[D] Kaggle/NFL Big Data Bowl – $75,000
How many yards will an NFL player gain after receiving a handoff?
American football is a complex sport. From the 22 players on the field to specific characteristics that ebb and flow throughout the game, it can be challenging to quantify the value of specific plays and actions within a play. Fundamentally, the goal of football is for the offense to run (rush) or throw (pass) the ball to gain yards, moving towards, then across, the opposing team’s side of the field in order to score. And the goal of the defense is to prevent the offensive team from scoring.
In the National Football League (NFL), roughly a third of teams’ offensive yardage comes from run plays.. Ball carriers are generally assigned the most credit for these plays, but their teammates (by way of blocking), coach (by way of play call), and the opposing defense also play a critical role. Traditional metrics such as ‘yards per carry’ or ‘total rushing yards’ can be flawed; in this competition, the NFL aims to provide better context into what contributes to a successful run play.
As an “armchair quarterback” watching the game, you may think you can predict the result of a play when a ball carrier takes the handoff – but what does the data say? In this competition, you will develop a model to predict how many yards a team will gain on given rushing plays as they happen. You’ll be provided game, play, and player-level data, including the position and speed of players as provided in the NFL’s Next Gen Stats data. And the best part – you can see how your model performs from your living room, as the leaderboard will be updated week after week on the current season’s game data as it plays out.
Deeper insight into rushing plays will help teams, media, and fans better understand the skill of players and the strategies of coaches. It will also assist the NFL and its teams evaluate the ball carrier, his teammates, his coach, and the opposing defense, in order to make adjustments as necessary.
Additionally, the winning model will be provided to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats group to potentially share with teams. You could help the NFL Network generate models to use during games, or for pre-game/post-game breakdowns.