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Dominator Rating & Breakout Age: Visualizing 2014’s Wide Receivers
Kevin Bain
Kevin Bain

So I wanted to share a couple of visualizations. As you know, some of the RotoViz heavy hitters have been looking at the relationship between a collegiate player’s Dominator Rating and Breakout Age. If you’re new to the concepts, or just want a refresher, here goes:

  • The Douche is responsible for the genesis of both ideas. In these two articles from last year, he took a preliminary look at the affect of age on the performance of rookie wide receivers.
  • Dominator Rating is a Shawn Siegele devised metric, which builds on the Douche’s work regarding market share for receivers. It’s the average of a player’s market share of receiving yards and market share of touchdowns.
  • Jon Moore started looking more formally at the impact of prospect age in this article. About the same time, he shared with the RotoViz staff a database (still being built) to help track ages and other metrics for players current and past.
  • This inspired Mr. Siegele to pen Three Holy Grail Components to Wide Receiver EvaluationEarly 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings, and finally, Why Breakout Age is the Skeleton Key.
  • Mr. Moore followed with The RotoViz Skeleton Key: Picking Better WRs for Fantasy Football, wherein he explored the relationship between a player’s collegiate breakout age and NFL fantasy football production.
  • I added my “looking back” two cents yesterday, where I demonstrated that the vast majority of Top 30 WR fantasy seasons come from players with a viable (greater than 30%) DR and younger Breakout Age (BOA).

Expect more analysis to come. For now, chart porn!

Let’s start with a look at 2014 draft eligible WRs who posted a DR greater than 30% at some point in their collegiate career.


The orange line here is showing the player’s age at which they achieved the DR indicated by the blue bar. There’s not specifically anything actionable to “do” here, other than to visualize the relationships. For example, Jeremy Gallon: stellar DR, but one of the oldest draft eligible receivers. Conversely, Jordan Mathews and Donte Moncrief: Their DRs are fine, but not exceptionally different than several other players. What is different? Their age. Both posted sub 19 year old breakouts, which is very impressive.

This next chart presents all the 2014 WRs for whom we have age information (thank you, Jon Moore). It also presents DR information. Age is presented either as the age at which the player first broke the 30% DR threshold (which is probably really just an easily-discernible point on a continuum, rather than an actual threshold), or the age at which they posted their best DR.

I’ve added some rough boundaries to help visualize the data. In general, the upper right quadrant is the most desirable. This is where the best combination of age and DR falls. That is, the younger the player, and the higher the DR, the closer to the top right corner of the chart. Don’t read too much into the boundaries, though, as we don’t yet know definitively where the value drop offs occur. This is just an exercise in visualizing our hypothesis so far.



In my mind, I’m picturing this like one of the RotoViz Apps. Most of the Apps present “comparables” for the player you’re examining: they find players with similar age/weight profiles. In this case, I’m picturing comparables based on similar DR/BOA profiles. I’m intrigued by how closely bunched Donte Moncrief, Jordan Matthews, and Sammy Watkins are. Or, for that matter, how close Davante Adams and Jarvis Landry are.

For comparison’s sake, I created a similar chart, but for WRs who’ve already played in the NFL. This is not a scientific sample of players. I tried to select WRs from every team, and with varying DR/BOA profiles to “fill in the chart”, but not so many that it became unreadable. In other words, this chart isn’t a “proof” of the DR/BOA concept, but an illustration of the hypothesis. Also, note the horizontal axis starts at a DR of 0.15. There aren’t many NFL WRs who posted college DRs under 15%. Also I did that to ‘spread out’ the middle range of DRs, where most fantasy-relevant WRs fall.  Still, I think it’s informative and thought provoking.


[EDIT 1/30/14: Corrected Brandon Marshall’s BOA to 21]

A couple of really quick takeaways. Remember, this is just a thought exercise:

  • Jordan Shipley, Jeremy Gallon. Jeremy Gallon, Jordan Shipley.
  • Josh Gordon falls outside the 30% plus DR zone, yet he’s one of our favorite receivers. Just an example that speaks to this concept being flexible, not rigid. It’s also worth noting that he’s not *that far off the DR, and did it at a young age.
  • Cordarelle Patterson slots between Danny Amendola and Marlon Brown.
  • Da’Rick Rogers and Jordy Nelson have identical DR/BOA (43% at age 20) profiles.
  • Paul Richardson’s profile looks Leonard Hankerson-ish.
  • Brandon LaFell, Alex Amidon. Alex Amidon, Brandon LaFell.
  • Allen Robinson (39% DR at age 19) resembles Julio Jones (38% DR at age 19).
  • Sub 19 year old breakouts: Moncrief, Watkins, Matthews. Julio Jones, Aaron Dobson, Randall Cobb.
  • Marquise Lee and Kenny Stills have the same profile (30% DR at age 20).

Hopefully you enjoyed this exercise. Don’t run out and make your rookie draft plans yet- there’s more evaluation to be done. But keep this thought exercise in mind when you do. I think it’s a useful thing to compare players, not just on physical and athletic profiles, but on production and age attributes as well. If nothing else, it jogs your brain into making connections you might not otherwise make.

Final thought: keep coming back to check the work from our other writers, and thanks for supporting RotoViz.

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