The list will not simply look at the best players in the league by any means, but players for whom teams paid small amounts who vastly outplayed their paychecks. These players are often young players, still in their rookie contracts, who were starting to break out as stars. In terms of 2013's value defense, Vontaze Burfict was the leading tackler in the league and because he was paid under a million dollars, he made the all-value team. Paul Worrilow of the Falcons was another selection, as was Richard Sherman.
While writing about "value" players as opposed to the best players in the league is a way to not only analyse efficient spending in the NFL, but also to find some unsung heroes. With this description of "value" there is always a formula in play. The measurables used will be simple and effective. Every ten yards (rushing or passing) will count for a point, while touchdowns, whether thrown or rushed for, will count for twenty points and wins will count for one hundred, because at the end of the day, the "W" is what matters the most and no player affects his team's ability to win like a quarterback. Okay, J.J. Watt does but he's an anomaly that not even the NFL's best scientists can figure out. Finally, interceptions and lost fumbles will count for minus twenty points. Adding/subtracting these numbers will equal a point total, which, when used to divide the player's salary, gives a value number.
What can not be stressed enough is that this is not a list of best quarterbacks in the league, but is rather an small experiment to see what teams got the most out of their quarterbacks, given how much they were paid. The number used for each player's yearly earnings was "cap hit," essentially, how much of their allotted salary cap a team used on that single player. All financial stats are from spotrac.com, and all performance stats are from Rotoworld.com or profootballreference.com. Finally, this is little more than a "for fun" experiment, so if you have any suggestions as to how to better assign values to stats, hit the comments section, as constructive criticism is always interesting, as is unadulterated hate.
16 Tom Brady
Tom Brady may well be en route to a Super Bowl right now, as his team looks great and recently knocked off the Baltimore Ravens in a great divisional weekend matchup. Brady has had another great year and really turned his game up a notch after rough losses to the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs early in the season. The New England Patriots took a cap hit of approximately $14.8 million for Tom Brady in 2014.
His numerical breakdown: 417 points for yardage (4166/10, rounded up), 660 points for 33 touchdowns, 1200 points for 12 wins and -240 for 12 turnovers. His number is 2037. His $14.8 million cap hit divided by 2037 is 7,265.
15 Andy Dalton
The Red Rifle comes in at number fourteen on our list after a decent season, helping the Bengals to the playoffs, but losing to Andrew Luck and the Colts in Wild Card week. His week ten performance against the Browns was beyond laughable, as he threw ten completions on 33 attempts, with three picks. He truly was "The Red Mistake" in that game. Much of his team's offensive success was due to their defense and on offense, running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. But for the most part, Dalton held his own and looked decent in most games.
14 Cam Newton
Newton and the Panthers were an absolute dark horse coming into the playoffs, having won the worst division in football with a losing record to face the dilapidated Arizona Cardinals in a wild card game. Newton was still suffering from an injury at the start of the season but ultimately came around to have a decent year. Statistically, it was his worst season to date, but much of that is due to the fact that he played in just 14 games and was injured in most of them.
13 Tony Romo
Tony Romo had an amazing year in 2014, leading the Dallas Cowboys to a division title and silencing many of his critics. Often considered (falsely) to be one of the causes of poor seasons in Dallas, he threw 34 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions. His season was cut short by a questionable call on a catch made by Dez Bryant against the Packers. In 2014, the Cowboys took a cap hit of $11.77 million for Romo. He definitely earned his paycheck in 2014.
12 Kyle Orton
After a rough couple of starts, E.J. Manuel was relieved of his starting quarterback job by veteran Kyle Orton. The Dave Grohl lookalike was not by any means an elite quarterback for the Bills in 2014, but he put on a decent show regardless. He played 12 games for Buffalo, winning seven of them. Much of the Bills' success is due to their phenomenal defense, but Orton played well considering his age and the fact that he has primarily served as a backup throughout his career.
11 Alex Smith
The Kansas City Chiefs' 2014 campaign was ultimately a dud, but quarterback Alex Smith led them to eight wins without throwing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. His "risk adverse" style of quarterbacking led to 18 touchdown passes, and only six interceptions on the year, which is a better ratio than many quarterbacks in the league and every quarterback on this list.
10 Ryan Fitzpatrick
The bearded Houston Texans' quarterback has yet to have a winning season in which he has started for a team. Houston went 6-6 in 2014 with him starting, but as with a few members of this list, the defense deserves more credit for wins than the offense. Fitzpatrick himself had a decent year compared to the rest of his career. His numbers were low, but his touchdown to interception ratio was 17-8 which is good, and the best of his career.
9 Andrew Luck
Some Indy fans like to make jokes about having "luck on their side" and other nauseating play on words involving the word "luck," but there is nothing lucky about the guy. In terms of overall yards, Luck led all quarterbacks in 2014. He passed and ran for 5,034 yards, which is more than both Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger, who shared the passing title.
8 Colin Kaepernick
It should be noted that while Kaepernick was awarded a huge contract extension during the offseason, the big money from that does not start rolling in until 2015. The 49ers had a rough year and so did their quarterback. The team had injuries, legal trouble on defense, and simply didn't click on offense. Kaepernick himself put up decent numbers but didn't make the same impact he did on the team in 2012 or 2013.
7 Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill takes his share of criticism every year, and one of the main causes is his lack of a deep ball arm. While valid, it does not take away from the fact that he put up some great numbers and had the best year of his career in 2014. He earned more yards, touchdowns and had a higher completion percentage in 2014 than his first two years. The Dolphins only went 8-8 in 2014, but Tannehill is showing himself to be making good decisions and is constantly improving.
6 Geno Smith
It's hard to appraise Geno Smith's performance in 2014. The Jets as a team were awful and that's one of the main reason for them firing Rex Ryan after the season. Smith himself played better than his rookie year but the team around him was simply lacking. His completion rate went up and was nearly 60%, he threw fewer interceptions than 2013 while throwing one more touchdown. His week eight start against the Buffalo Bills was vomit-worthy, but he bounced back and finished the year with a great win over Miami in which he passed for 358 yards, three touchdowns and an 80% completion rating.
5 Derek Carr
The Oakland Raiders looked brutal once again but showed some signs of life late in the season. While Khalil Mack and the ancient but still great Charles Woodson provided some good play on defense, Derek Carr showed poise and good decision making under center. The second rounder out of Fresno State passed for over 3,000 yards in his first season and had a very respectable touchdown to interception ratio.
4 Teddy Bridgewater
"Teddy Throwsevelt" is our number three after getting the starting quarterback spot in Minnesota and actually putting up a decent twelve games. The Vikings went 6-6 with him starting under center.
3 Brian Hoyer
2014 was the first time football fans have ever seen Brian Hoyer in a starting capacity. He proved to be the superior quarterback to Johnny College Football and started 13 games for the Cleveland Browns. He went 7-6 but much like Andy Dalton (and others) the team's victories were decidedly defensive ones as opposed to offensive, for the most part.
2 Russell Wilson
The Seattle Seahawks have an absolute gem in Russell Wilson. The undersized quarterback is among the sharpest in the league and figuratively has heart out his ears (sorry for the visual). His 2014 stats were amazing, and his team only incurred a $817,000 cap hit for him.
1 Wall of Shame
"Value Numbers" were calculated for every quarterback who started more than ten games. Of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, most had numbers in the 7,000-13,000 range. However, two quarterbacks scored in the 18,000's. These were Jay Cutler, who compiled plenty of touchdowns and yards, but had few wins and way too many turnovers, and Josh McCown, who had several more turnovers than touchdowns, under 2500 yards and of course, led the Buccaneers to just one victory, in 11 starts.
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