Sports (General)

A Look At The NFL’s Top Rushers

The NFL season is almost underway, and that of course has kicked off preseason speculation of all kinds. Will Peyton Manning’s new receiving corps be unstoppable? Will Percy Harvin push the Seahawks over the edge? Will Colin Kaepernick be able to provide an encore for his stellar 2013 debut? These are just a few of the questions being asked everywhere from Yahoo! Sports to your very own Man Cave.

One of the most intriguing questions heading into every NFL season is which running backs will lead the charge in yardage and touchdowns. For the most part, this particular question is a big deal because RBs drive fantasy teams! Nevertheless, a team with a good runner stands a chance to compete. So here’s a look at how the runners stack up according the the Betfair sports betting projections.

It will certainly come as no surprise that Adrian Peterson is projected to have the best season out of the running backs. Betfair projects him with 9/4 odds – easily the strongest of all runners – to lead the league in yardage, and given that we almost saw Peterson break the single season rushing record coming off of an ACL injury last season, the projection is easy to understand. It’s a no brainer that Peterson will have a monstrous season.

Alfred Morris comes in with the second best odds to lead the league in rushing, at 11/2. Morris had an outrageous rookie campaign, and with questions about RGIII’s usage in Washington in the early weeks, Morris should handle even more of the offensive load.

Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (6/1), Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles (6/1), and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin (7/1) sit behind Peterson and Morris. Lynch is a proven stud who’s only getting better and playing for a juggernaut team. Meanwhile, Charles has always been good, and with Andy Reid calling the shots in KC his yardage could see a significant boost. Martin is an absolute stud, capable of running with power and breaking big plays, and showed glimpses of potential that could see him become the league’s best runner in a few years.

Of course, the reality is we never know exactly what to expect. Injuries are always a concern, and certain teams will inevitably be weaker on offense than expected. Baltimore’s Ray Rice, Cleveland’s Trent Richardson, and even Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller could all sneak into the conversation for the yardage crown, and even dark horses like Green Bay rookie Eddie Lacy could make some waves. The bottom line is, the NFL’s running backs are extremely deep and extremely talented. Be sure to renew your NFL Sunday Ticket to catch all the action as the season kicks off in a few weeks!

Sloan Sports Analytics Conference 2013 A.K.A. Dorkapalooza IVV


The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is the baby of Daryl Morey (Rockets GM) and Jessica Gelman (Gillette marketing executive). As the story goes, Morey wanted to start the conference after taking the  Rockets job because he could no longer lecture back in Cambridge. “This is Daryl’s class,” Moneyball author Michael Lewis said.

Morey is a Sloan alum. Although the conference is held across the Charles River in Boston, this  year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference started the way us non-Ivy-Leaguers assume most conversations in Cambridge start. That is, with an MIT/Harvard joke. Morey jabbing at Gelman, a Harvard alum, that the Crimson aren’t much known for quantitative competencies.

From there the weekend stayed highbrow. It is after all Dorkapalooza, per Bill Simmons.

Oddly, this year’s conference didn’t open with one blockbuster panel. Last year’s sole opener was a panel headlined by Malcolm Gladwell. Although 2013 opened with multiple panels, there was one which was  clearly the “big show” of the bunch. It was aptly titled “Revenge of the Nerds,” and had a truly stellar cast of characters. Moderated by Michael  Lewis, the panel included Mark Cuban (Mavs owner and perennial Sloan Conference attendee), Nate  Silver (FiveThirtyEight), Paraag Marathe (49ers COO) and Daryl Morey.

This is the kind of panels this conference has repeatedly put together. The men joining the conference c0-chair were some of the most celebrated of the year. Lewis’ book was made into a blockbuster movie. Cuban, after winning the NBA title the previous year, joined a primetime ABC show called Shark  Tank. Nate Silver was easily the most talked about blogger (and statistician) in 2013. And Paraag’s Niners came within yards  of winning an NFL title.

What ended up being the main theme of the conference first surfaced here. Mentioned over and over was the challenge that those involved in analytics face when trying to get their message across to the traditional decision makers and influencers — general managers, coaches, players, etc.

Another interesting addition to the conference was Bob Haralabos. Haralabos is the most well known NBA gambler today. Haralabos talked at length about the gambler and bookmaker relationship. Or lack there of. There was a classic confrontation between Haralabas and the Sportsbook Director at Cantor Gaming, Matthew Holt. It all boiled over when Haralabas brought up Holt’s comment from last year’s conference that they would take “any bet” from any player. When asked what bet Cantor would take from Harabalos gleefully responded, “Ten thousand.” He then went on to essentially egg Holt on to lift that limit. That said, regardless of your opinion on him, Haralabos proves that william hill bookmakers aren’t the only ones making money in the gambling business.

Another underlying theme was writing. Or at least it felt that way to me. So many of the great minds in analytics have written about their sports. Of course, this idea starts with Bill James. In the opening panel alone, Lewis and Silver’s respective pens have as much  firepower as any two men over the past several years. Then there are the cases like Dean Olive. Oliver is currently the Director of  Production Analytics, ESPN Stats & Information. It’s a role that seems to be getting more and more  influence in Bristol. You see the analytics becoming more  prominent in the programming and publishing. Before Oliver was officially in the hoops world, yes, he was an academic writer and also wrote “Basketball on Paper.” Simply put, he’s a writer, too. Maybe it’s just me missing daily writing, but along with celebrating numbers, this past weekend turned into a celebration of words.

Whatever the case may be, the written word is clearly alive and well.

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: First Pitch Case Competition

No, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is not just a gathering of students looking for jobs. It’s a gathering of very talented students looking for jobs.

Each year the conference hosts a business case competition with teams from some of  the best MBA programs. There were teams from 21 schools, to be exact.

Arizona State University W. P. Carey School of Business
Babson College F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business
Boston College Carroll School of Management
Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business
Georgetown University McDonough School of Business
Harvard Business School
London Business School
MIT Sloan School of Management
Northeastern University D’AMore-McKim School of Business
San Diego State Sports MBA Program
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
UCLA Anderson School of Management
University of Central Florida DeVos Sport Business Management
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
University of Virginia Darden School of Business
USC Marshall School of Business
Villanova School of Business

This year’s finalists are:

Columbia Business School – represented by Martin Kleinbard and Alex Zackheim
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business – represented by Michael Gries, Jonathan Hay, and Haibo Lu
The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth – represented by Chuck Culp, Jon Ryder, and Dave Sibley

Now that we know the players, here’s the actual case:

Growing the MLB.TV Business Model

MLB, in 2002, became the first league to sell a live video subscription product on the Internet and since that time, MLB.TV has been one of the most successful of its kind on the Internet. MLBAM, which has built the technology infrastructure to power and grow this live video experience, has sold MLB.TV as a direct-to-consumer, out-of-market subscription service, mirroring the cable television dual-revenue model (subscription/advertising). Since that 2002 debut, 1.5 billion live streams of baseball games have been accessed by MLB.TVsubscribers. In 2012, MLB.TV had two price points – $124.99 for MLB.TV Premium and $99.99 for MLB.TV and saw a 40 percent growth in subscribers. Premium access allowed subscribers to watch live games across an array of connected devices, gaming consoles and mobile phones or tablets. What is the optimal business model for continuing to grow subscribers and revenue? Lower annual price points? No subscription supported by advertising and sponsorship? How much revenue would need to be generated to offset lower price points or advertising-only support and continue to grow subscribers and revenue annually?

The final presentations will take place Friday morning. We will be there to report back. Best of luck to all the competitors.