Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a pretty popular guy. If you’re one of those outlier Falcons fans that doesn’t like Ryan or wishes the Falcons would move on from him sooner rather than later, then stop reading now, because this article isn’t for you.
There are playoff games and a Super Bowl on the horizon, but if you’re like me, then you’re already bored with the offseason. It got me thinking about a variety of things, including whether riced cauliflower was invented by vegans to punish meat eaters. But also this: if Ryan had a positional WAR, what would it be?
If you’re not a baseball or professional basketball fan, then you may not be familiar with WAR. Basically it’s a statistical measurement used to assess your contributions to the team you play for. It’s also an acronym for “wins above replacement.” It envisions a replacement level player and juxtaposes that player with the subject player. In other words, how much more (or less) does a particular player contribute to the team than a league average player under the same circumstances?
Let’s look at Ryan’s 2018 from a few different angles to hazard a guess at this. Ryan’s QBR (ESPN’s flagship quarterback metric) was 68.2, 9th in the NFL. He threw for 4,638 yards, third most in the NFL. His DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) in 2019, arguably the closest we get to positional WAR in the NFL, was 18.2 percent, 4th in the NFL. (That means he was 18.2 percent better per play than an average quarterback.)
The best players in the MLB last season had WARs between 10 and 11. I realize WAR is the product of a fancy algorithm, so this is nothing more than a time-consuming exercise to help us pass the time. But if I had to guess, I’d put Ryan’s WAR around 7. He’s way above average, but I doubt he’s worth double digits WAR.