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Introducing QB Wins Over Expected: Why Patrick Mahomes is still the best QB in the NFL

Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) attempts a pass in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Football is the ultimate team sport. Twenty-two players on the field on any given play. Eleven working together at a time. Each player on the field has a role in every play, unlike basketball or baseball where players can sit in the corner and let a teammate such as Luka Doncic play iso ball. 

Even though football is a team sport, no position matters more than quarterback. Getting the quarterback position right can put an NFL franchise in a position to compete for many years. There are various ways of accomplishing that feat.

A quarterback on a rookie deal (Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray) is the most lucrative way, and if that quarterback turns out to be elite, they will provide immense surplus value on their deal that can be spent to bolster other parts of the roster. Paying top dollar to an elite quarterback is another route (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott), but this makes it tough to build out a roster in free agency due to the quarterback's hefty salary. PFF's Eric Eager has written about the value of a middle-class quarterback and how teams can build a contending roster through that path. 

Football analytics has come a long way in finding ways to evaluate quarterbacks. Metrics like Expected Points Added, PFF Wins Above Replacement and ESPN’s QBR rating all analyze a quarterback’s performance in different ways.

All of these metrics use a quarterback’s stats to determine their impact on the game and can capture the best and worst signal-callers on any given day. Let's go a different route and try and evaluate quarterbacks based on things outside their control and see how they overcame them.

Quarterback Wins Over Expected

The idea is to look at every facet of an NFL team outside of the quarterback position and try to limit the influence the quarterback has on a roster. From there, we can calculate the expected number of wins an average quarterback is responsible for with that roster. After that, we take this predicted number of wins and subtract it from the actual number of games the quarterback won. The end result gives us their Quarterback Wins Over Expected (QBWOE).

This may look similar to PFF WAR, but WAR is built off player performance, while QBWOE is built off the performance of everyone but the quarterback.


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