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Final quarterback rankings

Breesy does it as Drew is the Top Gun in 2017.

Getty Images/Peter Rogers Illustrations

My Quarterback ROPE Index, WAA (Wins Above Average) ratings and FPAA (Fantasy Points Above Average) ratings have all been updated through the final week of games to show the best and worst passers in the league from both an efficiency and fantasy standpoint.

Final 2017 ROPE Index Rankings (min 100 pass attempts)

The writing had been on the wall for a while and with another super solid performance in week 17 (despite the loss), Drew Brees has won the second ROPE Index title of his career. Brees’s consistency has been a hallmark of his Hall of Fame career and in a season where the average ROPE Index rating was its lowest for four years at 48.9%, Brees was above the league average in fifteen of his sixteen starts and above a 60% rating in fourteen of them. Alex Smith was second with ten ratings above 60%, with no other quarterback managing more than 8. In total yardage terms, it was his lowest total in his twelve years in New Orleans with 4334, but his yards per attempt were his third highest ever at 8.1. This coupled with Brees breaking the season record for completions with 72.0%, and Brees has been the standout quarterback in the NFL in 2017.

Brees joins a list of ROPE Index champions all the way back to 1970 (as far as I have data for), but in terms of the last ten years, you can see he’s rejoining some illustrious company (and Andy Dalton).

ROPE Index Champions: 2008 to 2017

Despite only playing five games, Jimmy Garoppolo finished second in the ROPE Index rankings with a rating of 61.8%. Garoppolo led the league in yards per attempt in those five games with 8.8. His 6/5 touchdown to interception ratio will need cleaning up next season if the 49ers are to push on from their winning end to this season as the league catches up to Jimmy’s tape.

It was a career year for Alex Smith as he finished third with a season-long rating of 61.5%. Smith’s previous best was back in 2012, when he achieved a 60.8% in his final 8 starts with the 49ers before being replaced by Colin Kaepernick.

Matt Ryan was never likely to repeat his MVP campaign from 2016 as he posted a season long rating of 57.2%, down 13 percentage points on last season but still good enough for joint 10th. His touchdown to interception ratio dropped from 38/7 to 20/12, despite being sacked 13 fewer times (24 vs 37 last year), and his completion rate dropped from 69.9% to 64.7%, but the Falcons still made the playoffs and `have a chance to make amends for last year’s Super Bowl.

Tom Brady finished 4th, but having been in the lead in the ROPE Index rankings after week 12, Brady finished the last five weeks with a rating of 47.6%. Brady remains favorite for the 2017 MVP, but his numbers over the last quarter of the season should give MVP voters pause.

After having been at the bottom of the rankings for most of the season, DeShone Kizer has had blushes spared by the arm of Bryce Petty, who threw his hundredth pass of the season in the Jets’ week 17 loss to the Patriots. Petty finished with a rating of 23.7% in his three games with his 530 yards coming at a league low 5.1 yards per attempt.

Philip Rivers had the highest individual game rating with a 98.5% rating on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys. That was the highest rating of his entire career.

At the other end of the spectrum, Matt Cassell had the lowest individual game rating when he came off the bench to replace Marcus Mariota and posted a 1.5% rating. Cassell was 4 of 10 for just 21 yards with 2 interceptions. Not only was it the kowest rating of Cassell’s career, but alos the lowest rating of any passer since the 2010 season.

Final 2017 ROPE Index Rankings

2017 Playoff QBs Form Guide

Heading into the playoffs, I thought it was worth having a look at the ROPE form of the twelve starting quarterbacks since week 13. Like in my RODS rankings, the four away teams in the wild card round all have quarterbacks with poorer for than the home quarterback they’re facing, which is another reason I’m picking all the home teams this week.

Looking further ahead, the quarterbacks that have a bye this weekend are a total mixed bag, with both the best and worst rated quarterbacks since week 13 set to step on the field in the divisional round. Ben Roethlisberger is playing his best football of the season heading into the post-season and has two week’s rest after not playing in week 17. Nick Foles on the other hand has a rating of just 32.6% since he came in for Carson Wentz and whoever makes the trip to Philly next weekend will fancy their chances of taking advantage of Foles’ uninspiring play.

2017 Playoff QBs: Form Rankings Weeks 13-17

Final 2017 WAA/WAR Ratings (min 6 games)

As per the ROPE ratings above, Drew Brees finished the season with the most quarterback wins compared to the league average player and the average backup. Brees’ 4.63 games won above average is only slightly behind Matt Ryan’s 4.91 WAA rating from last season. Brees has consistently averaged 2-3 wins above average over the past five seasons, the only quarterback who can boast such numbers.

Like with his ROPE Index rating, Alex Smith had a career year in terms of his WAA rating with 3.21. His previous best came last season with a 0.95 WAA rating, before that he'd never achieved better than 0.57 (2012).

Jared Goff saw the biggest improvement year on year as he completely reversed his rookie campaign where he achieved a -2.84 WAA rating, to contribute a positive +2.67 WAA in 2017.

The worst rating came from DeShone Kizer, who as a rookie has posted the worst WAA rating I've ever recorded with -4.16, which is quite some going on a team with zero wins. With a WAR rating of -2.72 (also the lowest I've ever recorded) as well, essentially any other quarterback to play at least six games this season would have led the Browns to at least 1 win. With picks 1 and 4 in the 2018 draft, Kizer's days as the Browns' quarterback are well and truly numbered.

Final WAA & WAR Rankings: 2017

Final 2017 FPAA/FPAR Ratings (min 6 games)

From a fantasy perspective, Russell Wilson finished as the top rated quarterback in the league, averaging over 6 points per game more than the league average QB, and a whopping 9.34 points more than the the average replacement QB. Wilson also led all quarterbacks in total points with 347.9, nearly 50 points more than the next highest player, Cam Newton (299.5). Wilson's fantasy production was 16 places higher than his ROPE Index rating, showing that counting stats count for less than passing efficiency as the Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season.

Carson Wentz finished second in FPAA as his season was cut short due to injury. Wentz established himself as a top 5 fantasy QB moving forward as he finished second only to Russell Wilson in touchdown passes (33 vs 34), but in 3 fewer games.

Alex Smith was a revelation in a surprising vertical offense in Kansas City this season, finishing third in FPAA, 4th in total QB points (295.2) and 5th in average points per game (19.68). Smith is the form fantasy quarterback heading into the playoffs, averaging 21.19 points per game over his last four starts.

Deshaun Watson was the fantasy darling until his untimely injury before week 9 finished 2017 with the highest fantasy points per game with 23.55 in 7 appearances. Watson, who went undrafted in most redraft leagues, has the potential to be a top 5 fantasy QB in 2018.

Cam Newton, who finished 28th in my ROPE Index that measures passing efficiency, was my 5th rated quarterback in FPAA with 3.45 point above average. Driven by his rushing abilities, Newton rushed for 754 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns in 2017, collecting 111 of his 299 fantasy points on the ground (37%). Russell Wilson, who finished second in QB fantasy rushing points with 76.6 (586 rushing yards, 3 TDs), had rushing account for 22% of his fantasy points by comparison.

Final FPAA & FPAR Rankings: 2017

Finally, I thought I'd throw out my way too early fantasy QB projections for 2018:

  1. Russell Wilson
  2. Cam Newton
  3. Aaron Rodgers
  4. Deshaun Watson
  5. Carson Wentz
  6. Tom Brady
  7. Jared Goff
  8. Kirk Cousins (wherever he's playing)
  9. Dak Prescott
  10. Jameis Winston
  11. Matthew Stafford
  12. Jimmy Garoppolo