The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Ranking the NFL’s Top 15 Quarterbacks

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At Dallas Morning News, I took a shot at using stats to rank the league’s top quarterbacks. Here are my top eight:

Pete Prisco recently released his top players at the four positions he considers to be most vital in the NFL: quarterback, pass-rusher, cornerback, and left tackle. Based solely on those positions, the Cowboys checked in as the second-best overall team with Tony Romo ranked at No. 9, DeMarcus Ware at No. 3, Brandon Carr at No. 11, and Tyron Smith at No. 8.

For the most part, I think Prisco did a decent job with his rankings. Still, there are points of contention, so I wanted to propose my own “four-pronged” rankings from the perspective of a stat geek. Using advanced stats, I’ll put forth my top 15 players at each of the four positions, starting today with quarterback.

To be clear, I’m ranking the players not based off of what they’ve done in the past, but rather how likely they are to succeed in the future. I don’t really care if Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl last year; that doesn’t affect his ability to win future championships all that much. The best stats or power rankings are the most predictive, so consider this list my prediction for the most likely quarterbacks to thrive in the future.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

  • 7.8 YPA in 2012 and it was his worst mark in four years

2. Tom Brady, Patriots

  • 0.29 WPA/game ranked him third in the NFL.

3. Drew Brees, Saints

  • A down year and still top six in YPA

4. Peyton Manning, Broncos

  • 7.49 net-YPA was first in NFL; would be higher if not for age

5. Cam Newton, Panthers

  • Third in YPA, seventh in net-YPA; 1,447 yards and 22 TDs rushing in two seasons

6. Robert Griffin III, Redskins

  • Health a concern, but best passer rating against the blitz in NFL history

7. Matt Ryan, Falcons

  • Second-highest completion rate in NFL; top five in net-YPA

8. Andrew Luck, Colts

  • Somewhat overrated rookie season; outside of top 15 in YPA and net-YPA
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