Introducing the Ultimate NFL Custom Player Analysis Tool

By: Bryan Povlinski on October 16, 2013

I’m a big fan of data, and I’m also a big fan of the NFL and avid fantasy football player. So naturally, I love that advanced stats and analytics are becoming a much bigger part of professional football. Game broadcasts are now littered with interesting stats and facts that keep you engaged in the action. Sites like Pro Football Focus, RotoViz, Advanced NFL Stats, and Football Outsiders have been booming in popularity on the wave of this interest in analytics. I’ve been looking for a way to do my own analysis on NFL teams and players through a customized interface but I hadn’t found anything that gave me the level of detail I was looking for – so I built my own. Using Tableau Public as the visualization tool and play-by-play data from Pro Football Reference the NFL Custom Player Analysis Tool allows you to see the performance of individual NFL players in any given set of situations. Here’s a brief overview of what information you will (and won’t) get with this tool and what’s likely to come later with further development:

% of Yards Gained

This graphic shows the percentage of plays that fell into each yardage bucket. The darker the shade of green the higher the percentage.

Total Plays

The total number of plays (rush attempts + pass targets) credited to that player in the situations that match the filters that you’ve selected.

Plays per Game

A per-game calculation of rush attempts and pass plays for each player in the given situations. The values for run and pass may not add up to the total if a player didn’t get a pass attempt (or rush attempt) in game that he played in. The total number of touches should be accurate, but for example, if a player had 1 pass attempt in his first 3 games and then 0 pass attempts in the 4th game the pass attempts metric is going to show as 1.0 instead of 0.75 because it’s taking the total attempts and dividing by the unique number of games in which the player had an attempt and the game with 0 is thrown out.

Yards Gained At Least

This is an accumulating % of total based on the number of yards gained. So for every player the “Negative Yardage” column should read 100% because 100% of any player’s attempts gained at least negative yardage. Then percentages start to decrease from there. The value at 4 yards can be expressed as “x% of that plays in which the player was the rusher or intended receiver gained at least 4 yards”


The data can be filtered on the following attributes:



Week # of the Game

Play Location – Right, Middle, and Left for runs, Short and Deep for passes


Yard-Line Group – Either inside the 5 yard line, between the opponent 5 and opponent 20 (Red Zone beyond 5), and Non Red-Zone

Score Differential


Goal To Go – Based on whether the first down line was actually the goal-line (1 for true and 0 for false)

To view the visualization full screen click the NFL Individual Play Breakdown Tool

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