One of the things I’ve found useful during my career as a sportswriter and data scientist (re: my life as a NERD) is to identify correlations that stand the test of time. As we’ve all heard several times, correlation does not imply causation. This is true, of course—but it doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage strong correlations to benefit our bottom line.
I looked at tight ends over the past five seasons who had amassed at least 125 targets in a season– then I examined how they fared the following season. The results were very interesting:
Looks like pretty damning evidence of the correlation between a high number of TE targets and poor performance the following season. In summarized terms:
Shut Up and Get to 2021, Nerd!
Now that I think I’ve come up with a leading indicator for TE underperformance, time to roll out which tight ends to avoid in 2020:
Just two TEs make the list, but they’re two pretty big names: Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. As is usually the case with this type of analysis, the temptation will be to start carving out emotional exceptions to what the data is trying to tell us. Don’t fall for it! Better to be right 80% of the time, than worry about the 20% opportunity loss.
There you have it: the TEs who’ll be disappointing their owners in 2021 if drafted too high.