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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Christian D'Andrea

NFL QB Rankings, Week 14: Holy moly, is Brock Purdy really 2023’s MVP?

There’s a lot to unpack about Brock Purdy’s 2023. He is, indeed, the NFL’s most efficient quarterback. He does lead the league in yards per attempt and yards per completion. Each time he drops back to throw the ball, he’s effectively good for a first down (9.7 yards per pass).

But he’s also a low wattage offensive custodian who has thrown fewer deep balls than Zach Wilson (32 to 30, per SIS). His average air yards per pass (7.9) is only 14th-deepest in the NFL. His 69.9 percent on-target throw rate is 26th-best among starters, just ahead of Kenny Pickett. He’s heavily buoyed by a core of playmakers whose 6.6 yards after catch average is by far the highest of any team this fall.

Despite all this, he’s still the NFL’s most impactful quarterback, according to advanced stats. In fact, no one else is quite on his level.

Let’s talk about those stats. Expected points added (EPA) is a concept that’s been around since 1970. It’s effectively a comparison between what an average quarterback could be expected to do on a certain down and what he actually did — and how it increased his team’s chances of scoring. The model we use comes from The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin and his website, which is both wildly useful AND includes adjusted EPA, which accounts for defensive strength. It considers the impact of penalties and does not negatively impact passers for fumbles after a completion.

The other piece of the puzzle is completion percentage over expected (CPOE), which is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a comparison of all the completions a quarterback would be expected to make versus the ones he actually did. Like EPA, it can veer into the negatives and higher is better. So if you chart all 31 primary quarterbacks — the ones who played at least 208 snaps in 13 weeks — you get a chart that looks like this:


Top right hand corner is good. Bottom left corner is bad. Try splitting those passers visually into tiers and you get an imperfect eight-layer system that looks like this:

via and the author

These rankings are sorted by a composite of adjusted EPA and CPOE to better understand who has brought the most — and the least — value to their teams across the small sample size. It’s not a full exploration of a player’s value, but it’s a viable starting point. Let’s take a closer look.

The very much disputed king

Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

1. Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers: 0.215 EPA+CPOE composite

Not only does Purdy stand atop the list again this week, he’s extended his lead thanks to a four-touchdown, 314-yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. Did he throw a single pass that traveled more than 16 yards downfield? Nope!


Flawed MVP candidates, very good quarterbacks

AP Photo/Roger Steinman

2. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: 0.175 EPA+CPOE composite

3. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins: 0.164 

4. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills: 0.162

Prescott picked up his biggest win of the season by leading a fourth quarter comeback over the Seattle Seahawks. He’s still got plenty to prove, but over his last six games he’s averaging 315 yards per contest while throwing 20 touchdowns against two interceptions — you know, real MVP type stuff. If he can keep that pace against the Philadelphia Eagles (the same team Purdy just carved) he’ll have a real shot at the award.

Very good, we just hoped for more

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

5. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles: 0.138 EPA+CPOE composite

6. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: 0.135

7. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings: 0.134

Mahomes and Hurts are perfectly good MVP candidates whose 2023 seasons feel a bit empty. The Chiefs lack a vertical presence to unlock Mahomes’ best qualities. Hurts has adjusted slowly to the Eagles’ new offense and is similarly prone to early mental mistakes and late game-winning drives. The regular season doesn’t matter much to either as long as they can sort out their problems before the playoffs begin.

Jordan Love, climbing toward the elite

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union

8. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars: 0.113 EPA+CPOE composite

9. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos: 0.109

10. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions: 0.108

11. CJ Stroud, Houston Texans: 0.105

12. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens: 0.098

13. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers: 0.090

14. Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers: 0.088

Lawrence was on the brink of making the leap before an ankle sprain stemmed his momentum and put the Jaguars’ quest for the AFC’s top seed on ice (for now). Goff has been up and down lately and may no longer be the NFC North’s top quarterback thanks to Love’s explosive growth and sudden proficiency hitting tight targets downfield (discussed here). Wilson turned the ball over three times in the final 16 minutes vs. Stroud in Week 13 to prove his Broncos aren’t quite fixed yet.

Not so bad, all things considered

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15. Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0.078 EPA+CPOE composite

16. Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks: 0.075

17. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: 0.069

18. Sam Howell, Washington Commanders: 0.067

19. Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints: 0.063

The story in this tier isn’t that Burrow’s ascent stopped here after an early-season injury. It’s that Jake Browning’s composite number is a robust 0.162 — exactly the same as Josh Allen’s. That’s all thanks to a small sample size and the shift from one mediocre start (vs. the Steelers) to one great one (vs. the Jaguars), but it’s worth noting how great that game was. 376 total yards, two touchdowns and an overtime win in Jacksonville on a night the Jaguars could have assumed the top position in the AFC.


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20. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears: 0.057 EPA+CPOE composite

21. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams: 0.054

22. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns: 0.052

23. Gardner Minshew II, Indianapolis Colts: 0.041

24. Will Levis, Tennessee Titans: 0.035

25. Joshua Dobbs, Arizona Cardinals/Minnesota Vikings: 0.031

Half this crowd remains in current playoff contention (and Watson likely would have been there had he not gotten hurt), so it’s difficult to be too upset with the results. Minshew remains a useful, high floor backup who’ll carry a team through peaks and valleys.

Dobbs is doing his usual thing, outperforming expectations until we expect more from him, then showing the world why he’s a backup each August. Levis is … well, I’m not really sure what he’s capable of, but he’s got five more games to prove he can be the Titans’ starter going forward.

Not franchise quarterback material.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

26. Daniel Jones, New York Giants: 0.026 EPA+CPOE composite

27. Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons: 0.024

28. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers: 0.019

29. Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers: 0.019

Ridder and, to a lesser extent, Pickett were both guys their teams hoped could grow into a bigger role but came with tempered expectations. Jones and Young, however, were decidedly not. Each could be significantly better if his team invested in blocking and wide receiver help next spring.

The phantom zone

AP Photo/John Locher

30. Mac Jones, New England Patriots: 0.011 EPA+CPOE composite

31. Zach Wilson, New York Jets: 0.001

Two 2021 draft picks who’ve since been deposed as starters. Here’s how their replacements have fared:

  • Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots: -0.047
  • Tim Boyle, New York Jets: -0.002
  • Trevor Siemian, New York Jets: -0.099


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