Fantasy Football and Wins Above Replacement Pt. 2

Fantasy Football Quarterbacks and Wins Above Replacement

For the first of this three-part article, go to Fantasy Football and Wins Above Replacement

After doing some previous research and finding out how I could define Wins Above Replacement, I decided to take formula and attempt to see the distribution of my statistic historically.  This involved taking data from and plugging it into my model.

I gathered data for quarterbacks over the past ten seasons and found the WAR gained per game for each player.  It gave me the Wins Above Replacement per Week for each QB, each year for the past 10 years. Below is a graph illustrating the past ten seasons of QB play in this particular format:


What may be more important than this graph, however, is the total weekly WAR for each QB over the years.  I added up all the weekly Wins Above Replacement value to find exactly how much better the top QB is than the second QB at the end of the year.

But that number doesn’t mean too much, so let’s multiply them by a 16-game season. That will tell us who the top performing QBs per week would play over an entire season.


So, we can say this much: over the past ten years, the top QB at the end of the season earns his 1.04 Wins Above Replacement value each year.  As mentioned in the previous article, a completely replacement-level team earns about 3.58 wins each year in 16 games.  The top quarterback along brings that teams expected wins up 29% higher, or to 4.62 expected wins.

Further down the list, we can see that starting the second best QB increases a replacement-level team’s win expectancy by 20.4%.  And so on.

What this means for you:

Historically, the top three quarterbacks each year distinctly separate themselves from the rest of the pack.  Some draft strategists may tell you to wait to draft this position until the later rounds.  If you think you can identify the top three QBs for this season, consider grabbing one early.  Waiting for the later rounds increases the odds of grabbing QB5 as your starter for the season, or even worse.

That’s a potential cost of .81 wins from missing out on QB1 and taking QB5.  Although I don’t have the total picture of what .81 wins exactly means yet, I do know that having that much of an advantage over other teams will increase your likelihood of making the playoffs.

Future Research:

I’ll be doing the same treatment to players at the running back position next.  This will probably give us a better comparison as far as drafting strategy goes.

Want more? Read the final part in this series, Fantasy Football and Wins Above Replacement Pt. 3

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