Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Attribute Spotlight - Running Back Carry (CAR) attribute (NFL Fumble %)

    When it comes to Madden football, there may be no position were the Carry (CAR) attribute is more important than at Running Back.  The very nature of the position requires accuracy and consistency for the CAR attribute.  In this blog, I will show you the fumble percentage of 40 different NFL running backs.  This is my most in depth blog yet when it comes to fumble percentage, and by the end of this blog I will propose a new way of rating the carry attribute in Madden football.  It's not my intention to just bash the current ratings system.  My goal was to find a better way to rate the CAR attribute so all players are rated more accurately and consistently in future Madden titles.

     I still haven't found a website that provides a fumble percentage statistic.  So all of this data is the result of NFL statistics I gathered from the web.  (You can find these stats on several websites, like:  NFL.com, ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, FoxSports.com, etc...) I entered the statistics into a spreadsheet to calculate a fumble percentage per touch.   I defined a touch as a reception, rush attempt, or kick/punt return.  As I said before, my focus will be on rushing attempts and receptions.  

 NFL Rulebook:  definition of FUMBLE: 
Article 4 A Fumble is any act, other than a pass or kick, which results in loss of player possession. The term Fumble always implies possession. (8-7-3).

    First I had to educate myself on the average fumble percentage for NFL running backs.  Please be aware that I only included players that were defined by NFL.com as a RB,  I intentionally excluded Fullbacks.  From 2009 to 2011, Full Backs carried the ball 1052 times and had 14 fumbles which results in a fumble percentage of 1.33%.  The average FB clearly fumbles at a different rate than the average RB, so I will treat them as completely separate positions.  This is what I found when looking at the last three regular seasons:

- In general the percentages are very small, with some variance from year to year.  For the most part, NFL running backs are great at protecting the football.  I believe the 3 year fumble percentage is a reliable number to set as a bench mark when looking at the last 3 years of the selected RB's.  There needs to be bench marks.  I plan on going back 10 years for all three of these fumble percentages.  So far I have only completed the last 10 years for RB's (rushing touches only).  This is what I found:

    From 2002-2011 NFL RB's had 119,683 carries and 1,274 fumbles for a 1.064% fumble percentage.  Compare that percentage to the 2011-2009 rushing fumble percentage of 1.049% and we see a slight change, but nothing drastic.  I will later use the 10 year rushing fumble percentage as a benchmark to compare with a career rushing fumble percentages.    

    You will see the category of "All Touches" in a upcoming spreadsheets, that includes kick and punt return touches as well as rushing and receiving.  Since the stats show that Kick and Punt Returners are at a higher risk of fumbling, I decided to disregard those numbers when I rated the CAR attribute. 

    The above table includes all kick return/punt return touches and fumbles from the last three seasons.  You can clearly see that being a returnman in the NFL increases the likelihood that you will fumble the football.  The kick return fumble percentage is 2X has high as the other RB fumble percent figures. The Punt return fumble percentage is over 5X as high as the other RB fumble percentages. 

    A Running back like Darren Sproles is at a disadvantage because he return punts and kicks which automatically puts him at a higher risk of fumbling the football.  I think the kick/punt return fumble percentage should factor into the KR/PR rating in Madden, but not in the CAR attribute when it comes to the player's primary position, such as RB. 

    In this spreadsheet you will see the fumble % broken down into four categories.  I believe that the "Rushing & Receiving Fumble %" will be the most reliable to use when rating the Carry (CAR) attribute.  These percentages are based on Regular Season statistics only.  Not that the playoffs are not important, but this allowed me to compare all RB's equally even if they didn't make the playoffs.  How I think the playoffs should impact Madden attributes is a totally different topic that I plan on addressing in future blogs.    

    Notice how Michael Turner and Marshawn Lynch both have a 99 CAR (M12 CAR) attribute, but neither really deserves it based off these numbers.  Brandon Jacobs and Willis McGahee are clearly overrated as well in this attribute.  I chalk up these poor ratings to the general perception of these players.  That is why perception should not factor in the attributes that can be objectively rated by using statistics.  Some attributes can't be rated based on statistics alone, but the CAR attribute is a great example of one that should be rated according to statistics.

   Green-Ellis has clearly earned a rating of 99 CAR by having never fumbled the football in his career.  In some cases such Green-Ellis, the attributes look pretty good.  Now look at Darren Sproles, he is 6th from the bottom on this table due to having a 78 CAR attribute in Madden 12.  Sproles has one of the best rushing and receiving fumble percentages in this group no matter what time frame you look at. 

    Right now in Madden 12, the four most important attributes for a RB's overall (OVR) rating are SPD, AWR, CAR, and BCV.  All four of these attributes are weighted the same when it comes to OVR rating.  I believe in some cases the CAR attribute is used to hold down a player's OVR regardless of their ability to hang onto the football.  If the CAR attribute is a player's ability to protect the football, than it should be based on reality and not used to lower or raise the OVR.

Blue = Good, better than the average.

Red = Bad, worse than the average.

* Please note that the NFL RB Rushing Fumble % used for career comparison (1.064%), was based on the last 10 years of NFL regular season statistics for ALL Running Backs.

    I included the spreadsheet below to show that a higher amount of touches will not result in a higher fumble percentage.  Look at some of the players who have the most touches the last 3 years;  running backs like Steven Jackson and Ray Rice have done very well despite a heavy work load.  I think this spreadsheet clearly shows that some players are just better at securing the football, regardless of the touches the receive.


   In this table, you can see the incosistency and inaccuracy of the current CAR attributes when compared to the actual Rushing and Receiving Fumble %.  The accuracy is roughly 50% when looking at these players.

Blue = Good, better than the average
Red = Bad, worse than the average


    My final spreadsheet below is my recommended CAR ratings for the 40 running backs.

    The hardest part was coming up with a procedure that I could follow for each RB while removing bias.  First, I decided to only consider the 3 year fumble percentage and the career fumble percentage.  By doing this, I believe it gives the appropriate weight to the most current season while also not overlooking a players entire career.  Basically, I didn't include the 2011 season because it is already represented in the other two figures.

    There are no rookies on this list (although rookies were included in total NFL numbers), I only included players with at least 2 seasons in the NFL.  I will go over Rookie ratings at the end of this blog.

    I would subtract 1 point from 100 for every tenth of a pecent (0.1%) that a player has in the fumble percentage.  To do this I rounded all fumbles percentages to the nearest tenth of a percent.  I did this separately for the 3 year and the career figures, than I averaged them out to come up with the new CAR attribute.  While a 2 or 3 year player has the same number in each column, it still reflects what they have done in the NFL so far.  Veterans don't get underrated for one bad season, or overrated because of one good season.

    Here are my suggested carry (CAR) ratings:

    *I normally don't like anyone receiving a 100 rating, but for Green-Ellis I made an exception.

    You can see based on my proposed rating system the average RB would have an 89 CAR attribute rating.  Currently the range for the CAR attribute in Madden 12 is 57 to 99 in regards to RB's.  I don't think you would see many RB's below a 70 CAR using this procedure.  A player should be that low unless the numbers support it.  This attribute is too important in regards to gameplay to be inaccurate.  It can't just be a tool to manipulate OVR.  Many players are not used in Madden 12 due to having a low CAR rating, by having accurate and consistent CAR attributes more players will be used in the game (online or offline).  

    Based on preliminary numbers, this procedure would work well for RB, FB, WR, and TE.  Due to QB's fumbling at such a high rate when running the ball, the procedures would have to be modified to some extent.  My earlier findings show that QB's fumble the ball about 6.45% of the time when rushing (I excluded sack fumbles).  That is 6X more than that of RB, WR, and TE this season.  QB's fumbled 5X as often as Full Backs (FB).  Some QB's fumble the ball when rushing over 10% of the time; for that reason, the QB carry (CAR) attribute rating will be a little more challenging.  I plan on doing that very soon in an upcoming blog.  

I also plan on redoing my Tight End and Wide Receiver blogs to reflect this new procedure.  There is no reason why the highest WR carry (CAR) in Madden 12 is only 85 and only 80 for TE's.  My early findings don't indicate that much difference in fumble % when each player is utilized at there primary position.  WR's do show a slightly higher fumble percentage when rushing the ball, but I won't be certain until I collect more data.       


How to handle rookies and limited role players -

   For rookies that answer is pretty easy, use their college statistics.  Now finding a website that actually tracks fumbles for individual college players is not so easy.  Many sites exclude the fumble statistic from individual college player statistics.  I did finally find a site that included fumbles in there stat profiles.  That website is http://www.teamrankings.com/college-football.

   By applying the same carry (CAR) rating procedure to incoming rookie RB's, this is what I came up with:

    Last, but not least.  How do you deal with a 1 year player with very few NFL touches.  I suggest still using his college stats until that player has been in the NFL for 3 years.  After every additional year in the NFL, you can drop off the oldest college season.  Here is an example:

    So you can see here that I dropped the 2007 out when assigning the carry rating.  Since the college website I found did  not specify wither the fumbles were from rushing, receiving, or kick return, I had to use all of the touches.  This is a slight change from the recommended procedure, but one that is needed to be to come up with a more accurate carry rating for Da'Rel Scott.  Since he only has 21 NFL touches, it doesn't seem accurate to rate him solely on his NFL experience.  While Scott did have a higher fumble percentage in college than the NFL average, his current 68 CAR rating is way to low.  He would have been an 87 CAR coming into the NFL based on his college stats.  The one fumble from his only NFL season, has essentially cost him one point to his CAR attribute which went down to 86.  With this formula he would been rated an  87 carry coming out of college.

    Players with limited playing time will always be a challenge to the player ratings person, this is just one example on how to make that rating easier to obtain by including college statistics.  I understand college is not the same as the NFL.  That said, if Da'Rel Scott continues to fumble at a high rate in the NFL while receiving limited touches, his CAR will continue to go down in future seasons.

    That's it guys.  I learned a lot from studying NFL fumbles.  I don't see any reason why this type of analysis can't be applied to the Madden Carry (CAR) attribute.  The main problem is the OVR formula.  By changing these carry attributes, the OVR will go and and down and not everyone will agree with those changes.  That is why I will continue to suggest that OVR no longer be connect to the player attributes, it should be a stand alone ranking.  I intentionally left out OVR from this data, it should not play a role in how we rate player attributes.

   Have a great week.

 **PLEASE READ ** I don't normally like 100 rating for any attribute, but it's hard to reduce a players rating who has never fumbled the football.  To avoid having a bunch of 100 rated players who have never fumbled the ball, but have a very low number of touches, you could set a minimum number of NFL touches that a player needs to achieve before a 100 CAR could be given.  Of course, 100 would only be given if the player maintains a 0.0 fumble %.

   I would probably set a minimum of 150 touches for the TE position, 200 touches for the WR position, and 300 touches for the RB position, before a player could earn the 100 CAR.  Until the player reaches the minimum number of touches at each position the highest CAR they could achieve a 95.  Remember the rookie CAR attribute and college statistics would also be considered for the first 3 seasons or until the player has reaches the position minimum.

    In general it would be very rare for a player to have a 0.0 fumble percentage after reaching the position minimum.  You can see in this blog that only Green-Ellis has a 0.0 fumble percentage.

    Stay tuned for more suggestions and projections on Madden 13 player ratings and attributes.  Follow me on twitter @mannmicj to receive updates on my newest blog posts.


  1. Fantastic article

  2. I'm a stats maniac too (I try to redefine these for the Statis Pro Football game and use them for an internet league), and I was always curious about the way EA rated the players (I always thought the ratings weren't realistic). So great work, and don't you ever think about trying to rerate all the player's attributes ?