Stat Analysis

Advanced analytics on player and team performance

2017 DVOA by Routes: Quarterbacks

by Scott Kacsmar

In Part I of our look at data on 12 of the most common pass routes in the NFL, we focused on the production of individual receivers. Today, we are looking at 2017's quarterbacks. This increases the data pool for each player, though we are still generally dealing with small sample sizes. The curl is the only route where any quarterback attempted at least 75 passes last year. Eli Manning (117) edged out Joe Flacco (100) and Alex Smith (100) for the most curl attempts. The least frequent route in our study was the singular comeback route attempted by Aaron Rodgers in his shortened 2017 season. This may in part be explained by a new category for back-shoulder throws, which we'll get into again later.

Each table below includes the 35 quarterbacks with at least 200 passes last year. The last row in each table shows the league-wide totals and averages. We are going to focus on the same 12 routes we analyzed in Part I, ignoring the running back-heavy throws such as flats, RB screens, and swing passes. It should probably come as no surprise that Jared Goff (125 DYAR), Kirk Cousins (111 DYAR), and Drew Brees (98 DYAR) led the way in value on running back screens after huge seasons from Todd Gurley, Chris Thompson, and the duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Goff also led the league with 49 DYAR on flat passes, which was largely accomplished by Gurley's 41 DYAR.

It must be noted that the following data is still receiving DYAR and DVOA rather than passing. Since it is receiving, sacks obviously aren't included, and interceptions are not penalized any more than other incomplete passes. The number of passes includes defensive pass interference penalties. Each table is sorted by descending DYAR.

Route data is courtesy of our friends at Sports Info Solutions and is featured in Football Outsiders Almanac 2018 (available here).

Curl

The curl route was the league's most common throw last year with 2,630 attempts according to SIS.

Curl Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matt Ryan ATL 199 1 23.7% 1 79 703 75.9% 7.4 4.1
Alex Smith KC 168 2 13.9% 5 100 705 81.4% 6.0 3.0
Drew Brees NO 154 3 15.6% 4 79 574 78.5% 6.4 3.2
Philip Rivers LAC 144 4 16.8% 3 75 553 76.1% 7.3 3.3
Carson Wentz PHI 130 5 18.0% 2 67 532 79.1% 8.0 2.0
Russell Wilson SEA 111 6 7.5% 8 88 603 78.2% 6.5 3.1
Tom Brady NE 104 7 6.3% 10 82 531 76.8% 6.1 2.6
Kirk Cousins WAS 101 8 6.0% 11 80 540 79.7% 6.0 2.7
Matthew Stafford DET 98 9 12.9% 6 54 402 73.6% 6.2 4.0
Trevor Siemian DEN 85 10 12.6% 7 49 362 71.4% 7.1 3.5
Jameis Winston TB 73 11 3.6% 13 71 463 64.8% 8.8 1.7
Derek Carr OAK 73 12 -0.2% 16 91 601 72.5% 5.6 3.7
Eli Manning NYG 71 13 -2.6% 20 117 699 72.4% 6.7 1.9
Marcus Mariota TEN 48 14 -2.1% 19 77 558 75.3% 7.2 2.6
Jared Goff LAR 44 15 3.2% 15 43 269 69.8% 6.0 3.3
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 42 16 -2.0% 18 60 369 69.5% 6.5 3.1
Brett Hundley GB 41 17 3.2% 14 38 248 81.6% 4.4 3.3
Tyrod Taylor BUF 41 18 -1.3% 17 61 376 72.1% 6.7 2.9
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Blake Bortles JAX 39 19 -4.2% 21 76 497 67.1% 6.1 4.2
Case Keenum MIN 34 20 -5.3% 22 76 549 76.0% 6.6 2.7
Deshaun Watson HOU 32 21 7.4% 9 23 140 77.3% 6.0 2.2
Aaron Rodgers GB 29 22 5.4% 12 22 149 72.7% 5.7 3.7
DeShone Kizer CLE 21 23 -8.6% 27 91 536 64.8% 6.0 3.7
Dak Prescott DAL 20 24 -7.2% 25 79 517 77.2% 6.6 1.8
Joe Flacco BAL 19 25 -9.0% 28 100 649 75.8% 6.0 2.6
Andy Dalton CIN 17 26 -7.7% 26 59 358 65.5% 7.0 2.8
Carson Palmer ARI 15 27 -6.0% 23 40 316 69.2% 8.6 2.1
Tom Savage HOU 10 28 -6.1% 24 30 184 79.3% 6.0 2.0
Cam Newton CAR -1 29 -11.7% 29 66 366 60.0% 6.8 3.1
Brian Hoyer 2TM -9 30 -17.6% 34 23 131 52.2% 6.7 5.0
Jacoby Brissett IND -10 31 -13.5% 30 79 451 64.6% 6.6 2.3
C.J. Beathard SF -13 32 -17.4% 33 33 171 57.6% 7.0 2.8
Josh McCown NYJ -20 33 -15.6% 31 72 451 72.2% 5.8 3.0
Jay Cutler MIA -22 34 -16.9% 32 57 301 64.9% 6.5 2.5
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -55 35 -30.1% 35 50 276 58.0% 7.8 2.0
NFL Curls TOT 2,002 - -0.6% - 2,630 17,323 71.7% 6.6 2.9

One of the surprising things about Matt Ryan's 2016 MVP season was that he had 0 DYAR on 54 curl routes. In 2017, he led the league with 199 DYAR and a 23.7% DVOA on curl routes. Julio Jones helped a lot with 78 DYAR, but Ryan also had good contributions from his other receivers, including a couple of plays by running back Devonta Freeman (37 DYAR) in December. Only Brian Hoyer (5.0) and Blake Bortles (4.2) had more YAC on curl routes than Ryan (4.1).

Likewise, this wasn't a route with which Alex Smith excelled in Kansas City in 2016, when he had 2 DYAR on 86 curls. That shot up to 168 DYAR in 2017, second in the league, after the trio of Tyreek Hill (49 DYAR), Travis Kelce (41 DYAR), and Kareem Hunt (28 DYAR) was very good with Smith. Meanwhile, Drew Brees finished third in curl DYAR for the second year in a row; he was joined by Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, and Trevor Siemian as quarterbacks to repeat in the top 10 in DYAR from 2016. Yes, the game's most common route was the one thing for which we can compliment Siemian in his time in Denver.

Struggling with the game's most common route is not a good thing, but it may not be a huge red flag that your quarterback needs to be replaced either. Case Keenum and Jared Goff had awful numbers on curls with the 2016 Rams, but at least improved to mediocrity in this area under better circumstances in 2017. Eli Manning was dead last with -137 DYAR on curls in 2016, but was a respectable 13th in 2017 with 71 DYAR on the route he threw more than anyone. That also led to the most dropped curl routes (11) in the league, with a variety of players contributing there.

Out of the bottom nine quarterbacks in curl DYAR in 2017, two retired (Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer), and five more should not be 2018 starters (Jacoby Brissett, Josh McCown, Tom Savage, Brian Hoyer, and C.J. Beathard). That just leaves Cam Newton and Mitchell Trubisky as Week 1 starters this year. The latter was dead last in DYAR and DVOA, but he also was a rookie, and Trubisky should have better options this year than Kendall Wright, Dontrelle Inman, and Dion Sims for these plays.

We mentioned last year that the quarterbacks with the least YAC on curl routes were Dak Prescott (2.0), Eli Manning (1.7), and Jameis Winston (1.5). Well, fast-forward another season and the quarterbacks with the least YAC on curl routes in 2017 were Eli Manning (1.9), Dak Prescott, (1.8), and Jameis Winston (1.7). Dallas may have the best shot at improving that aspect in 2018 after Jason Witten (1.1 YAC and 7 DYAR on 29 targets) retired. The departed Dez Bryant also had 0 DYAR on his 18 curl routes.

Out

The out, or quick out, had 1,816 attempts last season.

Out Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Philip Rivers LAC 180 1 42.6% 1 47 508 74.5% 8.9 5.1
Drew Brees NO 141 2 19.7% 3 61 451 80.3% 6.1 4.0
Jameis Winston TB 125 3 20.2% 2 54 412 70.4% 8.6 2.2
Matthew Stafford DET 119 4 15.5% 4 64 457 62.5% 8.1 3.5
Matt Ryan ATL 87 5 7.5% 6 58 362 73.7% 7.1 2.9
Marcus Mariota TEN 60 6 2.2% 10 62 464 77.4% 8.8 1.8
Tom Brady NE 54 7 1.7% 12 56 290 60.7% 7.1 2.1
Carson Wentz PHI 54 8 7.0% 7 42 281 61.9% 8.8 2.4
Andy Dalton CIN 49 9 1.8% 11 52 314 71.4% 7.3 1.9
Jared Goff LAR 46 10 -2.8% 14 67 499 69.7% 7.3 3.8
Brett Hundley GB 40 11 4.8% 9 30 196 80.0% 6.7 2.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 38 12 8.6% 5 28 191 70.4% 8.4 2.8
Josh McCown NYJ 35 13 5.8% 8 29 158 69.0% 7.2 2.2
Derek Carr OAK 33 14 -4.2% 16 61 378 72.1% 7.0 1.8
Blake Bortles JAX 30 15 -0.2% 13 34 216 61.8% 6.9 4.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 27 16 -6.4% 17 55 364 63.0% 8.9 2.1
Carson Palmer ARI 18 17 -3.4% 15 27 198 48.1% 9.5 5.0
Cam Newton CAR 15 18 -8.4% 19 51 301 60.8% 8.7 2.0
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Case Keenum MIN 14 19 -7.3% 18 38 244 67.6% 6.8 3.2
Jacoby Brissett IND 10 20 -8.9% 20 63 451 66.7% 7.9 3.4
Tom Savage HOU -5 21 -11.9% 21 42 256 52.4% 9.5 2.7
Jay Cutler MIA -7 22 -15.4% 24 41 195 56.1% 7.3 1.5
Russell Wilson SEA -7 23 -14.3% 22 36 223 69.4% 7.9 2.5
Aaron Rodgers GB -9 24 -16.6% 27 29 143 59.3% 6.0 3.1
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -10 25 -14.9% 23 49 276 52.1% 7.9 2.8
Kirk Cousins WAS -15 26 -16.4% 26 47 215 61.7% 7.0 1.9
Brian Hoyer 2TM -17 27 -19.2% 29 36 208 61.1% 8.1 1.2
Dak Prescott DAL -22 28 -15.8% 25 56 305 57.1% 8.0 3.4
Eli Manning NYG -23 29 -18.8% 28 41 198 68.3% 5.7 2.1
C.J. Beathard SF -28 30 -31.6% 32 22 106 50.0% 8.7 1.2
DeShone Kizer CLE -29 31 -25.9% 30 33 178 60.6% 8.9 1.7
Joe Flacco BAL -53 32 -28.7% 31 42 178 64.3% 5.2 1.6
Tyrod Taylor BUF -68 33 -32.1% 33 44 213 59.1% 6.8 1.7
Trevor Siemian DEN -72 34 -36.5% 35 37 171 48.6% 9.1 2.4
Alex Smith KC -75 35 -36.2% 34 43 194 58.1% 7.4 1.3
NFL Outs TOT 619 - -7.1% - 1,816 11,158 63.9% 7.7 2.6

As a rookie, Goff had the worst DVOA (-42.5%) on out routes, but no one threw more of them (67) than he did in 2017. Fortunately, they worked much better under Sean McVay, as Goff finished 14th in DVOA (-2.8%). Stafford and Ryan were the only quarterbacks to repeat in the top five in DYAR from 2016. Philip Rivers really enjoyed the out route last year, with the NFL's highest DYAR, DVOA, and YAC. The out route was especially money for the Chargers when Rivers threw it to Keenan Allen (106 DYAR). Hunter Henry (26 DYAR on nine targets) was Rivers' next favorite target on out routes, but the tight end will miss all of the 2018 season with a torn ACL.

C.J. Beathard (1.2) and Brian Hoyer (1.2) had identical YAC averages -- the lowest in the league too -- on out routes while starting for the 49ers last year. You knew we would have to work Jimmy Garoppolo in here at some point, and sure enough his YAC number was better at 6.0, though it was only on 14 attempts. Still, it's just another testament to how Kyle Shanahan's offense functioned so much more smoothly under Garoppolo.

Alex Smith is an interesting case here. He finished fifth in DYAR and DVOA for out routes in 2016 even though he had the lowest YAC (0.9) on them. But in 2017 he was last in DYAR, and only Siemian had a lower DVOA. The YAC was still lacking as his 1.3 average was the third lowest in the league, but again, they overcame that the previous year. Smith threw out routes to 11 different players and everyone but Chris Conley (35.7%) had negative DVOA, so it's not like a couple of players were dragging the numbers down. The four drops weren't as big of a problem as the nine overthrows by Smith, a total that only trailed Prescott (10) and Trubisky (11). Speaking of Prescott, he was No. 1 in DYAR and DVOA on out routes in 2016, but definitely struggled with them in 2017.

It was concerning that Manning finished last in DYAR in 2016 on out routes. He threw the shortest quick outs in the league at 5.7 yards, a number he repeated in 2017, but at least the success was a little better this time around.

Dig

The dig route is a little deeper than the curl or out, but produces better offense generally (7.6% DVOA). Only six of our 35 passers had negative DYAR on dig routes; two of the six actually met in the playoffs.

Dig Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matthew Stafford DET 139 1 17.8% 13 63 493 67.2% 8.3 4.3
Blake Bortles JAX 121 2 20.0% 12 49 502 67.3% 9.3 5.6
Philip Rivers LAC 118 3 34.8% 4 36 370 66.7% 11.4 4.3
Matt Ryan ATL 106 4 23.4% 9 39 412 69.2% 10.7 4.4
Case Keenum MIN 92 5 44.2% 2 23 207 78.3% 9.3 2.5
Russell Wilson SEA 77 6 36.3% 3 24 247 70.8% 10.8 3.5
DeShone Kizer CLE 68 7 33.0% 5 24 256 54.2% 11.9 6.3
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 63 8 24.0% 8 26 245 69.2% 12.2 0.9
Tom Brady NE 60 9 4.3% 22 54 417 60.4% 9.6 3.3
Tom Savage HOU 60 10 29.6% 6 21 195 70.0% 11.0 2.6
Joe Flacco BAL 58 11 17.2% 14 28 202 78.6% 8.0 1.7
Carson Wentz PHI 56 12 9.8% 19 38 306 60.5% 11.7 2.0
Cam Newton CAR 56 13 13.9% 16 30 285 60.0% 12.2 3.3
Josh McCown NYJ 53 14 23.3% 10 20 158 66.7% 9.9 1.5
Trevor Siemian DEN 48 15 11.1% 18 30 272 63.3% 8.3 5.9
Jameis Winston TB 48 16 4.7% 21 39 286 55.3% 11.8 2.2
Carson Palmer ARI 47 17 26.0% 7 17 146 68.8% 10.6 2.2
Tyrod Taylor BUF 47 18 16.6% 15 27 232 66.7% 8.8 4.4
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Drew Brees NO 47 19 13.9% 17 25 218 64.0% 10.3 3.3
Jacoby Brissett IND 44 20 20.3% 11 19 166 52.6% 9.9 7.4
Kirk Cousins WAS 27 21 -3.9% 23 42 312 50.0% 10.1 5.3
Aaron Rodgers GB 24 22 140.0% 1 3 52 100.0% 13.0 4.3
Andy Dalton CIN 19 23 5.2% 20 16 116 56.3% 11.5 3.2
Jared Goff LAR 18 24 -5.9% 24 38 302 52.6% 12.3 3.2
Dak Prescott DAL 17 25 -6.4% 25 48 330 62.5% 9.0 1.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 10 26 -7.1% 26 24 183 54.2% 9.1 3.6
Deshaun Watson HOU 3 27 -9.5% 28 13 91 46.2% 11.6 2.3
Brett Hundley GB 3 28 -8.3% 27 7 61 42.9% 10.6 11.3
Derek Carr OAK 2 29 -10.3% 29 15 106 66.7% 9.7 1.1
Alex Smith KC -5 30 -14.1% 30 17 111 47.1% 10.8 2.1
Brian Hoyer 2TM -11 31 -21.4% 32 16 82 50.0% 9.6 2.6
Jay Cutler MIA -17 32 -20.2% 31 29 185 51.7% 10.8 3.0
C.J. Beathard SF -19 33 -34.2% 35 11 68 36.4% 10.5 7.3
Marcus Mariota TEN -28 34 -26.7% 33 23 123 45.5% 11.3 1.2
Eli Manning NYG -46 35 -27.2% 34 38 222 44.7% 7.9 6.1
NFL Digs TOT 1,566 - 7.6% - 1,111 9,050 60.4% 10.1 3.6

Alex Smith completed a league-best 77.3 percent of his dig routes in 2016, but he was down to 47.1 percent in 2017. Jeremy Maclin was great for him on that route in 2016, but Maclin played for Baltimore last year, where Joe Flacco actually had some of his better numbers on this route. However, it wasn't Maclin helping in that area, as Maclin only accounted for 4 of Flacco's 58 DYAR on dig routes. Mike Wallace led the way for Baltimore with 28 DYAR on dig routes.

Stafford (63) and Brady (54) were the only quarterbacks with at least 50 dig routes. Stafford led in DYAR, but Blake Bortles actually led the league in passing yards gained on dig routes (502); the dig was easily Bortles' best route last year. Brady was actually dead last in DYAR and DVOA on dig routes in 2016. We thought that Brandin Cooks would help here, but Cooks only had 13 DYAR on 14 dig routes for Brady. The surprising leader for New England was running back Rex Burkhead, who had 31 DYAR on five dig routes. He accounted for just over half of Brady's total DYAR on digs.

Rodgers finished second with 143 DYAR on dig routes in 2016, but he only threw three of them (all completions) in 2017. Even with projecting for a full season of play, he would have had single-digit digs after throwing 49 of them the previous year. Brett Hundley threw seven digs in Rodgers' place, and had an absurd 11.3 YAC on them thanks to a 31-yard effort by Randall Cobb on one play. This data supports the argument that Mike McCarthy's offense has lost a lot of route variability and imagination, and we have further evidence in the sections to come.

Slant

Why don't we see slants more often in the NFL? There were 1,327 slant attempts last year, barely half as many attempts as we saw on curls. Both throws had a similar aDOT, but the slant produced 5.2 YAC on average compared to 2.9 YAC for the curl. Imagine that, a receiver turning his back to the defense isn't as effective as one who is running with forward momentum.

Slant Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Jared Goff LAR 150 1 49.5% 2 29 245 71.4% 7.1 5.4
Eli Manning NYG 144 2 13.1% 13 74 596 66.2% 7.3 4.9
Dak Prescott DAL 136 3 26.4% 7 44 429 60.5% 7.6 8.8
Kirk Cousins WAS 122 4 24.0% 8 47 402 57.8% 8.4 6.5
Tom Brady NE 117 5 27.2% 5 40 357 65.0% 7.5 6.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 111 6 18.6% 10 47 367 63.8% 6.5 5.8
Josh McCown NYJ 107 7 27.1% 6 36 382 63.9% 9.1 8.0
C.J. Beathard SF 90 8 46.7% 3 21 207 81.0% 6.8 5.0
Drew Brees NO 76 9 13.9% 12 37 267 72.2% 5.5 3.7
Case Keenum MIN 71 10 31.4% 4 19 174 72.2% 6.5 6.2
Matt Ryan ATL 69 11 9.2% 16 41 325 58.5% 6.6 6.3
Brett Hundley GB 61 12 11.1% 15 32 242 62.5% 7.3 5.0
Carson Wentz PHI 58 13 5.7% 21 46 292 60.9% 6.1 3.5
Blake Bortles JAX 55 14 12.2% 14 27 212 66.7% 7.2 4.2
Jay Cutler MIA 54 15 9.1% 17 31 222 70.0% 6.6 2.8
Jameis Winston TB 49 16 8.0% 18 30 272 60.0% 7.8 7.6
DeShone Kizer CLE 48 17 5.9% 20 32 232 53.1% 6.4 7.4
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 48 18 14.6% 11 22 194 68.2% 9.5 2.9
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Deshaun Watson HOU 47 19 55.4% 1 9 78 77.8% 6.0 5.6
Aaron Rodgers GB 39 20 6.3% 19 28 171 63.0% 6.7 3.2
Philip Rivers LAC 38 21 -0.7% 25 42 280 58.5% 5.3 5.7
Russell Wilson SEA 30 22 0.7% 22 33 194 60.6% 5.7 3.8
Tom Savage HOU 30 23 19.9% 9 12 99 50.0% 8.6 9.2
Joe Flacco BAL 26 24 -3.4% 27 35 263 54.3% 6.4 6.8
Brian Hoyer 2TM 19 25 -0.6% 23 26 178 68.0% 5.8 3.8
Carson Palmer ARI 18 26 -0.6% 24 19 157 77.8% 4.9 6.0
Alex Smith KC 18 27 -2.3% 26 24 153 62.5% 6.2 3.1
Cam Newton CAR 15 28 -7.6% 28 39 207 52.6% 7.8 2.6
Andy Dalton CIN 8 29 -9.7% 29 47 298 52.2% 7.6 4.8
Derek Carr OAK 6 30 -9.9% 30 43 332 62.8% 6.9 5.4
Trevor Siemian DEN 4 31 -10.9% 31 28 167 66.7% 5.8 3.8
Matthew Stafford DET -12 32 -17.5% 33 31 187 64.5% 5.5 3.9
Jacoby Brissett IND -12 33 -16.1% 32 35 231 42.9% 7.3 9.0
Marcus Mariota TEN -18 34 -22.1% 34 25 146 50.0% 5.6 5.8
Tyrod Taylor BUF -21 35 -22.7% 35 30 167 60.0% 6.8 2.7
NFL Slants TOT 1,988 - 7.2% - 1,327 9,951 61.9% 6.9 5.2

Slants were a nightmare for Goff as a rookie. Keep in mind we are talking about 21 plays, but his -87 DYAR and 42.9 percent completion rate were the worst in the league. Last year, he still didn't use slants that often (only 29 throws in 15 games), but had a league-high 150 DYAR on them. Only Deshaun Watson had a higher DVOA in his sample of 6.5 games. Sammy Watkins was money on slants, with 101 DYAR on 12 targets, but he's in Kansas City now.

Even without Odell Beckham Jr. for 12 games, Manning loved slants in 2017 after it was arguably his best route of 2016, when he finished third with 188 DYAR. Manning's 74 slants were 27 more than the next closest quarterbacks (Andy Dalton, Kirk Cousins, and Ben Roethlisberger each had 47 slants). This was a big route in the NFC East, with Manning, Cousins, and Prescott finishing in the top four in DYAR.

Only four quarterbacks had negative DYAR on slants: Matthew Stafford (-12 DYAR), Jacoby Brissett (-12 DYAR), Marcus Mariota (-18 DYAR), and Tyrod Taylor (-21 DYAR). Stafford was the surprising name in that group, because this seems like a perfect play for Golden Tate's skill set. Tate led Detroit with just 13 DYAR on seven slants. He was actually targeted less often on them than Marvin Jones, who had 11 slants, but for -39 DYAR. So many passes to Jones are contested, but quick slants were not plays where he often won, as he had five of them defensed. Another slant to Jones was batted down and intercepted for a touchdown in a whacky game against New Orleans. Mariota was also surprising to see far down on this list given his reputation for the quick, rhythm passing game. But aside from Eric Decker (21 DYAR on eight slants), the slants weren't working in Tennessee last year.

A year ago we asked why there weren't more slants in Green Bay as Rodgers led the league in slant DVOA, but only on 32 passes. He had 28 slants in barely seven games in 2017, but the success was much closer to league average this time. Even Hundley pitched in with 32 slants in his playing time, and it's one of the only routes where Hundley matched or arguably surpassed Rodgers' effectiveness in 2017.

For our final Garoppolo mention, we'll just note that the slant was one of his very best routes last season. Garoppolo had 128 DYAR on 26 slants, which would have ranked fifth in the league if we included him in this table. His 54.2% DVOA would have only trailed Watson, the other star quarterback with a short 2017 resume whom we just cannot wait to watch in 2018.

Drag

The drag route produces the most YAC (5.8) on average among the five most common routes in the NFL, beating out the curl (2.9), out (2.6), dig (3.6), and slant (5.2).

Drag Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 98 1 13.5% 6 50 388 84.0% 2.3 6.8
Matt Ryan ATL 51 2 19.1% 5 24 234 75.0% 3.8 9.4
Josh McCown NYJ 43 3 21.2% 3 20 177 85.0% 3.6 7.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 40 4 78.3% 1 6 83 83.3% 3.2 12.0
Drew Brees NO 36 5 8.8% 8 27 201 70.4% 3.4 6.6
Case Keenum MIN 33 6 2.8% 11 27 194 85.2% 2.5 6.1
Tom Brady NE 31 7 8.5% 9 21 129 71.4% 3.4 5.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 30 8 20.5% 4 14 127 64.3% 3.4 9.9
Cam Newton CAR 29 9 4.5% 10 24 186 79.2% 4.3 5.9
Jameis Winston TB 29 10 35.0% 2 9 80 66.7% 4.9 7.8
Philip Rivers LAC 22 11 -4.5% 15 47 348 76.6% 2.9 7.3
Matthew Stafford DET 16 12 -1.3% 12 20 142 55.0% 3.5 8.4
Tyrod Taylor BUF 9 13 -3.6% 14 20 157 65.0% 4.4 8.1
Russell Wilson SEA 8 14 -3.5% 13 14 42 50.0% 4.3 2.0
Brett Hundley GB 4 15 13.4% 7 2 16 100.0% 6.5 1.5
Trevor Siemian DEN 2 16 -9.4% 16 9 45 77.8% 3.3 3.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 1 17 -10.3% 17 4 29 50.0% 6.3 9.0
Brian Hoyer 2TM -5 18 -16.5% 20 5 25 60.0% 1.8 5.7
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
DeShone Kizer CLE -6 19 -15.2% 19 19 120 63.2% 2.8 6.7
Dak Prescott DAL -7 20 -14.4% 18 24 119 69.6% 4.0 3.1
Carson Wentz PHI -7 21 -17.1% 23 16 66 43.8% 3.6 4.9
Jared Goff LAR -9 22 -16.7% 21 30 136 62.1% 4.0 3.1
Kirk Cousins WAS -12 23 -16.9% 22 25 163 68.0% 4.1 5.0
Carson Palmer ARI -12 24 -28.1% 26 12 66 41.7% 3.8 9.0
Marcus Mariota TEN -14 25 -33.8% 30 9 65 77.8% 2.6 6.1
Alex Smith KC -17 26 -20.2% 25 27 173 63.0% 2.6 7.6
Blake Bortles JAX -20 27 -17.7% 24 54 340 61.1% 4.6 5.9
Tom Savage HOU -28 28 -69.0% 34 7 14 28.6% 4.6 4.5
Andy Dalton CIN -29 29 -31.2% 29 20 89 70.0% 4.0 2.6
Derek Carr OAK -34 30 -41.6% 32 17 98 82.4% 3.8 3.4
C.J. Beathard SF -35 31 -70.7% 35 9 21 44.4% 1.3 2.3
Jay Cutler MIA -36 32 -34.7% 31 21 111 71.4% 3.5 4.2
Jacoby Brissett IND -50 33 -50.7% 33 17 81 64.7% 3.2 4.7
Joe Flacco BAL -54 34 -31.2% 28 36 194 72.2% 3.7 3.7
Eli Manning NYG -56 35 -29.7% 27 36 200 54.3% 3.5 7.1
NFL Drags TOT 101 - -9.6% - 799 5,106 68.3% 3.5 5.8

The drag route was not very successful in 2017. It's the first route we've gone through where most passers had negative DYAR. Roethlisberger, Ryan, Rodgers, Brees, and Brady all ranked in the top seven in DYAR, so that's still a good sign that it can be an effective play when used properly. It's just that using it properly may sometimes involve getting away with a pick across the middle.

With the way we highlighted Jacksonville's receivers in Part I, it is not surprising to see that Bortles led the way with 54 drag routes in 2017. His numbers were below average on these plays, but it was Marqise Lee with whom he found some success rather than Dede Westbrook or Keelan Cole.

Last year, we thought that the addition of DeSean Jackson could help on drag routes for Jameis Winston, who had a really good 2016 with these plays. As it turns out, Winston never targeted Jackson on a drag route and only threw nine total after having 28 in 2016. Jackson's role is a bit up in the air in 2018 after the emergence of Chris Godwin, but our next route will present the case that Tampa Bay needs to rethink its strategy with its wide receivers.

Go/Fly

This would be Al Davis' favorite section. Who liked to air the ball out deep and outside the numbers last year? The average go route traveled 32.9 yards and was only completed 25.2 percent of the time.

Go/Fly Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matthew Stafford DET 216 1 91.9% 2 30 552 48.1% 31.9 4.2
Kirk Cousins WAS 151 2 81.1% 3 22 417 40.0% 33.2 10.8
Josh McCown NYJ 146 3 93.1% 1 18 318 50.0% 30.6 3.4
Alex Smith KC 116 4 72.4% 4 18 394 41.2% 32.9 16.7
Tom Brady NE 110 5 56.4% 5 22 360 36.8% 38.6 5.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 88 6 15.2% 14 41 506 24.3% 35.6 4.4
Russell Wilson SEA 73 7 32.3% 9 23 309 36.4% 33.5 2.3
Carson Wentz PHI 53 8 25.5% 11 19 244 20.0% 35.2 9.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 39 9 34.4% 8 11 166 30.0% 36.8 3.0
Brett Hundley GB 37 10 17.8% 13 15 176 28.6% 34.8 6.8
Joe Flacco BAL 35 11 11.6% 16 19 221 23.5% 31.2 3.5
Dak Prescott DAL 33 12 8.1% 18 20 226 18.8% 30.8 0.3
Drew Brees NO 32 13 36.4% 6 9 104 33.3% 31.9 4.3
Jacoby Brissett IND 30 14 22.8% 12 11 150 30.0% 34.2 3.0
Blake Bortles JAX 26 15 -0.3% 21 27 285 30.8% 29.1 5.9
Trevor Siemian DEN 23 16 11.8% 15 13 148 33.3% 30.5 7.5
Brian Hoyer 2TM 22 17 35.5% 7 6 109 33.3% 45.5 5.0
Tom Savage HOU 21 18 32.0% 10 6 78 25.0% 31.5 5.0
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Case Keenum MIN 18 19 3.7% 20 16 173 8.3% 32.6 1.0
Cam Newton CAR 17 20 11.5% 17 9 103 33.3% 32.4 5.0
Marcus Mariota TEN 10 21 -5.0% 22 16 158 26.7% 29.5 4.3
Aaron Rodgers GB 6 22 6.5% 19 4 33 25.0% 31.5 0.0
Eli Manning NYG 5 23 -7.7% 23 13 110 25.0% 28.6 1.7
Derek Carr OAK 3 24 -9.2% 24 22 223 15.8% 32.3 8.7
Tyrod Taylor BUF -5 25 -16.4% 26 20 150 16.7% 34.8 2.0
Jared Goff LAR -7 26 -15.6% 25 13 126 23.1% 35.4 5.3
Carson Palmer ARI -8 27 -23.9% 28 10 79 11.1% 33.0 2.0
C.J. Beathard SF -9 28 -28.1% 29 7 45 14.3% 33.0 9.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -10 29 -32.6% 31 7 46 14.3% 36.6 8.0
Jay Cutler MIA -16 30 -22.4% 27 21 171 20.0% 34.1 4.8
Matt Ryan ATL -21 31 -29.0% 30 13 141 15.4% 36.5 24.0
DeShone Kizer CLE -40 32 -34.8% 33 25 167 20.0% 33.0 4.0
Philip Rivers LAC -45 33 -37.7% 34 23 114 17.4% 32.3 1.0
Andy Dalton CIN -48 34 -32.8% 32 30 201 14.8% 30.9 10.8
Jameis Winston TB -51 35 -41.8% 35 23 103 13.6% 31.7 5.3
NFL Go/Flys TOT 933 - 5.8% - 694 7,595 25.2% 32.9 5.4

In 2016, Ryan Fitzpatrick led all passers with 46 go routes for the Jets. Amusingly enough, Josh McCown was the only quarterback last year to hit 50 percent of his deep balls, which helped him to the highest DVOA, also for the Jets. However, Stafford was the DYAR leader after a great year of connecting with Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Those two receivers accounted for 25 of Stafford's 30 deep balls. Dalton attempted 30 for the Bengals; the only other quarterback to surpass 30 go routes was the league leader, Roethlisberger (41).

Cousins was one of the best on go routes last year despite losing his top wideouts from 2016, when he ranked eighth in DYAR. This could be good news for the Vikings (and bad news for Denver) after Keenum completed a league-low 8.3 percent of his go routes last year. As for Washington's stake in this, Smith was actually quite accurate on his deep balls last year, but no one on the Redskins can outrace the field the way Tyreek Hill can in Kansas City. In fact, there's a great chance that we will be talking about Patrick Mahomes with the most attempts and DYAR on go routes in 2018 with Kansas City.

Rivers may be a surprising name near the bottom here, but the Chargers don't really have a great go route receiver unless you count Travis Benjamin, who did lead the team with eight attempts (but only 7 DYAR). Keenan Allen is better suited for the underneath and intermediate routes, while we call Tyrell Williams The Drag King after he loaded up on that route for two years.

The troubling name here is Winston at the very bottom in DYAR and DVOA. He loves the deep ball, and when you have Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, it makes perfect sense to throw go routes. However, Winston was 31st in DYAR and 28th in DVOA on go routes in 2016, because his accuracy just has not been up to par on those plays. Last season, it was even worse as he connected on just 13.6 percent of his 23 go routes. Winston was just 1-for-6 with a seventh play generating a pass interference flag on go routes to Jackson. The bigger issue was the 0-for-8 to Evans, which only featured one drop. Winston hit Chris Godwin on a go route for a 39-yard touchdown to beat the Saints in Week 17. With the way Godwin finished the season, it may be a good idea to use him out wide more in 2018 with Jackson allowed to do more drag routes, and for Evans to use his size advantage on more intermediate throws. It's an interesting offense to look at on paper, but if Winston can't start hitting the broad side of a barn with these deep throws, then it's going to be a disappointing offense again.

WR Screen

In terms of skill-based throws, WR screens would have to be at the bottom of the list. Quarterbacks completed 88.4 percent of them last year -- eight players were at 100 percent -- and that's not even accounting for drops. The -27.5% DVOA produced on these plays is suboptimal, but that's not going to stop teams from trying them out every week. It's an easy completion, and once in a blue moon, they break for big gains. Let's see which quarterbacks benefitted from a few more blue moons than their peers.

WR Screen Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matt Ryan ATL 49 1 14.9% 2 27 239 100.0% -2.4 11.3
Alex Smith KC 43 2 2.2% 4 43 293 86.0% -1.6 9.5
Deshaun Watson HOU 43 3 76.4% 1 7 126 100.0% -2.3 20.3
Jared Goff LAR 21 4 2.7% 3 22 173 95.5% -2.0 10.3
Brett Hundley GB 15 5 0.7% 5 15 97 100.0% -0.4 6.9
Drew Brees NO 13 6 -6.3% 7 31 205 93.5% -2.6 9.8
Jameis Winston TB 10 7 -6.4% 8 23 162 95.7% -0.4 8.0
C.J. Beathard SF 6 8 -2.9% 6 10 56 80.0% -3.0 10.4
Marcus Mariota TEN 1 9 -12.2% 10 20 139 95.0% -1.8 9.2
DeShone Kizer CLE 1 10 -11.6% 9 11 44 81.8% -3.8 8.7
Blake Bortles JAX -1 11 -13.7% 11 12 59 75.0% -2.0 8.8
Brian Hoyer 2TM -4 12 -20.2% 16 7 44 100.0% -2.1 8.4
Case Keenum MIN -5 13 -18.6% 13 14 76 85.7% -2.9 9.1
Carson Palmer ARI -8 14 -19.9% 14 15 72 86.7% -1.7 7.1
Matthew Stafford DET -11 15 -17.2% 12 38 207 92.1% -1.6 7.7
Kirk Cousins WAS -11 16 -20.5% 17 24 215 75.0% -1.8 13.7
Tyrod Taylor BUF -13 17 -54.8% 27 6 23 83.3% -2.8 7.0
Derek Carr OAK -14 18 -20.1% 15 24 175 91.7% -1.3 9.4
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Dak Prescott DAL -22 19 -35.0% 22 15 68 100.0% -2.6 7.1
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -25 20 -46.9% 25 14 71 92.9% -2.7 7.8
Cam Newton CAR -26 21 -27.3% 19 29 133 82.8% -2.3 8.0
Josh McCown NYJ -27 22 -55.9% 28 8 21 100.0% -2.6 5.3
Jay Cutler MIA -28 23 -23.7% 18 36 252 94.4% -1.1 8.6
Trevor Siemian DEN -30 24 -80.4% 32 6 9 83.3% -1.5 2.8
Tom Savage HOU -31 25 -61.3% 29 10 24 80.0% -3.0 5.8
Jacoby Brissett IND -31 26 -86.4% 33 7 13 100.0% -1.3 3.1
Aaron Rodgers GB -33 27 -34.6% 21 19 89 84.2% -0.7 6.6
Eli Manning NYG -36 28 -48.2% 26 15 54 73.3% -1.1 5.8
Ben Roethlisberger PIT -36 29 -28.9% 20 31 150 80.6% -1.4 7.2
Tom Brady NE -37 30 -43.1% 23 17 46 88.2% -1.6 4.6
Carson Wentz PHI -43 31 -62.4% 30 13 40 84.6% -3.0 6.9
Andy Dalton CIN -50 32 -46.1% 24 19 77 73.7% -1.8 7.4
Philip Rivers LAC -51 33 -62.8% 31 13 36 76.9% -1.8 5.0
Joe Flacco BAL -57 34 -107.9% 35 8 1 87.5% -2.4 2.9
Russell Wilson SEA -59 35 -88.2% 34 14 52 100.0% -2.9 6.6
NFL WR Screens TOT -720 - -27.5% - 706 3,859 88.4% -1.8 8.1

The players you're throwing to obviously mean a lot here because of the YAC. The correlation between YAC and DVOA was 0.86 for WR screens last year, which was much higher than on other routes. It also might be the route with the most consistency from 2016. The DYAR leaders in 2016 were the same as the DYAR leaders in 2017: Ryan and Smith. Meanwhile, Flacco finished next to last in DYAR on WR screens for the second year in a row. It's hard to believe that Baltimore's revamped receiving corps (Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead) is really set to improve on those numbers. In fact, Flacco joins Roethlisberger, Brady, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson as quarterbacks to rank in the bottom eight in DYAR on WR screens in 2016 and 2017.

Smith (43), Stafford (38), and Cutler (36) attempted the most WR screens, because Andy Reid, Jim Bob Cooter, and Adam Gase are all about that bubble-screen life. They actually worked pretty well for Smith again (second in DYAR, fourth in DVOA), but we'll see how Albert Wilson does on them in Miami this season with Ryan Tannehill back. After Andrew Luck threw one screen in 2016, the Colts were again pretty disinterested in the play, with Brissett attempting only seven last year. Only Siemian (six) and Taylor (six) had fewer attempts. Watson also only threw seven for Houston, but had the highest DVOA after completing all of them with impressive YAC (20.3). It's crazy to think that Watson could rank third in DYAR (43) despite only attempting seven of these screens. We'll see if Bill O'Brien explores that more this year.

Post

The post route is another longer throw in the game (average: 21.3 yards). No route produced more DYAR (2,097) in the NFL last year.

Post Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Jameis Winston TB 159 1 70.0% 10 27 386 70.4% 19.2 3.0
Philip Rivers LAC 150 2 62.5% 13 28 414 46.4% 24.5 8.1
Derek Carr OAK 148 3 84.5% 8 23 422 54.5% 27.2 6.3
Marcus Mariota TEN 142 4 69.6% 11 26 403 61.5% 20.7 5.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 140 5 44.1% 16 34 422 53.1% 19.4 4.9
Jared Goff LAR 140 6 97.7% 5 16 323 71.4% 22.6 7.6
Andy Dalton CIN 125 7 58.3% 14 24 334 58.3% 17.7 8.2
Carson Wentz PHI 121 8 152.8% 2 12 248 58.3% 32.0 10.6
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 111 9 67.2% 12 19 271 73.7% 15.1 3.9
Carson Palmer ARI 102 10 101.6% 4 12 176 75.0% 16.6 3.8
Drew Brees NO 81 11 78.2% 9 12 234 58.3% 25.2 7.1
C.J. Beathard SF 80 12 140.2% 3 7 188 71.4% 25.4 12.6
Alex Smith KC 72 13 92.0% 6 11 167 63.6% 20.4 3.4
Matt Ryan ATL 67 14 33.0% 18 19 188 52.6% 24.4 2.3
Tyrod Taylor BUF 57 15 87.5% 7 8 109 75.0% 19.8 3.0
Dak Prescott DAL 54 16 49.0% 15 12 167 50.0% 15.8 8.7
Tom Brady NE 53 17 21.4% 21 22 250 50.0% 23.5 2.9
Cam Newton CAR 49 18 17.6% 23 25 245 43.5% 20.7 6.0
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Aaron Rodgers GB 41 19 173.6% 1 3 56 66.7% 23.3 2.0
Josh McCown NYJ 34 20 29.5% 19 12 108 50.0% 18.7 1.3
DeShone Kizer CLE 34 21 10.9% 25 23 224 33.3% 19.1 5.4
Blake Bortles JAX 34 22 17.2% 24 15 155 46.7% 20.3 3.3
Jacoby Brissett IND 30 23 20.3% 22 12 161 41.7% 25.0 3.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 29 24 42.1% 17 7 65 42.9% 18.0 3.0
Jay Cutler MIA 15 25 25.7% 20 5 39 60.0% 14.8 0.7
Case Keenum MIN 4 26 -7.1% 26 12 102 33.3% 28.0 2.8
Kirk Cousins WAS 0 27 -10.5% 27 13 96 38.5% 19.1 2.2
Trevor Siemian DEN -4 28 -14.9% 28 13 94 27.3% 21.8 2.3
Brett Hundley GB -7 29 -26.4% 32 6 35 33.3% 23.8 2.5
Russell Wilson SEA -9 30 -19.5% 29 19 149 36.8% 28.1 2.0
Eli Manning NYG -10 31 -22.9% 30 13 68 30.8% 19.4 2.5
Tom Savage HOU -12 32 -32.8% 33 10 58 20.0% 18.6 7.5
Brian Hoyer 2TM -15 33 -42.6% 35 7 39 28.6% 23.0 2.5
Joe Flacco BAL -19 34 -24.8% 31 18 140 27.8% 20.8 7.2
Matthew Stafford DET -30 35 -40.3% 34 15 100 20.0% 18.9 5.3
NFL Posts TOT 2,097 - 36.1% - 607 7,375 49.0% 21.3 5.1

Here is another vertical route where Roethlisberger had the most attempts (34), but he improved his completion rate from 25.0 percent in 2016 to 53.1 percent last year. This is the third route (dig, drag, and post) where Rodgers finished first in DVOA, but he had six or fewer attempts on each of those three routes. He didn't finish higher than 12th in DVOA on any of the other nine routes. Winston struggled on go routes, but the post route was very good for him, with the most DYAR in the league. That's where Evans really comes in handy; he accounted for 83 of Winston's 159 DYAR. The post route has also been good for the other quarterback taken at the top of the 2015 draft. Winston and Mariota have ranked in the top five in post DYAR in 2016 and 2017. This was also the only route where Derek Carr ranked higher than 12th in DYAR or DVOA last year.

Cousins led the NFL with 199 DYAR on post routes in 2016, but he fell to 0 DYAR on 13 post routes in 2017. Interestingly enough, Keenum had 4 DYAR on 12 post routes for the Vikings last season, and Siemian (now Cousins' backup in Minnesota) had -4 DYAR on 13 post routes for Denver. Not that we would count on this repeating itself in 2018, but that's three connected players who each had 12 or 13 post routes for between -4 and 4 DYAR last year. Neat.

Comeback

Comebacks have the lowest average YAC (0.9) of any route type with at least 100 attempts, but when the play is well timed and the pass is accurate, it is nearly impossible to defend. There were 376 comeback targets last year.

Comeback Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Marcus Mariota TEN 55 1 34.1% 6 16 153 68.8% 11.9 1.2
Jameis Winston TB 38 2 35.3% 5 10 104 80.0% 11.9 0.6
Carson Wentz PHI 38 3 70.8% 1 6 82 83.3% 12.3 3.2
Matthew Stafford DET 33 4 39.0% 3 8 92 62.5% 10.4 7.4
Josh McCown NYJ 28 5 31.6% 7 8 55 75.0% 10.3 0.0
Carson Palmer ARI 27 6 19.6% 8 12 109 66.7% 13.3 0.4
Case Keenum MIN 26 7 13.2% 11 14 107 61.5% 10.6 0.9
Jay Cutler MIA 24 8 15.7% 10 10 97 70.0% 10.5 2.0
Tom Savage HOU 23 9 36.8% 4 6 63 100.0% 9.5 1.0
Philip Rivers LAC 21 10 8.5% 12 13 95 61.5% 11.1 1.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 21 11 16.1% 9 9 79 75.0% 10.9 0.3
Trevor Siemian DEN 19 12 8.3% 13 11 81 63.6% 10.2 0.3
Eli Manning NYG 17 13 59.8% 2 3 42 100.0% 14.0 0.0
Tom Brady NE 9 14 -4.7% 16 16 122 53.3% 14.4 0.3
Deshaun Watson HOU 6 15 1.1% 14 6 36 66.7% 8.5 0.0
Andy Dalton CIN 6 16 -4.0% 15 9 63 55.6% 12.1 0.6
Kirk Cousins WAS 2 17 -10.6% 17 13 98 69.2% 10.5 0.3
Joe Flacco BAL -1 18 -13.8% 18 11 71 54.5% 12.5 0.3
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Alex Smith KC -1 19 -16.7% 22 3 22 66.7% 12.3 0.5
Tyrod Taylor BUF -1 20 -15.1% 19 10 61 50.0% 12.5 0.0
Jacoby Brissett IND -4 21 -15.8% 20 14 76 50.0% 11.1 0.0
Blake Bortles JAX -5 22 -34.7% 23 3 12 0.0% 9.7 --
DeShone Kizer CLE -6 23 -16.4% 21 22 126 36.8% 11.6 0.3
Aaron Rodgers GB -7 24 -98.2% 35 1 0 0.0% 12.0 --
Brian Hoyer 2TM -9 25 -41.3% 28 4 25 50.0% 14.3 0.5
C.J. Beathard SF -9 26 -78.0% 33 2 7 50.0% 13.0 0.0
Drew Brees NO -13 27 -56.2% 32 4 14 25.0% 10.3 2.0
Jared Goff LAR -14 28 -44.3% 29 6 26 33.3% 12.7 0.0
Cam Newton CAR -16 29 -41.1% 26 9 43 33.3% 14.2 2.7
Russell Wilson SEA -18 30 -35.4% 24 11 55 50.0% 13.0 0.6
Matt Ryan ATL -19 31 -38.4% 25 10 44 25.0% 10.3 0.0
Brett Hundley GB -26 32 -53.8% 31 8 24 25.0% 9.3 1.5
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -27 33 -88.4% 34 5 0 0.0% 12.2 --
Derek Carr OAK -30 34 -41.3% 27 14 47 35.7% 10.1 -0.2
Dak Prescott DAL -47 35 -49.3% 30 16 67 43.8% 9.8 0.1
NFL Comebacks TOT 174 - -6.6% - 376 2,602 54.2% 11.5 0.9

Thinking about "DeShone Kizer comeback attempts" would usually bring up images of crippling turnovers that killed Cleveland's chances of covering the spread, but we found a different meaning for that expression here. Kizer led all passers with 22 comeback routes; that might make him a good fit for Green Bay's offense, in which Rodgers led the NFL with 29 such plays and 78 DYAR in 2016. We charted Rodgers with just one such play in 2017. The only other quarterback with no completions on comebacks was Trubisky (0-for-5). As for Kizer, the results weren't particularly good, but at least he drew three pass interference flags. The rest of the league only drew eight flags on comeback routes.

Besides Kizer, three quarterbacks tied for second place with 16 comeback throws. Marcus Mariota was excellent, especially to Eric Decker, with a league-high 55 DYAR. Brady could make that a preferred route with Decker this season. But Prescott may want to dial this one back as he had a league-low -47 DYAR. That wasn't just a matter of forcing the ball to Dez Bryant either; Prescott threw six comebacks to Terrance Williams compared to four for Bryant. Overall, these 16 plays produced three first downs and one interception for Prescott.

Broken Play

This is backyard/sandlot football in number format. We know Seattle led the league in these plays last year, but was Wilson the best at fixing a broken play? As a reminder, he was dead last in DYAR (-96) on broken plays in 2016.

Broken Play Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Dak Prescott DAL 71 1 44.0% 2 17 200 50.0% 14.6 0.5
Matthew Stafford DET 56 2 21.8% 7 25 242 48.0% 14.9 4.2
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 53 3 27.5% 4 19 197 55.6% 13.4 4.9
Tom Brady NE 52 4 48.7% 1 14 168 53.8% 14.9 9.9
Carson Wentz PHI 51 5 23.1% 5 19 216 38.9% 20.8 5.7
Tyrod Taylor BUF 38 6 7.0% 9 28 197 59.3% 12.7 1.9
Russell Wilson SEA 37 7 -0.7% 13 41 309 58.5% 9.2 2.8
Jay Cutler MIA 34 8 23.0% 6 12 85 58.3% 9.7 2.1
Deshaun Watson HOU 33 9 16.6% 8 18 177 50.0% 12.6 5.7
Cam Newton CAR 27 10 32.2% 3 9 63 44.4% 10.7 5.5
Matt Ryan ATL 19 11 3.9% 10 16 93 40.0% 10.8 2.3
Case Keenum MIN 19 12 0.2% 12 23 184 50.0% 11.6 2.7
Alex Smith KC 15 13 -2.1% 14 18 155 38.9% 11.3 7.3
Jared Goff LAR 10 14 2.5% 11 13 135 46.2% 11.2 10.8
Aaron Rodgers GB 9 15 -2.8% 15 15 101 46.7% 14.7 0.6
Jameis Winston TB 7 16 -4.2% 16 11 51 54.5% 12.6 0.3
Kirk Cousins WAS 3 17 -9.2% 17 11 70 36.4% 12.5 7.5
Josh McCown NYJ 0 18 -12.0% 18 18 156 50.0% 14.9 3.2
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Andy Dalton CIN 0 19 -13.2% 19 13 89 41.7% 14.5 1.6
Joe Flacco BAL -2 20 -13.2% 20 20 101 45.0% 12.7 0.8
Tom Savage HOU -4 21 -26.9% 24 4 7 50.0% 4.8 1.5
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -8 22 -17.2% 21 11 56 27.3% 13.6 0.7
Jacoby Brissett IND -9 23 -20.0% 22 14 67 42.9% 9.1 3.7
Trevor Siemian DEN -15 24 -21.8% 23 20 119 42.1% 14.0 1.9
Blake Bortles JAX -15 25 -29.3% 25 13 67 46.2% 9.2 3.5
C.J. Beathard SF -16 26 -108.6% 35 3 0 0.0% 11.7 --
Carson Palmer ARI -20 27 -56.1% 28 7 32 14.3% 15.6 8.0
Philip Rivers LAC -25 28 -49.6% 27 9 32 33.3% 5.3 -0.7
Brian Hoyer 2TM -32 29 -77.2% 31 7 9 16.7% 9.4 11.0
Marcus Mariota TEN -44 30 -58.7% 30 13 24 30.8% 9.2 3.0
Eli Manning NYG -46 31 -48.6% 26 17 74 29.4% 14.4 3.0
Derek Carr OAK -50 32 -82.7% 32 11 18 36.4% 8.8 0.0
Drew Brees NO -52 33 -99.0% 33 8 5 12.5% 6.0 2.0
Brett Hundley GB -68 34 -57.1% 29 23 57 26.1% 11.0 0.2
DeShone Kizer CLE -70 35 -100.3% 34 11 4 18.2% 9.1 2.0
NFL Broken Plays TOT -23 - -12.6% - 593 3,814 42.5% 12.1 3.1

Wilson's 41 broken plays easily led the league. The next closest player was Tyrod Taylor (28), whom I have referred to as East Coast Russell Wilson for the similar magic shows he once held in Buffalo. The two had very similar DYAR on broken plays, but neither ranked in the top five. That was reserved for two old pros (Brady and Roethlisberger), the two 2016 rookies who will be compared to each other for years (Prescott and Wentz), and an overlooked amateur magician in Stafford. It was in 2016 when Stafford had the highest DVOA and most DYAR on broken plays. He wasn't quite that effective in 2017, but still finished second in DYAR. Prescott led in DYAR in a sophomore season that wasn't nearly as bad as it looked in November.

Wentz wins the 2017 award for "F*ck it, I'm throwing deep" when improvising. His 20.8 aDOT on broken plays was the highest in the league, and he ranked fifth in DYAR and DVOA after a much improved season. Wentz's aDOT on broken plays as a rookie was 11.9, which was about league average (11.1).

The quarterbacks at the bottom in DYAR (Kizer and Hundley) include Rodgers' current backup in Green Bay, and his old one. As you can see, Rodgers had 15 of these throws in his seven games, which would have put him up there again with Wilson had he played a full season. Rodgers and Wilson certainly love to extend the play more than anyone in the game today, but as the numbers from the last two seasons have shown, it's generally not a great thing for their offenses when you focus on the throws that come out of those scrambles. It's often the avoided sacks that turn into rushing yards that are more effective, but that's not included in this study since there was no throw involved on those plays.

Fade

Our 427 fades for 2017 do not include any back-shoulder throws. Mitchell Trubisky doesn't have a completion percentage listed, because both of his fade attempts drew pass interference flags. We'll actually applaud John Fox and the Bears for not getting into the fade trap, avoiding a low-percentage play with a lousy -12.5% DVOA last season.

Fade Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matthew Stafford DET 64 1 64.9% 3 11 159 44.4% 21.5 3.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 64 2 72.8% 2 9 100 55.6% 16.8 2.4
Tom Brady NE 38 3 33.0% 6 12 163 44.4% 19.1 2.3
Brett Hundley GB 32 4 101.6% 1 4 72 50.0% 20.0 2.0
Case Keenum MIN 29 5 12.7% 11 14 163 27.3% 22.3 5.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 27 6 35.2% 5 7 72 50.0% 22.3 5.7
Drew Brees NO 27 7 13.1% 10 13 132 41.7% 23.8 2.8
Matt Ryan ATL 24 8 17.0% 9 10 69 44.4% 15.8 2.5
Trevor Siemian DEN 20 9 6.0% 12 13 102 33.3% 18.9 1.3
Alex Smith KC 17 10 17.3% 8 8 109 37.5% 30.6 3.3
Jared Goff LAR 17 11 2.1% 15 17 162 26.7% 24.6 4.5
Russell Wilson SEA 14 12 -3.0% 18 19 172 23.5% 18.0 9.5
Kirk Cousins WAS 14 13 4.0% 14 11 90 30.0% 18.9 3.7
C.J. Beathard SF 14 14 31.2% 7 4 56 50.0% 18.8 2.0
Aaron Rodgers GB 12 15 5.4% 13 8 93 28.6% 16.5 17.0
Jay Cutler MIA 11 16 -1.5% 16 12 112 33.3% 22.2 1.5
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 10 17 39.8% 4 2 22 -- 13.0 --
Carson Wentz PHI 10 18 -3.7% 19 18 148 29.4% 20.9 6.6
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Philip Rivers LAC 7 19 -2.9% 17 10 74 33.3% 14.4 2.7
Dak Prescott DAL 4 20 -10.3% 20 20 148 27.8% 17.8 4.2
Josh McCown NYJ 0 21 -11.8% 21 9 70 33.3% 13.0 4.7
Cam Newton CAR -3 22 -16.4% 22 11 82 20.0% 23.3 2.0
Tom Savage HOU -9 23 -33.8% 24 5 28 20.0% 19.0 1.0
Eli Manning NYG -11 24 -19.3% 23 18 122 29.4% 21.3 2.4
Brian Hoyer 2TM -17 25 -85.3% 32 3 0 0.0% 22.3 --
Jacoby Brissett IND -28 26 -106.2% 35 4 0 0.0% 26.0 --
Marcus Mariota TEN -37 27 -70.8% 30 8 21 12.5% 19.0 6.0
Jameis Winston TB -38 28 -41.8% 27 16 67 20.0% 18.1 2.7
Tyrod Taylor BUF -40 29 -104.2% 34 5 0 0.0% 11.0 --
Carson Palmer ARI -40 30 -99.9% 33 6 0 0.0% 23.8 --
Blake Bortles JAX -41 31 -41.4% 26 17 46 13.3% 19.8 0.0
Derek Carr OAK -44 32 -35.8% 25 22 58 21.1% 13.6 0.0
Joe Flacco BAL -47 33 -56.8% 28 14 44 14.3% 17.4 4.0
DeShone Kizer CLE -49 34 -59.7% 29 15 57 13.3% 19.3 8.5
Andy Dalton CIN -58 35 -81.5% 31 10 15 0.0% 20.2 --
NFL Fades TOT -18 - -12.5% - 427 3,115 26.8% 19.3 3.7

Naturally, the Raiders with Carr (22) and Cowboys with Prescott (20) were the two biggest users of this play. Dallas is a given because of Dez Bryant, who insisted that the team's play-calling was garbage. Carr was second with 25 fades in 2016, but was again below average in completing these throws, finishing 32nd in DYAR. Carr lost 23 DYAR on fades to Michael Crabtree, a phrase that could trigger PTSD in San Francisco when that other quarterback tried one at the end of Super Bowl XLVII. Crabtree is gone in Oakland; will Jon Gruden keep the fade in style?

Stafford saw his fades drop from 25 to 11, but he had the most DYAR on them after a couple of touchdowns to Jones, a reasonable red zone fade target. Roethlisberger, Ryan, Brady, and Brees were the only quarterbacks to gain at least 15 DYAR on fades in consecutive seasons, so maybe there's still something to be said about this route for the very best in the league. But generally, the fade produced negative DVOA for 20 of the 35 quarterbacks last season. The bottom three quarterbacks in DYAR were all from the AFC North, so we'll have to see next time if that helped out Pittsburgh's defensive stats against fade passes.

As we did with receivers, we also looked at the data for 202 plays marked as back-shoulder throws, which were much more effective with 12.3% DVOA. The leaders in back-shoulder fade attempts were Carr (13), Wilson (12), Brady (10), and Prescott (10). So we still see the fade influence in Dallas and Oakland, but Carr was much better with these throws, creating 43 DYAR. Only Stafford had more DYAR (47), but that was on just four plays. Carr could definitely continue using the back-shoulder fade now that he has Jordy Nelson, but it needs to be that kind of timing play rather than a straight up lob into the end zone like the team was trying to little avail last year.

Seam

For our final route, we'll look at the effective seam route, which is primarily just a vertical route ran from a player lined up in the slot. This can be an effective way to attack the area in the defense between the safeties and linebackers.

Seam Route Leaders, 2017
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Russell Wilson SEA 133 1 60.9% 8 29 351 53.6% 19.7 6.1
Andy Dalton CIN 108 2 87.0% 5 17 279 64.7% 16.1 9.8
Tom Brady NE 102 3 47.9% 11 28 367 53.8% 19.3 6.4
Jameis Winston TB 76 4 51.6% 9 19 229 63.2% 19.1 1.3
Case Keenum MIN 67 5 95.2% 3 9 137 55.6% 19.8 10.0
Carson Wentz PHI 62 6 65.7% 6 11 158 70.0% 14.9 5.6
Deshaun Watson HOU 60 7 90.1% 4 9 113 50.0% 18.4 0.7
Kirk Cousins WAS 55 8 44.4% 12 13 206 46.2% 24.3 13.2
Eli Manning NYG 47 9 63.7% 7 10 124 60.0% 16.1 5.7
C.J. Beathard SF 47 10 220.8% 1 3 110 100.0% 31.0 5.7
Carson Palmer ARI 45 11 26.7% 18 16 148 46.7% 17.7 3.9
Brian Hoyer 2TM 44 12 201.7% 2 3 99 100.0% 24.0 9.0
Jacoby Brissett IND 37 13 35.3% 14 11 154 40.0% 17.9 13.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 32 14 10.6% 23 20 215 35.0% 18.4 13.7
Josh McCown NYJ 25 15 30.5% 15 10 103 50.0% 20.6 3.4
Alex Smith KC 25 16 18.7% 20 12 150 33.3% 22.4 10.5
Philip Rivers LAC 21 17 16.9% 21 12 81 45.5% 16.1 3.4
Jared Goff LAR 19 18 19.7% 19 9 113 33.3% 22.8 6.7
Player Team DYAR Rk DVOA Rk Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Joe Flacco BAL 17 19 27.4% 16 7 72 57.1% 17.0 2.5
Tyrod Taylor BUF 17 20 48.4% 10 4 38 50.0% 12.3 4.0
Blake Bortles JAX 14 21 10.9% 22 11 110 45.5% 20.5 6.0
Drew Brees NO 13 22 6.2% 24 12 102 41.7% 17.0 3.4
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 12 23 43.1% 13 3 70 33.3% 30.7 31.0
Trevor Siemian DEN 11 24 5.6% 26 10 81 33.3% 17.8 3.7
Marcus Mariota TEN 10 25 5.8% 25 10 102 60.0% 16.5 1.8
Dak Prescott DAL 9 26 26.7% 17 4 62 75.0% 25.5 1.3
Derek Carr OAK 6 27 -0.9% 27 8 60 37.5% 19.8 4.7
DeShone Kizer CLE 4 28 -7.3% 31 16 134 26.7% 23.0 3.3
Tom Savage HOU 4 29 -5.3% 29 5 67 25.0% 16.6 37.0
Brett Hundley GB 3 30 -2.3% 28 8 77 50.0% 23.0 7.0
Matt Ryan ATL 2 31 -7.1% 30 5 40 60.0% 11.8 2.7
Matthew Stafford DET -1 32 -13.1% 32 11 76 18.2% 20.2 17.5
Jay Cutler MIA -29 33 -52.8% 34 9 32 22.2% 18.8 2.0
Aaron Rodgers GB -32 34 -102.3% 35 5 0 0.0% 11.6 --
Cam Newton CAR -35 35 -47.4% 33 13 53 15.4% 18.8 4.0
NFL Seams TOT 1,113 - 27.0% - 443 4,894 45.8% 18.9 6.5

Wilson (29), Brady (28), and Roethlisberger (20) were the only passers to throw at least 20 seam routes last year. Wilson threw 10 seam passes to Jimmy Graham alone. That's notable since Rodgers only has thrown nine seam routes since 2016. He was the only quarterback out of the 35 to not complete a seam route last year, so that's just not something the Packers have been into lately. Hopefully that changes with the addition of Graham at tight end, because these can be very effective plays as the numbers show with 27.0% DVOA across the league.

The NFC South wasn't as seam-crazy as it had been in 2016, but Winston had good numbers here. Newton finished last in DYAR in a tough year where tight end Greg Olsen was so often playing injured or out of the lineup. That element was definitely lacking in the offense, but the Panthers are much deeper this season.

Summary

Finally, here is a table that shows the average rank for DYAR and DVOA among these 12 routes for our 35 quarterbacks. As you might expect, MVP Brady is on top and handsomely paid Flacco is at the bottom.

2017 Pass Routes: Average Rank in DYAR and DVOA
Player Team Avg. DYAR Rk Rk Avg. DVOA Rk Rk
Tom Brady NE 9.3 1 11.8 2
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 11.3 2 13.8 7
Carson Wentz PHI 11.5 3 12.2 3
Case Keenum MIN 12.3 4 12.8 4
Matthew Stafford DET 12.3 5 13.4 5
Jameis Winston TB 12.4 6 13.8 9
Matt Ryan ATL 12.5 7 13.4 6
Drew Brees NO 13.1 8 13.8 8
Deshaun Watson HOU 14.1 9 9.8 1
Josh McCown NYJ 14.5 10 13.9 10
Jared Goff LAR 14.9 11 15.3 11
Kirk Cousins WAS 15.2 12 16.4 12
Philip Rivers LAC 15.2 13 16.9 15
Russell Wilson SEA 16.1 14 16.9 16
Alex Smith KC 16.4 15 16.5 13
Blake Bortles JAX 18.7 16 19.7 21
Brett Hundley GB 18.9 17 17.6 17
Dak Prescott DAL 19.1 18 18.7 19
Player Team Avg. DYAR Rk Rk Avg. DVOA Rk Rk
Marcus Mariota TEN 19.2 19 21.7 29
Carson Palmer ARI 19.7 20 19.0 20
Trevor Siemian DEN 20.3 21 21.3 27
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 20.6 22 18.4 18
Aaron Rodgers GB 20.7 23 16.6 14
Tyrod Taylor BUF 20.8 24 20.5 23
Cam Newton CAR 21.0 25 20.4 22
C.J. Beathard SF 21.5 26 21.0 25
Andy Dalton CIN 21.8 27 21.3 26
Tom Savage HOU 22.3 28 20.6 24
Eli Manning NYG 22.8 29 21.6 28
Jay Cutler MIA 23.2 30 22.2 30
DeShone Kizer CLE 23.3 31 23.6 32
Jacoby Brissett IND 23.6 32 23.7 33
Brian Hoyer 2TM 23.7 33 24.1 34
Derek Carr OAK 23.8 34 23.4 31
Joe Flacco BAL 24.6 35 24.3 35

Most players have pretty similar slotting in their rankings between DYAR and DVOA. Watson is someone who fared much better in DVOA than DYAR, which is to be expected since he only played 6.5 games. He had the average highest finish in DVOA, but a lot of his routes didn't even break 10 attempts. It will be very interesting to see how he does over a full season. Meanwhile, Mariota trended the other way. His average rank in DYAR was the 19th-highest since he started 15 games, but he was just 29th in DVOA rank. That's mostly because Mariota had few standout routes, and he had five less common routes where he ranked 30th or worse in DVOA. So his "problem areas" are more due to small sample size than a real concern, but we would like to see much better results in Year 4 from Mariota.

In our third and final part later this week, we'll look at defenses against these routes, as well as the frequency of interceptions and touchdown passes by route.

Comments

3 comments, Last at 04 Sep 2018, 9:13pm

1 Re: 2017 DVOA by Routes: Quarterbacks

by LionInAZ // Aug 23, 2018 - 8:56pm

It would be interesting to see the numbers for Stafford on slants with Calvin Johnson. My visual impression was that Megatron was deadly on slants, based on limited viewings, of course.

Otherwise, Stafford looks great by the numbers, if only they could cut down on INTs and sacks.

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2 Wide receiver screens

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 24, 2018 - 10:47am

WR screens are being compared to all passing plays, right? Offensive coordinators use them as de-facto running plays, with pretty much the same benefits (low risk, avoids exposing your QB to hits, keeps the clock moving, etc). How does it's DVOA compare to all running plays in general? I feel it would come out pretty good if you compare it to other plays that have a similar purpose.

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3 Re: 2017 DVOA by Routes: Quarterbacks

by greybeard // Sep 04, 2018 - 9:13pm

I added Geoff's DYAR in these tables and they add up to 435 DYAR for 303 passes. But his total DYAR was over 1100 last year for 500 passes. Maybe using the receiver DYAR is not a good way to evaluate the passer?

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