Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Oct 2009

NFL misreporting stats because of the Wildcat Formation

Hey, I have a quick NFL rule/fantasy question and I wanted to see what some of ya'll thought. I will keep it short as possible:

In the Monday night (10/13) game I think the NFL is not properly crediting a sack. The reason I think this is happening is b/c it was Ricky Williams. No, I am not as high as Ricky or not know who he is but when R. Williams and R. Brown line up in the Wildcat they assume a QB position designation.

The definition of a quarterback according to the NFL: "quarterback (QB): an offensive player who lines up behind the center, and takes a direct snap and then has the option of either passing, handing off or running himself."

The NFL rules also state that a QB must be present as part of the 11 man offensive unit same as you must have a LT, RT, etc. - and Henne was not on the field when Ricky ran the Wildcat. If you don't count Ricky/Ronnie as QB's then Miami plays most of their football without a QB even on the field.

There is also precedent for treating Ricky Williams as a QB in the Wildcat because in 2008 the NFL assigned a “sack” to Ricky Williams’s official stat line which can be seen here: http://www.nfl.com/players/rickywilliams/careerstats?id=WIL271115
So he can definitely "be sacked" and the sack was for a “0 yard loss” according to official NFL stats.

Why does all of this matter?

Last night on 2nd and 7 in the 3rd quarter with around 12:14 left, Ricky Williams was tackled for no gain after taking a direct snap from the center in the shotgun formation. http://espn.go.com/nfl/playbyplay?gameId=291012015&period=0

I didn’t know if a tackle of the qb for no gain was a sack until I saw this article from last February about how an editor at Football Outsiders.com helped Docket get a sack. The story is here : http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2009/after-change-dockett-...

As well as on the official NFL.com blog here: http://blogs.nfl.com/2009/02/05/stat-change-gives-dockett-share-of-super...

But the NFL did not credit Jets safety Kerry Rhodes with a sack on the play and has yet to correct it.

From a fantasy perspective the implications of this could be huge. I actually tied last week and given the sack would win by 1pt.

Looking forward to see what you guys think

Posted by: winredskins on 15 Oct 2009

3 replies , Last at 24 Oct 2009, 6:51pm by Raiderjoe

Re: NFL misreporting stats because of the Wildcat Formation
by Zheng :: Thu, 10/15/2009 - 9:15pm

I certainly see the case for having the NFL credit those as sacks. That said, however, for fantasy purposes, there is already kind of a lot of slop in the scoring for edge cases. Ricky doesn't get credit for throwing a TD in my leagues. Randy Moss probably didn't get any direct credit for his pick. I don't think there's any standard fantasy scoring for return yardage. And there's always the fundamental weirdness of thrown TDs being worth 10-12 total points while rush TDs are worth only six.

So should you be given the win? Maybe, but it's not as though there's some fundamental imbalance in fantasy that's hurting you. You could almost liken it to the Ed Hochuli call from last year--bad officiating cost you a game, but what are you gonna do?

Re: NFL misreporting stats because of the Wildcat Formation
by kaptrap19 :: Fri, 10/16/2009 - 5:30pm

Wow, that's a great point. I don't know if you can complain for fantasy purposes or how accuscore or stats, inc can go credit rhodes with a sack or anything, but you bring up a great point.

Re: NFL misreporting stats because of the Wildcat Formation
by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 10/24/2009 - 6:51pm

if williams not appearing to pass on play then ofoficial scorers not going to mark play as sack.

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