AWS and NFL Launch Next Gen Stat ‘Expected Return Yards’
The newest advanced ML-powered stat from AWS and the NFL tackles the hidden dynamics of punt and kickoff returns
The goal of Expected Return Yards is to estimate how many yards a returner will gain from the moment they catch the ball. This is determined by how well they can identify space and break tackles, whether their teammates can block and create space, and if their opponents can cover ground and maintain lane discipline. In only fractions of a second, Expected Return Yards uses tracking data to help quantify how well the returner and each team achieved their goals.
AWS and NFL Reveal New Special Teams Insights
An exclusive conversation with Next Gen Stats on how they use ML to estimate, in real time, how many yards a returner will gain the moment they catch a punt or kickoff
ML Solutions Lab ‘Expected Return Yards’ Q&A
Q&A with the ML Solutions Lab about Expected Return Yards, the latest Next Gen Stat from AWS and the NFL, that uses AI to take you under the hood at kickoff and punt returns
Marcus Jones Walk-Off 84-yard punt return TD
Marcus Jones was only expected to gain 12 yards on his game clinching 84-yd punt return touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 11. His +72 return yards over expected were the most on any punt return this season.
Jones only had a 0.5% chance of returning the punt for a touchdown, making it the 2nd-most improbable punt return touchdown over the last two seasons.
Jones helped the Patriots gain +47.8% win probability on the return, the most win probability gained on a punt return in the NGS era (since 2016).
Cordarrelle Patterson’s Record Breaking 103-yd TD
When Patterson fielded his historic return 3 yards inside his own endzone he was only expected to gain 26 yards. His +77 return yards over expected were the 3rd-most on any kick return over the past three seasons.
Patterson’s ninth kick return touchdown was his 3rd return of +75 kick return yards over expected or more since 2018, the most in the league.
Patterson brought the Falcons from 23.4% win probability to 41.5%, a +18.1% win probability swing, the second biggest win probability swing of the game.
Nyheim Hines 101-yard kickoff return
When Hines fielded the ball one yard inside his own endzone he was only expected to gain 25 yards. In bringing it back 101-yards he earned +76 kick return yards over expected, the most on a kick in his career.
Hines had only a 1.1% probability of scoring a TD when he received the kick. The odds of Hines scoring twice on Sunday across his four attempts in Week 18 against the Patriots?0.033% (or almost 1 in 3,000). The odds of Hines scoring on the two specific kicks was even lower – 0.0067% (or approximately 1 in 15,000).
Hines brought the Bills win probability from 64.3% following the Patriots score to 78.8% following his return, adding +14.5% win probability. His return was the biggest win probability swing of the game.
Nyheim Hines 96-yard opening kickoff return
Hines was expected to return the ball to the 25-yard line when he fielded the ball at the 4 yard line (21 expected return yards). Instead, Hines took the ball 96-yards for a touchdown.
Hines had just a 0.6% probability of scoring a TD when he received the kick, the 3rd-most improbable kick return touchdown since 2018.
Hines reached a top speed of 21.25 mph on the play, the fastest speed by a Bills ball carrier this season and 2nd-fastest speed of his career.