FSU Football: Why you shouldn’t trust ESPN’s FPI projections for 2018

FSU football is coming off an anomaly in 2017 due to unusual circumstances and projections are using that data in 2018.

I’m seeing a lot of FSU football fans on social media complain about ESPN’s FPI projections for the Noles in 2018.

Those projections are using data from 2017 to make projections for the upcoming year.

I don’t have a problem with that and they are a bit more reliable than a writer looking at team names, records and conference affiliations to dictate where teams are ranked.

At least the data is objective, but it too can lie without proper context which is the case for FSU’s 2018 projections.

From ESPN:

The model comprises four major components: the last four seasons of performance on offense, defense and special teams, with the most recent season counting most; information on offensive and defensive returning starters, with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience; a four-year average recruiting ranking of four systems (ESPN, Scouts, Rivals and Phil Steele); and head coaching tenure. These four components interact and are assigned different weights depending on the team to produce preseason FPI.

Combining all of the factors above produces a predicted value on offense, defense and special teams, which represents the number of points that each unit would be expected to contribute to the team’s scoring margin if it were to face an average FBS team on a neutral field.

ESPN projected FPI ranking for FSU football is No. 18 for the upcoming season. The Noles were ranked No. 4 going into the 2017 season and No. 1 going into the 2016 season.

How could the Noles be the preseason No.1 going into 2016 with a redshirt freshman quarterback with no college experience going up against the predicted third toughest schedule in the country?

They were predicted to win 10.7 games and a 45 percent chance to win the ACC and that was with Deshaun Watson playing QB at Clemson.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Noles are projected to for 7.3 wins and a 3.7 percent chance of winning the ACC and that’s with Clemson playing with an average starting QB in Kelly Bryant.

That’s despite FSU having more experience returning at quarterback and running back as the offense was the biggest question mark for the Noles in 2017.

As we discussed Sunday, the Noles should be better in more areas as a unit than not when compared to last season. Here’s what ESPN’s FPI expected win percentage against opposing teams(and their FPI ranking in parenthesis) is for the upcoming year:

2018 FPI

  • (22)Virginia Tech-63.5 percentage
  • (N/A)Samford-98.5 win percentage
  • (56)@Syracuse-72 win percentage
  • (70)Northern Illinois-91.1 win percentage
  • (35)@Louisville-55.9 win percentage
  • (14)@Miami-31.7 win percentage
  • (45)Wake Forest-78.4 win percentage
  • (1)Clemson-23.7 win percentage
  • (43)@NC State-61 win percentage
  • (6)@Notre Dame-19.7 win percentage
  • (34)Boston College-73.7 win percentage
  • (21)Florida-60.6 win percentage


I have no idea how they are getting these percentages. NC State has the best quarterback in the conference, yet FSU has a much higher winning percentage projection in Raleigh than compared to playing at Miami where half the crowd will be FSU fans?

Did anyone watch the Miami game last year? How in the world does Florida have a preseason ranking of No. 21? How about Virginia Tech ranked No. 22 who’s offense was abysmal and lost about half of their defense from last year?

I dunno, I just know the team I saw play in Tallahassee will not have the same issues from a year ago. Their biggest problem was inexperienced QB play on offense.

That should be largely improved from a year ago not to mention the offense will be built around the run game which features arguably the most talented backfield in the nation.

That’s why I say take these FPI projections with a grain of salt because the data is skewed greatly based on injuries and a coaching staff that quit halfway through the season.