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Top Fiveyness 2014

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Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Top Fiveyness
/täp fī-vē-nəs/
1. the state of being the mother-effing man
2. air so rarefied it's still mooing
3. an american football quarterback performing very well, along with four others who may also be performing very well

Football season is back! And some of it is already gone, forever. Three full weeks of games have now unfurled in the September winds, revealed their coded secrets, and stolen away to the record books where they will snooze comfortably for eternity. Though the dickish bye week is currently mooning us from its Sunday perch, it is not an altogether terrible time to hit pause on the season and reflect for a spell. Already under our belts (weird expression, what do you have under your belt? your...your pants? belly fat? blast belly fat with this one weird ti) already under our belts we have a signature CLink primetime blowout win, a quality loss that reignited fires that a Super Bowl ring may have extinguished, and a gut-check overtime win against the second best team in football. It is enough games to get a bit of a sense for who the Seahawks are and what we can expect going forward.

From a broader sample-size perspective, three weeks is perhaps right on the edge of statistical significance. NFL quarterbacks have combined for 144 passing touchdowns, 72 interceptions, and 3,349 pass attempts. The average starting quarterback has about 100 attempts on the year. It's not a ton of data, but it's enough for us to get started. This is also the last point in the season for quite some time where all quarterbacks will have played an equal number of games, so it's a #GoodTime4Benchmark.

Top Fiveyness, then. Let us refresh our memories. The general thesis is something like this:

A top 5 quarterback ought to have top 5 stats.

In about twice as many words:

A top 5 quarterback should more often than not appear among the top 5 players in a number of key quarterback metrics.

So, we look at 8 key metrics, determine the top 10 QBs for each metric, and then assign a score according to his place on that list. The metrics that will be utilized for Top Fiveyness 2014 are:

Passing Touchdowns
Passer Rating
Yards Per Attempt
Air Yards Per Attempt
Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt
Completion Percentage
Touchdown Percentage
Interception Percentage

Let us talk about these metrics in the comments. It is difficult to pick the perfect batch. I excluded counting statistics for the most part, but Passing Touchdowns feels like such an essential metric of production that I couldn't leave it out. As for the rate statistics, the formula for many of these means we are duplicating the consideration of some data points. Can we live with that? I think we can, but feel free to tell me otherwise. Also important to note: these are not weighted. Since Top Fiveyness wants to see complete quarterbacks at the top of the list, it rewards the quarterback who throws the most touchdown passes and the quarterback who throws for the highest average air yards equally. Cool?

Our metrics established, the next task is to simply add up the rankings for each quarterback appearing in the top 10 spots for each of these metrics. A number 1 ranking is worth 1 point, a number 10 ranking is worth 10 points. For the sake of this exercise, and since all we care about are the Top 10 (and ultimately Top 5) QBs for each metric, we will call everything after the 10th spot a tie for 11th. It is golf scoring, essentially. The quarterbacks who rank the best (lots of 1s, 2s, or 3s) should end up with a low score, which is good. Quarterbacks on the fringe will end up with a higher score, which is bad. A quarterback who doesn't rank in the top 10 for any of these 8 categories will be awarded all 11s for a total of 88, meaning he is irrelevant dead to us.

QB Ranking By Metric Ryan Cousins P.Manning Rivers Wilson Luck Dalton Davis Foles Newton
Passing Touchdowns 3 5 2 4 4 1 11 11 4 11
Passer Rating 5 4 2 3 1 6 11 11 11 7
Yards Per Pass Attempt 1 4 11 7 11 11 2 7 5 8
Air Yards Per Pass Attempt 1 2 10 11 11 11 11 4 11 11
Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt 3 1 4 2 7 7 1 11 5 11
Completion Percentage 5 11 9 6 4 7 11 1 11 9
Touchdown Percentage 5 6 1 7 3 2 11 11 10 11
Interception Percentage 11 5 2 3 4 11 5 11 11 1
Raw Score 34 38 41 43 45 56 63 67 68 69
Average 4.3 4.8 5.1 5.4 5.6 7.0 7.9 8.4 8.5 8.6
Official Top Fiveyness Ranking through Wk 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

So, your Top 5 quarterbacks right now, by measure of Top Fiveyness: Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Russell Wilson.

One thing I like about the numbers that this system spits out is the clear tiers that emerge. Matt Ryan is really killing it. Cousins and Manning are trailing him just a bit. Rivers and Wilson round out the Top 5. Then we have a full point and a half of separation between Russell Wilson and the next guy. Who happens to be Andrew Luck.

As always with Top Fiveyness, if there's a good quarterback that you don't see on the chart that you feel should be placed ahead of these guys, tell them to start playing more efficient, more complete, better-rounded football.

Tell me all of the reasons that Top Fiveyness is stupid on Twitter: @BestGuyAround