It’s become somewhat of an annual tradition for the Los Angeles Rams: celebrating the arrival of Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) metric that quantifies the healthiest teams each season.
How does AGL work?
We have collected the data from the NFL’s weekly injury reports for every season since 2002. This allows us to measure not just who played and who didn’t, but who was able to play with injuries, even if those injuries meant the player was at something less than 100 percent. That’s why we call this metric adjusted games lost -- in addition to players who missed games entirely, we also count those who hit the field after appearing on the injury report at an adjusted rate. Further, we track whether the injured player was a starter, a situational reserve, or simply bottom-of-the-roster fodder. Obviously, an injury to a starting tackle is more important than one to a guy who only plays on special teams.
We should note that we have changed our definition of “situational reserves” this year. In years past, we have used rather broad strokes to look for non-starters with specific roles -- third-down backs, third wide receivers, nickelbacks, etc. This year, we actually looked at each player’s snap count to try to determine who was regularly seeing the field, including rotational defensive linemen, two-down linebackers, and change-up running backs. This is far more art than science, and it can be difficult to measure as player’s roles change throughout the year, but we think it gives a more accurate measure of who is and is not an important role player.
Back in 2016, the Rams were the healthiest team in the NFL with a low 29.0 AGL.
In 2017, that number dropped even lower to just 15.6 as the Rams remained the healthiest team.
For this last season? Well, we can no longer claim the AGL crown.
The 2018 Rams were the fourth-healthiest team with an AGL of 39.6. While many would jump to concluding that WR Cooper Kupp’s ACL injury was the major proponent here, FO’s breakout of Offensive AGL and Defensive AGL shows that’s not the case.
The Rams were second in Offensive AGL with a 10.9 meaning Kupp’s 11-game absence didn’t weight very heavily. Instead, it was the Defensive AGL of 28.7 that ranked 13th that pulled the Rams off the perch. CB Aqib Talib spent eight weeks on injured reserve while ILB Mark Barron missed the first four games. Throw in season-long IR stints for EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE Morgan Fox and CB Kevin Peterson and it’s easy to see the impact. I do wonder how they quantified the injury to RB Malcolm Brown or the impacts of the injuries to CB Marcus Peters and RB Todd Gurley that impacted their game performances.
So while the Rams might not have been the healthiest team in the NFL in 2018, they certainly remain one of the most fortunate teams in the NFL on the health front.