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26 Sep 2005

FO Signs Content Agreement with FOX

Football Outsiders is proud to announce that it has signed an agreement with FOX to become a major contributor to the NFL page at FOXSports.com. As part of this deal, Football Outsiders analysis will also be featured on the home page of MSN.

Our contribution to FOXSports.com begins with three weekly articles that will be exclusive to FOXSports.com:

  • Mondays: Analysis of the best and worst individual performances of the previous day according to DPAR, listing the top five and bottom five quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers along with commentary. (This will be similar to last year's Snap Judgment quarterback ratings, and explains why I am no longer contributing to ESPN Page 2. And if anyone has a catchy column name idea this morning, I'm all ears.)
  • Tuesdays: FOXSports.com/MSN NFL Power Ratings will be taken over by Football Outsiders and based on DVOA (and, later in the season, WEIGHTED DVOA).
  • Wednesdays: Mike Tanier's rundown of each week's upcoming games, combining Mike's usual wit with the Football Outsiders angle on each game. Mike already started writing this column, and you'll find last week's rundown here.

In addition, FOXSports.com will be republishing a series of FO columns after they first appear on our site, including Black and Blue Report, Scramble for the Ball, Every Play Counts, Any Given Sunday, Too Deep Zone, and Four Downs. And we will be writing additional material for FOXSports.com, including playoff previews and draft coverage.

The agreement has been in the works for some time (did anyone notice that Scramble for the Ball switched to using FOXSports.com odds for Best Bets?) and it the best part about it is that FOX wanted material from all of Football Outsiders, not just from me. Writing Snap Judgment for ESPN last year gave me some income and introduced a lot of people to my writing, but writing for FOX will give all of us some income and introduce a lot of people to the entire Football Outsiders staff.


Will there be discussion threads on the FOX exclusive articles?

Yes, we're working on the right format for that, but those threads will be hosted here on FO.

What about Confessions of a Football Junkie and Seventh Day Adventure?

College football content will not appear on FOX, but don't forget that you can also find Russell's analysis in the New York Sun every Monday and Friday. I also expect that Jason's cartoons will not appear on FOX.

Can Extra Points still link to writers from FOX's competitors?


Will the DVOA ratings still appear on Football Outsiders in the same format as before, separate from the FOX Power Ratings?

I'm not sure on that one yet. I would like to still do a DVOA commentary for FO, which gives me the ability to write more about one or two specific teams or players instead of having to write a specific comment for each team. It would also be sad to give up one of the two columns that dates back to the start of the website in 2003 (Scramble for the Ball being the other). On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm going to have the time to do both. We'll see how it goes. If I can't do the more complex commentary on FO, the more complex DVOA ratings will still appear in the Just the Stats section each week.

Which format will you be using for DVOA: Old school percentages, new school "adjusted points," or "adjusted points +/- zero"?

I still haven't decided. The readership seems split on the question of which version is easier to understand. I still say that adjusted points +/- zero still has the same problem as the current DVOA percentages, the "defensive is negative" problem that seems to cause more complaints than anything else on this website. The FOX Power Ratings will only list each team's rank from 1-32.

FOX will now be publishing both FO analysis and Troy Aikman's advanced efficiency ratings, which are a simpler attempt at something similar to DVOA. Since Aikman is always talking about the need for better stats, any chance you finally get to tell him about Football Outsiders?

Hmmm. You know, we just realized this Friday ...

Seriously, if you want to split up the open discussion threads, can you do it by game time rather than conference so we can use the threads to keep each other informed on the games we're not watching as they happen?

OK, I hear you. We'll try it that way this week and then take a poll as to which way people prefer.

When will Football Outsiders begin updating DVOA and other stats for 2005?

Tuesday after Week 3 games are played, although the Top 5 boxes will return today.

And Loser League?

Yes, we will finally start running updates on Loser League in this week's Scramble.

Hey, where did you go for the last two weeks, anyway?

The answer to this question is not a happy one. It had to be something big for someone who makes his living writing about the NFL to disappear for the first two weeks of the season, and it was.

My father, Rabbi Steven D. Schatz, passed away on September 14 at the age of 59. He had numerous heart problems and was in end stage renal failure, in large part because he had suffered from type 1 ("juvenile") diabetes since the age of 15.

I was very close to my father and we shared many interests, so it was strange that my career became focused around the one interest we didn't share. My dad didn't care about sports and knew nothing about football. Still, I like to think that my work here at Football Outsiders had its origin in my father's spirit of intellectual exploration. He taught me to always ask questions, that Judaism in fact was a religion based on never being afraid to ask questions. Rabbis spend their lives studying a book, the Talmud, consisting primarily of argument and discussion, where conventional wisdom is never accepted at face value and questions about the most mundane aspects of our lives are debated in an attempt to reveal deeper truths. That's really what we're doing here, except that we're talking about football instead of the intricacies of fast days or what to do when your ox grazes on your neighbor's land.

When I was a teenager, my father had a short sentence written on a worn index card that was pinned to the bottom corner of a bulletin board in his office: "The best is the enemy of the better." That sentence will sound familiar to a lot of readers. It appears in the introduction to the book, it has appeared many times on this site, and Will even used it once in an Under the Knife column on BP. It is the answer I give whenever I am asked about the fact that our analysis will never be able to perfectly measure every action on the field, or perfectly predict how teams and players will fare in the future.

When I got the call on September 9, I quickly jotted a note to the rest of the staff asking them to take control of the website, and headed out to the hospital in California. My father's funeral was on Thursday, and I then refrained from work for seven days as is the Jewish custom, and I'm just slowly getting back into the swing of things.

I dropped all of my projects when I went to California, which means that a lot of things were never quite finished. That starts with the FOX contract, which is why we had to wait until the third week of the season to announce it. I never finished a mailbag article that addressed questions about this year's DVOA projections. I never finished my work on an early-season "WEIGHTED DVOA" that combined preseason projections with early performance for more accuracy. I didn't manage or participate in the first two weeks of the game charting project. I'm even more behind on returning e-mails than I was two weeks ago. We never finished fixing the e-mail notification program, so nobody has gotten an e-mail notification about new articles for a while. And we didn't finish dealing with a few re-design issues for the FO website, which is why the new separate page for the weekly open discussion threads didn't show up until this weekend.

I'm back to work now, but it is going to be a little messy around here for a couple weeks as we work out bugs in the 2005 stat updates (and Loser League updates), integrate links to our FOX content into the site, and deal with the likely increase in traffic. Also, let's be frank, I'm not in the mood to be a workaholic right now. I ask everyone to be patient as we go through some badly-timed growing pains.

I was afraid that a note like this would seem oddly exhibitionist, and thought perhaps that I should just return to doing weekly stats and articles without telling anyone why there were no stats or articles from me for the first two weeks of the season. But I want to change this negative event into something positive. Jewish custom is not to send flowers after death but to make a contribution to charity in honor of the deceased. The last time I ever spoke to my father, he was obssessed with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. I know that many people have already given a ton to the folks down on the Gulf Coast, but for those who still can give, my father wanted to give to a specific charity and the address was scribbled on an index card on his desk when we went to gather his things. Those who are interested can make donations in the memory of Rabbi Steven Schatz to:

Feed the Children Katrina Fund


P.O. Box 36

Oklahoma City, OK 73101

Once again, my thanks go out to the rest of the staff of Football Outsiders (particularly Benjy, who took the lead) for keeping the site running smoothly while I was offline, with tons of new content. Thanks also to Bill Moore for taking the lead on game charting, and to the FOX folks for being very understanding about postponing our deal, and to the PROTRADE guys, who had to launch their site without me around.

One last request, which I hope does not sound ungrateful. I ask that people not use the comment thread here to post a simple message of condolence. I presume that most of our readers feel that way, and I thank everyone for their support at a difficult time, and I'd rather leave the discussion thread here to look towards the future with people's questions and comments about the FOX deal and the formatting for DVOA ratings and other such things.

-- Aaron Schatz

Posted by: admin on 26 Sep 2005

106 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2005, 12:27am by Sara Zaremberg


by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:17am

WOW! Congratulations!

by Tyler (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:27am

Wow, you guys sure are growing up(blowing up? ;)) around here. With an even bigger increase in traffic, are there any plans to change things around the site such as having unique user names or things like that? Good luck with all of the new endevours, and let's hope that everything around here stays as good as ever.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:29am

First off: Much congrats, and condolences.

I still say that adjusted points +/- zero still has the same problem as the current DVOA percentages, the “defensive is negative� problem that seems to cause more complaints than anything else on this website.

There's only one thing I can think of that "adjusted points +/- zero" is good for, and you've already said you don't want this website to be about it (and I agree with you, as the stats aren't built to support it): gambling. Adjusted points +/- zero makes it trivial to say "oh, okay, I can figure out an expected point spread this way".

And I do hope you have a chance to do a DVOA Ratings & Summary thread. They're tons of fun, especially when we're making fun of the worst teams in the league. I don't think we'll find a better whipping boy than last year's San Francisco, though.

And thank you for making me read the one sports page of the major networks that I don't read. Dangit.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:32am

Even if I don't do a separate DVOA ratings and commentary article, there will be a discussion thread for the FOX Power Ratings which will also have the full DVOA stats in it for discussion purposes. It's just a question of how much commentary I can write while also writing for the Sun and managing the site. As for making people now go to FOXSports.com, I encourage you to check out their baseball section for articles by our BP compatriot Dayn Perry.

by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:36am

Hey Aaron, 1st of all: congratulationzah!! :)
This must realy kick ass for you (and the FO staff).
Well, for me, and a lot of other 'outsiders', it kicks ass too.
Love to see this go from 'pioneering in the back yard' to 'a better way' on how people see football and footballstats.

Coach told me:
"Succes comes in cans:
You can do it.
You can.
You can.
You can."

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:05am

Congratulations! I completely and utterly despise FOX, for political and personal reasons, but I recognize that this is a big deal for FO and i look forward to reading your articles there.

Also, Aaron, my condolences.

by Ray (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:06am

Congratulations, Aaron! I'll be the 'send the kid to college' fund just got a bit more secure. :^) Way to make your dream into a success.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:19am

there is no shame in selling out

there IS, shame, however, in selling out to Fox

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:21am

Congratulations on all the good news.

{Touching post of traditional Jewish mourner's prayer, the Kaddish, was here. Andrew, I definitely appreciate the thought. For those interested in knowing the words to this prayer, click link on Andrew's name. -- Aaron}

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:25am

Agreed, congrats and condolences Aaron. It's nice to see this site grow into what it has become so far...:) Our readership probably isn't 90% new englanders now either :0 lol

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:30am

Princeton73, I figured a lot of people would have that thought. But FOX is the network (well, set of networks) that brings us The Simpsons, Family Guy, Sean Hannity, House M.D., Tim McCarver, and American Idol, so I figure they offer something for everyone.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:51am

Ugh. Don't get me started on McCarver.

Will there be links to the FOX articles from footballoutsiders.com?

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:06am

Now Fox actually has some worthwile sports content. Rock on Outsiders!

by karl (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:07am

Sorry for your loss.

And congrats on the accomplishment. This appears to be a great step in bringing progressive statistical analysis to the NFL...I'm guessing this is what you were refering to in the "2005 Season Predictions" column when you said "Football Outsiders material appears in a very surprising place"

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:13am

Great news, and very well deserved all round.
Fox haven't made you dumb down the content have they?

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:20am

Very proud of you guys. You deserve all the success I forsee coming your way. Aaron, I see now where your leadership and vision have thier roots. The Revolution will not be televised, it'll be on the web. Shalom.

by Moe (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:22am


Happy you are moving on up. A little sad you are dealing with Murdoch, but the kids gotta drive Porches right? I jest- congrats on the good news condolences for the bad.

My take after watching the games so far this year is that the "insider" analysts can use all the help they can get to improve their commentary. Although it is a separate argument whether the average fan really wants more than cliches.

The "yuck, yuck look at the momemtum that warrior is using to smash mouth the other guy" kind of commentary seems to be actually cultivated by the powers that be instead of being an aberration.

I hope you can eventually change FOX's stance on what constitutes "good" analysis.

by Tom G. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:22am

Sorry for your loss, Aaron and I offer my condolences.

Congratulations on the FOX deal, even if it means having to dance with the devil just to read it. At least you'll be getting a bit more "face-time" than you were with ESPN.

Keep up the great work.

by Len B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:24am

Aaron, congratulations. Nice accomplishment that shows your hardwork and talents really paid off. Keep it up.


by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:30am

I guess you are going to have to change you name, since you are no longer an "outsider". :p Congrads.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:31am

Guys I don't think "dance with the devil" or "sell out" really applyhere do they? I mean for the average FO regular the biggest changes we will likely see would be more trolls on the boards, and the possibility of a couple of these guys being able to quit thier day jobs. I think thats a fair trade.

by Mukaikubo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:34am

Man, I hope someday to be here telling the newbies "Arrr, I was a reader of this here site since the great Easterbrook diaspora..."

by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:36am

"Princeton73, I figured a lot of people would have that thought. But FOX is the network (well, set of networks) that brings us The Simpsons, Family Guy, Sean Hannity, House M.D., Tim McCarver, and American Idol, so I figure they offer something for everyone."

What a coincidence - I hate all of those things. Well, I started hating "The Simpsons" because of the "prank monkey" episode - I loved the show before that.

Glad you guys are becoming successful, but pardon me for being more than a little pessimistic.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:37am

Nah, I'm still an outsider. When people complained, "You never played the game," well, I never did play the game, or work in a front office. I'm just a guy with a TV and a laptop -- like 90% of the guys on the web who call themselves "insiders."

Speaking of which, we are admittedly worried about the trolls. We'll see what happens.

Dumb things down? Nah. The only change is not a change at all: I continue my never-ending struggle to figure out how to make our numbers easier to understand.

And yes, one of the other guys being able to join me in making this a full-time career is the next big goal.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 11:56am

Seems like this could be the initial step (or at least the initial prominent step) in a possible sea change in the way football is discussed by the national sports media.

Any chance this buys you guys some access to the arcane knowledge kept by Stats Inc.?

Any chance this new relationship w/ Fox leads to a book deal w/ HarperCollins for PFP 2006? (And other potential titles... Football 101 anyone?)

by fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:13pm

Congratulations on making fox sports worth reading! d always was disappointed by their lack of content.

With regards to the inevitable extra traffic- it might be a good idea to make a registration system and l or threaded comments. All the "re: #"s in larger threads we getting tough to follow sometimes. Though I'm sure there would be opposition to registration.

It would also be nice if we all got rocking chairs, so we can properly wax nostalgiac about the backwards pass to no one to all the fox whippersnappers.

So sorry to hear about your loss. my wife and I will keep you and yours in our prayers.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:15pm

A well-deserved congratulations.

I think trolls could perhaps be addressed (to some degree) by switching comment systems and adding volunteer/appointed moderators. It may be that the current "no registration necessary, just post" system may not be as fruitful if trolls start popping up, led here from wherever, and registration may be necessary - or at least moderation. The current system really wasn't designed for that kind of traffic (hell, even we sometimes go overboard, I recall that for the Super Bowl and playoffs sometimes there had to be new threads created so that the old ones wouldn't get too long - and that's just "regulars").

Take a look at the ESPN.com messageboards sometime if you want to lose all faith in humanity (or at least, all faith in the kind that posts to the internet and doesn't read FO).

I'm guessing that some of the common posters in the NFL and college threads would be willing to help out in that regard.


by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:15pm

Aaron, condolences for your loss. Outsider crew, you deserve this. You forgot The Shield (on FX).

P.S. /usr/sbin/ntpdate -u 0.us.pool.ntp.org

Thanks for all the great work guys.

by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:20pm

HA! This is fantastic. Way to go FO! Someday, when you guys are all wealthy media moguls, I'll be able to say, "I knew them when...".

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:26pm

Are we looking at pay-per-view content here? It would be a shame if Fox Sports decided to lock up their best work behind a subscriber shield, making FO unavailable to us poor students who can't afford another magazine subscription!

by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:31pm

#28: football and unix! Heaven!
Though the time seems correct to me....

by Bassett (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:41pm


Excellent work! Recognition for a job well done. Looking forward to more good stuff in the future.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:53pm

congrats. really happy for all of you.

I would add to the complaints that it had to be fox, but selling out to a company is what it is.

It doesn't really matter if it makes it vocal about it's feelings or not. they are there.

Great times though, I'm only really saddened by the fact that my "insider" knowledge will not be available to anyone who uses foxsports.com.

.... So it'll still be pretty much a secret. :)

by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 12:55pm

This is big stuff. Absolutely awesome and congrats. All the FO people really deserved this.

by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:03pm

Congrats and condolences. Keep up the good work.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:07pm

I never commented on this before - let me vote for percentages over points. The reason I say this is that I think when you compare two teams percentages, you have an idea of what % chance one team has over the other. With points, I think it skews a bit for offense-heavy or defense-heavy teams. An extreme example - I think a team that keeps winning 3-0 is going to better than a team that wins 43-40, and that would show up in pyth%, but not point difference. I think something similar would happen with DVOA % or points. If you compared say, the 1999 Rams with the 2000 Ravens against the same schedule, I think you'd get a better feeling from the % DVOA, although I confess to that just being a hypothesis right now.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:23pm

Congrats on the Foxsports link, although I've always thought of Fox as the red-headed stepchild of sports analysis. With this plus Aikman's efficency ratings, I need to change my assumption.
Column name suggestions:
See, cause it's like hangtime & overtime & hangover (It sounded a lot funnier in my head.)
Quick Reads (hmmm, that's too much like snap judgements)
Three-step drop (QB & RB & WR analysis)
Yellow flags (Cause it tells you when a seemingly good/bad performance isn't as good/bad as it looks).

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:28pm

I also cast my lot with percentages rather than points (largely because it's familiar, admittedtly, but that's a valid reason to keep it the same).

I also don't think changing the format in this way would make the numbers easier to understand. Maybe this just a bit of intellectual snobbery on my part, but if someone can't wrap his head around the concept of "for defense, negative=good", then he's never going to understand how DVOA works.

Congratulations on the big deal.

by MitchWojcik (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:28pm

So, when is your first studio visit with the FOX pre-game team of Brown/Bradshaw/Long/Johnson?

Can you imagine trying to explain DVOA and DPAR to Terry Bradshaw? Yikes!

That'll take up the whole show! :-)

Congrats on the new arrangement. Lets hope it lasts longer than the Kenny Chesney/Renne Zellweger union.

by Clod (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:36pm

I have a suggestion for +/- dvoa for d and o.

Have it be a D rating and an O rating

so you have last years Buffalo Defense rating at D 21.9
The Indy O from last year would be example O 40.6

Then if you have crappy Defenses and Offenses you can actually have negative numbers that will reflect what we percieve negative numbers should be...ie. a reflection of poor ranking.

So you could have a bad offense like baltimore or washington look like O -12.3

And a bad D look like D -23.5
Even though the actual DVOA number is 23.5 in the classic sense of Defensive DVOA.

Article Title Suggestion:

Cream o' Crop/Bottom o' Barrel: Weekly NFL Individual Rankings via DVOA

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:40pm

Sorry to hear about your father.

And congratualations on the Fox deal. I hope the content will continue to remain free. Actually, I wouldn't mind subscribing to FO to get their content, but I'm not sure I'm willing to subscribe to Fox. Still, congrats again. Glad you guys are succeeding and hope you don't end up "dumbing down" the content.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:52pm

First off, I think the "defense is negative" problem is not as bad with points as it is with percentages. I think with points, people are used to seeing defenses ranked by points allowed, where lower=better, so a negative number makes sense.

As I have said before, though, I don't see what is preventing you from just adding a (times -1) to the formula for defense, thereby fixing this "problem."

Personally, I prefer the current percentages, because a value is not informative unless you have a context for it. Percentage provides its own context, while with point differentials you have to compare it to a known league average points for the context.

Actually, now that I say that, I'm thinking I may be wrong, because just looking at the percentages doesn't really tell you how they convert in practical terms, i.e. points.

So my vote is for "whatever."


If I understand correctly, the percentages and points are equivalent measures, and are just on a different scale, like measuring in Celcius versus Farenheit. So the rankings are exactly the same whether you use points or percentages.

As for the example of the Rams vs. Ravens, the Rams actually had a very good defense as well, according to DVOA. Check out the link in my name. But I'll assume you meant a good-O/bad-D team versus a bad-O/good-D team. In that case, whether you use points or percentages, the first team will have large postive values for both of their ratings, and the second team will have large negative values for both of their ratings

by Mahatma Kane Jeeves (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 1:57pm

Then there's Arrested Development and the long-missed Undeclared, so I'll just think of FO as being a part of the Fox empire that gave us those.

Congratulations, and my deepest condolences.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:03pm

DavidH - you are right. That was my mistake. I understood how offensive and defensive DVOA were working, but I misunderstood how the total DVOA was calculated.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:04pm

Congratulations, guys. Fox has been making some strides to overtake ESPN.com - they also just completed a deal to purchase whatifsports.com, an online sports simulation site.

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of Fox ... well, I despise most of their regular programming, and rarely watch anything of theirs but sports. But this will definitely make me visit their website more often.

And I confess I would probably subscribe to Fox if necessary. I already subscribe to ESPN Insider, although I may not continue that for next year ...

by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:10pm

If your aim is to make the stats more easier (heh) to understand, I would argue that a percentage is going to be less intuitive because a) what it's a percentage of might not be readily apparent to most and b) people won't have proper perspective. A large spread could really screw most people up while comparing percentage to percentage. Numbers just seem more concrete.

Inverting defensive dvoa would also help. If you're really fixated on using negatives, you could redefine it as the effect that team's defense has on its opponents' offenses as opposed to the defense's inherent value, which sort of makes semantic sense... defenses are reactive, not proactive.

by Larry (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:11pm


I'll cast my vote with percentages. I realize they aren't trivial to understand, but points are so easy to understand that the reader would lose the subtlety, I think. Also, percentages actually end up having a much wider range than points (at least for teams) [I know this sin't true mathematically, but -30 to +30 is better than 16 to 30]. In a branding sense, having something that really is different is a good thing, though it does impede fast adoption by others. And anything that makes it tougher for gamblers to overwhelm this site is a good thing.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:12pm

It's a strange thing to offer both condolences and congratulations in the same sentence, but let me do so now: I'm sorry for your loss, and I congratulate you for your success.

by Kevin Horn (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:24pm

Wow! The Fox internet division is really getting busy. A few weeks they acquired the sports simulation site whatifsports.com and now they've bought you guys. Two great moves I must say. Congratulations Aaron on all your success.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:33pm

If I understand correctly, the percentages and points are equivalent measures, and are just on a different scale, like measuring in Celcius versus Farenheit.

The points are just percentages times 21.5 (I think - it's average points per game). So Pitt, based on DVOA, should be scoring an average of about 32 points per game. They're scoring 27 points per game, which is pretty close.

I like having both the percentages and points per game. I personally prefer the percentages, but I can understand how the ppg would be easier to understand.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 2:48pm

Just to clear up, since I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea: nobody bought us. We have a content agreement with FOX and a partnership to write a book with Baseball Prospectus, but Football Outsiders, Inc. is still owned by me.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:12pm

Yes, we will finally start running updates on Loser League in this week’s Scramble.

Any chance I could, uh, persuade you guys to just abandon this? Heh heh.

Or maybe I can retroactively declare that I'm trying to lose the Loser League.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:20pm

Yay, loser league! I can finally see how Kyle Orton is bailing out my team (Thanks to a 5 Int performance this week, I should be in decent shape, well maybe not, my running backs are killing me, cause I forgot that Ricky was on a 4 game suspension).

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:22pm

OK, you're officially dumber than me, B. Taking Kerry Collins was (apparently) dumb, but forgetting about Ricky's 4 game suspension? Come on, man. :)

by MdM (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:23pm

congrats to you and the rest of the staff, condolences as well for your

You do a great job, the best I've seen, so this is richly deserved. I hate what FOX stands for in general, but that's life!

Column titles...
"Breakout Performers"...?
how about "Great Bubbles" (maybe not...)

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:30pm

Congrats on the FoxSports deal!
I generally only hit up cnnsi and espn for my football news outside of here, but I'll definately be checking out Fox now that you have original content there.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:34pm

Column titles...hmm, how about "Boss DPAR! DPAR!" or "Who Ranks, Who's Rank, and Who's Going in the Tank"

by Ray (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:39pm

I want to cast my vote in agreement with those above for how to make DVOA more understandable for the masses.

Use DVOA, not points. Drop the percentage, and invert the defence rating. Then change the name from DVOA to something friendly. Like "Performance Rating" or something like that (too bad Aikman already has "efficency").

Do that, and you've sacrificed none of the actual content, and you've made it less intimidating to new folks. Here on the site in the 'About our Stats' section, just put at the top, "Performance Rating is really DVOA" and let those who want to dive into the details go from there. The only fuzzy part I can see will be differentiating between VOA and DVOA semantically. But that's relatively trivial.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:42pm

Well, at least I drafted Fred Taylor.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:47pm

Column titles...
"Bustin' Out and Fallin' Down"
"Studs and Duds"
"Burning at Both Ends"
"Five Of These Things Are Not Like The Others"
"FO Sho' & FO Pax" (for sure & faux pax)
"Heroes and Zeroes" (did I spell that right?)
"Mediocrity is Boring"
"The Brett Favre Club" (or some player who usually either has a great or terrible game, with no in between... maybe Culpepper this year)
"Binge & Purge" (actually, that would be a bad one, but my backspace key is broken)
"Who Was Worth A Schatz"
"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death"

or if you wanna go all "we're so cool, we don't give a f*** what the title is" on them ...
"The Top Five and Bottom Five QB's RB's and WR's of the Past Week as Ranked by Our Proprietary DPAR System"

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 3:57pm

"The Good, the Bad, and the Defensive Value Over Average" or "Who's a Hit, and Who isn't worth a $#!+"

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:02pm


Count me among those that despises everything that FOX stands for. That said, they made a great decision by taking FO on. Many congratulations to you and the rest of the staff.

by Roger (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:06pm

On behalf of Fox, we welcome FO and are excited about the beginning of this partnership (not-ownership) agreement. We very much look forward to the expansive content that FO will provide to our football coverage.

Also, special thanks to Russell for helping to set all of this up. Had I not known Russ, I might have never found FO, and would certainly never have tried (and succeeded) to bring FO on as partners.

by JayHak (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:14pm

"Leaders and Loafers"

"The best of games, the worst of games"

"Nobles and Groundlings"

by Eliyahu (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:19pm

Congrats on the FOX deal -- I will now regularly go to a site that I never used to go to.

by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:24pm

Congrats! Long time lurker here. That book is outstanding and good luck with foxsports.com... ESPN.com, other than Bill Simmons, has been pissing me off. Maybe this is what I need to finally make the switch.

by Tyler (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:30pm

Maybe I missed this (and i'm sure I did), but when can we expect to start seeing this new content on the FoxSports website? I know Mike's thing from last week is up; I mean the other stuff.
Or is it already there and I'm just missing it because of my lack of familiarity with the fox website?

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:46pm

"there is no shame in selling out.
there IS, shame, however, in selling out to Fox."

You know, I don't consider it "selling out" if the product remains the same, and I trust that FO isn't going to change what it writes just because its material is getting published at FOXsports now.

Anyways, I'm thrilled for everyone at footballoutsiders. Congratulations, guys!

by Biggie (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:53pm

Umm, is there way to use Extra Points to alert us to Football Outsider content on Foxsports.com, so we don't have to dig around to find it?

And hey, now you guys are site partners with the Sports Guys Buddy, Hench. So that counts for something, I guess.

by NYCowboy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 4:54pm

Aaron, HaMakom yenacheim eschem b'soch sh'ar aveilei tzion v'yerushalayim.

On a much happier note, congratulations man. This is awesome, and I can only imagine how pumped you must be that this little website is taking over the world.

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 5:05pm

It's appropriate that FO joins a corporation that even though it as looked at now as some hideous multi-corporate right-wing machine, was on the cutting edge of cable programming and news networks and had to battle its way to the top. Two American success stories joining together. Congrats, FO.

Oh yeah, since you are now joining the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy), you will get your decoder rings and the access codes to the death ray in a day or two.

by Xian (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 5:12pm

Congratulations! I think!

That's all I've got.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 5:13pm

FOX has my first piece now and we're just trying to figure out all the layout and format stuff as far as how it will look. For now, we'll link the FOX content in Extra Points, but eventually it will get its own section of the website.

by Tom W (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 5:23pm

As my own father is in rapidly declining health, I was sorry to hear about yours, but glad that your ideas will be getting more exposure due to the Fox deal. I just wanted to make one comment on the points/percentages issue. First, I'm not a fan of single number power ratings, because they're overly simplified, and, I suspect, often pulled out of thin air. Second, I know you're still using DVOA & DPAR, just converting it to points. I'm not really sure why people think it's important to express things in terms of percentages and probabilities instead of points, since in football, value is denominated in points. We want to know by how many points is one team better than another (most of the arguments against the points/game format seem to come down to, "We don't really want to make things easier for the average fan to understand, because then we wouldn't be able to feel superior to said fan"). Maybe my opinion has to do with the fact that I wasn't a math-lete in high school, but I really don't think that's it. Not only does expressing your metrics in points make them more intuively understandable, but it's essential if they are to be tested to see if they really work. What if you went to the grocery store and discovered that the price of a 1/2 gallon of milk was stated not in dollars and cents, but as a percentage of the volume-adjusted average price of all dairy products sold in the U.S. Would this make your shopping experience easier or more difficult?

by J (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 6:39pm

PERCENTAGES! enough said.

Hopefully, the troll thing will be taken care of. I like the articles/stats here, but I also like the mostly intelligent discussion that follows.

All, the big sports sites, CBS for one, have discussions that are mostly my team is the best.

There will actually be something written on FOX worth reading?

by Trolling for Concubine (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 6:50pm


by Patrick M (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 6:54pm

First, my condolences and congratulations to Aaron. I'm sure your father would be proud of what you have achieved. I'm glad FO is finally going to get the exposure it has dererved for years.

As far as the points/precentages debate, I have to agree that a points system would be more intuitive. Football games are scored in points, aren't they? Although I haven't had any particular trouble interpreting the percentages, it would be much easier to relate a point system to predicting the outcome of a particular game. As far as I have come to understand, DVOA represents the average success of a team per play. As we all know, football teams will play significantly different numbers of plays in each game based on turnovers, field position and time of possession, and I feel that a point system that weighs all of these factors together over a whole game instead of an average per play as I have come to understand DVOA would be more relevant to predicting game results, sort of like DPAR for a whole team in all 3 phases of the game. I may just be misunderstanding DVOA. Whatever you guys decide, I'm sure it will be based on careful analysis and will be better than anything I could come up with.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 7:02pm

OK, I've been thinking about the points vs. percentage thing a bit, and I thought of a couple things. You tell me if they make sense.

1) One of the things I've realized from reading on this website is that offense and defense are more related than I originally thought (calm down, I'm not saying FO is brilliant for stating this, just that they are the ones that led me to think about it). So a defense with a good VOA leads to more points for the offense, and vice versa, and verce visa. Expressing DVOA in points above and below average would downplay their interaction, I think, and lead to people thinking that a defense rated -10 pts simply gives up 10 less pts per game than an average defense, when it's really a combination of giving up less points and creating more points for the offense. When you're talking about the overall team number, you don't have the same problem, so maybe keeping percentage for the offense and defense breakdown but switching to points for the team number would be good. (although having the two different systems might get really confusing)

2) DVOA is actually a percentage of "success points" above and below average. To translate it into "football points" you need a conversion rate. So what is the conversion rate? The 2005 preview article says it is "the same ratio as DPAR for individual players" and links to the glossary, which links to the article linked in my name. The last paragraph before the bold purple text explains the conversion. ... The point of all this is that the conversion is in no way a simple, obvious, transparent one. It's kind of like translating a baseball player's total bases above average into runs above average. You can theoretically do it, but it's something that needs to be vetted and proven for someone to trust your numbers. ...

(Aaron et al: On a related note, how did you decide that a team of replacement players would be outscored 417-285? I couldn't find that info when I dug around.)

3) I know that single game DVOA's range wildy, surpassing +/-100% sometimes. What would these convert into in the points scale? I'm just curious about this one...

4)On a semi-related note, how close do those single game DVOA's (converted to points) line up with the actual scores of the game?

5) Sometimes you mention teams' peformance in certain game situations (i.e. trailing by 7 points with 2 minutes left and the ball in the red zone) I think it would be interesting to see these breakdowns expressed in points instead of percentages. "Seattle's performance on third downs cost them 17 points" is more interesting than "Seattle's performance on third downs was 42% worse than average."

6)As long as you provide the info needed to convert back and forth, I'm not gonna complain.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 7:06pm

Kicking myself for not starting that last post with

Points vs. Percentages...

by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 7:31pm

Good job, FO. Don't let fox corrupt your thoughts, remember dave chappelle.

by Optical (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 8:11pm

Seriously guys, for all of you that have made comments regarding the evil political nature of FOX, Rupert Murdoch, and friends: Maybe you should go back and read your own comments to discover how pathetic you sound. The fact that you couldn't bear to pass up on the opportunity to share your disdain for FOX with the rest of the world, ON A FOOTBALL WEBSITE, is really quite silly. It actually sounds like you might allow your Sunday afternoons to be ruined because half the NFL games are broadcast on FOX, and you couldn't possibly push that out of your mind for a few hours. Go ahead and slam me for my comment, because I am clearly a card-carrying member of the VRWC.

by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 8:25pm


Because of the similarity in initials, all we have to do is rename the site "Football Outsiders Xtreme" for FOX.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:06pm

Optical, I don't know if it is a political thing. A lot of people don't like the VTMC (Vast Tim McCarver Conspiracy).

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:18pm

Congrats - I think...What is that saying about when you dine with the devil, you better bring a long spoon? But FO definitely deserves to come to a wider audience. Best of luck in the new endeavor!

And my sincerest condolences on your loss.

by Dervin (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 9:36pm

My deepest condolences, your father was a great man.

If anybody accuses you of selling out, remember what the lead singer of "The Jesus Lizard" said when a magazine writer accused him of selling out when they signed with a major lable: "My daughter needs to go to the dentist."

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:07pm

Congratulations and condolences.

I vote for percentages.

Why is it selling out to get paid for doing what you were already doing anyway? If someone has a hobby (say, carpentry) and is offered a job in the field, is he a sellout? Why is it wrong to get paid for doing what you love?

On FOX being politically conservative - I was very surprised that the network that really had pushed the boundaries would have the conservative news. Then I realized it was the same business plan - provide the service that none of the other networks were providing. When the big 3 were airing safe, bland sitcoms, FOX brought us The Simpsons and Married With Children, and grabbed an untapped market. They did the same thing with their news - everyone else ranged from extremely liberal (CNN) to slightly liberal (NBC), but there was no conservative newscast, other than talk radio. So FOX put something together to grab that market, and it's paid off incredibly well. What's wrong with that?

I think Tarrant has it right - we probably need some kind of registration now, and actually probably have for a while. As the audience has grown, the frequency of trolls has only increased, and it won't get any better now. If nothing else, it would make banning easier, and end confusion of multiple people posting with the same name.

Again, congratulations on all the success.

by dCalla (not verified) :: Mon, 09/26/2005 - 10:14pm

Congratulations to you for your new and wider exposure. Congratulations to Fox for the uptick in content. And my condolences on your loss. It is special to see, though, that you can feel his touch even on the things you didn't share.

by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 12:16am

Aaron, this is very exciting. Spreading knowledge and new ways of thinking is always a good thing.

Any idea if the FO crew will be doing anything with Fox Sports Radio? FO's analytical style is very well suited to radio, and FSR is outgrowing its reputation as a network of ranting callers screaming their 'takes'. FO would play very well with their audience.

by S. Pedro Diehl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 12:35am

Well, that explains quite a bit. I was so frustrated - day after day - checking here and finding no new DVOA stat updates. My feelings in Haiku:

"No wonder!" I cried
Outsiders now insiders
Finally, FOOTBALL!

Yep, good, go do it and do it well. BUT, stay pure to the game. Let the showbiz come to you. Keep your eye on the football and don't stop unless you hear the whistle.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 1:12am

I think we're overlooking the most obvious title for DVOA rankings:


Yes, typing that physically hurt.

by Patrick M (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 3:41am

One point I realized afer reading #78 is that for a points system to take all factors into account it would really be impossible to separate offense, defense and special teams. The definitions on this website define DVOA as a team's success rate in specific situations, which is an excellent metric for comparing the relative performances of offenses, defenses, and special teams units. For this purpose, percentages make sense, because they give you a relative idea of how often a given team will succeed in a certain situation. However, the conversion between situational success rate and the number of points a team scores/allows in a game isn't necessarily a direct correlation. If a team has a better that average success rate on offense, but puts themselves in bad field position frequently, their total point production will be lower than predicted by DVOA. Likewise, if a team has a good success rate on defense, but the offense can't sustain drives, they will be forced to play more downs and defend shorter fields, resulting in more points allowed. It seems to me that just adding up success rates of each phase of the game is not an accurate projection of a team's overall production per game. Offense, defense and special teams performance do not occur in a vacuum, they are all dependent on each other. Examples of this would include Atlanta last year; they may have performed worse than average per play, but since ther were in unfavorable situations less often, they were able to win more games than their situational success rate would indicate and make it all the way to the NFC championship. What makes the most sense to me is to rate offenses, defenses and special teams units alone by DVOA percentages, but when these statistics are aggregated to project the overall production of a given team, it would make sense to combine them into a point differential like DPAR. This would account for things like field position, time of posession, turnovers and penalties. It would also be easier to interpret as a predictor of the outcomes of specific games than a percentage that reflects a teams performance over the whole year. This is just my opinion, I have the utmost respect for FO for providing the depth of analysis that makes this discussion possible, and I am confident that FO will continue to refine their ranking system to be the most complete and accurate statistical analysis of football ever created.

by pcs (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:06am

Congratulations, Aaron! It's great to see you guys going worldwide. And you can probably start calling FO the "Best Damn Football Site on the Web, Period" without worrying about trademark issues. But before you start sending your new readers over here, fill 'em in on the Manning-vs.-Brady policy :)

by Flux (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:23am

I'd imagine some other people have already said this, but it's late and I'm lazy, so I'm not going to skim every comment. Good job on the new hook up though; I'd enjoyed the ESPN.com columns, but I missed them at times since I hardly every surf that site anymore since virtually everything has gone behind the Insiderâ„¢ wall. Glad this site's content didn't vanish there as well.

I don't believe I have ever visited foxsports.net before, but this seems like a good time to start. Just tell me there's aren't any Howie Long columsn written in John Kruk fashion awaiting me?

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:26am

Congratulations on the Fox deal.

My first reaction was that I'd have to quit visiting your site, since I never hang out anywhere respectable. But then I realized that Fox isn't very respectable anyway, so it's a good fit.

Just kidding! Congrats, guys! All the way from China, okay? Gong Xi Fa Cai about 5 months early.

by George Brownfield (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 12:28pm

Aaron - great job on the first "Quick Reads" colum - not a bad name for the column BTW - how about a link to all the players you reviewed that week, used to love reading all the QB reviews in Snap Judgements. Keep up the good work, sorry to hear about your loss.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 1:19pm

Baruch Dayan Emet. When you said you would be away "seven days" (rather than "a week"), I assumed what was happening and having had the impression you were from the Boston area, checked the Globe obits all week. Condolences.

While you are considering registration and moderation of the discussions, you should do something about the comments that don't include say what previous comment they refer to. Makes it tough on those of us with ADD.

And mazal tov on the new future. (That's a redundancy, I suppose...)

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 4:42pm

I laugh when I see CNN as 'liberal'. The entire mainstream media is owned by megacorps. They are all the same but branded differently. Like Duff, Duff Lite, and new Duff Dry. I take it that everyone that hates FOX because of FOX News refuses to watch their football broadcasts?

Now, no more politics, we have a crisis here. My NTP server, my DirecTV box, and my cell phone are all the same time yet this place is 9 minutes fast. What's the deal?

Oh yes, percentages please. No registration either, it won't do anything.

by Catfish (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:33pm

Condolences to Aaron, and congrats to the whole staff here!

I say stick with percentages. It's simpler to explain DVOA than to explain estimated points, which requires an explanation of current DVOA plus the adjustments to an average schedule, average number of plays, average other team unit (offense/defense), etc. Plus it discourages an immediate turnoff for folks that see a difference between estimated points scored/allowed and actual points scored/allowed and assume that the whole thing is bull.

I'm also in favor of registration; it won't really affect the current regulars, but will do something to discourage trolling. I think one of the best parts of this site (besides the awesome stats/analysis, humor, etc.) is the Socratic Seminar type discussions that get going where everyone is interested purely in figuring things out, not MY TEAM IS BETTER THAN YOURS YOU *#@&%#. I'm all for anything that can be done to encourage and further the great discussions here.

by Paul N. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:48pm

Congrats on the FOX deal. Really enjoy the website and just finished reading your book. Nicely done. I was wondering if it is possible to put each teams 3rd down offensive and defensive DVOA's on the website. Your book alluded to how important that 3rd down stat was in relation to how a team was doing. Thanks in advance, keep up the great work!......sorry to hear about your loss.

by Nick Evans (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 9:36am

Column name: "The fair and balanced football rankings"?

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 8:27pm

Huge move for the site. I hope this site continues to retain its uniqueness, though. :)
Congratulations, Aaron and crew!

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:27am


BDE. Very sorry to hear about your loss. Hopefully this upcoming year will be a better one for you.

by AnandaG (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 8:28pm

Anyone have a link to the Tanier column for THIS week's matchups? I can't find it at Fox. In fact, I can't find any of the FO guys at Fox.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 7:17pm

Condolences and congrats, Aaron. Though be forewarned- FoxSports.Com goes through content partners faster than Henry VIII went through wives.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Sun, 10/02/2005 - 1:17am

The FO stuff was on the main NFL page earlier in the week. At this point, the way to get to it is to click on power rankings and then click around the special FO on FOX menu. They're working on a better archival system.

by Sara Zaremberg (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 12:27am

Condolences - sorry to hear about your dad. I knew him when he was at Adat Ari Synagogue - it left a void when he went elsewhere.