A couple of years ago, after watching who knows how many YouTube videos and/or reading who knows how many articles about the upcoming fantasy football season I realized there were hundreds of fantasy football “experts” out there, many of which were contradicting each other with their advice. So, I decided to track the quality of their advice to determine who was worth listening to and who wasn’t. I included all the big names from Yahoo, ESPN, PFF, NFL.com, CBS Sportsline, and a few others from smaller independent sources. It was an exercise in patience and perseverance quantifying the subjective into objective and measurable information. It also taught me numbers can be broken down much farther than most people are willing to dive. When it was all said and done, I had my answers, I discovered who put in the effort and knew what they were talking about, and who was just going through the motions and whose advice should be avoided at all costs.
This week, I came across NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus’ article, ‘NFL Power Rankings: Bears, 49ers on the rise after 2021 draft’ https://www.nfl.com/news/nfl-power-rankings-bears-49ers-on-the-rise-after-2021-draft
and realized it’s been a while since I put somebody under the bright lights of scrutiny so I decided to have some more fun with numbers to see if Hanzus is one of those people worth listening to or is he someone who should be tuned out?
The first thing I did was to take his power rankings and assign a numerical value to each spot in the ranking, a points system. Just like in golf, the lower the points, the higher the value. So, for example, Hanzus lists the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the number 1 rated team so they were assigned 1 point while the Detroit Lions were listed as the worst team and were assigned 32 points.
A breakdown of Hanzus’ power rankings after applying the points system is listed as follows:
|AFC North||AFC South||AFC East||AFC West||NFC North||NFC South||NFC East||NFC West|
The above chart ranks the divisions in the league (dRk), by conference (cRk), rates the two conferences in the league (lRk), and displays the percentage of difference (% Diff) within each category. So, according to Hanzus’ power rankings, the NFC West is the strongest division in the league and projects to be 80% stronger than the NFC North division and 115% stronger than the AFC South Division. The divisions within the conferences are rated similarly where the best division in the AFC is the AFC North division which is projected to be 24% stronger than the AFC West division. Finally, both conferences were compared to each other and it was found that the AFC conference is projected to be 2% stronger than the NFC conference this year.
Based on Hanzus’ power rankings the following can be extrapolated…
1. The NFC West is the strongest division in football by 28% over the next closest division (AFC North) and 55% over the next closest division in the conference (NFC South).
2. The AFC North is the strongest division in the AFC by 27% over the next closest division in the conference (AFC East).
3. The AFC is the stronger conference over the NFC by 2%
4. The NFC East is a really bad division as 5 of the other 8 divisions already had 3 of their 4 teams checked in before the first NFC East team (Dallas) checked in.
5. The AFC East and NFC South are dead even in terms of division strength within the league. Coincidentally, these two divisions will be playing against each other this season.
6. The closest divisions within the same conference are the AFC East and AFC West separated by only 3%
7. Teams from the NFC West catch the biggest out-of-conference scheduling break this season playing against the AFC North which is 80% weaker.
8. Teams from the NFC South catch the biggest in-conference scheduling break this season playing against the NFC East which is 75% weaker.
9. The next best in-conference scheduling break benefits the AFC East as they match up against the AFC South which is 60% weaker.
10. The division that didn’t catch an in-conference scheduling break is the AFC North who matches up against the AFC West. This is the only in-conference divisional matchup where the difference between divisions is less than 50% as the AFC North is only considered 30% stronger than the AFC West.
The following final season division head-to-head records can be extrapolated based on Hanzus’ power rankings…
|NFC West||14-2||AFC South|
|NFC West||13-3 or 12-4||NFC North|
|AFC East||12-4 or 11-5||AFC South|
|AFC West||11-5||NFC East|
|AFC North||11-5 or 10-6||NFC North|
|NFC South||10-6||NFC East|
|AFC North||10-6 or 9-7||AFC West|
|AFC East||8-8||NFC South|
Based on Hanzus’ power rankings, the teams from the NFC West should finish with the following records against the AFC South and NFC North divisions…
|Cardinals||3-1 or 2-2||AFC South|
|Rams||4-0 or 3-1||NFC North|
|Cardinals||3-1 or 2-2||NFC North|
Now, we wait and see what happens. If demonstrably more than 50% of these projections turn out true then Dan Hanzus probably should be considered a modern-day E.F. Hutton, and as people will remember, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” On the other hand, if close to or more than 50% of these projections turn out false, then Hanzus can and probably should be tuned out as a source of information as his analysis accuracy would be no better than that of flipping a coin.
Dan, you’re on the hot seat this season, lets see how you do.
So what do you think? If you’d like me to include the won-loss projections for your team’s division against the divisions they’re scheduled to play against this season, you can request it by commenting below.