As we are rolling out our first iteration of our dynamic team ratings/rankings, we thought it be a good idea to explain in more detail how the team rankings are devised and how they are unique from other ratings/rankings systems.
We need to start with the baseline. These ratings are based on the skill level of the players who are playing on the field at any given time. Sure there are some recent on-field performance metrics that need to be considered for scheme, coaching, etc., but we really wanted to show you the talent level of the unit at that exact time.
We alluded to it above, but it bears repeating. These rankings are live, based on the player-level skills of the players are are projected to get playing time. If a big-time player is injured or suspended, you will see the rating of the unit drop, and the rest of the team with it. Obviously, one player won’t make a huge difference, but when injuries pile up; you can see a significant change in the rating/ranking of a particular school.
Example: In a complete hypothetical (Notre Dame fans, relax, this is purely for the sake of demonstration). Sam Hartman goes down. In our depth chart, we now put 100% of the quarterback play on assumed backup Steve Angeli.
We all know Hartman is a big part of the Notre Dame offense. If he goes down, you’ll see a significant change to the offense. Does is crush them completely? Nah. But, interestingly in this example, it brings them back down to the pre-season numbers while we didn’t really know how the offense would react to this change (see trend column; that is from the start of the season).
We mentioned the importance of certain positions/players on the field. When developing our ratings for each area, we take into consideration those factors. We can all agree that quarterback is a fairly important position to the offense, right? So, using our Notre Dame example above, if Audric Estime goes down and they must rely on their backups, the Irish offense falls to 10th, instead of all the way to 26th. Same on defense. If a starting shut-down cornerback is out of the lineup; it will affect things more so than a nose tackle – even a really good one – who plays more on a 2/3 rotation.
We mentioned other factors that play into this beyond just the player-level ratings + playing time. In some cases, we have teams who just play well together. Individuals don’t shine as bright; but the end result is there. So, we do take into consideration those on-field only factors to help even things out and give us a true, full picture of where a particular unit stands. So, if you see a squad (like Iowa State; or Oregon State as examples) who may have unimpressive skills ratings – more on this below – but have a higher overall rating and that on both pass and rush defense.
Skills vs. Overall
Another important factor to keep in mind when looking at these on a high level. The overall rankings and the cumulative Pass/Rush ratings take into account all of the factors – not just skills. However, the speciality ratings for other areas are purely skills. This gives you an idea of who may be over- or under-achieving when looking at them. Let’s use Iowa State as an example. As we stand on Week four of the 2023 season, here is the Cyclones’ dashboard view on defense:
They are ranked 25th overall. 35th against the pass; 14th against the run. Yet, when you look at the other “skills only” factors that we like to think are differentiators on the defensive side of the ball, they are unimpressive at best. Middle of the pack in pass rush; coverage skills and tackling ability. What does that tell us? That can mean one of two things.
1.) Iowa State coaches their defense up and schemes well.
2.) Iowa State is due for a crash to earth here in the near future.
How you decide which is which? Well, only time will tell.
We hope this quick primer helps give you a better understanding of our dynamic ratings/rankings system works. If you have questions or just want to learn more. Always, hit us up via email or on X (Twitter).