Thursday, May 23, 2013

NFL Offensive Contribution Analysis - 1993-2012

It started with me looking over my wife's shoulder to see what she was up to as we sat on the couch.  She was busy on her laptop, and clearly wasn't giving Game of Thrones her undivided attention (but then, to her, it's just 'That Rape Show with Dragons')

But I noticed she was working with some really neat looking charts, and I asked her what she was using to visualize her data (she works in marketing analytics, so data is kind of her thing).

She explained it was a dashboard program called Tableau.

I filed that away, thinking it might come in handy for either my own professional or personal use.

Then, as I started to delve deeper into some NFL analysis, I finally found a good opportunity to start playing around with it.

My brother runs an Eagles blog,, and recently published a cool area chart showing the major contributors to the Eagles offense over the last few years.  It was a lot of fun to look at, mostly because the chart is a great illustration of the various eras the Eagles went through (although, it overlooked the Freddie Mitchell era)

That got me thinking, could I build something in Tableau that would allow anyone to look at that for their team and their favorite years???

After a couple hours fiddling around, I think I finally got the hang of it.

I pulled together every player season from Pro Football Reference from 1993, for any player who accumulated over 200 yards from scrimmage.  Now this means that it's mostly running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.  I could have included total yards of offense as the metric, but it would have turned into a chart of quarterbacks and frankly, I thought this would be more fun.  After the 'fun' of teaching myself a little bit about how Tableau works, I think I got a pretty good start.

The dashboard below illustrates the yards from scrimmage for offensive skill players for each season from 1993 to the present.  Below the chart itself, you can select a specific team you want to see illustrated, and use the slider bars to see certain years (I apologize for the formatting of the slider bar numbers, that's something I haven't figured out yet).

But I thought it was a pretty fun way to look at a football team. Let me know your thoughts, and if people like it, maybe I can make some more. If I do, I'll be sure to publish the links on Twitter 

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