Punch Drunk Wonderland

Ranking the Quarterbacks Remaining in the NFL Playoffs

Wild Card Weekend, Aaron Rodgers, Fantasy Projections, Rankings

We’ve reached the divisional round of the playoffs and the fantasy player pool grows ever smaller. How do the eight remaining quarterbacks matchup? Our friends at numberFire.com have taken a look and have ranked the remaining QBs in the NFL Playoffs.

Quarterback play is one of the most easily scrutinizable aspects of football. But, in turn, it’s also one of the most cherished — even if it’s not always deserved.

The focus on these signal-callers gets even more magnified in the playoffs. I mean, Joe Flacco got a monster deal because of his 2012 playoff run.

So what’s more apropos than ranking the quarterbacks left in the playoffs as of the Divisional Round?

I realize these ranks might ruffle some feathers, but they aren’t my eye-test ranks. They’re how the quarterbacks fared at the end of the regular season in terms of our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. NEP measures how well above or below a player played compared to expectation. Think of it this way: a 10-yard pass on 3rd-and-9 to enter the red zone isn’t the same as a 10-yard pass on 3rd-and-20 that leads to a punt, so they aren’t weighted equally.

More specifically, these quarterbacks are ranked according to their Total NEP scores, which includes passing and rushing totals, because there are some mobile quarterbacks in the mix.

8. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Total NEP: 57.14

The first mobile quarterback, Cam Newton, comes in at eighth. His Total NEP of 57.14 indicates that he gave the Panthers 57.14 points or the chance to score them — it’s not his fault if he makes the plays but his team misses a field goal or a running back fumbles it away. That ranks last among remaining quarterbacks but was only 16th in the NFL.

The reason he’s last — mainly — is because his Passing NEP, which counts only the points gained on his drop backs, was just 18.40. That ranked just 25th in the NFL, directly behind Kirk Cousins (19.58). His per drop back Passing NEP was just 0.04, tied with Brian Hoyer.

His Rushing NEP, though, was 38.74, second among all quarterbacks and nearly 11 points above third place (Blake Bortles (27.84)).

7. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Total NEP: 101.64

Flacco ranked seventh among the eight remaining quarterbacks in Total NEP this year, but he did have his best Passing NEP season ever (89.35). He also put forth two of the five-best single games in terms of Passing NEP this year.

Flacco actually ranked eighth among all quarterbacks this year in Rushing NEP (12.29) and fourth among the remaining playoff quarterbacks. His rushing ability is an understated aspect of his repertoire, and while he isn’t quite on par with the best of the best in the playoffs, he is coming off his best regular season to date, and he has certainly shown the ability to be on their level every now and again.

6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Total NEP: 109.50

Wilson’s Passing NEP was just 47.65, 15th in the NFL this year. His Success Rate, indicating the percentage of passes that added positively to his Passing NEP, was just 42.91%. That ranked 31st among the 37 quarterbacks who had at least 200 drop backs this year. He landed directly behind Mike Glennon (42.92%).

So, Wilson’s passing isn’t his forte, and that’s fine — because his Rushing NEP of 60.50 was best in the league among quarterbacks. It’s also the the second-best quarterback season in our database since 2000. Michael Vick totaled 68.31 Rushing NEP in 2004.

5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Total NEP: 114.02

Andrew Luck started out the year on fire, racking up passing stats at will. But things slowed down for him, but he still managed to finish with a Passing NEP of 110.33, sixth best in the league. His Success Rate (47.59%) was the only mark under 50.00% among the top-eight passers in terms of Passing NEP. This indicates, more or less, that he relied more on big plays rather than consistent gains for his successes in comparison to the other guys in the top eight.

Surprisingly, though, the gap between his Total NEP and Passing NEP is small, which indicates his rushing wasn’t much of a help. He actually tallied a Rushing NEP of just 3.68, worse than the next guy on the list — who isn’t much of a runner.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...