Are You Ready for Some Fantasy Football?

November 6, 2019

If you have any doubt that Fantasy Football is huge, consider this observation from blogger Paul DiSclafani

“We started our fantasy football league in 1981. At the time, one of our owners casually mentioned that we could ‘do this forever.’ 10 of our 14 owners have been in this league for over 30 years, so I guess he was right. We will be having our 37th draft this weekend. My wife has put up with my fantasy football obsession for 36 years. Every year, about this time, she knows it starts all over again. I’ll be staying up late, printing out spreadsheets and settling down to watch “NFL Red Zone” every Sunday afternoon for the next 17 weeks. More than once, she has told me, “See you in January.”

A recent article on SportsBusinessDaily.com says that more than 59 million people played fantasy sports in 2017, according to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA). Eighty percent of those played fantasy football—that’s about 47.2 million people.

Fantasy Football Data Fun

With those kind of numbers,  it must be fun—and maybe even profitable—for the participants, but it’s also serious business that’s powered, in large part, by big data. A quick Google search of “fantasy football data” turns up fantasydata.com, fantasyfootballanalytics.net, pro-football-reference.com, footballdb.com. And that’s only a few from the first page. There’s also a Reddit post containing ten years of fantasy stats and statistics and a Medium article about how to use data science to win Fantasy Football.

So, we here at Grow got to thinking that, while what we do with data is serious business for business, maybe we could have some fun with data for Fantasy Football, especially something in the form of a dashboard that would make the information come alive and be more quickly and easily understood.

Our play caller for the project is a Grow data scientist who jumped at the chance to create the cool Quarterback Leaderboard Dashboard and the Wide Receiver Leaderboard Dashboard (with more to come) based on data from NFL. Full disclosure: The information you find here is all available on the web via a Google search (as noted above); no data is proprietary. What is unique, however, is the form in which it’s displayed and some of the insights we’ve gleaned from it. As far as we can tell, it is difficult to find a site that brings all these numbers together in aggregate, as well as seeing this kind of holistic view of individual player performance. The gifs are kinda cool, too. 

The Interactive Dashboard’s Debut

A little bit about the creation of the dashboard. You might not have noticed that the dashboard is interactive--hover over the charts and graphs and you will see further details or breakdowns of the information. It is based on aggregated data from fantasydata.com, and is automatically updated within two hours of the end of the Monday Night Football game. The visualizations--gifs, single value, growth percentage, column, area graph, bullet chart, and line chart—are powered by Grow. Here is a sneak peak at the Wide Receiver Leaderboard


So, what can we glean from this amalgam of data? 

Top 5 Week 9 Insights: 

  1. Buccaneers hold the #1 and #2 positions in the leaderboard for wide receivers. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin account for more than 50% of target share for the team.
  2. Russell Wilson, the 30-year old MVP favorite, completed 29 of 43 passes for a whopping 378 yards and 5 touchdowns. Wilson now has a 22/1 TD/INT ratio through nine games, putting him at the top of the leaderboard. 
  3. Dynamic duo--Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett--pair up for a combined 66.4 points. Wilson threw for 378 yards, 152 of which went to Lockett. 
  4. Michael Thomas and Cooper Kupp fall in rankings because of a bye week but, remarkably, remain in Top 5.
  5. Some shuffling in position in the QB Leaderboard, but the Top 5 stay consistent from Week 8 to Week 9. 

Both dashboards will be updated each week through the remainder of the season at the end of Monday night football. Next week’s leaderboards will include the addition of defensive teams. Dashboard links will stay the same for WR and QBs.

We hope this data representation from Grow adds to your fun following the NFL and playing whatever level of Fantasy Football you are involved in. We are having a kick putting all this together--it’s quite a change from the ordinary here, but that’s what innovating and disrupting is all about. Feel free to email Juliet Fletcher at juliet@grow.com with any questions, comments, or kudos. We look forward to hearing from you, and we are looking forward to seeing how this little experiment progresses for the rest of the season.

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