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New Viz Tool – Heatmaps; Subtitle: Re-evaluating My Aaron Dobson Draft Pick

I just updated the College WR Career Graphs app with a new tab that will let you compare players by visualizing their production measures in a heatmap. I like heatmaps because they give an instant view of how numbers differ by visualizing them with colors.

To illustrate how they might be used, let me go back to the draft pick that I wrote about over the weekend, my questionable selection of Aaron Dobson in the first round of a rookie draft. I chose Dobson largely on being able to tell myself a usage story, even if I have reservations about his talent. My overall justification was that with back-up RBs flying off the board, Dobson might have a decent usage situation given the injuries affecting NE’s pass game.

But I’d still like to feel as if the guy I’m taking has some promise based on college production, rather than just a possibility of getting on the field. Here is a heatmap pulled directly out of the app, comparing the choices I had at the time: Robert Woods, Justin Hunter and Aaron Dobson.

download (21)

*msYDS = Player Receiving Yards/Team Passing Yards, msTD is like msYDS but for touchdowns, YPT = Yards/Target, TRGS = Total Targets on the Season, RZTDR = Red Zone Touchdowns/Red Zone Targets

The first thing that you see is that Robert Woods required a shit ton of targets to get his production. He was generally efficient in the red zone, but just the same, Woods required a lot of targets.

Dobson didn’t see as many targets as Woods, but he wasn’t substantially more efficient than Woods either. In Dobson’s defense, his QBs were fairly awful while Woods was catching passes from a future NFL player at least. This excuse only relates to the yards/target and RZTDR numbers, which are not adjusted for scheme.

Hunter is an interesting case because his numbers back up the story of tantalizing promise without a lot of realization of that promise. Hunter saw the most targets in 2012, but also was poor in the red zone.

I feel a little bit better about my Dobson selection after looking at these numbers for one reason. Dobson’s junior year was a decent year from a production standpoint. He caught more than half of Marshall’s touchdowns and also averaged close to 9 yards/target.

I would feel better if Dobson had dominated, but then I also couldn’t have picked up a NE draft pick that had dominated, with my 10th pick. So maybe there’s some upside and not as much as I wish was there.

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