And Now... ADVANCED STATS: The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI)

Bama Fans:

You have to give the people what they want, and the people apparently want advanced stats. As such, we’ll begin today by looking at the offensive, defensive, and overall Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) (plural "Indices"). I don’t have any particular preference for FEI over S&P+ or F+, but the FEI has been updated to reflect this past weekend’s games, while the S&P+ (and, by necessity, the F+) have not.

All stats and quotations taken from

For those of you like me who don’t intuitively grasp the FEI, and who can’t remember the explanations from the "By The Numbers" articles, here’s a refresher:

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession efficiency expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams, win or lose, and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

Game Efficiency (GE) is the composite possession-by-possession efficiency of a team over the course of a game, a measurement of the success of its offensive, defensive, and special teams units’ essential goals: to maximize the team’s own scoring opportunities and to minimize those of its opponent. FEI ratings take the season-long GE data and adjust for opponent, placing special emphasis on quality performance against good teams, win or lose.

Other definitions:

  • SOS: Strength of schedule, based on the likelihood of an elite team going undefeated against the given team's entire schedule.

  • FBS MW: Mean Wins, the average number of games a team with the given FEI rating would be expected to win against its entire schedule.

  • FBS RMW: Remaining Mean Wins, the average number of games a team with the given FEI rating would be expected to win against its remaining schedule.

  • OFEI: Offensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's offense.

  • DFEI: Defensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team's defense.

  • STE: Special Teams Efficiency, the scoring value earned by field goal, punt and kickoff units measured in points per average game.

  • FPA: Field Position Advantage, the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against its opponents.

Since this is my introduction to advanced stats, we’re only going to look at "overall" FEI ratings, and we can get more into offensive, defensive and special teams specifics at a later date. (After week 7, for instance, when the website begins posting the offensive, defensive and special teams FEI rankings. Not entirely sure why they would post the "overall" rankings current through October 13th’s games, while not posting the specific unit stats. I suppose this is just another of the enigmata of advanced stats.)

Let’s look at various overall FEI rankings of the SEC teams. I had to squish the horizontal a little bit to make sure it fits (I think I’m figuring this formatting stuff out), but it should still be legible, and we'll go into more detail later:

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I haven’t really figured out how to make charts out of this stuff yet, but let’s take a look at some information we can get out of this.

First, let’s look at the overall possession-by-possession Game Efficiency (definitions above) for each SEC team:

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So, looking at all aspects of the game, FEI rates Alabama as not only the most efficient team in the SEC, but in all of FBS football. My main surprise here is how Georgia, who got blown out by South Carolina, comes in ahead of undefeated Florida and Mississippi State, as well as Texas A&M and LSU, who both lost close games to a good team... who Georgia is apparently still more efficient than.

So, how about offensive efficiency?

Alabama’s respectable, but not elite. It surprised me how offensively efficient Tennessee and Ole Miss apparently are, and how apparently inefficient South Carolina, LSU and MississippiState apparently are.

What about defensive efficiency?

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Not too many surprises here, other than that Alabama is ranked #6 national in terms of FEI defensive efficiency, rather than #1, when we lead the country in pretty much every measurable category. Remember, however, that this is adjusted by opponent. Let’s take a closer look at that. Here are the top 10 teams in terms of FEI-rated defensive efficiency:

Needless to say, this surprises me somewhat, but I assume it can only be based on performance relative to one’s opponent’s perceived offensive firepower. Let’s agree to disagree, and I figure this will get worked out over the remainder of the season.

On to special teams. We have all noticed how Alabama’s special teams have improved this year, but take a look at the STE ratings:

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That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. According to FEI’s statistical witchcraft, Alabama has the most valuable special teams unit in the SEC, measured in points per average game. What’s more, this unit is rated as the 4th most valuable in the FBS, right ahead of… the Auburnite?

And now let’s look at the Field Position Advantage:

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According to FEI, the combination of Alabama’s vastly improved kickoffs, punts, field goals, coverage teams, grinding ball-control offense, and thermobaric-weapon-style (couldn’t bring myself to call them merely "suffocating") defense, Alabama is #1 in the SEC in terms of Field Position Advantage, again coming in at #4 nationally, right ahead of LSU.

In other news, here are the teams with the 10 toughest schedules, according to FEI:

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Huh. I guess he forgot that Mizzou’s not in the Big 12 North anymore.

Let’s look at the FEI-rated SEC strengths of schedule:

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Huh. Seems like it’s been a while since Alabama was regarded as having the easiest schedule in the SEC, but we don’t play Florida, South Carolina or Georgia in the regular season, LSU hasn’t looked true to form, Arkansas and Auburn are corpses rotting in sewers, and Ole Miss is still Ole Miss. Oh, and we don’t have to play Alabama.

In conclusion, let’s look at the FEI-anticipated overall regular-season records for each SEC team. Remember, this is looking at how many games a team with their current FEI rating would be expected to win against their schedule, without regard to how many they’ve actually won so far. Also remember that each SEC school plays at least one FCS team this year, and Texas A&M plays two. For the purposes of this projection, all FCS games are presumed wins – bad presumption, I know:

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This has (rounded to the nearest integer) each team with a projected record of:

Alabama: 11-1

Florida: 10-2

South Carolina: 10-2

Texas A&M: 10-2

Georgia: 9-3

LSU: 8-4

Mississippi State: 8-4

Tennessee: 8-4

Ole Miss: 6-6

Arkansas: 5-7

The Auburnite: 5-7

Mizzou: 4-8

Vandy: 4-8

Kentucky: 3-9

Now we’ll look at FBS Remaining Mean Wins, and see what record the FEI ratings thinks each team will finish with, now that the first 6 games are in the books:

Alabama (FCS opponent remaining): 11-1

Florida (FCS opponent remaining): 11-1

South Carolina (FCS opponent remaining): 10-2

Texas A&M (one FCS opponent remaining): 9-3

Georgia (FCS opponent remaining): 9-3

LSU: 8-4

Mississippi State: 8-4

Tennessee: 6-6

Ole Miss: 5-7

Arkansas: 4-8

The Auburnite (FCS opponent remaining): 4-8

Mizzou: 4-8

Vandy: 4-8

Kentucky (FCS opponent remaining): 3-9

So, reading entirely too much into this (remember that FEI uses decimals, while I’m looking at integers), looking only at the small disparities between these two projections, it looks like:

(1) Florida won a game FEI thinks they shouldn’t have, while (2) Texas A&M, (3) Tennessee, (4) Ole Miss, (5) Arkansas and (6) the Auburnite have all lost games they shouldn’t have. Let’s guess!

(1) Allowing for decimal points, I imagine Florida’s overachievement is somewhere between their win over Texas A&M and LSU. Wins over Mizzou, UL-Lafayette and JacksonvilleState seem very likely, and taking 2 of 3 over South Carolina, Georgia and FloridaState seems reasonable at this point, getting them to their current projection of 11-1.

(2) With the same caveat about decimal points, I imagine Texas A&M’s underachievement thus far is probably somewhere between losing to Florida and their struggle with Ole Miss. Likely wins over the Auburnite, SamHoustonState and Mizzou, while taking 1 of 3 of LSU, MississippiState and Alabama, gets them to their currently projected record of 9-3.

(3) With losses to Florida, Georgia and MississippiState, I’m not really sure why Tennessee’s projected record has gone from 8-4 to 6-6, what with all three of those opponents either apparently overachieving thus far or remaining on track. They have likely wins against Troy, Mizzou and Kentucky, with probably losses against Alabama and South Carolina. Losing to Vandy would get them to their projection of 6-6, but… comon. Vandy? In old-school stats, Vandy’s pass defense is pretty darn good, while the run defense is pretty darn terrible. Tennessee seems to have rediscovered that the rules allow for rushing yards, so I’m going to deviate from FEI here and split the baby. I think Tennessee finishes 7-5.

(4) With Ole Miss’s losses coming to Texas, Alabama and Texas A&M, I’m not really sure why their projected record has dropped from 6-6 to 5-7 at the halfway point. Maybe this is FEI’s way of punishing Ole Miss for blowing a late lead to a team that has somewhat underperformed? Or maybe, as mentioned previously, I am getting too caught up in decimal points. Or, I can look at Ole Miss’s remaining schedule. Likely losses to Georgia, LSU and MississippiState, while taking either Arkansas or Vandy gets Ole Miss to 5-7.

(5) Arkansas. I’m guessing most will point to their underachievement being the ULM game, but FEI has them at #31. Rutgers? #20. They have a likely win over Tulsa coming, but I could definitely see them losing to Ole Miss. Dropping that one, along with likely losses to South Carolina, MississippiState and LSU gets them to their currently projected record of 4-8.

(6) The Auburnite. With losses to two apparently underperforming teams (Ole Miss and Arkansas), I’m surprised that the Auburnite’s projection only went from 5-7 to 4-8. I’m guessing FEI is anticipating wins over Vandy, New Mexico State and Alabama A&M, which seams reasonable. If the Auburnite loses to Vandy this week, anticipate this updated projection to drop even further, because it’s tough to see this current Auburnite iteration pulling an upset over Texas A&M, Georgia or Alabama.

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.

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