Week Four Football Rankings

Posted on October 3, 2008 by


When the 2007 season ended the top running backs – in RB Score per game – were Brian Westbrook, Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Fred Taylor, and Joseph Addai.  

Table One: Final RB Score Rankings for 2007

After four games in 2008, four of these five players are below average.  And Peterson is only ranked 8th in the league.  At this point the top running backs — in terms of Net Points per game (essentially the same as RB Score per game) – are Frank Gore (7th last season), Steven Jackson (10th last season), Julius Jones (25th last season), Michael Turner (unranked last season), and Earnest Graham (16th last season).  So there has been a fair amount of turnover among running backs.

Table Two: Running Back Rankings for Week Four

When we turn to quarterbacks, we see a somewhat similar story.   Here are the top five at the end of 2007: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, David Garrard, Tony Romo, and Brett Favre. 

Table Three: Final QB Score Rankings for 2007

And since I did the analysis for 2006, here are the top five from two seasons ago: Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Dree Brees, Damon Huard, and Tony Romo.

Table Four: Final QB Score Rankings for 2006

When we turn to 2008 – after just four games – we see one familiar name:

Drew Brees (11th  last season), Philip Rivers (17th last season), Jay Cutler (8th last season), Tony Romo (4th last season), and Eli Manning (27th last season).

Table Five: Quarterback Rankings for Week Four

Of all these names, Tony Romo is the only player in the top five this season to show up in the top five the past two seasons.  So does this make Romo the best quarterback in the game?

I don’t have an answer to that question.  What I do see when I look over all these tables is the remarkable inconsistency in numbers from football.  And that’s a familiar story.

In basketball people seem to expect the numbers to be able to tell you how many wins the Clippers will have in February of next season.  In other words, the expectations seem quite high.  In football, all we see is inconsistency (in other words, there seems to be little expectation that accurate predictions can be made).  And this is because so much of what a running back or quarterback does depends upon his teammates.  The performance of these two skill positions depends upon the performance of the offensive line, wide receivers (and the other skill positions), as well as the play calling of the coaches and the performance of the opposing defense.  All of these factors can dramatically impact the performance – and the numbers – of the quarterbacks and running backs that are analyzed.

Given this aspect of performance in the NFL we can expect some movement in the rankings this season.  In fact, I think we can expect to see players who are currently ranked towards the bottom half of the rankings this season to move up. 

So here are some questions I would like to see addressed in the comments:

  • Which quarterback or quarterbacks, currently below average in the 2008 rankings, will finish the season above average? 
  • Which quarterback or quarterbacks, currently above average in the 2008 rankings, will finish the season below average?
  • And what are the answers to these questions if we think about the running backs?

If you can, post your answers before the games are played on Sunday.  If there is any consensus, we will look back on these answers when the season is over.

– DJ

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For more on the Wages of Wins football metrics see

The New QB Score

Consistent Inconsistency in Football

Football Outsiders and QB Score

The Value of Player Statistics in the NFL