If you’re familiar with these past rankings, then you know these aren’t willy nilly. They aren’t my subjective rankings, but rather my best attempt to bring some objectivity by using a formula:
(Player Grade + (Teams could start for + Teams best position player for + Teams could be role player) / 2) + (positional bonus) + (peak-year bonus)
That formula starts with a subjective grade of each player between 1-100. A 50 is considered to be a player with average starting ability. And in all honesty, no player is going to make these rankings without achieving at least a 45.
In addition to that I factored in whether or not based off that grade, how the Falcon players would stack up against other players in the NFL. So in the process of doing these rankings, I wound up assigning similar grades to over 1,000 NFL players (which partially explains the delay in posting them).
First, I wanted to see if they could start on the other 31 teams. Basically, if they were good enough to start on all 32 teams, they would receive 32 points. If they were good enough to start on eight NFL teams, they would receive eight points and so on.
Secondly, I wanted to see if they would be the best player at their position on all 32 teams to take in account positions like wide receiver that involve two starters. So if they would have been the best wide receiver on all 32 teams, that’s another 32 points. But if they would have been the best wide receiver on just 16 teams, then that’s just 16 points.
Thirdly, I wanted to know that if they weren’t going to start, that they’d at least be able to carve out a significant role on all 32 teams. That was determined by whether or not they could become one of the 36 players that typically perform significant roles on offense or defense (including starters). That broke down as follows:
- Quarterbacks (2)
- Running Back (3)
- Fullback (1)
- Wide Receiver (4)
- Tight End (2)
- Offensive Line (7)
- Defensive Line + Edge Rushers (8)
- Linebackers (3)
- Cornerbacks (3)
- Safeties (3)
And of course kicker and punter were factored in as well. No long snappers, sorry Josh Harris!
The sum total of the teams each player could start for, be the best position player and carve out a role for were added together for a maximum of 96 points. Whatever that total was then averaged with the overall player grade that I assigned each player off the bat.
Because that number didn’t quite reach 100 even for the best player in the league (see J.J. Watt), I had some additional bonuses that would factor in position and youth. Most players were given a positional bonus of three points, with a few exceptions. A starting quarterback was given a positional bonus of five points with his backup getting four points. Left tackles, edge-rushers and cornerbacks were also given four points. Fullbacks, kickers and punters were only given a positional bonus of two points.
In terms of youth, I factored in how many “peak years” of production for each position. For every two years of peak-year production, player got a one-point bonus up to a maximum of five points. For example, a top-level quarterback like Matt Ryan could play at a high level until age 38. So with Ryan being 30, that means he has eight more years of peak years, so he receives a four-point bonus. A backup quarterback on the other hand like T.J. Yates will only have peak years up until age 34. Most of the positions, the final peak year for starters was 32, while for many backups even at the same position it was 30. Running back was an exception with 28 being the age after which peak years stopped being counted.
With the bonuses added in, then players were ranked from highest to lowest. With up to 10 points in bonuses, there’s a chance for an elite player to exceed a final grade of 100. The two players league-wide that received the highest grades including the bonuses were Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt, each topping the league with a combined score of 104.5.
In doing these rankings over the past two years, I’ve come to realize that this formula/system tends to boost offensive linemen higher at the same time lowering individual offensive skill position players such as running backs and wide receivers. I’ve noticed that backup running backs and wide receivers have a tendency to struggle to rank highly in this system, while backup offensive linemen tend to fare well. That could be seen as a flaw to many, but I disagree. While blockers aren’t quite as sexy as running backs and what not, I do think they are under-appreciated and I enjoy having a system that might be slightly biased against the players that typically get all the glory.