Optimizing NFL receiver route combinations

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Conference Proceeding

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Using data from the NFL season, statistical analysis was performed in R Markdown to optimize receiver route combinations based on the offensive formation, defensive formation, and how many defenders are in the box. First, we defined a successful route as when a receiver achieves a separation from the nearest defender that is greater than or equal to the average distance between a receiver and the nearest defender given that the receiver caught the ball. Next, we determined the route that each receiver ran for each play by comparing the quartiles of the coordinates for each route, and then clustering them so that the most similar ones were grouped together. We then were able to determine which route had the highest chance of success when provided the receiver, offensive formation, defensive formation, and the number of defenders in the box. Performing this analysis is significant because it will provide important statistical information for receivers and quarterbacks in the NFL to enable them to choose routes that will be successful based on the type of defense they are facing.


Presented at the Eighth Annual Conference of the Upstate Chapters of the American Statistical Association in Rochester, New York, April 27, 2019.

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