Introducing the Official Arrowhead Guys Punter Rankings

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You read that right, from this moment on, Arrowhead Guys will be ranking the NFL punters. Ranking punters has always been a challenge, how do you measure them? Sure, you can do something like net punting yards or punts inside the 20, but neither of those are great, since they both heavily depend on where on the field you’re doing the punting.

So before we get to the rankings themselves, here’s a bit of explanation for how I came up with these rankings (which I’m sure you will all read carefully and not just skip to the rankings themselves).

Methodology

First, I got data from the NFLFastR database, more specifically their 4th down data. Since I’m using 4th down data, these rankings only include 4th down punts. Punts rarely happen on any other down so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

For every punt, I took the win probability added for that punt (specifically using the Vegas win probability, which accounts for how good the teams are) and compared it to the expected win probability added for a punt in that situation. The more win probability added, the better of course. I compiled these averages for each punter, and eliminated players who had fewer than 40 punts over the course of the season, and voilà, there’s the list.

One important note before we get to the rankings. There’s a difference between comparing the outcome of the play to the regular win probability. On 4th down you have 3 options; kicking a field goal, running a play and trying to get the 1st down, or punting. Regular win probability accounts for all of those options. But for these rankings we don’t want that, since it would be comparing the outcomes of punts to the outcomes of going for it. That’s why I had to use their 4th down data to specifically compare punts to what the average punt would produce.

Ok, now to the list.

2020 Rankings

RankTeamPunterPuntsWPA Per Punt
1CARJ.Charlton450.00875
2SEAM.Dickson670.00866
3NEJ.Bailey540.00668
4BUFC.Bojorquez520.00613
5LVA.Cole430.00586
6NYGR.Dixon630.00514
7WAST.Way770.00381
8MINB.Colquitt530.00355
9DETJ.Fox590.00337
10DENS.Martin640.00330
11TENB.Kern420.00306
12KCT.Townsend550.00265
13NOT.Morstead660.00256
14JAXL.Cooke540.00231
15MIAM.Haack670.00179
16PHIC.Johnston670.00172
17ARIA.Lee580.00137
18HOUB.Anger520.00118
19CINK.Huber650.00118
20BALS.Koch550.00118
21SFM.Wishnowsky660.00111
22INDR.Sanchez440.000796
23LAJ.Hekker760.000277
24CLEJ.Gillan57-0.000828
25TBB.Pinion67-0.000977
26CHIP.O'Donnell69-0.00122
27PITJ.Berry60-0.00137
28ATLS.Hofrichter55-0.00248
29GBJ.Scott51-0.00327
30NYJB.Mann80-0.00414
31LACT.Long55-0.00465

Analysis

The two best punters in the NFL were very clearly Carolina’s Joseph Charlton and Seattle’s Michael Dickson, even though neither one made the All-Pro team or even the Pro Bowl.

Instead, AP selected the 3rd ranked Jake Baily for 1st team All-Pro, and the 9th ranked Jack Fox for 2nd team.

Many people consider Johnny Hecker to be the best punter in the NFL, but last year he wasn’t even good, ranking a mere 23rd.

What should be surprising to nobody given their history, the Chargers have the worst qualified punter in the NFL in Ty Long.

Our own Tommy Townsend had a nice showing, ranking 12th. It looks like we managed to find an effective replacement for Dustin Colquitt.

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Chief-Blinders-On
08/31/2021 1:29 pm

This makes me want to learn analytics so I can argue against it. However, I don’t know analytics so you get the W (this time!). Well done Tony!
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Chief-Blinders-On
Reply to  Tony Sommer
08/31/2021 1:48 pm

comment image?w=608&ssl=1

upamtn
08/31/2021 1:00 pm

MATH!

wonder what numbers Colquitt would have had in his heyday

good stuff, Tony

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Chief-Blinders-On
Reply to  upamtn
08/31/2021 1:24 pm

Colquitt was the Chiefs offense and defense for a decade. You’re not supposed to love punters, but Colquitt was a different breed. Even had this moment in 2021. And looks like he’s doing plenty fine now.

Big Chief
Big Chief
08/31/2021 12:24 pm

It’s an interesting idea, sort of an EPA for punts, but doesn’t it have the same issue as Net Yards/punt, in that it includes coverage in the analysis? A punter can have a great punt, (distance, location, and hangtime) but because of bad coverage it gets a great return and the punter’s effort is lost in the wash. How does this preclude that?

Last edited 1 year ago by Big Chief
pompano
08/31/2021 11:21 am

upamtn
Reply to  pompano
08/31/2021 1:05 pm

yanno, someday gonna have to learn ya how to do a link that works …

hoosierchief
08/31/2021 11:19 am

This is an interesting approach. It could be used to evaluate several other positions or occurrences during a game. Also an analytical approach to the impact any particular play had on a game – basically numerically determine what really was “the play of the game”, or how bad a penalty really was…

hoosierchief
Reply to  Tony Sommer
08/31/2021 12:01 pm

By no means should my above comment be construed as volunteering!!! Being an engineer, I deal with math all day. not sure if I want to do more in my own time.

upamtn
Reply to  hoosierchief
08/31/2021 1:04 pm

don’t look at me …

Chief-Blinders-On
Reply to  upamtn
08/31/2021 1:52 pm

“Cool masks, where did you get’em?” ~ Jaffar

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