Using Regression Tree Analysis To Understand WR Profiles and the 2021 Prospects
Image Credit: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Jaylen Waddle.

Ja’Marr Chase has been lauded by many as one of the best wide receiver prospects to enter the NFL in recent memory. With a ranking of 19 in the current RotoViz Dynasty Rankings, he’s our top prospect from the 2021 class. Why are we, and many others, so optimistic about his future? It’s pretty simple. He’s projected as an early Round 1 pick, made an impact at an early age, and had one of the most productive WR seasons in the history of college football.

When considering prospects, we often question whether they “check all of the boxes.” It’s great when players like Chase accomplish this, but we know that there are plenty of successful players that only checked a handful. Some boxes are more important than others and in some cases, the combination of checks is more important than the total.

Regression trees are a great way to help us reframe this idea. In prior seasons, Kevin Cole and Anthony Amico used regression trees to consider the importance of production and age in predicting NFL outcomes. Regression trees help us to understand the mixture of attributes that tend to drive NFL performance and provide a visual way to understand how these attributes interact.

What Is A Regression Tree?

So what in the world is a regression tree? For the purposes of this article, think of a regression tree as a series of questions. The response to each question leads to another question, which leads to another question. This process is repeated until all questions are answered and an estimate of the points per game a prospect is expected to score in the first three seasons of his NFL career is reached.

To create the regression tree used in this article, I gathered collegiate, age, and draft data for every WR included in the Prospect Box Score Scout. I filtered this listing to only include players that have logged three NFL seasons. I then worked through different combinations of measures until I arrived at a mixture that was predictive of NFL fantasy points and easy to visually follow.

The specifics of how the tree is built fall outside the scope of this article. But for a little more background, I split my listing of players into training sets and test sets. I then fed the training sets into an algorithm that ran through the process of building the tree by continually separating players based on thresholds. Once the tree was built, I fed the test sets into the model and compared each player’s predicted result (as calculated by the regression tree) to his actual result. I repeated this process, workshopping different mixtures of statistics until the differences between predicted and actual results were limited. On average, points per game totals predicted by the model were approximately 2.5 points higher or lower than actual values.

The Results

Before we walk our way through the regression tree, there are a couple of key qualifiers worth mentioning. Firstly,

Please subscribe For Full Access to all RotoViz content and tools!

 

What’s included in your subscription??

  • Exclusive Access to RotoViz Study Hall
    • A treasure trove of our most insightful articles that will teach you the metrics that matter, time-tested winning strategies, the approaches that will give you an edge, and teach you how to be an effective fantasy manager.
  • Revolutionary Tools
    • Including the NFL Stat Explorer, Weekly GLSP Projections, NCAA Prospect Box Score Scout, Combine Explorer, Range of Outcomes App, DFS Lineup Optimizer, Best Ball Suite,and many, many, more.
  • Groundbreaking Articles
    • RotoViz is home of the original Zero-RB article and continues to push fantasy gamers forward as the go-to destination for evidence-based analysis and strategic advantages.
  • Weekly Projections
    • Built using RotoViz’s unique GLSP approach.
  • Expert Rankings
  • And a whole lot more…

Dave Caban

Senior Fantasy Analyst, app developer, hosts the RotoViz Radio Flagship, auction draft enthusiast.

Does Kenneth Walker’s Value Skyrocket As Pete Carroll’s Next Bell Cow?

The Seahawks used the 41st pick of the draft to lock in Kenneth Walker. Seattle is known for its love of the rushing game but just how far does this landing spot push Walker up boards? Seattle made Kenneth Walker the second running back selected in the 2022 draft by locking him in with the 41st pick. It’s no secret that Pete Carroll loves to…...

Did The Jets Just Ruin Another Would Be Star in Breece Hall?

The Jets made a move to trade up with the Giants in order to select Breece Hall at pick 36. Hall was considered by many to be the top player in the class across positions. He’s got the talent but will the landing spot bury it? The Jets traded their 38th and 146th picks to the Giants for the 36th pick which the team converted…...

Treylon Burks Is Poised to Be A.J. Brown’s 1-for-1 Replacement

The Titans made a splash Thursday night by trading former Round 2 pick A.J. Brown to the Eagles in exchange for the 18th and 102nd pick. The team turned around and drafted Treylon Burks who many believe can be a one-for-one replacement. He’s an imposing specimen but can he be as special as Brown?   There’s no way around it, the Titans believe that Treylon Burks is special…...

Does Kenneth Walker’s Value Skyrocket As Pete Carroll’s Next Bell Cow?

The Seahawks used the 41st pick of the draft to lock in Kenneth Walker. Seattle is known for its love of the rushing game but just how far does this landing spot push Walker up boards? Seattle made Kenneth Walker the second running back selected in the 2022 draft by locking him in with the 41st pick. It’s no secret that Pete Carroll loves to…...

Did The Jets Just Ruin Another Would Be Star in Breece Hall?

The Jets made a move to trade up with the Giants in order to select Breece Hall at pick 36. Hall was considered by many to be the top player in the class across positions. He’s got the talent but will the landing spot bury it? The Jets traded their 38th and 146th picks to the Giants for the 36th pick which the team converted…...

Treylon Burks Is Poised to Be A.J. Brown’s 1-for-1 Replacement

The Titans made a splash Thursday night by trading former Round 2 pick A.J. Brown to the Eagles in exchange for the 18th and 102nd pick. The team turned around and drafted Treylon Burks who many believe can be a one-for-one replacement. He’s an imposing specimen but can he be as special as Brown?   There’s no way around it, the Titans believe that Treylon Burks is special…...

The Blitz

Connect
Support

rotovizmain@gmail.com

Sign-up today for our free Premium Email subscription!

Data provided by

© 2021 RotoViz. All rights Reserved.

Welcome Back to RotoViz...

– IF YOU HAVE ISSUES LOGGING IN PLEASE CONTACT ROTOVIZMAIN@GMAIL.COM

– PLEASE NOTE THAT ROTOVIZ USES WORDPRESS FOR ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT. IF RESETTING YOUR PASSWORD YOU MAY BE FOWARDED TO A WORDPRESS PAGE.