World’s #1 QB: Justin Herbert Makes His Move
By ALEX VIGDERMAN
Earlier this week, Timo Riske of Pro Football Focus tweeted the names of nine quarterbacks that everyone should have in their Top 10 QB list.
I feel like every top 10 QB list right now has to include the following names in some order
Who is the 10th?
— Timo Riske (@PFF_Moo) October 12, 2021
SIS’s World’s #1 QB Rankings differ slightly from that list, but that’s partly due to some extenuating circumstances.
Here’s where we stand after Week 5:
SIS World’s #1 Quarterback Rankings Through Week 5 2021
1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Tom Brady
3. Aaron Rodgers
4. Kirk Cousins
5. Lamar Jackson (up by 1)
6. Justin Herbert (up by 2)
7. Josh Allen (up by 2)
8. Deshaun Watson (down by 3)
9. Matthew Stafford (up by 1)
10. Russell Wilson (down by 3)
11. Kyler Murray (up by 1)
14. Dak Prescott
A reminder that The World’s No. 1 Quarterback Ranking is based on a model devised by Bill James to evaluate The World’s No. 1 Starting Pitcher. Bill’s model was based on cumulative evaluation of individual starts over an extended time period using the metric Game Score.
The World’s No. 1 Quarterback Ranking uses our player value stat Total Points to make a cumulative evaluation of game performance over a three-year period. The key to our calculation is Points Above Average (PAA), which is the statistical underpinning of Total Points that is centered at zero so that positive numbers are above average and negative numbers are below average.
Success over time is key to maintaining a good ranking. Prolonged inactivity results in a ranking drop. The most recent performances carry the most weight
As the model looks at multiple years of data, availability plays a big part in a player’s ranking. That explains why Russell Wilson fell a bit (and will continue to fall through his injury absence). Dak Prescott has the same fate, thanks to his 2020 shoulder injury. And we know the story with Deshaun Watson, who has slowly dropped down the rankings as the season has gone on.
Kirk Cousins crashes the party at 4, which we probably understand is overstating his talent relative to the names behind him, but is reflective of a consistency in availability and performance that he hadn’t attained previously.
Kirk Cousins has been Mahomesian for stretches, but then fallen back down towards average for a sustained period.
— Alex Vigderman (@VigManOnCampus) October 1, 2021
Given recent returns, it’s very likely that Cousins’ hold on that 4 spot isn’t long for this world. We have already written about Lamar Jackson’s big year in this space, and he went ahead in Week 5 and had his best game by Points Above Average since his MVP season. Throwing for more than 10 yards per attempt on 40 attempts with four touchdowns and no interceptions will do that for you.
Justin Herbert is the next name to have crashed the preseason top 10. He’s posted two of the five best starts of his (admittedly brief) career in just the last three games, trailing only Jackson and Cousins in Passing PAA in that span. He hasn’t been quite as hyper-efficient as Jackson, but his 128.5 Independent Quarterback Rating since Week 3, and that’s with more attempts than all but one of the players with a similarly impressive rating (that darn Tom Brady…).
Conveniently enough, Herbert and Jackson face off in Baltimore in Week 6, so expect to see some fireworks.
Another thing to watch out for this week is the fight for the #1 spot. Patrick Mahomes has quickly lost his strangehold on the position after poor performances in two of his last four games, leaving him vulnerable to being supplanted this week (that darn Tom Brady…).
In case you are curious, here are the complete rankings through Week 5. We’re using Points Above Average per 60 snaps to give a sense for what each player’s weekly average is; in essence, the number of points he contributes above an average QB in each start.
|Player||PAA/60||Rk||Last||Start of Season|
|Robert Griffin III||-3.08||62||62||64|