say that he's probably just not Good Philip Rivers anymore. And if you subscribe to the school of "Michael Vick is getting old so everything makes sense," then maybe it's fair to say the same about Rivers (the same "mobility" stat problems with Vick apply to Rivers, in fact, though he's obviously not as good a candidate for caring about them).

And, Romo. Oh, Romo. I stood up for you, man. The chips were down, and I got in your corner. You were my quarterback, man. My quarterback. Even though I hate the Cowboys, and don't especially like you, I took a stand. I said, Tony Romo has been unfairly underrated his whole career, is now at the lowest value he'll ever be, and is a great, great potential sleeper going forward.

Well, you know what, Tony Romo? You suck. You didn't used to. But you do now. You suck, and I hate you. Kyle Orton should be starting for your team. You're not my quarterback anymore. Get outta my face.

That's the end of my post now.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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