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It’s all a numbers game: Fantasy Football Statistics

December 15, 2014
While playing Fantasy Football two years ago, mathematics professor Michael Bradley noticed how he was using statistics for his own team. He considered how this could be integrated into a statistics course to learn the fundamentals and began brainstorming.

When he showed a fellow professor how he was using statistics for his fantasy football team, the professor also thought it’d be a great course to offer. “Statistics is statistics,” Bradley says, “Why not combine it with something fun and interesting.”

Last fall, Bradley began creating projects for the Fantasy Football course in his Basic Statistics course. Throughout the past two semesters, he has been continuously developing the course curriculum which was implemented this fall.

This fall, the Mathematics Department offered MTH1110 Basic Statistics for Fantasy Football. The twenty-seven students enrolled have been working in pairs with their fantasy football teams. Bradley aimed to pair students with little experience in fantasy football with those who have played before, letting the students teach one another.

Each class, Bradley reviews the previous games and checks in with the students to see how their teams are doing and how they used statistics to their advantage.  Bradley challenged the students to create a better formula to estimate the potential scoring points for their players.  

“ESPN estimates the potential player points each week,” Bradley explained “but half of the time, their estimate is off by more than five points!

The students were successful.  The students’ estimates based on their models were closer to the actual scored points than ESPN’s estimates.

Another course challenge is a trade report. Each student must propose a trade to 

another student using statistical analyses and evidence. The goal of this project is to show the students how to make data-driven arguments, which happen every day in every industry.

In the future, Bradley plans on using examples and projects related to other fields such as games, sports, money, etc. to show the students that the statistics they are learning can be applied in many ways. He hopes that by putting new concepts (statistics) in a familiar context (fantasy football), the students will have such a comprehensive knowledge of them that they will be able to use them for other disciplines.

Game on!

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  • Professor Michael Bradley
    Professor Michael Bradley

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