Kickers Are People Too – Part 1: Modeling Kicker Quality
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Let’s face it. You play in at least one league that still uses kickers.1 And you know what? That’s totally fine! While kicking is still the hardest part of the game to model, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least get better at it. So that’s what I’m here to do in this three part series. In this article — Part 1 — I’ll introduce my kicking quality model, which takes into account all sorts of factors including kick distance, weather, altitude, field surface, era,2 and more. From there, I’ll derive a power ranking for each kicker based off of how well he performed relative to the situation, so we can get a retrospective look at how well each kicker performed in 2015 relative to his peers.3 In Part 2, I’ll derive a model to predict the number of attempts per game each kicker gets. Finally, in Part 3 we will put the first two parts together to create kicker rankings for 2016. Let’s jump into Part 1, the kicker quality model.