Editor’s note: This article was published before Week 1 of the NFL season.
Ever wonder how much the spread would move if Aaron Rodgers was ruled out on Sunday morning out of the blue? What about Matt Stafford or Andy Dalton? Well, wonder no more.
I reached out to William Bernanke, the Lead Data Analyst at CG Technology in Las Vegas, to find out how many points each quarterback in the league is worth to the spread.
This isn’t a consensus among every oddsmaker in Vegas, as everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but it should serve as an interesting measuring stick.
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Even Bernanke’s numbers aren’t set in stone, as the opponent and public perception can change them even more.
These values also depend on whether or not the line would move through a key number such as 3, 7 or 10. Oddsmakers may decide to move the line more or less depending on where they believe the action will go after the adjustment.
Note that these are based on the QB’s current team, system and backup, and are not complete standalone values.
For example, if the Packers decided to sign the high school quarterback from Ipswich, Mass. as their backup, Rodgers would be worth a whole heck of a lot more than what he currently is.
If for some reason the Packers traded for Tom Brady, Rodgers would be worth far less since the drop-off would be very minimal.
If you don’t see a QB listed, he’s currently worth one point or fewer. Without further ado …
CG Technology’s quarterback spread values
All right, much to digest and dissect here. This is what stuck out to me:
Where is Carson Wentz?
One of the first things you will notice is that Wentz and his backup/Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles are absent from the list.
I perused the list three or four times to make sure I wasn’t missing something before asking Bernanke if he forgot about Wentz, who was seemingly on his way to an MVP season before getting hurt last year.
Bernanke believes that the drop-off from Wentz to Foles is essentially negligible, which is why neither is listed. I mean, Foles has proven himself as being worthy of something, at least.
When asked what would happen in the hypothetical situation that Wentz or Foles disappeared off the face of the Earth and was replaced by an average backup QB, Bernanke said Wentz would become a Tier 4 QB and be reevaluated after his first start, while Foles would be in Tier 5.
Foles beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl for crying out loud, not to mention the dismantling of the Vikings in NFC Championship Game. You have to remember that this is their value to the spread on their current team with the current backup.
Last season, Brady was not considered a Tier 1 quarterback by some oddsmakers because they believed his backup at the time, Jimmy G, also had a point or so of value himself. With Brian Hoyer back in New England this year, the drop-off would be steeper if Brady were to get injured.
I put a little asterisk next to Deshaun Watson’s name because he was the one quarterback who came with a caveat, as Bernanke said he would be reassessing Watson after Week 1.
Watson was obviously bleeping terrific in 2017 before getting hurt, but considering his style of play and unfortunate ACL injury, the Texans QB is not guaranteed to be the same this season.
If he’s noticeably less mobile, and his performance is impacted negatively, he could get bumped down a tier, but he could also move up a tier or more if he comes out and looks like the same man for an extended chunk of time.
The GOAT’s offspring, Jimmy G, has already made it quite high on this list despite his limited game experience. It’s hard to believe that he’ll already be turning 27 in November, but has just seven career starts under his belt.
Perhaps the oddsmakers caught up with the fact that he is 6-1 against the spread (ATS) in those seven starts. If you’re skeptical or bearish on Garoppolo, you could hope he gets hurt and take the Niners when the line drops. That would be a cruel way to make money, though.
To the naked eye, Stafford’s placement in the third tier might not mean much to folks. I doubt anyone would argue he should be higher, but some may feel he should be a bit lower, including myself.
His career cover rate is less than 45%, and he’s the only active QB with more than 100 starts to have a cover rate below 50%. He is coming off a career-best season in terms of QB rating at nearly 100, but I’d personally be more comfortable putting him in Tier 4.
You’ll notice that Ryan Fitzpatrick, the current starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is listed in the last tier, but Jameis Winston was left off. I checked with Bernanke to see whether that was just for the time being with Winston suspended or if he was really not worthy of making the list.
All you Winston fans out there need not worry, though, as Bernanke confirmed that Winston will be a Tier 5 QB when he returns. I’ve always said I’d smoke Winstons if I were to smoke cigarettes, but alas, I do not. Darn shame.