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AV Retention Rates, 2014-2015

Last year, I looked at AV Retention Rates, a measure of how sticky a team’s composition was from year to year. We’ll get to the methodology in a minute, but let’s start with two examples.

Cincinnati was very consistent from 2014 to 2015. Andy Dalton was the quarterback both years, and Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, and A.J. Green were the three leaders in yards from scrimmage in 2014 and again in 2015. The offensive line was unchanged, with Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, Clint Boling, Kevin Zeitler, and Russell Bodine as the main five in both years, although Smith and Zeitler missed some time in 2014. The big change on offense wasn’t external, either: it was the return from injury for both Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones, which dropped Mohamed Sanu down in the pecking order.

On defense, Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, and Carlos Dunlap were starters on the defensive line both years, with Rey Maualuga manning the middle and Reggie Nelson and George Iloka at safety. Adam Jones and Leon Hall were two of the three cornerbacks to play 60%+ of defensive snaps in both years, with the main change in the secondary being being Dre Kirkpatrick replacing Terence Newman (Minnesota). On the line, the big change was the return of Michael Johnson from a one-year stint in Tampa, with Wallace Gilberry dropping from 73% of snaps to 58% as a result. And at linebacker, Maualuga, Vincent Rey, Vontaze Burfict, and Emmanuel Lamur were the four to see the most snaps in both 2014 and 2015, though the pecking order changed a bit.

In other words, the 2015 Bengals looked a whole lot like the 2014 Bengals. But in Washington, turnover was the story of the 2015 season. In 2014, Kirk Cousins started 5 games; last year, he started all sixteen. Matt Jones and Chris Thompson combined for over 50% of snaps at running back last year, reducing the heavier load endured by Alfred Morris in 2014. Tight end Jordan Reed caught 11 touchdowns and led the team in targets last year, but started two games and didn’t score in 2014.

On the offensive line, only LT Trent Williams was a holdover. With RG Chris Chester in Atlanta, 5th overall pick Brandon Scherff took over and started all 16 games. Morgan Moses, a third round pick in 2014 who started just one game as a rookie, took over at right tackle, relegating 2014 starter Tom Compton to the bench (he’s now in Atlanta with Chester). Kory Lichtensteiger (center) and Shawn Lauvao (left guard) both started in 2014, but were lost early in the season with injuries, putting Spencer Long (G) and Josh LeRibeus (C) into the lineup.

At safety, Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, and Phillip Thomas were replaced by Dashon Goldson, Kyshoen Jarrett and Trent Robinson. At corner, Bashaud Breeland was the consistent presence year over year, but David Amerson (one of the lone blunders from Washington’s front office last year) and E.J. Biggers were replaced by Will Blackmon and DeAngelo Hall (limited to just 3 games in 2014). The front seven was relatively consistent year over year, though Jarvis Jenkins and Brian Orakpo were gone in 2015, with Preston Smith, Ricky Jean-Francois, Terrance Knighton coming on board.

Of course, going team-by-team can be pretty tedious, so I whipped up a formula to measure retention rates.

I calculated the amount of turnover each team had from 2014 to 2015 using the following methodology:

1) Calculate the percentage of team AV gained by each player in 2015.

2) Calculate the percentage of team AV gained by that player for that team in 2014.

3) Take the lower of those two values.

4) Sum the values of each player for each team to derive a team retention grade for each franchise.

Using this methodology, 71.7% of the Bengals value was retained from 2014 to 2015, compared to just 44.7% for Washington.  In the graph below, I’ve plotted each of the 32 teams, with their AV retention rate on the Y-Axis and winning percentage in 2015 on the X-Axis.  Washington, seen in the bottom right, has the lowest AV Retention Percentage of any team to make the playoffs, while Cincinnati and many of the best teams from last year are in the upper right corner of the graph.

av retention 2014 2015

I have presented the same information below in table form, and also included 2014 win percentage and the difference between team winning percentage in 2014 and 2015 for each franchise. As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

RkTeamAV %2014 Win %2015 Win %Improvement

The Bengals really stand out here, as the only team over 70%. Only three other teams — Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Seattle — were over 60%. The Packers and Steelers are rightfully famous for having homegrown rosters, but the Bengals consistent success with homegrown players is an underrated NFL storyline.

  • Phil

    Have you done anything about what factors are predictive of a guys AV from 1 year to the next?

    example, both Ted Ginn and Amari Cooper had an AV of 9 last year

    if I was trying to predict those 2 guys AV this year, what would be good factors to use? (is there an aging curve to AV? do some receiving stats do a good job of predicting the next year’s AV? Contract status? draft position? team success [does that regress back to a mean], those sorts of things)

    Is there an article like that already in existence?

    • PanthersFan_inAfrica

      Ted Ginn is certainly an interesting case given his dramatic increase in performance and AV in Carolina vs. other teams he played for. (+7 AV increase from 2014 in AZ to 2015 with CAR) Michael Oher too had a big increase (+5) in AV at the Panthers in 2015.

      What’s also interesting is that so many others returning players on the Panthers roster had big increases in AV from 2014 to 2015. 9 returning players with increases of 4 points in AV or more.

      Josh Norman*+

      Thomas Davis*+

      Kawann Short*

      Cam Newton*+

      Mike Remmers

      Ryan Kalil*+

      Trai Turner*

      Greg Olsen*

      Kony Ealy

  • Tom

    Chase – this is cool. Looks like there’s a positive correlation between a team’s 2014-2015 retention rate and their 2015 winning percentage; do you know if this is generally the case in other years (I’m assuming yes)? Also, how predictive do you think AV retention rates are in regards to winning percentage. This is kind of tricky, but let’s say we look at the 2015 season, and then take a look at the starters on the first few games of the 2016 season…can we make any predictions? Obviously trying to answer the question, does a high AV retention rate translate into future wins?

    • It almost feels a bit circular to use returning AV to try to predict wins. AV for offense is based primarily on points per drive, and AV for defenders is points per drive allowed. If players are playing on teams that do one or both of those things well, they are also likely to be on teams that are winning. If they are on teams they do one or both of those things well AND are winning, they are likely to receive more attention when it comes time to vote for the Pro Bowl and All Pro teams, as well as other postseason honors. Since awards and Pro Bowl/AP teams also increase AV, the whole thing is a bit chicken and egg.

      • Richie

        Not sure about that. He’s using percentage of team AV for each player. Cam Newton was a high percentage of Carolina’s AV in 2014 and 2015. In 2015 they were a good team. In 2014 they were mediocre at best.

        • You’re right. What a waste of a paragraph.

    • Richie

      I think the trend might run the other direction. Good teams generally kept their players from the previous season. Teams that have a lot of turnover don’t do as well.

      But, keeping all your players isn’t necessarily a recipe for success if those players aren’t good.

      • Dr__P

        Bad teams might bring in new coaches with new schemes. Thus some good talent may not fit the new scheme and are released/traded etc.

  • Dr__P

    does this account for injury effects

    • Richie

      Yeah, Tyler Eifert was included in the example. He missed most of 2014, but played most of 2015. So Eifert actually brought down Cincinnati’s rating.

  • PanthersFan_inAfrica

    I was just looking at the Panthers roster AV from 2014 to 2015, and then also projecting their (preliminary) retention for 2016.

    In 2014 total AV for the roster per PFR was 199
    In 2015 total AV for the roster per PFR was 256

    Looking at players who returned and not counting 2015 performance change, (i.e. assuming at the start of
    2015 that returning players’ AV would match that of 2014), the Panthers brought back about 143 points of

    their 199 AV from 2014. (I’ve adjusted for those who were cut or injured mid season,).[71.9% a figure higher than Chase has above, but I realize I’ve oversimplified the calculation.]

    It interested me to look at the variables in roster AV change from season to season:

    Of the players on the 2014 roster:
    26 players did not return (cut / retired) in 2015 (37 points of AV lost)
    3.5 players were lost to injury (counting C. Johnson who was the short-term IR designee as .5) (17 points AV lost)

    The 18 players added in 2015 through the draft or FA contributed 44 points of AV
    Continuing players’ performance change from 2014 – 2015 produced a net +67 points of AV.

    Of those returning players who had an AV of 143 in 2014, their 2015 AV was 210 points! WOW!

    Obviously the 2016 roster is not set, but again assuming no performance change, the Panthers look to be bringing back about 214 of their 256 AV points from 2015 (83.6%)

  • Timothy Huang

    Might be an ignorant question but what does AV stand for?

    • Richie

      AV stands for “Approximate Value”. It is an attempt to compare the contributions of a player to his team in a given season. The number will theoretically help you compare different positions.

      For players at non-fantasy positions, a big chunk of AV is based on All Pro or Pro Bowl teams.

      It’s a very approximate way to compare players.

      Full details here: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/index37a8.html