Analytics are becoming a bigger part of the National Football League, as they are in all sports. There are websites that make great use of various numbers to help analyze players and teams, and there are even multiple websites that have established themselves using alternative numbers to the statistics we’re generally familiar with.
How are this new data used? Well, Josh Norris of the Rotoworld Football Podcast had an opportunity to listen to a panel involving Scott Kuhn, who serves as the Director of Analytics for your Minnesota Vikings. It’s a shorter episode of their podcast, checking in at about fifteen minutes, and you can hear it in the embedded player below.
(If the embed doesn’t work properly for you for whatever reason, you can go directly to the page on Stitcher.)
Kuhn, as Norris mentions, was sharing the panel with Corey Schwartz (the Vice President of Statistics for Major League Baseball) at this year’s Fantasy Sports Trade Association Conference, which took place in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago. I won’t transcribe the entire podcast for you or anything, but here are some of the things that I found interesting:
- The Vikings’ entire analytics “department” consists of exactly two full-time people and one intern. I’d expect this number to increase in the not-too-distant future, but for now it’s three people.
- There is information that is used for “Next-Gen Stats” by places such as the NFL and ESPN, but they’re apparently getting way more data than anyone realizes, and they’re even tracking these sorts of things in practices. This data can help with player injury evaluation and even if players are starting to decline. (They use Terence Newman as an example here.)
- The Vikings tend to stay away from player profiles with a “low hit rate,” but there are exceptions. . .such as Adam Thielen. There’s a tidbit about Thielen’s college coaches that you’ll probably be pretty shocked by.
- The Vikings have actually created their own “athletic scores,” similar to SPARQ scores and things of that nature.
There’s more to be gleaned from this podcast, but I’ll leave it to you all to listen to it for yourself. Again, it’s only about fifteen minutes, but it’s got plenty of good information.