New No. 1 in preseason FPI

Dalvin Cook is among 11 offensive starters Florida State has returning in 2016. AP Photo/John Raoux

Part of the process of generating a power ranking is keeping the input as fresh as possible. To an average fan, it might seem as if the rankings change for no reason, but the main goal of updating rankings and projections is to increase their accuracy with the newest information.

In that vein, ESPN’s Sports Analytics Group has rerun preseason FPI to update each team’s returning starters and account for recent schedule changes.

Although there were not too many changes, there are a few (including one big one) we want to highlight.

Why we are updating?

There are four inputs into preseason FPI that hold varying weights: past efficiencies, returning starters, recruiting rankings and head coaching tenure. A more detailed description can be found here.

FPI is utilized to generate game and season projections for each FBS team. These projections account for opponent strength (based on the above factors), game site, distance traveled and rest. Changing any of these inputs will likely affect a team’s season projections.

After spring practice, there have been a number of updates to returning starters, which we receive courtesy of Phil Steele, and schedules that necessitate a fresh set of rankings and projections.

Preseason FPI 3.0: New No. 1

One of the main reasons we decided to rerun FPI is that LSU, the No. 1 team in preseason FPI 2.0, lost an offensive starter, according to Steele. This occurred because two wide receivers (John Diarse and Trey Quinn) transferred this offseason. Since they combined for seven starts in 2015, Steele counted those players as one lost starter.

As a result, Florida State moved up to No. 1 in Preseason FPI 3.0. The Seminoles return all 11 offensive starters, including running back Dalvin Cook, to a unit that has ranked in the top 25 of efficiency in each of the past four years. Florida State also has had four straight top-10 recruiting classes, according to ESPN’s Class Rankings, including the No. 1 class in 2016, No. 2 class in 2015 and No. 3 class in 2014.

Notre Dame fell five spots to 20th after losing an offensive starter (right guard Steve Elmer opted to forgo his senior season), and Auburn and Florida each moved into the top 20 after gaining a defensive starter, according to Steele.

For the most part, however, the changes were minor. The favorites in each Power 5 conference remained the same, with Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan, LSU and USC favored to win their respective conference titles (though some races are projected to be very close).

This will be one of a few more updates before the season. The goal is to incorporate the most up-to-date information and produce the most accurate rankings possible.

FPI’s rankings and season projections are available at espn.com/fpi. Full game-by-game projections are available on each team’s FPI schedule page, such as this one for Oklahoma.