Monday, February 9, 2015

NFL Fantasy Sports API

The NFL has made an impressive Application Programming Interface (API) available to application developers.



 Fantasty Football Web Services  allows existing or new applications to access live NFL data, potentially in real time.  It also allows users to join existing fantasy leagues, or even create new leagues.  Perhaps the most exciting offerings are still to come. Michael Vizard  of Programmable Web writes:

A big part of that effort revolves around giving fans access to statistics and analytics tools that they can use to figure out which players to draft and keep. In the postseason, NFL.com even went so far as to create a separate fantasy game event that involved just the teams that made the playoffs.

Access to these statistics and analytic tools is something large organizations like the NFL need to compete with the powerful data analysis capabilities available to smaller companies today. In addition to the  playoff fantasy game mentioned above, there's also a prowbowl api available. So the NFL seems to be running with the API.

First, let's have a closer look at the The Web services available now which are documented here: http://api.fantasy.nfl.com/v1/docs .  Then we'll explore some hidden gems available now in the API that access some underlying predictive analytics, straight form the NFL!

Available Data

Any current player statistics are available through the well documented API calls. To write to the API you'll need a key which you request by emailing fantasy.football@nfl.com .




Scoring Leaders


{"season":"2010","week":"","positions":{"QB":[{"id":"2505996","esbid":"MAN473170","gsisPlayerId":"00-0022803","firstName":"Eli","lastName":"Manning","teamAbbr":"NYG","opponentTeamAbbr":"","position":"QB","rank":"11","statsLine":"","stats":{"PassYds":false,"PassTDs":false,"Int":false,"RushYds":false,"RushTDs":false,"RecYds":false,"RecTds":false,"FumTD":false,"TwoPt":false,"FumLost":false},"pts":"231.08","projectedPts":false,"status":""},{"id":"2539961","esbid":"NAS738294","gsisPlayerId":"00-0030586","firstName":"Ryan","lastName":"Nassib","teamAbbr":"NYG","opponentTeamAbbr":"","position":"QB","rank":"47","statsLine":"","stats":{"PassYds":false,"PassTDs":false,"Int":false,"RushYds":false,"RushTDs":false,"RecYds":false,"RecTds":false,"FumTD":false,"TwoPt":false,"FumLost":false},"pts":false,"projectedPts":false,"status":""}]}}

The data comes back in XML by default, but you can clean that up with a simple format parameter at the end of your request:




Weekly Stats

Users can further filter requests by position, team, week and season.  The available  stats go back to 2009.




Advanced Stats

Additional statistics such as RedZone Touches are also available




{"QB":[{"id":"2533033","esbid":"GRI283140","gsisPlayerId":"00-0029665","firstName":"Robert","lastName":"Griffin","teamAbbr":"WAS","opponentTeamAbbr":"@HOU","position":"QB","stats":{"FanPtsAgainstOpponentPts":"25.00","FanPtsAgainstOpponentRank":"2","Carries":"9","Touches":"9","Receptions":false,"Targets":false,"ReceptionPercentage":false,"RedzoneTargets":false,"RedzoneTouches":"1","RedzoneG2g":false},"status":"Loss, 6-17"}],"RB":[{"id":"2533457","esbid":"MOR317547","gsisPlayerId":"00-0029141","firstName":"Alfred","lastName":"Morris","teamAbbr":"WAS","opponentTeamAbbr":"@HOU","position":"RB","stats":{"FanPtsAgainstOpponentPts":"25.60","FanPtsAgainstOpponentRank":"4","Carries":"28","Touches":"28","Receptions":false,"Targets":false,"ReceptionPercentage":false,"RedzoneTargets":false,"RedzoneTouches":"4","RedzoneG2g":"2"},"status":"Loss, 6-17"}],"WR":[{"id":"80425","esbid":"HAR829482","gsisPlayerId":"00-0026998","firstName":"Percy","lastName":"Harvin","teamAbbr":"NYJ","opponentTeamAbbr":"OAK","position":"WR","stats":{"FanPtsAgainstOpponentPts":"39.00","FanPtsAgainstOpponentRank":"3","Carries":"5","Touches":"11","Receptions":"6","Targets":"8","ReceptionPercentage":"75","RedzoneTargets":"1","RedzoneTouches":"2","RedzoneG2g":"1"},"status":"Win, 19-14"}],"TE":[{"id":"2530473","esbid":"ADA482150","gsisPlayerId":"00-0028337","firstName":"Kyle","lastName":"Adams","teamAbbr":"","opponentTeamAbbr":"Bye","position":"TE","stats":{"FanPtsAgainstOpponentPts":"","FanPtsAgainstOpponentRank":"","Carries":false,"Touches":"1","Receptions":"1","Targets":"1","ReceptionPercentage":"100","RedzoneTargets":false,"RedzoneTouches":false,"RedzoneG2g":false},"status":""}],"K":[{"id":"2499370","esbid":"AKE551610","gsisPlayerId":"00-0000108","firstName":"David","lastName":"Akers","teamAbbr":"","opponentTeamAbbr":"Bye","position":"K","stats":{"FanPtsAgainstOpponentPts":"","FanPtsAgainstOpponentRank":"","Carries":false,"Touches":false,"Receptions":false,"Targets":false,"ReceptionPercentage":false,"RedzoneTargets":false,"RedzoneTouches":false,"RedzoneG2g":false},"status":""}],"DEF":[{"id":"100029","esbid":false,"gsisPlayerId":false,"firstName":"San Francisco","lastName":"49ers","teamAbbr":"SF","opponentTeamAbbr":"@DAL","position":"DEF","stats":{"FanPtsAgainstOpponentPts":"5.00","FanPtsAgainstOpponentRank":"20","Carries":false,"Touches":false,"Receptions":false,"Targets":false,"ReceptionPercentage":false,"RedzoneTargets":false,"RedzoneTouches":false,"RedzoneG2g":false},"status":"Win, 28-17"}]}


Managing Leagues with API Writes


Add a Player

This call adds a player to your fantasy team.


A valid API key will get a success response:

    success
    true


Create a League

You can even create a new league,


then email out links for people to join:




For the application developer and fantasy sports fan, the fun has just begun.

Analytic Tools


Developers and analysts are used to writing their own analytic tools.  The API provides data designed just for custom analytics.  The Pro Bowl API returns players twitter user ids. Those feeds along with the players/news call can keep users up to date with the latest developments.  Potentially that text data can even be mined and analyzed for predictors of next weeks performance.  Does Gronk play better after appearing on Conan?







Predictions

Predictive analytics has become so prevalent that the NFL is now providing projections of next weeks fantasy points.

weekProjectedPts

Have a look at the JSON response to this request for 2014 week stats.


Algorithms behind the scenes at the NFL boldly predicted at week 1 that NY Giants backup Quarterback Husain Abdullah would have no points the next week (weekProjectedPts)


{"id":"729","esbid":"ABD660476","gsisPlayerId":"00-0025940","name":"Husain Abdullah","position":"DB","teamAbbr":"KC","stats":{"1":"16","70":"58","71":"13","73":"1","76":"1","81":"10","82":"39","84":"2","85":"5","89":"1"},"seasonPts":82.5,"seasonProjectedPts":0,"weekPts":3,"weekProjectedPts":0}




The NFL algorithms were close. If you change the week number to 2 in the url above, you'll see that Husain did scrape up a point the next week.


seasonProjectedPts

Season projected points appears in the /playesrs/stats response as well. It appears to be a placeholder for now.  It doesn't change week to week, and it's 0 for any year prior to 2014.  It will be interesting to watch this attribute in 2015.

Watch for more updates to the NFL Fantasy Sports API during the offseason, and for some interesting applications build around the new API.


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