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Adjusted Games Lost metric shows Seahawks were hit hardest with injuries at RB and DB

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Football Outsiders released its injury metric for the 2016 NFL regular season, showing which teams were most and least impacted by injuries in terms of Adjusted Games Lost (AGL). The Seahawks ranked 5th with just 41.1 AGL, which caused quite a stir in our comments section, considering the season-long health woes of Russell Wilson, the midseason injuries affecting Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor, and the late-season losses of Earl Thomas, Tyler Lockett, and C.J. Prosise.

As was promised by FO, there’s more context to their data and they’ve broken it down by position. You can read the full breakdown here, but in the interest of compiling all the Seahawks data, I’ve created a table that notes the Seahawks AGL by position and their respective rankings.

Seahawks Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) by Position

Position Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) NFL Rank
Position Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) NFL Rank
Quarterback 0.5 16th
Running Back 13.4 26th
Wide Receiver 1.7 5th
Tight End 4.6 16th
Offensive Line 3.7 4th
Defensive Line 6.6 10th
Linebackers 2 9th
Defensive Back 8.7 11th

As a reminder from the previous article, here’s how FO measures AGL (from its 2015 article), keeping in mind that the NFL eliminated “probable” as an injury report status, and FO effectively replaced it by matching up the injury reports where teams left some player statuses blank and considered them the new “probable,” as the statistics proved when they analyzed the data.

These numbers do not simply add up the number of games missed. With Football Outsiders' adjusted games lost (AGL) metric, we are able to quantify how much teams were affected by injuries based on two principles: (1) Injuries to starters, replacement starters, and important situational reserves (No. 3 wide receiver, nickelback, etc.) matter more than injuries to bench warmers; and (2) Injured players who do take the field are usually playing with reduced ability, which is why AGL is based not strictly on whether the player is active for the game or not, but instead is based on the player's listed status that week (IR/PUP, out, doubtful, questionable or probable).

The running back position was decimated with injuries to both Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise, of whom the latter essentially had a season-ending injury against the Eagles. Christine Michael was the only reliably healthy back, and Seattle cut him literally days before Prosise’s injury. As for, defensive back, which encompasses both safeties and cornerbacks, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and DeShawn Shead all missed at least one game in the regular season.

On the lower end, Tyler Lockett broke his leg in week 16 and I vaguely remember him being marked as questionable on at least one injury report earlier in the year, so that’s about the full extent of Seattle’s WR health for its top three guys. Paul Richardson did miss one game but he was the #4 option until Lockett’s injury. Mike Morgan was the only starting Seahawks linebacker to miss a game (he was placed on IR designation for return), and he wasn’t always listed in the starting lineup when he was healthy.

I’m not arguing AGL is a flawless measurement of team health, but I hope this provides a better glimpse into why the Seahawks had such a favorable ranking. In a hypothetical world where Thomas and Lockett had gotten hurt on opening day, the AGL metric would tell a vastly different story for Seattle. If you’re looking for something to quantify the value of the players the Seahawks lost at any point in the season, then this isn’t really what you’re looking for. Otherwise, in terms of injuries, Seattle avoided the catastrophes suffered by the Vikings, Chiefs, or Chargers.