FDS Seminar: Michael Lopez Sr. (NFL) “Analyzing the National Football League is challenging, but player tracking data is here to help”



Michael Lopez Sr.

Director of Football Data/Analytics National Football League


Most historical National Football League (NFL) analysis, both mainstream and academic, has relied on play-by-play data to generate team and player-level trends. Given the number of outside variables that impact on-field results, such as play call and game situation, findings are often no more than interesting anecdotes. With the release of player tracking data, however, analysts can appropriately ask and answer questions that better isolate player skill and coaching strategy. In this talk, we highlight the limitations of traditional analyses, and use a decades-old punching bag for analysts – fourth-down strategy – as a microcosm for why tracking data is needed.