HOW TO READ INDIVIDUAL NFL PLAYER STATS
Bettors can gain valuable insight if they understand both team and individual player statistics. It is helpful for bettors to understand certain measures of team performance such as scoring average or a defense’s points per game allowed. The same holds true for individual players. For players, there are individual offensive statistics such as rushing yards, passing yards, and more. There are even special teams statistics like net punting average that can help bettors make better betting decisions. In determining any bet on an NFL matchup, the more information the better.
Offensive Players Stats
These statistics are for all of the players participating on offense. This includes quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive linemen. In general, these stats provide a general idea of the performance of an individual player in relation to his peers.
Offensive linemen do not receive much of the glory on game day and, as such, do not have a variety of statistics that indicate how effective they perform. In recent years, statistics like effective block rate and adjusted sack rate are being used to analyze individual offensive line performance. A good indication of how well an offensive line is performing collectively is the number of sacks it allows and the number of rushing yards per game the offense totals.
Running plays in the NFL usually consist of a running back taking a handoff or pitch from a quarterback and attempting to advance the ball. Any player, as long as he is in the backfield, can receive a handoff from a quarterback and run the football. At times, receivers will run the football and quarterbacks often run as well. Simply looking at the number of rushing yards is not a great indication of how good a player is at his position.
A rush attempt occurs any time a player runs the football in an effort to advance it. Rush attempts can also help bettors understand the relative importance of certain players and teams. Teams with more rush attempts likely prefer to run instead of pass the football. The number of attempts can give bettors more information on how good a runner is. For example, a running back that has run for 500 yards on 85 attempts would be viewed as more productive than one who ran for 500 yards but needed 125 attempts. The same thinking can be applied to a team. A team that rushes for 150 yards in a game and only needed 20 attempts would be considered much more productive than a team that needed 35 attempts to reach 150 yards.
Total Yards/Average Yards/Touchdowns
In determining the effectiveness of a running back, bettors can look at their total yards gained, their average yards per rush, and the number of touchdowns they score. The same runner who needed just 85 carries to reach 500 yards averaged 5.9 yards per attempt. The runner that needed 125 attempts to reach 500 yards averaged 4.0 yards per attempt.
One can also look at the number of touchdowns a runner scores. Running backs are the most likely to score a touchdown by running the football, but remember quarterbacks and even wide receivers can score when running the ball. Over the course of an NFL season, a player that averages one rushing touchdown per game would likely earn All-Pro recognition.
All skill players – running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends – are eligible to catch passes. Wide receivers are the primary targets of quarterbacks in the passing game as bettors can see when they review receiving statistics. There are a number of individual and team stats that can help a bettor determine how well a receiver might perform.
Receptions & Touchdowns
The number of times a receiver catches a pass is a good indication of how well they perform. Normally, the more balls a receiver catches, the more yards his team will cover. The more yards a team covers usually means more success in the form of touchdowns. Like runners, NFL receivers that average one touchdown reception per game during the season are considered elite.
Yards Per Reception
Another great indication of the effectiveness of a receiver is his yards per reception. Running backs, for example, tend to have yards per catch numbers much lower than that of a wide receiver. Wide receivers tend to catch the ball farther down the field and have greater opportunities to gain more yards after the catch. Some receivers may average over 20 yards per reception. Others may average less but are still effective.
Defensive Player Stats
Defensive statistics are much simpler to understand and use. These statistics can be used to determine the overall effectiveness of a defense.
Fumbles – Forced & Recovered
Teams that force more fumbles have the potential to recover more fumbles and steal possessions away from their opponents. Teams that create turnovers like fumbles normally are more successful than those that do not. Players that force and recover fumbles are very valuable defensive players.
One of the premier measurements of an individual defensive player is the number of sacks he contributes. A sack is recorded when a quarterback drops back to pass and is tackled behind the line of scrimmage instead. Teams that allow a lot of sacks usually have weak offensive lines. Teams that put up a high number of sacks generally have better defensive fronts – linemen and linebackers – than teams that don’t generate sacks.
Individual players that put up double-digit numbers in sacks are generally regarded as elite pass rushers. A sack is considered a big play for a defense as it can lead to a change of possession.
Total and Assisted Tackles
A tackle is recorded for any player that takes down a ball carrier. A solo tackle involves one tackler, usually a defensive player, bringing down a ball carrier by himself. Oftentimes, more than one defender is involved in bringing down a ball carrier. A defender can record an assisted tackle if he aids in the tackle of an opponent. An individual player that has a high number of tackles is generally regarded as a great player. There are times when the number of tackles can be misleading. For example, a free safety that plays well off the line of scrimmage could be a team’s leading tackler. The player might be a good tackler, but he is making the tackles well past the line of scrimmage. That usually means the defense as a whole is not very good.
The quarterback is the focal position in all of football. The whole offense revolves around the play of the quarterback and, as a result there are a large number of statistics that can be used to identify the overall performance of a quarterback. The teams in the NFL with the best quarterbacks are usually the teams that win the most championships.
Completions & Attempts
An attempt is counted every time a quarterback tries to throw the ball downfield to a teammate. A completion is when the pass from quarterback is actually caught by a receiver. Quarterbacks who have a higher completion percentage – number of completions compared to number of attempts – are generally more effective.
Quarterbacks that throw for more yards than others are usually more proficient than their peers. The more yards usually means a team advances the ball and scores more points. That is not always the case. Some teams are just so ineffective at running the football that they throw more passes than other teams. Some quarterbacks may end up with more yards passing, but in that case it is not a good thing.
Quarterbacks that throw more touchdown passes usually are part of winning teams. The more touchdown passes means an offense that scores more points. Generally, teams that score more win more games. Touchdowns, not completions, win games.
One of three things happens when a pass is attempted and two of them are not necessarily good. Quarterbacks that throw more interceptions than their peers are generally not as proficient at the position. Younger, more inexperienced quarterbacks tend to throw a higher number of interceptions than veteran quarterbacks. Turning the ball over to an opponent on an interception allows the opponent to steal away a possession. Doing that often is not good for teams.
Special teams are made up of the units that come on the field for punts, kickoffs, field goals, and extra points. There are stats for these special teams as well.
Punting and Kicking Stats
Starting with the kickoff, the number of touchbacks – kicks put into an opponent’s end zone and not returned – is recorded. A large number of touchbacks means an opponent starts on his own 25-yard line and must go 75 yards to score.
Punters are measured on the distance of their punts. Net punting yards is also a useful statistic. It includes the yards punted minus the yards returned by the defense. The higher the net punting average the better for the punting team. Punters can also be measured by the number of punts they put inside an opponent’s 20-yard line. Again, a team must travel farther down the field to score.
Kickers are also judged on the number of extra points (PATs) and field goals they make. Kickers that are more accurate and can make field goals from greater distances are extremely valuable to teams. Often, kickers are called on to tie or win games in the final seconds of play.