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World’s No. 1 QB Rankings: Matthew Stafford & Kyler Murray Soar

By MARK SIMON AND ALEX VIGDERMAN

Let’s take stock of where our World’s No. 1 Quarterback Rankings stand at the midpoint of the NFL season.

This is a good week to do so, as the rankings are basically a match for what they were entering the Week 8 games.

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.

The most interesting story is not so much the jockeying for position between the top three quarterbacks, who currently are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. We’ve already talked about Kirk Cousins in this space, but Matthew Stafford’s ascent to the No. 5 spot and Kyler Murray’s move into the Top 10 are worthy of discussion as well.

Here’s the current Top 10

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Aaron Rodgers
  3. Patrick Mahomes
  4. Kirk Cousins
  5. Matthew Stafford
  6. Lamar Jackson
  7. Derek Carr
  8. Justin Herbert
  9. Kyler Murray
  10. Josh Allen

When Stafford was traded from the Lions to the Rams, there was a buzz that the Rams made out very well and that we would finally get to see the best of what Stafford (and Sean McVay) had to offer.

He’s done that. He’s No. 1 in the NFL with 84 Points Earned and only Tyrod Taylor’s game-plus to start the year leads him in Points Above Average Per Snap this season.

In a Week 8 in which backup quarterbacks thrived and Brady, Mahomes, and Rodgers all had negative Points Above Average, Stafford thrived. He had the highest PAA of anyone last week, topping Geno Smith and Mike White (wow) by more than 50% of their totals. With Rodgers out this week, he’s a sitting target for Stafford to try to pass if he can have a good game against the Titans.

Among the 33 quarterbacks that have attempted at least 100 passes this season, Stafford ranks

 

2nd in touchdown percentage (8.1%)

1st in sack percentage (2.5%)

1st in adjusted net yards per attempt (9.6)

 

Of those, the sack percentage is most notable. Stafford was sacked 38 times last season. He’s averaged less than one sack per game in 2021.

Stafford has 11 touchdowns and one interception on passes traveling fewer than 10 yards downfield. His 12 Points Above Average Per 100 Plays on those passes is consistent with his 2019 season, but miles ahead of 2020, when he was essentially average. For comparison, Jared Goff posted 8.6 PAA/100 on those throws in 2020.

We should point out that Stafford is getting some help from his receivers. He’s 21st in catchable pass percentage  (84.6%) and 26th in on-target percentage (73.7%), numbers that aren’t necessarily unexpected given his average throw depth of 8.8 yards, which is in the top ten. His receivers rank third in the NFL in Points Earned per Play in part because of what they’ve been able to do to bring in and make hay with those passes.

On deep balls, Kyler Murray takes the crown–he has the most Points Earned in total and per-play. He’s at No. 9 in our rankings and we’re guessing there’s a clamoring that he’d be higher. Murray’s downfield passing accuracy this season has been impressive. His catchable pass percentage on throws at least 15 yards downfield is 81%. Only two quarterbacks rate better–Russell Wilson and Joe Burrow—with both doing so on fewer attempts.

There’s no comparison between Murray’s current accuracy and his past accuracy on these passes, which makes Murray’s ascent pretty easily explainable.

 

Passes At Least 15 Yards Downfield

Catchable Pass Pct Completions
2019 64% 45
2020 67% 39
2021 81% 32*

* 8 games

 

Here are the full rankings.

Rank Rank PAA per 60 Rk LastRk StartOfSeasonRk
1 Tom Brady 0.0929 1 1 3
2 Aaron Rodgers 0.088 2 2 1
3 Patrick Mahomes 0.0859 3 3 2
4 Kirk Cousins 0.0848 4 4 9
5 Matthew Stafford 0.0821 5 5 14
6 Lamar Jackson 0.0642 6 6 12
7 Derek Carr 0.0636 7 7 7
8 Justin Herbert 0.0588 8 10 10
9 Kyler Murray 0.057 9 9 15
10 Josh Allen 0.056 10 8 6
11 Deshaun Watson 0.0383 11 11 4
12 Russell Wilson 0.0356 12 12 5
13 Ryan Tannehill 0.0334 13 13 8
14 Dak Prescott 0.0158 14 14 17
15 Matt Ryan 0.0134 15 15 11
16 Teddy Bridgewater 0.0094 16 16 18
17 Baker Mayfield -0.0065 17 19 13
18 Jameis Winston -0.0072 18 18 55
19 Joe Burrow -0.0119 19 17 22
20 Jacoby Brissett -0.0167 20 20 21
21 Tyrod Taylor -0.0213 21 23 56
22 Ryan Fitzpatrick -0.0213 22 22 16
23 Jalen Hurts -0.0233 23 27 70
24 Mac Jones -0.024 24 21 N/A
25 Taysom Hill -0.0241 25 24 20
26 Cam Newton -0.0278 26 25 19
27 Tua Tagovailoa -0.0351 27 26 50
28 Chad Henne -0.0364 28 28 29
29 John Wolford -0.0372 29 29 24
30 Trevor Siemian -0.0382 30 39 N/A
31 Mike White -0.0382 31 70 N/A
32 Mason Rudolph -0.0395 32 30 26
33 Marcus Mariota -0.0398 33 31 27
34 C.J. Beathard -0.0411 34 32 30
35 Case Keenum -0.0416 35 33 60
36 Jeff Driskel -0.0423 36 35 32
37 Gardner Minshew -0.0423 37 36 33
38 Kyle Allen -0.0426 38 37 35
39 Blaine Gabbert -0.0435 39 38 37
40 Brett Hundley -0.0438 40 39 36
41 Matt Schaub -0.0439 41 40 38
42 Josh McCown -0.044 42 41 39
43 Nathan Peterman -0.0445 43 42 44
44 Joe Webb -0.0445 44 43 42
45 Joshua Dobbs -0.0445 45 44 43
46 Blake Bortles -0.0446 46 45 45
47 Chase Daniel -0.0446 47 46 40
48 Sean Mannion -0.0447 48 47 46
49 AJ McCarron -0.0451 49 48 48
50 Colt McCoy -0.0452 50 49 51
51 Matt Barkley -0.0453 51 50 49
52 Geno Smith -0.0458 52 76 N/A
53 Nate Sudfeld -0.0462 53 51 52
54 Garrett Gilbert -0.0464 54 52 54
55 Josh Rosen -0.0473 55 53 58
56 Brian Hoyer -0.0473 56 54 59
57 Jimmy Garoppolo -0.0483 57 78 25
58 David Blough -0.0484 58 55 61
59 Chris Streveler -0.0485 59 56 62
60 Joe Flacco -0.0487 60 57 63
61 Carson Wentz -0.0493 61 34 81
62 Tyler Huntley -0.0494 62 58 57
63 Robert Griffin III -0.0506 63 59 64
64 Brett Rypien -0.0507 64 60 65
65 Drew Lock -0.0508 65 61 23
66 Jarrett Stidham -0.0513 66 62 66
67 Will Grier -0.0519 67 63 69
68 Ben DiNucci -0.0525 68 64 68
69 Nick Mullens -0.054 69 66 72
70 Alex Smith -0.0544 70 67 74
71 Andy Dalton -0.0545 71 68 47
72 Jared Goff -0.0548 72 65 31
73 Brandon Allen -0.0558 73 69 75
74 Mike Glennon -0.0575 74 71 73
75 Trey Lance -0.0577 75 72 N/A
76 Ryan Finley -0.0581 76 73 77
77 Nick Foles -0.0585 77 74 76
78 Zach Wilson -0.0591 78 75 N/A
79 Cooper Rush -0.0593 79 N/A N/A
80 Dwayne Haskins -0.0636 80 79 78
81 Jake Luton -0.0654 81 80 79
82 Daniel Jones -0.0656 82 77 71
83 Phillip Walker -0.0668 83 81 67
84 Mitchell Trubisky -0.0708 84 82 80
85 Trevor Lawrence -0.0716 85 83 N/A
86 Sam Darnold -0.0796 86 84 82
87 Justin Fields -0.0873 87 88 N/A
88 Davis Mills -0.0952 88 85 N/A
89 Ben Roethlisberger -0.103 89 86 53
90 Taylor Heinicke -0.1125 90 87 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

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