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IDP Points Per Snap Analysis
Steve Gallo
September 1, 2012
Follow Follow @IDPSteve
 

What is Fantasy Points Per Snap (PPS), and how can it help you dominate your leagues?  Simply put, PPS is a metric that will help you to identify breakout, overvalued, and declining players.  If you are looking to find that last little edge that will help you dominate your league then keep reading.  If you still aren’t sure exactly how PPS can help you just take a look at a situation where PPS would have been a very valuable tool for fantasy owners.

It was October 2007, and the IDP community – me included – were trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with Keith Bulluck, and his lack of fantasy production.  Bulluck had an ADP of LB4 in 2007, not surprising at all, especially when you consider that from 2003 thru 2006, he finished ranked 6th or better in LB scoring (03-5th , 04-3rd, 05-6th & 06-5th) each year.  On top of that, he was consistent, scoring in double digits in all but four games over that span of time.  He had an 8-point game in week 12 of 2003, a 9-point game in week 13 in 2005, and in 2004, he had back-to-back 6-point games in weeks 4 and 5.  You should note that I didn’t list any single digit performances in 2006, and that is because he scored in double digits each and every week that year.  So, like I said, it wasn’t surprising to see Bulluck with an ADP of LB4 going into the 2007 season.

When you have a player that has put up an average of 259 fantasy points/season for four years running, with a PPG average of 17.3, and that player fails to score in double digits in three of his first five games, you are going to have people asking, “What’s wrong with Keith Bulluck?”  I, like everyone else, or at least Bulluck owners, wanted to know the answer, and like just about everything with me, I figured I would find my answer in his stats. 

In that linked thread, in post number 11, I noted that I edited out the research that I had posted.  The reason was two-fold, one was as I said in the post, that I wanted to make sure my analysis wasn’t faulty – the other reason, which I failed to state – was that I realized I was possibly onto something big.  A couple of new metrics that weren’t being used, and very well could prove to be a huge improvement on how we as IDP owners look at a player’s performance and production.  I didn’t want to risk them being “stolen” and also wanted to delve deeper into them.

The metrics were PPS (Points Per Snap) and PPM (Points Per Minute).  At that point in time in 2007, I was using total snaps faced by the Titans defense, and PPM was derived based on time of possession the defense was on the field.  I wrote the following back in October 2007:
“First I should explain what I have deemed PPM & PPS...
PPM: Production Per Minute
PPS: Production Per Snap(can be broken down by pass or run or both combined)

What PPM & PPS does is allows us to look at a player or players on a per snap or per minute metric. Basically an even playing surface for comparisons. It also can help to show if a players PPM &/or PPS is historically improving or getting worse which can help us find the next gem or avoid the next fall from grace, like we are seeing with Keith Bulluck...Raw Tackle numbers dont tell the entire story which is very evident when you look at Bulluck's tackles vs his PPM and PPS....here goes…”

Click here to see the entire post with my research, analysis, and findings.

The end result of my analysis was that from 2003 thru 2006 was that Bulluck’s productivity had steadily been decreasing at an alarming rate.  A rate that couldn’t be seen just by looking at his end of year production, but was rather easy to spot when looked at from a different perspective. 

Leading me to realize that there is a big difference between production and productivity.  Unfortunately, I knew deep down that using total defensive snaps and time of possession weren’t the best stats to use, the best thing would be to utilize actual snaps played. 

Unfortunately finding the number of snaps played by a defensive player wasn’t something readily available.  Occasionally a beat writer would make note of the number of snaps that a defender played, but that was about it.  I kept searching high and low for snaps played, coming up empty each and every time, that is until I stumbled upon ProFootballFocus.com and their premium statistics – which of course included snaps played for defensive players.  It was like finding a Leprechaun’s pot of gold.

At one point, I was also utilizing a metric that I called TOP (Tackle Opportunity Production), which basically was a players tackle production divided by the number of tackle opportunities that their team faced.  However, with the ability to now factor in actual snaps played I think that PPS is the metric to look at.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think that TOP has merit, it’s just that I think PPS is a bit more valuable.

Here is a list of the top 25 DLs, LBs, and DBs in PPS for 2011*  I have also included a column to show the average number of snaps/game each player played in.  For what it’s worth I look at PPS as a defensive players “batting average” like in baseball.
*Minimum 750 snaps played

Position Name Points Per Snap Snaps/Game
DE Jason Pierre-Paul 0.221 60.69
DE Jared Allen 0.199 65.25
DE Cliff Avril 0.175 51.31
DT Haloti Ngata 0.173 51.44
DE Calais Campbell 0.166 64.50
DT Ahtyba Rubin 0.163 59.06
DE J.J. Watt 0.163 50.50
DE Andre Carter 0.159 53.79
DT Geno Atkins 0.154 47.00
DT Justin Smith 0.147 59.19
DE Jabaal Sheard 0.145 60.63
DE Jeremy Mincey 0.144 60.88
DE Chris Clemons 0.138 59.63
DE Brett Keisel 0.135 55.36
DE Julius Peppers 0.133 57.38
DE Charles Johnson 0.132 53.67
DE Israel Idonije 0.130 59.00
DT Brandon Mebane 0.129 47.06
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch 0.129 48.56
DT Marcell Dareus 0.129 46.88
DE Greg Hardy 0.126 56.44
DT Tommy Kelly 0.124 54.06
DE Elvis Dumervil 0.122 61.57
DT Vince Wilfork 0.120 61.06
DE Brian Robison 0.119 58.44

From the above list, there are two players, Jabaal Sheard, and Marcell Dareus, that jump out at me – both for different reasons.  Sheard ranks 11th on this list and what it tells me is that his production wasn’t just based off of opportunity.  Meaning even if he ended up on the field for fewer snaps due to an improved offense that his fantasy value would still remain intact.  With a PPS average of .145, even if Sheard were to play in 22% fewer snaps he would still end up as a top 20 DL.  Which is one of the reasons why I love Sheard this year and beyond, I don’t see his snaps ever decreasing that much, so with a floor of top 20 and an upside that could crack top 10, what’s not  to like? 

As for Dareus, his numbers show me that we could see a big jump in his fantasy production this year.  Dareus played in just 46.88 snaps/game last year, finishing 38th in DL fantasy scoring.  An increase in snaps by 20%, which I think is highly possible, would push his fantasy production on the cusp of top 15 in combined leagues, and in DT mandatory leagues he would fall in the top 3-5.

Position Name Fantasy Points/Snap Snaps/Game
LB London Fletcher 0.280 64.56
LB D'Qwell Jackson 0.276 68.50
LB James Anderson 0.269 63.13
LB Patrick Willis 0.269 60.15
LB Desmond Bishop 0.266 65.62
LB NaVorro Bowman 0.263 63.25
LB Curtis Lofton 0.260 63.00
LB Derrick O. Johnson 0.250 65.38
LB Nick Barnett 0.246 60.88
LB James Laurinaitis 0.246 69.13
LB Ray Lewis 0.236 66.67
LB E.J. Henderson 0.231 55.94
LB Chad Greenway 0.231 68.69
LB Pat Angerer 0.230 65.19
LB Daryl Smith 0.228 57.19
LB Brian Cushing 0.226 60.50
LB Sean Lee 0.226 57.87
LB Daryl Washington 0.223 68.13
LB Karlos Dansby 0.220 58.19
LB Sean Weatherspoon 0.216 62.38
LB David Hawthorne 0.215 67.47
LB Paul Posluszny 0.213 62.25
LB Michael Boley 0.206 64.93
LB Stephen Tulloch 0.205 70.00
LB Jamar Chaney 0.204 54.50

A few things jump out at me with the PPS for the above LBs.  First is that Stephen Tulloch by far played in more snaps/game than any of the other LBs, yet he ranked 24th in PPS, and for the season he finished just 12th in LB fantasy scoring.  Why that matters to me is that if Tulloch maintains his PPS of .205 he could easily fall out of the top 12 in fantasy scoring.  My main line of reasoning is that he likely will finish more in line with 63-65 snap/game played this year.  If that happens then he could end up ranking just outside the top 20.

Ray Lewis and his .236 PPS also is a big reason why I think that he is a value play 2012.  He missed four games last year, and if he can avoid injury in 2012 his .236 could easily see him finish top 10 and approach the top 5 in LB fantasy scoring. 

The last thing I want to point out is that fantasy metrics don’t necessarily equate to good NFL production/performance.  Jamar Chaney comes in at 25 on the above list, but for 2012 he finds himself in a reserve role for the Eagles. 

Position Name Fantasy Points/Snap Snaps/Game
SS George Wilson 0.248 64.31
CB Jason McCourty 0.218 65.53
CB Charles Tillman 0.215 69.00
FS Antoine Bethea 0.213 68.81
SS Troy Polamalu 0.203 57.50
SS Roman Harper 0.203 63.63
FS Jairus Byrd 0.203 65.06
SS Charlie Peprah 0.203 59.56
SS Morgan Burnett 0.196 68.94
SS Kam Chancellor 0.196 69.47
CB Charles Woodson 0.193 67.00
SS Kurt Coleman 0.192 51.40
SS Jordan Babineaux 0.190 58.88
CB Richard Marshall 0.186 53.06
SS Darian Stewart 0.186 61.33
SS Charles Godfrey 0.186 61.93
SS Bernard Pollard 0.182 56.31
SS Yeremiah Bell 0.181 70.31
FS Eric Weddle 0.181 62.75
CB Devin McCourty 0.181 66.00
FS Ryan Clark 0.181 63.00
FS Quintin Mikell 0.180 68.94
FS Dawan Landry 0.179 64.81
CB Kyle Arrington 0.178 61.94

It is easy to see from the above list that George Wilson, had he not missed three games due to injury, that he would have easily finished 2011 as the top scoring fantasy DB.  With an ADP of DB7, I actually see Wilson as one of the better DB values in drafts this year.

Kam Chancellor is another player that missed time last year, but unlike the three games that Wilson missed, Chancellor missed just one game.  Had he not, his PPS of .196 shows that he could have finished within 3 points of being DB3.  No wonder that Chancellor has an ADP of DB3, unfortunately, unlike Wilson, there isn’t as much value associated with Chancellor.

Those were the best performers by position by playing in the most snaps in the league last year.  What follows is a list of the top 30 overall for players that played between 100 to 750 snaps.  If you look, long and hard, you will see players like Donald Butler, Colin McCarthy, Antoine Winfield, and Kelvin Sheppard that with an expected overall increase in snaps played should prove to be valuable fantasy assets for IDP owners in 2012.

Butler and McCarthy both should see an increase in the neighborhood of about 50+% in snaps/game this year.  While doubtful that they can reproduce such high PPS averages, they have shown the propensity to be productive, and I think that is why McCarthy is ranked so high by many sites.  Butler hasn’t been ranked quite so high, but I think he has just about as much upside as McCarthy does, and in drafts, his ADP of LB29 is a much better value than McCarthy’s ADP of LB10.

Position Name Fantasy Points/Snap Snaps/Game
LB Donald Butler 0.304 40.75
LB Larry Grant 0.302 14.50
LB Jordan Senn 0.293 25.19
CB Chris Harris Jr. 0.286 29.06
CB Jonathan Wilhite 0.284 14.07
CB Leigh Torrence 0.284 11.38
LB Dan Connor 0.268 31.80
CB Alphonso Smith 0.262 23.27
LB Russell Allen 0.258 18.31
LB Jason Williams 0.257 7.50
LB Colin McCarthy 0.249 41.69
CB Antoine Winfield 0.248 67.80
LB Greg Jones 0.248 12.63
LB Adam Hayward 0.246 11.44
LB Jacquian Williams 0.245 32.19
CB Prince Amukamara 0.243 20.57
LB Kelvin Sheppard 0.243 27.56
LB Robert Francois 0.243 15.36
LB Philip Wheeler 0.242 41.31
LB Aldon Smith 0.239 31.63
LB Chris Chamberlain 0.239 38.25
SS Da'Norris Searcy 0.237 14.50
SS Paul Oliver 0.237 13.31
LB Marvin Mitchell 0.237 11.63
LB Keenan Clayton 0.236 11.21

I am hopeful that the above has helped to shed light on a different way to look at a defensive player’s productivity.  No one metric is ever going to be the end all be all, but the PPS metric does indeed go a long way towards helping to put all players on a level playing field for analysis purposes.  I am currently working on PPS for the past three seasons, and once finished I will publish my findings on my Full Impact Football blog.  If you follow me on twitter, you probably have seen where I have said that Patrick Willis will NOT be a top 10 LB this year.  It will be interesting to see how PPS weighs in on my research for Willis.


Note:  Huddle IDPScoring system: solo tackle (2 pts), assisted tackle (1 pt), sack (3 pts), forced or recovered fumble (3 pts), interception (3 pts) and pass defended (1 pt).

Follow me on twitter @IDPSteve and if you have any questions, criticisms, or suggestions feel free to email me at gallo@thehuddle.com.


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