SlideShare a Scribd company logo
Flipping Coins in the War Room:Skill and Chance in the NFL Draft Cade Massey  Yale University MIT Sports Analytics ConferenceMarch 4, 2011
Skill and Chance in the Draft Clearly there is skill involved. But are there differences in skill? Are some teams better than others at picking players?
“Indianapolis Colts…not just with Peyton Manning… Dwight Freeney, Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne were genius picks, too.” “The Cleveland Browns…screwed the Chihuahua. Their run of No. 1 picks from 1999 to 2002 is the single worst stretch of drafting since the Iraqi Republican Guard. Were they using an Ouija board?”
Skeptical, due to research on NFL draft Massey & Thaler (“Loser’s Curse”) What’s the chance that a player is better than the next player taken at his position? E.g., the 3rd cornerback vs. the 4th cornerback
Skeptical, due to research in psychology People under-appreciate the role of chance E.g., belief in the “law of small numbers” An important implication: “Fictitious Variation” Matthew Rabin (2002) Suggests that people over-attribute differences in outcomes to differences in skill. Provides our main hypothesis: There is less difference in draft-picking skill than people believe.
Methodology Use games started Results are robust to pro bowl, Massey-Thaler $s, etc. Adjusted for draft position Compared against long-run average for that pick Use the player’s first 5 years Two tests: Within year, across teams (intra-class correlation) Within team, across years (autocorrelation)
r=-0.14 (n.s)
Skill and Chance in the Draft So it’s all chance on the margin!  Is this nihilistic? Quite the contrary.
Decision strategy depends on situation Skill-based Chance-based ?
Logic of Chance (LOC) Distinct set of prescriptions for operating in an environment with high uncertainty.
LOC: First, acknowledge role of chance Roethlisberger on the number of times they’ve beaten the Ravens in close games: “We got lucky.”
LOC: Maximize your # of chances
LOC: Minimize the cost of choosing vs.
LOC: Value the process (and protect it)
LOC: Seek broad, independent input
LOC: Be slow to place credit, blame
In sum: At the margin, picking players is chance Teams don’t vary at this…  …and there are no persistent differences in drafting ability.
Managing chance is where the skill is.

More Related Content

Similar to Flipping Coins in the War Room: Skill and Chance in the NFL Draft

6170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M1
6170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M16170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M1
6170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M1David Wainwright
 
Turnitin Originality Report .docx
            Turnitin Originality Report                   .docx            Turnitin Originality Report                   .docx
Turnitin Originality Report .docxjoyjonna282
 
Instructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent (1211.docx
Instructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent  (1211.docxInstructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent  (1211.docx
Instructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent (1211.docxhye345678
 
Player Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docx
Player Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docxPlayer Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docx
Player Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docxinfantsuk
 
Three Core Properties of Rivalry
Three Core Properties of RivalryThree Core Properties of Rivalry
Three Core Properties of RivalryJoe Cobbs
 
The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...
The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...
The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...Lasse Ringstad
 
Foresight: Your Hidden Superpower
Foresight: Your Hidden SuperpowerForesight: Your Hidden Superpower
Foresight: Your Hidden SuperpowerJohn Smart
 
A collaboration is a collaboration is a collaboration
A collaboration is a collaboration is a collaborationA collaboration is a collaboration is a collaboration
A collaboration is a collaboration is a collaborationJohn Thomas
 
How To Write A Persuasive Essay PaperCoach.Net
How To Write A Persuasive Essay  PaperCoach.NetHow To Write A Persuasive Essay  PaperCoach.Net
How To Write A Persuasive Essay PaperCoach.NetErika Nelson
 

Similar to Flipping Coins in the War Room: Skill and Chance in the NFL Draft (11)

6170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M1
6170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M16170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M1
6170 Ethics and Diversity - Wainwright.assignment_M1
 
Mega Essay
Mega EssayMega Essay
Mega Essay
 
Turnitin Originality Report .docx
            Turnitin Originality Report                   .docx            Turnitin Originality Report                   .docx
Turnitin Originality Report .docx
 
Instructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent (1211.docx
Instructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent  (1211.docxInstructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent  (1211.docx
Instructor Name- Point Value- 30Student Name-CATEGORY Excellent (1211.docx
 
Player Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docx
Player Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docxPlayer Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docx
Player Profiling with Fallout 3Pieter Spronck, Iris Balema.docx
 
Three Core Properties of Rivalry
Three Core Properties of RivalryThree Core Properties of Rivalry
Three Core Properties of Rivalry
 
The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...
The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...
The cost of irrationality - how poker players perform better by avoiding cogn...
 
Foresight: Your Hidden Superpower
Foresight: Your Hidden SuperpowerForesight: Your Hidden Superpower
Foresight: Your Hidden Superpower
 
A collaboration is a collaboration is a collaboration
A collaboration is a collaboration is a collaborationA collaboration is a collaboration is a collaboration
A collaboration is a collaboration is a collaboration
 
lecture1
lecture1lecture1
lecture1
 
How To Write A Persuasive Essay PaperCoach.Net
How To Write A Persuasive Essay  PaperCoach.NetHow To Write A Persuasive Essay  PaperCoach.Net
How To Write A Persuasive Essay PaperCoach.Net
 

More from Sloan Sports Conference

DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...
DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...
DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...Sloan Sports Conference
 
Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur Draft
Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur DraftDodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur Draft
Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur DraftSloan Sports Conference
 
Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...
Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...
Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...Sloan Sports Conference
 
Allocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision Making
Allocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision MakingAllocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision Making
Allocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision MakingSloan Sports Conference
 
Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...
Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...
Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...Sloan Sports Conference
 
Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...
Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...
Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...Sloan Sports Conference
 
The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...
The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...
The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...Sloan Sports Conference
 
The Real Reasons Behind the Home Field Advantage
The Real Reasons Behind the Home Field AdvantageThe Real Reasons Behind the Home Field Advantage
The Real Reasons Behind the Home Field AdvantageSloan Sports Conference
 

More from Sloan Sports Conference (9)

DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...
DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...
DIGR: A Defense Independent Rating of NHL Goaltenders using Spatially Smoothe...
 
Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur Draft
Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur DraftDodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur Draft
Dodging the Draft: Analyzing the Competitive Impact of Baseball’s Amateur Draft
 
Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...
Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...
Buying Tickets: Capturing the Dynamic Factors that Drive Consumer Purchase De...
 
How Much Trouble is Early Foul Trouble?
How Much Trouble is Early Foul Trouble?How Much Trouble is Early Foul Trouble?
How Much Trouble is Early Foul Trouble?
 
Allocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision Making
Allocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision MakingAllocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision Making
Allocation and Dynamic Efficiency in NBA Decision Making
 
Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...
Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...
Moral Hazard in Long-Term Guaranteed Contracts – Theory and Evidence from the...
 
Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...
Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...
Scoring Strategies for the Underdog – Using Risk as an Ally in Determining Op...
 
The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...
The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...
The Importance of Being Open: What Player Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Fie...
 
The Real Reasons Behind the Home Field Advantage
The Real Reasons Behind the Home Field AdvantageThe Real Reasons Behind the Home Field Advantage
The Real Reasons Behind the Home Field Advantage
 

Flipping Coins in the War Room: Skill and Chance in the NFL Draft

  • 1. Flipping Coins in the War Room:Skill and Chance in the NFL Draft Cade Massey Yale University MIT Sports Analytics ConferenceMarch 4, 2011
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5. Skill and Chance in the Draft Clearly there is skill involved. But are there differences in skill? Are some teams better than others at picking players?
  • 6.
  • 7. “Indianapolis Colts…not just with Peyton Manning… Dwight Freeney, Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne were genius picks, too.” “The Cleveland Browns…screwed the Chihuahua. Their run of No. 1 picks from 1999 to 2002 is the single worst stretch of drafting since the Iraqi Republican Guard. Were they using an Ouija board?”
  • 8. Skeptical, due to research on NFL draft Massey & Thaler (“Loser’s Curse”) What’s the chance that a player is better than the next player taken at his position? E.g., the 3rd cornerback vs. the 4th cornerback
  • 9.
  • 10. Skeptical, due to research in psychology People under-appreciate the role of chance E.g., belief in the “law of small numbers” An important implication: “Fictitious Variation” Matthew Rabin (2002) Suggests that people over-attribute differences in outcomes to differences in skill. Provides our main hypothesis: There is less difference in draft-picking skill than people believe.
  • 11. Methodology Use games started Results are robust to pro bowl, Massey-Thaler $s, etc. Adjusted for draft position Compared against long-run average for that pick Use the player’s first 5 years Two tests: Within year, across teams (intra-class correlation) Within team, across years (autocorrelation)
  • 12.
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15.
  • 17. Skill and Chance in the Draft So it’s all chance on the margin! Is this nihilistic? Quite the contrary.
  • 18. Decision strategy depends on situation Skill-based Chance-based ?
  • 19. Logic of Chance (LOC) Distinct set of prescriptions for operating in an environment with high uncertainty.
  • 20. LOC: First, acknowledge role of chance Roethlisberger on the number of times they’ve beaten the Ravens in close games: “We got lucky.”
  • 21. LOC: Maximize your # of chances
  • 22. LOC: Minimize the cost of choosing vs.
  • 23. LOC: Value the process (and protect it)
  • 24. LOC: Seek broad, independent input
  • 25. LOC: Be slow to place credit, blame
  • 26. In sum: At the margin, picking players is chance Teams don’t vary at this… …and there are no persistent differences in drafting ability.
  • 27. Managing chance is where the skill is.