August 26, 2009

Rating NFL QB’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 4:43 pm

The NFL’s current system for rating QB’s is a complex. nonsensical formula that combines a QB’s completion percentage, Yard per Pass Attempt, TD Pass Percentage, and Interception Percentage into a single incomphrensible number.

    Wouldn’t it be nice (as the Beach Boys said) if we could assign a point value to each pass thrown by a QB and then evaluate QB’s based on points generated per 100 pass  attempts?.  Using a technique described in my new book Mathletics, for the NFL 2008 season here are the top 5 QB’s (numbers adjusted based on strength of opponents passing defenses:

  1. Peyton Manning 37 points.
  2. Drew Brees 36 points.
  3. Matt Ryan 34 points
  4. Phillip Rivers 32 points.
  5. Kurt Warner 29 points,

Of other interest, Brett Favre only generated 10 points per 100 pass attempts with the Jets in 2008. If the Vikings knew this they might have thought twice about signing him. Thus we see that if Peyton and Brett each threw 500 passes Peyton would generate 135 more points than Brett.

Of course, when we evaluate a QB we are evaluating him based on his set of receivers and offensive line.  Properly partitioning the credit for a pass play between a QB, receiver and offensive line is a difficult, if not impossible task. But at least we can evaluate a team’s passing game with a single meaningful and easy to understand metric.

In our next post we will rank the NFL’s top running backs during the 2008 season.


  1. Wayne this is interesting in how you approached you are evaluating the “passing unit” on the field. I have taken a similar approach the last 3 years with my Fantasy Football team in selecting defenses. Three years ago, Seattle was considered one of the best FF defenses not so much because they happen to be excellent, but they just played a lot of lousy teams (2x through the NFC West).

    One thing that has intrigued me is the way to deal with a “hot” team or unit. I am thinking Holt-Winters and the trend. For teams, it would seem that this might be an important variable, but I could just be fooled by randomness and an overstated opposing defense or offense score.

    Comment by Grant Case — August 27, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  2. What’s your take on the Bears getting Cutler? Was it worth the 2 1st round draft picks and 1 3rd round pick they gave up?

    Comment by John — October 2, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  3. He is a huge upgrade over previous Bear QB’s. Draft picks often do not pan out. QB is by far most important position in American team sports. So I think it weas good.

    Comment by wwinston — October 2, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

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