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Fantasy Football and the NFL Combine

By Ethan Allavarpu and Kyle Boal • 14 Jun 2020 • 12 min read
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The NFL combine garners popularity among football fans across the country. Players boost themselves into the public spotlight after a spectacular combine (i.e. D.K. Metcalf blew up on social media after his phenomenal combine results). The combine can affect draft stock, causing players to rise—or fall—depending on their performance. However, quantifying the "success" of players in the NFL based on the output of their physical characteristics is difficult due to the nature of the draft. Top players go early to teams who had the worst record the year before, thereby diminishing their ability to be influential on the stat sheet.

Which Team Won the 2020 Draft?

By Vishal Sundaram • 14 Jun 2020 • 16 min read
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With the NFL draft having recently concluded, many fans and outlets have been releasing draft grades, as per the annual tradition. While the grades vary from A's down to the occasional F, there's really very little analysis put into deriving these letters; these outlets often base their grades on the pre-draft reputations of the players picked, only considering whether they themselves believe these players are "good value" and not really taking into account scheme fit and other underlying factors that could sway the odds of success in the team's favor. My goal in this article was to look into external cues of player success. The three main factors I decided to focus on to attempt to find indicators of this year's most successful draft were combine data, strength of conference, and team history of drafting success.

Assessing the Tiers of Modern NFL Receivers With the Help of Machine Learning

By Kathir Ilango • 27 May 2020 • 10 min read
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Much like what has happened to basketball during Stephen Curry's career, the offensive philosophy of football has changed over the last few years. The traditional usage of wide receivers that has been around for decades is slowly fading away as football enters a new era of play calling and receivers in general are becoming far more versatile. Given all of this, I decided to look into how the tiers of receivers in the modern NFL can be better classified and how different they are from the traditional roles we have known for years. With the help of some analysis I did to classify advanced receiver data, I was able to find some pretty interesting things.

The Faces of Tomorrow’s NBA?: A Comparison of the Atlanta Hawks’ and Dallas Mavericks’ Offenses

By Oscar O'Brien and Mason Weinstein • 07 Apr 2020 • 7 min read
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When All-Stars Trae Young and Luka Doncic were swapped for each other on the day they were drafted in 2018, nobody could have predicted the offensive numbers they both would be putting up today. They weren't traded for each other straight up, with the Mavericks forking over a draft pick along with the rights to Trae Young. Doncic was highly valued at the time because he was dominant in the second-most competitive basketball league in the world, winning the Euroleague MVP before his 20th birthday. He was generally viewed as a polished, NBA-ready prospect. Trae Young, on the other hand, had popular media questioning both his defense and the sustainability of his uncanny long-range shooting ability. Some media outlets pointed at him as one of the prospects with a chance of flopping in the NBA.

Predicting Success: Why the White Sox are the Next Rays

By Luke Ito and Sean Lashkari • 07 Apr 2020 • 13 min read
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In Major League Baseball, it is notoriously difficult for a single player to lead a team to the playoffs, unlike sports such as basketball or football. With only a soft salary cap — the luxury tax — teams with more financial power have more playoff success than teams with little spending money. Since the modern luxury tax system was established in 2002, seven out of the eight top taxpayers have won a World Series, with the Detroit Tigers being the only exception. How then, do teams compete with these top spenders? Some try to match their spending, some cheat, and others try to come up with creative ways to stay afloat with these financial juggernauts. Generally, spending money is positively correlated with winning ball games. One immediately thinks of the Yankees, the most successful franchise in major league history, who seemingly sign every marquee free agent to a 9-figure contract. From the scatterplot of payroll against win percentage since 2008, some observations are immediately apparent. As payroll increases, win percentage increases. The Yankees, with an astronomical cumulative payroll (from 2008-2019) of $2,475,188,736, have the highest cumulative win percentage of .571 while the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins, with cumulative payrolls less than $900,000,000, among the bottom five in the league, have the lowest two win percentages of around .452. Four of the top six teams in win percentage are also in the top six in payroll.

The Coin Toss

By Ethan Allavarpu and Kyle Boal • 30 Mar 2020 • 9 min read
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A coin toss is just a flip of the coin, but in recent years-especially during the NFL playoffs-it has seemingly gained heightened importance. A prime example of this is the coin toss of the Super Bowl: in the early years, only the select few captains and a single referee met at midfield in a very quick exchange. Today, however, things are drastically different, as a small village of camera crews and important individuals accompany the captains to film the result of the coin toss. Moreover, mantras about which option to choose ("tails never fails") have emerged, the coin is specially engraved for the occasion, and Las Vegas sportsbooks create a prop bet on whether the result of the coin toss will be heads or tails, indicating the grandiosity of what should be an insignificant event.

The Team With the Best Clutch Gene

By Wilson Yu , Jaden Nguyen and Pieter van Tol • 30 Mar 2020 • 9 min read
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In the 2013 NBA Finals, Ray Allen hit arguably one of the most significant shots of the decade. With the rival San Antonio Spurs just seconds away from another NBA championship, Allen converted an offensive rebound into a 3 point shot to tie the game, send it to overtime and eventually secure a vital win. The Heat ended up winning the series and the championship and as a result, Ray Allen's three became one of the most memorable shots in recent history.

The Legacy of Michael Phelps

By Fischer Sherrod • 30 Mar 2020 • 8 min read
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With 28 Olympic gold medals, 27 World Championship gold medals, and 16 Pan Pacific Championship gold medals, Michael Phelps is the most decorated swimmer of all time. But Phelps' medals are just the beginning of his legacy. He has attended 5 Olympic Games, been named World Swimmer of the Year 7 times, and has set 39 world records--4 of which still stand today. His list of achievements goes on and on. In fact, many have acclaimed Phelps as 'the greatest swimmer of all time'. With his retirement in 2016, however, his achievements have flatlined. Now more than ever, the door is open for a new star to top his records and steal his title. The question is: Who could possibly rival Michael Phelps and the legacy that he has created?

The Story of Kyle Shanahan’s Offense and Where He Went Wrong in Super Bowl LIV

By Kathir Ilango • 17 Feb 2020 • 17 min read
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After finishing the 2016 season with 2 wins, the San Francisco 49ers decided it was time to try something new. They went into full-rebuild mode, giving six-year contracts to new head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. Prior to their hiring, Shanahan was an accomplished play caller who was only 37 years old, while Lynch was a commentator for Fox Sports who had zero front office experience. It was certainly a gamble, but one that ultimately paid off as Shanahan and Lynch completely rebuilt the team from the ground up (46 of the 53 players on San Francisco’s roster were brought in by the new regime) and within three years, got the Niners to the Super Bowl for a shot at their sixth title.

The Sustainability of Lamar Jackson's Production

By Vishal Sundaram • 02 Feb 2020 • 13 min read
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When tasked with winning football games, every head coach in the NFL talks about establishing an identity, as all the best teams have one. The 49ers are winning off of a multi-dimensional running game and a ferocious defense that gets to the opposing quarterback. The Saints are winning off a dink-and-dunk quick-hitter offense. The Chiefs are winning with speed on the outside and a lethal deep-ball passer. The Patriots have been "doing their job" for the last 2 decades. But out of all the teams in football, there's one team's identity which stands out as the most established, physical, and against-the-grain in all of football: the 14-2 Baltimore Ravens, the best team in the league.

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