Despite the lack of games, this is a fun time of the year to be a football fan. The offseason is full of possibilities; every trade made is for the betterment of the team, all Free Agents will work out, and there's no chance of drafting a bust. Right now the Front Offices around the league can do no wrong.
Of course, we know that's not how it will work out once the games are played, but being fans we're sure that the mistakes will all happen to other guys. As a Panthers fan, the cuts were all necessary, we won't miss Peppers (and he won't help the Bears in the NFC North), and every pencilled-in starter in 2010 will make you wonder why we didn't boot all those other players earlier.
And, of course, the draft is looming. What fun!
This is where we all get to find out who our future stars are. There are no Eric Sheltons yet, every player we're considering is either a day one starter or a potential stud on Special Teams. Remember Captain Munnerlyn? That's the benchmark for us.
And of course, all of them offer mock drafts that seem so authoritative you wonder why the league even bothers with the real event. And then the real event finally comes around and makes fools of all the prognosticators. It happens every year.
Because face it, no one really knows what the GMs around the league will do. Its easier to understand what women really want than it is to predict Al Davis' next move. No one knows what trades will happen. And when you combine an unexpected move with shifting needs, well it's understandable if people consider a 30% prediction rate a success for the first round.
But predict they do! And not only do they predict, the analyze and research and invest hours in playing the armchair GM. Which, as appealing as it sounds, is beyond my skill.
I like to think that I'm good at research, but I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the time to watch a hundred players on YouTube over and over again to try and figure out who's more likely to contribute on Sundays. That doesn't mean I'm not willing to take advantage of other people's work though. And that's what this series is all about.
Today's entry is on the "Big Boards" out there. Every other Draft Site purports to know which players are NFL-ready, and which are more ready than others.
To do the analysis, I started with Google. I did a search, and chose the most reputable looking sites I could find that offered top 100 player lists. Being cheap, I also didn't bother with any of the pay sites. Based on the reviews I've read, all these pay sites get you is another place to look at the same information that's already out there, tied up in the opinion of someone who isn't any better than the rest at predicting who's going to do what.
So for this exercise, I used nine sources. I took the top boards of http://www.fantasyfootballjungle.com, http://www.cbssports.com, http://www.cdsdraft.com/, http://www.nfldraftdog.com, http://www.drafttek.com, http://www.nationalfootballpost.com, http://www.walterfootball.com, http://www.fftoolbox.com, and http://www.sidelinescouting.com.
If you're like me, there's a lot of negative things you can say about each site. But there are a lot of positives as well, and none of them seem to be run by some kid in is parent's basement, acting like an expert on a sport he's never played.
Armed with those sources, I compiled the results in a spreadsheet and then ran a simple average. But while that got me part of the way towards a nice, consolidated big board, it wasn't enough.
It seems that each board had it's own few pet players; every one out there had a guy who was good enough to be ranked in the top 50 on their own board, but who at the same time managed to escape the notice of everyone else. For my simple "Everybody's Top 100" list, I had 182 players to choose from.
How do you average them? In the end, I simply decided that these players were all almost good enough to be listed on the other boards, and were in fact tied for the 101st best player on all of them. So, if not too many people shared the National Football Post's opinion that Ciron Black was the 56th best player available, and didn't even list him, I just gave him scores of 101 on all their boards. In that way, instead of him enjoying an average score of 79.6 on the three boards that listed him, he had a weighted average of 106, which better reflects what everyone thought of his skills.
Some interesting information emerged after consolidating. For instance, the variations in rating certain positions reveals how much more difficult it is to decide who's more NFL ready among different positions.
For Tight Ends in the top 50, there was a spread of 55.33 between the average high draft position and the average low one. In other words, everyone agreed on who should be included, just not on where. For a DT, maybe because of the two at the top, the range was a much lower 17.33.
When you get to the top 100, where a lot of people made one list but not another, the spread becomes even more pronounced. Linebackers and Tackles seem like the safest picks in terms of gaining consensus, and Tight Ends become even more uncertain.
That shows how much easier people think it is to predict success for some positions. Here's a quick table showing the averages among the consensus top 100 by weighted versus actual and high versus low, then the same information for the top 50.
|Top 100||Top 50|
|Average vs. Weighted
||High vs. Low||Average vs. Weighted
||High vs. Low|
That's kind of interesting in a geeky sort of way. It gets better when you look at the various mock drafts out there. A lot of prognosticators want to sell you on how good a player is on their big board while taking them with a relatively late selection themselves in their mock.
For instance, a guy like Trent Williams is barely cracking the top 20 on the big boards out there, but several mocks have him as a top ten pick. And everyone knows Sam Bradford is the number one pick, but he's still considered the fifth best player out there.
But that analysis is for a future article.
Without further discussion, here's the combined Big Board from the aforementioned sites. Enjoy, and don't forget. We're just the messenger here. :)
|Name||Position||Average Rating||Weighted Average Rating||Highest Rating||Lowest Rating|
|10||C. J. Spiller||RB||11.89||11.89||5||22|