Did you know that Patriots running backs led all team running backs in fantasy points scored last year? Or that Josh Freeman became the first player to throw for 4,000 yards in Tampa Bay history in 2012, en route to setting the record for most fantasy points by a Buccaneer with 308? Debating whether to start your fantasy running back against the Bills? It might help you to know that over the last three years, Buffalo has allowed a 60-yard rusher forty-five times, a 75-yard rusher thirty-two times, and a 100-yard rusher an amazing twenty-one times.
Now, the most surprising thing: all of those statistics, and millions more, can be generated by you in just seconds using three of the coolest research tools on the internet.
The Data Dominator
The Data Dominator will help you answer just about any question you have about football statistics since 2002 (if you want to go back even farther, you can use the Historical Data Dominator). The possibilities are endless with the Data Dominator, a user-friendly tool that will spit out just about any answer as long as you know how to ask the right question.
- The first dropdown box asks if you want a player report, a team offense report, or a league report.
- Choosing player report is just like it sounds: you already know that that Robert Griffin III rushed for 815 yards last year, but the Data Dominator will you that that he rushed for more yards in a season than any non-Mike Vick quarterback has gained since 2002.
- You might find the team offense report option even more revealing. I ran this query to rank all teams by fantasy points scored by running backs in 2012, and this one to see that Dallas quarterbacks ranks fifth in passing yards over the last three seasons.
- The league total/averages report option lets you take a more global view. For example, tight ends caught 203 touchdowns last season, the high-water mark since 2002. The low point came in '03, when tight ends recorded just 128 receiving touchdowns.
- The next dropdown box in the Data Dominator lets you choose individual seasons or totals. If you want to discover who has the most receiving touchdowns over the last five years, choosing totals will let you know that Calvin Johnson has the most total touchdowns since 2008 with 50, while selecting individual seasons will tell you that Johnson's 16 touchdowns in 2011 was the highest single-season receiving touchdown total over that span.
- The third dropdown box lets you choose which stats you want to see. What you select won't change the answer the Data Dominator gives you, but is intended to make the results more meaningful to the user.
- The fourth option lets you pick by position. This way you can fine-tune your results to look at just running backs or tight ends for whatever query you want to run. For example, you can set the first dropdown box to "team offense report" and the fourth box to "RB" to see how teams ranked last year in rushing yards just by running backs. While Washington led the NFL in rushing yards in 2012, when looking just at running backs, the Redskins ranked only 11th in rushing yards.
- The next two dropdown boxes enable you to search solely by team and opponent. This allows you to see a list of the top receiving seasons by a New York Giants tight end since 2002 or a list of how all passers performed against the Chiefs last season.
- The "Week" dropdown box allows you to splice each season into whatever segments you desire. Did you know that Danario Alexander ranked 6th among wide receivers in fantasy points over the last 8 weeks of 2012? Or that Robert Griffin III was the top fantasy quarterback in weeks 1 through 8 last year?
- You can also split up the season by down and distance, field position, time remaining, and points differential.
- In 2012, BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the NFL with 17 rushing first downs on 3rd/4th and 1, while Justin Blackmon, Vincent Jackson, and Reggie Wayne were in a three-way tie for the most receiving first downs (eight) on 3rd or 4th down with at least 10 yards to go in 2012.
- The "Field Position" dropdown box lets you isolate players depending on the line of scrimmage for each play. For example, you can compile this list of the players with the most rushing touchdowns of at least 21+ yards in a season since 2002: not surprisingly, Chris Johnson (2009) leads the list with eight.
- You can combine the "Time Remaining" and "Points Differential" categories to discover garbage time statistics. Arizona's Michael Floyd gained 246 yards in the 4th quarter last year when trailing by at least 14 points, while Brandon Myers led all tight ends in those situations with 145 receiving yards. Tom Brady led the NFL with six second-half passing touchdowns while leading by at least 14 points; Brady threw seven such touchdowns in those situations in 2007, but Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees each threw eight under those circumstances in 2011.
If your search requires going back prior to 2002, you can use the Historical Data Dominator to go all the way back to 1960. Want to know who were the first five quarterbacks to throw for 4,000 yards? Or a complete list of all 2,000-yard rushers in NFL history? Once you learn about the Historical Data Dominator, these questions are easy to answer.
- As with the Data Dominator, you need to pick between Individual Seasons and Totals. Let's say you want to know which player has averaged the most yards per reception since 1960, with a minimum of 250 catches? Set the first dropdown box to "Totals", Statistic #1 to "receptions" and type "250" into the first box (you can leave the second box blank). Next, choose "yards per reception" in Statistic #2 and in the "Sort by" row, choose "Statistic #2" and descending. Then you'll see the answer: Bob Hayes is #1 at 20.25, with Flipper Anderson and Paul Warfield tied for second at 20.06.
- The second row on the Historical Dominator lets you choose your range of years. The default is 1960 to 2012, but you can change it to whatever you like. The third option is to pick a team. The default is all teams, but let's say you want to know who was the top running back for Miami during Dan Marino's years? Just set the years from 1983 to 1999 and put "rushing yards" into the Statistic #1 row. According to the Historical Data Dominator, Karim Abdul-Jabbar led the team in total rushing yards with 3,063. If you hit the back button and switch from "Totals" to "Individual Seasons" and re-run the search, you'll see that only one player ran for over 1,000 yards during Marino's time in Miami.
- The next two rows are self-explantory: Position and Age. But just because they're intuitive doesn't mean you should skip over them. There are countless interesting searches one could run.
- Where do Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman rank on the list of passing yards by a quarterback in his age 21 season? The answer: 2nd and 4th, respectively.
- Feeling nostalgic about the '70s? Bonus points if you can guess which tight end recorded the most receptions during that decade. (Just pick "Totals", "1970 to 1979", "TEs only", and "receptions".)
- Want to marvel in Jerry Rice's amazing longevity? He gained 6,440 yards at age 36 or later, more than twice as many receiving yards as any other receiver.
- The "Experience" category can help put into perspective some of the accomplishments by rookie quarterbacks in recent times. If you choose "rookies" in both dropdown boxes, the Historical Data Dominator will only search through rookies. Of the thirteen rookie quarterbacks with the most passing yards since 1960, ten of them occurred in the last five years.
- The Historical Data Dominator lets you pick up to four different statistics when running queries. You generally won't need more than one or two, but you could run all types of searches thanks to the flexibility of the program.
- Doug Martin rushed for 1,454 yards, averaged 4.56 yards per carry, scored 12 touchdowns and caught 49 passes last year. You can use all four statistic dropdown boxes to find the other six rookie running backs to rush for 1,000 yards, averaged 4.5+ yards per carry, score 10+ touchdowns and catch at least 40 passes.
- Want to put Steve Smith's 2011 season into perspective among older receivers? Since 1960, Smith is one of only three wide receivers to catch at least 75 passes and 5 touchdowns, gain 1,000+ receiving yards, and average at least 17 yards per catch at age 30 or older
- There's one other really cool feature that the Historical Data Dominator has: the ability to divide two statistics. In the "Sort by" row, one of the options in the first dropdown box is "Stat# 1/Stat #2." This allows you to take whatever you put into the Statistic #1 field and divide it by whatever you put into the Statistic #2 field. And, of course, your results will be sorted by this result. Want some neat applications of this function?
- Put "fantasy points" into Statistic #1 and "games played" into the Statistic #2 field, and set a minimum of 8 games played. If you set the Position row to "RBs only" this will give you a list of the top running backs in fantasy points per game since 1960 (Marshall Faulk in 2000 leads the list).
- Want to know which wide receiver last year was the best at getting into the end zone on a per-catch basis? Set the years from 2012 to 2012, put "WRs only" in the Position field. Then choose "receiving TDs" in Statistic #1 and "receptions" in Statistic #2 (and type 40 in the cell next to "receptions"). Then sort by "Stat #1/Stat #2" and you'll discover the answer: James Jones, followed by Santana Moss, Torrey Smith, Golden Tate, and Eric Decker.
- The possibilities are endless with the "Stat #1/Stat #2" tool. Among the 30 running backs with 100 fantasy points last year, Jamaal Charles had the highest percentage of his fantasy points come from his rushing yards while Darren Sproles had the lowest percentage.
The Data Dominator and the Historical Data Dominator are excellent tools, but they only help you find results over full seasons. What if you want to look just at a few games? Or just one game? That's where the Game Log Dominator is your friend. It goes all the way back to 1995. Here's the primer on how to unlock the power of this feature.
- As with the other Dominators, you can choose individual or total results. But since we're talking about games and not seasons, it's "Individual Games" or "Total Games." For example, by picking "Individual Games" you can discover that Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham were tied for the most fantasy points in a single game by a tight end last year. But choosing "Totals" will tell you that Dennis Pitta scored the most fantasy points at the position from weeks 12 to 17 in 2012 (sorry, Ravens fans).
- As with the Data Dominator, there are options to split the data up by week, by player, by opponent by position, by game location, by age, and experience. But the Game Log Dominator also lets you look at other splits. For example, Drew Brees (31.8), Cam Newton (28.5), and Aaron Rodgers (28.0) averaged the most fantasy points per game in wins, while Ben Roethlisberger (25.2), Rodgers (24.8), and Brees (24.4) were the leaders in FP/G in losses.
- By choosing "Totals", "RBs only", and checking "include only intra-division games", you can see that Adrian Peterson averaged 23.1 fantasy points per game against the NFC North last season.
- Here is one of my favorite features. Choose "Individual Games", "WRs only", and select "weekly fantasy rank" in the Statistic #1 row. Then type 1 and 1 in the cells directly to the right of the "weekly fantasy rank" row. This shows you all of the wide receivers to rank #1 in each week last year: only Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant were #1 in multiple weeks in 2012.
- If you hit the back button and select QBs instead of WRs, you'll see that Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees each ranked as the top quarterback in two different weeks last year.
- Did you know that Roddy White has the most targets of any player over the last four years? I found that out by chosing "Totals", 2009 to 2012, and choosing targets in Statistic #1.
- Want to know how much more valuable Marshawn Lynch is at home? He's averaged 17.3 fantasy points per game over the last two years at home, compared to just 12.9 on the road. You can recreate that study with any running back by choosing "Totals", 2011 to 2012 (or any other years), and selecting the team in the "Playing For" row, choosing home or road, and then placing "fantasy points" in Statistic #1 and sorting the results by Statistic #1.
With the three data dominators, the possibilities are endless. You can play around with all three of these tools -- the Data Dominator, the Historical Data Dominator, and the Game Log Dominator -- but don't forget to stop and eat after a few hours.