Stat Analysis
Advanced analytics on player and team performance

2018 DVOA by Routes: Quarterbacks

Derek Carr
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Bryan Knowles

Earlier this week, we looked at the most common routes in the 2018 season from a receiver's perspective -- how much production, or lack thereof, the most commonly targeted receivers could produce. That's only half the story, however. Today, we'll look at every qualified quarterback from 2018.

We're still looking at small sample sizes here, of course -- even on the most common route in football, the curl, not every qualified quarterback hit 25 attempts -- but larger sample sizes help give a clearer picture of both which routes teams and quarterbacks prefer to throw, and how effectively they actually throw them. Only one player was targeted on more than 30 curl routes, for example, but 22 players threw at least 50 curls last season -- we can more accurately measure Andrew Luck's ability throwing the curl route than we can T.Y. Hilton's ability to catch it. Obviously, there's a lot of overlap between a quarterback's success and a receiver's success, but you can look at the differences between, say, Ryan Fitzaptrick and Jameis Winston to see that the quarterback has a lot of impact on both the frequency and effectiveness of any given route.

It's worth noting that, due to the way the data is collected, we are looking at receiving DYAR and DVOA, not passing. The big differences here is that sacks aren't included -- obviously, if you're tackled to the ground, you're not throwing any particular route -- and that interceptions are not penalized more than any other incomplete pass. The number of passes includes defensive pass interference penalties. Each table is sorted by descending DYAR.


Curl

The curl route was the league's most common throw last year, with 2,217 targets.

Curl Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matt Ryan ATL 194 22.3% 78 692 85.7% 7.7 3.1
Andrew Luck IND 167 10.4% 103 778 75.2% 7.8 2.5
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 125 13.5% 73 596 68.1% 7.5 5.1
Carson Wentz PHI 110 19.1% 54 432 77.8% 7.5 2.8
Jameis Winston TB 107 10.3% 65 508 76.6% 7.8 2.7
Russell Wilson SEA 90 10.2% 62 438 73.8% 5.7 3.6
Patrick Mahomes KC 88 3.6% 80 592 72.2% 7.0 3.4
Joe Flacco BAL 85 16.1% 42 350 87.8% 6.6 2.8
Drew Brees NO 78 3.7% 71 494 80.0% 5.7 2.9
Deshaun Watson HOU 77 5.8% 63 504 74.6% 6.9 3.4
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 69 2.3% 72 526 80.6% 6.9 2.4
Kirk Cousins MIN 69 0.4% 77 486 69.3% 6.9 2.9
Jared Goff LAR 63 8.1% 43 330 74.4% 7.6 2.3
Derek Carr OAK 57 1.0% 75 563 74.3% 6.4 4.1
Marcus Mariota TEN 56 10.7% 36 288 83.3% 6.7 3.6
Aaron Rodgers GB 53 2.4% 54 362 74.1% 6.7 3.1
Eli Manning NYG 52 0.3% 56 402 76.8% 6.4 3.0
Nick Mullens SF 48 10.3% 33 262 81.8% 5.9 3.5
Dak Prescott DAL 45 -4.1% 81 526 72.5% 6.3 2.9
Case Keenum DEN 43 -3.6% 79 525 74.7% 5.8 3.1
Cam Newton CAR 41 0.9% 45 344 65.9% 8.0 3.9
Tom Brady NE 33 -7.2% 87 563 74.7% 5.8 3.5
Matthew Stafford DET 29 -4.5% 56 349 78.6% 4.9 3.0
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 28 -1.0% 34 293 70.6% 8.1 4.1
Ryan Tannehill MIA 27 -1.4% 31 220 74.2% 6.4 2.3
Andy Dalton CIN 23 0.0% 30 192 80.0% 5.0 2.5
Nick Foles PHI 9 -4.1% 21 165 80.0% 7.9 1.7
Baker Mayfield CLE -1 -11.9% 48 331 60.4% 6.4 5.1
Alex Smith WAS -4 -13.8% 59 329 72.4% 5.5 2.3
Sam Darnold NYJ -11 -13.1% 68 436 70.6% 7.0 2.2
Josh Rosen ARI -18 -16.3% 61 368 63.3% 8.3 1.2
Blake Bortles JAX -46 -27.1% 49 283 57.1% 7.1 3.7
Josh Allen BUF -49 -26.9% 47 292 68.1% 8.4 1.9
Philip Rivers LAC -57 -25.0% 59 351 61.0% 7.1 2.5
NFL Curls TOT 1,772 -0.4% 2,217 15,699 73.2% 6.8 3.0

Two non-qualified players had more curl attempts than Nick Foles: Cody Kessler (4 DYAR, -10.3% DVOA), and Jeff Driskel (-32 DYAR, -31.5% DVOA).

Matt Ryan defends his 2017 curl king crown; Ryan-to-Julio Jones on the curl continues to be one of the most effective routes in football. Jones is responsible for the lion's share of Ryan's value here, but every Falcons receiver had positive DYAR on curls except for Tevin Coleman. Jones was typically Ryan's deep curl target, targeted a full 3 yards further downfield than either Mohamed Sanu or Calvin Ridley, but Ryan had success at all depths.

Two years ago, Mitchell Trubisky finished dead last here, but he improved enough to be just outside the top 10 in 2018. Instead, Philip Rivers ends up trailing the pack here, having dropped from 144 DYAR two years ago to -57 DYAR last year. A huge chunk of that is Keenan Allen's curl success dropping off, as we noted on Tuesday, but it wasn't just Allen. Rivers had 24 DYAR on his non-Allen curls in 2018, down from 50 DYAR two years ago. Rivers only had positive DYAR throwing curls to Mike Williams; take him out, and Rivers would have dropped to -110 DYAR! The return of Hunter Henry should help, as he was very successful on curls two years ago, but this was a shockingly poor result on a common route for one of the best passers in the league last season.

You may be surprised to see Joe Flacco in the top 10, nestled between Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees. Flacco actually had the most DYAR in football on deep curls, curls that travelled more than 15 yards in the air, as he connected quite frequently with John Brown (28 DYAR, 10.9 aDOT). This obviously means nothing for the 2019 Ravens with both Flacco and Brown out of town, but it might be worth Denver pushing someone like Courtland Sutton (7.3 aDOT from noodle-armed Case Keenum) a little deeper on curl routes this season in order to take advantage of Flacco's arm strength.


Out

Sports Info Solutions charted 1,835 out-route targets in 2018.

Out Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Deshaun Watson HOU 169 20.4% 68 589 75.0% 8.4 2.6
Matthew Stafford DET 145 17.3% 66 467 71.4% 8.1 1.9
Drew Brees NO 143 14.4% 73 578 80.8% 6.7 3.4
Jared Goff LAR 113 7.3% 78 552 67.5% 9.4 1.8
Philip Rivers LAC 103 23.1% 39 288 69.2% 7.2 4.6
Patrick Mahomes KC 96 20.8% 41 346 68.3% 7.5 5.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 90 8.1% 59 436 66.1% 8.0 3.3
Marcus Mariota TEN 83 17.7% 37 325 73.0% 9.4 2.3
Dak Prescott DAL 77 7.1% 57 399 78.9% 6.1 2.6
Carson Wentz PHI 71 15.8% 39 354 81.6% 9.1 2.7
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 65 5.1% 51 321 70.6% 7.2 2.0
Tom Brady NE 54 2.0% 59 364 66.7% 6.7 2.4
Kirk Cousins MIN 54 -1.0% 64 436 76.2% 7.6 1.4
Blake Bortles JAX 50 25.9% 19 147 73.7% 6.8 4.1
Andrew Luck IND 50 -0.1% 57 391 67.9% 9.5 2.0
Andy Dalton CIN 47 0.8% 56 326 68.5% 7.4 1.7
Eli Manning NYG 47 5.1% 40 312 70.0% 7.9 3.8
Russell Wilson SEA 37 13.2% 19 147 94.7% 5.4 2.8
Sam Darnold NYJ 23 -3.3% 40 281 65.0% 8.3 1.8
Joe Flacco BAL 22 -1.8% 38 247 71.1% 7.0 1.8
Derek Carr OAK 21 -5.8% 48 271 72.9% 6.4 1.8
Jameis Winston TB 17 -7.2% 45 304 64.4% 9.9 1.2
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 11 -8.4% 34 236 60.6% 9.4 1.9
Nick Mullens SF 11 -2.2% 27 231 70.4% 8.3 4.8
Cam Newton CAR 10 -9.0% 42 249 68.3% 8.6 1.1
Case Keenum DEN 10 -9.8% 53 339 60.8% 7.1 3.6
Nick Foles PHI -3 -13.8% 21 130 71.4% 7.0 1.9
Baker Mayfield CLE -25 -19.9% 48 302 58.3% 8.9 2.3
Alex Smith WAS -28 -21.1% 39 198 53.8% 8.6 2.1
Ryan Tannehill MIA -43 -29.8% 33 162 54.5% 8.4 2.1
Matt Ryan ATL -48 -19.4% 87 587 72.1% 8.0 2.0
Josh Allen BUF -49 -44.1% 21 61 57.1% 5.6 0.9
Aaron Rodgers GB -55 -21.6% 73 416 61.6% 7.5 2.3
Josh Rosen ARI -76 -34.1% 49 248 55.1% 8.8 1.6
NFL Outs TOT 1,255 -2.4% 1,835 12,311 68.5% 7.8 2.4

Two non-qualified passers had more out attempts than Russell Wilson: C.J. Beathard (7 DYAR, -8.2% DVOA), and Jeff Driskel (-62 DYAR, -55.0% DVOA).

DeShaun Watson had the fifth-highest DVOA in 2017 on relatively limited volume, so it's not too much of a surprise that he rises to lead the league in out-route DYAR. Thirty of these 68 attempts went to DeAndre Hopkins, because why wouldn't you throw the ball repeatedly to DeAndre Hopkins, but Watson actually had a higher DVOA and more DYAR throwing to all non-Hopkins players than he did going to DeAndre over and over. Keke Coutee and Will Fuller combined for 72 DYAR on just 11 passes, compared to Hopkins' 58 on 30. There is value in volume, of course, but it shows that Watson is comfortable throwing this route to anyone, and it isn't just a case of Hopkins being really good.

This is Matthew Stafford's third straight top-five season in outs, with Golden Tate's dropoff being nicely compensated for by Kenny Golladay's rise. There is a reason why the out was Stafford's most common route yet again; he is disproportionately good at it. Stafford's passes had 328 (receiving) DYAR last season; outs were just about 10 percent of his throws but provided nearly 45 percent of his value.

Drew Brees led the league in value on short outs, which is one of the benefits of having Alvin Kamara on your team. Marcus Mariota led the league in value on deep outs, as he averaged at least 10.2 aDOT to all three of his top out targets (Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe; and Taywan Taylor), with a positive DYAR to each -- the Titans should really consider giving him more opportunities in 2019.

It is not surprising to see Josh Rosen at the bottom of this table; he will be at or near the bottom of many tables. Aaron Rodgers is a bit more surprising, but he had a down year in general. No, the most surprising name near the bottom is probably Matt Ryan, who threw more out routes than anyone in the league and was fourth from the bottom in DYAR while doing so. Ryan was top-five in out routes last season, and saw an improvement in his targets and value while hooking up with Julio Jones. Instead, it was a collapse of his connection with Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy that did him in last season; they combined for 76 DYAR in 2017, but -36 DYAR last year. Austin Hooper and Calvin Ridley also had negative value on out routes, as the short out route did nothing for the Falcons last season.


Slant

There were 1,186 slant targets in the league last season.

Slant Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Derek Carr OAK 164 34.1% 48 532 81.3% 6.8 6.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 119 24.7% 41 344 76.9% 6.8 4.2
Jared Goff LAR 116 91.4% 14 230 92.9% 7.1 10.0
Tom Brady NE 108 30.8% 32 285 71.9% 6.9 5.4
Alex Smith WAS 103 40.1% 28 291 82.1% 8.2 4.9
Cam Newton CAR 99 22.3% 36 291 77.1% 7.4 3.2
Drew Brees NO 94 23.5% 32 274 77.4% 6.1 5.2
Eli Manning NYG 88 16.3% 39 323 69.2% 7.9 3.7
Matt Ryan ATL 86 6.4% 62 500 66.1% 7.4 4.7
Nick Mullens SF 74 25.9% 27 226 74.1% 6.3 5.3
Dak Prescott DAL 73 7.3% 46 394 71.7% 6.8 4.9
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 68 4.5% 48 445 74.5% 5.8 7.1
Deshaun Watson HOU 59 4.1% 44 324 68.2% 7.5 3.3
Jameis Winston TB 58 26.5% 19 220 63.2% 8.3 9.6
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 51 28.5% 17 149 76.5% 5.9 4.8
Josh Rosen ARI 42 25.0% 15 122 73.3% 7.0 4.1
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 40 13.7% 20 204 82.4% 6.6 6.2
Joe Flacco BAL 37 5.1% 28 219 60.7% 7.0 5.1
Baker Mayfield CLE 37 2.5% 33 211 60.6% 7.0 4.3
Ryan Tannehill MIA 34 42.9% 8 83 87.5% 7.9 3.0
Patrick Mahomes KC 29 -3.2% 41 363 57.5% 7.4 8.2
Philip Rivers LAC 28 -1.3% 32 243 75.0% 4.9 5.3
Carson Wentz PHI 21 -3.2% 37 255 67.6% 6.2 3.2
Andy Dalton CIN 19 -4.7% 31 234 61.3% 6.3 6.2
Russell Wilson SEA 3 -10.8% 23 143 65.2% 7.1 1.9
Nick Foles PHI -2 -16.1% 8 82 85.7% 9.0 3.8
Kirk Cousins MIN -8 -14.7% 48 287 56.5% 5.7 4.0
Josh Allen BUF -16 -28.4% 13 66 46.2% 6.5 6.5
Case Keenum DEN -16 -18.3% 35 217 60.0% 6.3 3.6
Sam Darnold NYJ -21 -21.2% 34 253 51.5% 7.5 7.1
Matthew Stafford DET -31 -26.0% 30 135 48.3% 6.2 3.8
Blake Bortles JAX -34 -40.0% 15 100 53.3% 6.1 6.1
Marcus Mariota TEN -35 -39.1% 18 74 47.1% 5.3 3.1
Andrew Luck IND -59 -28.2% 45 228 56.8% 5.2 3.6
NFL Slants TOT 1,415 3.2% 1,186 9,290 65.6% 6.7 5.1

Five non-qualified quarterbacks threw at least as many slants as Nick Foles last season: Lamar Jackson (77 DYAR, 29.5% DVOA), Jimmy Garoppolo (25 DYAR, 22.5% DVOA), Brock Osweiler (3 DYAR, -8.1% DVOA), Jeff Driskel (-3 DYAR, -17.2% DVOA), and C.J. Beathard (-4 DYAR, -13.9% DVOA). That's an impressive number for Jackson, who had 25 slant attempts -- Jackson to Willie Snead on a quick little slant was a money route over the last half of 2018.

Replacing Todd Downing with Jon Gruden paid dividends for Derek Carr on slant routes, as he rose from 6 DYAR two years ago to a significant lead over the rest of the league last season on a similar number of attempts. Two years ago, Carr had a negative DYAR throwing to both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper on slants; they were replaced by Jordy Nelson, Jared Cook, and Seth Roberts as Carr's primary slant targets and off he went. I'm tempted to give credit here to Gruden's offense, though we don't have this charting data back from the last time Gruden was a head coach. Slants play such a heavy role in the classic form of the West Coast offense that Gruden still runs, so it's perhaps not surprising that he'd call them often and effectively.

Andrew Luck wasn't great at slants three years ago, and Jacoby Brissett was second-to-last in slant DYAR in 2017, so while it's surprising to see Luck at the bottom of one of these tables, it's not altogether unexpected that it would be the slant table that gave him trouble. Luck targeted four different players with at least five slants; he had a negative DYAR to each one. It should be noted that Luck threw some very, very short slants in 2018. While you can have success like that (see Cam Newton and Eli Manning for examples), there's a general correlation between DVOA and depth of target here. Luck only attempted five slants that traveled more than 7 yards downfield. A lot of a slant's yardage comes from a receiver running in open space, but you can throw it a little deeper than Luck did.

After an off year in 2017, Alex Smith returned to the top of the slant category, with the highest DVOA for anyone with at least a slant pass a game -- another Gruden offense! No individual Washington receiver had enough targets to qualify for the slants leaderboard, but they had five different targets with at least 17 slant DYAR last season; whichever quarterback gets under center for the lion's share of Washington's season likely will have some success on these routes.


Dig

The 1,093 dig targets last season produced more DYAR than any other route -- it was the money route for most of 2018.

Dig Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Jared Goff LAR 197 45.9% 45 500 68.9% 12.5 3.5
Tom Brady NE 171 31.4% 55 601 66.0% 11.1 5.4
Philip Rivers LAC 151 47.5% 35 423 80.0% 11.8 3.3
Drew Brees NO 112 49.1% 28 324 77.8% 9.9 4.7
Baker Mayfield CLE 101 57.1% 19 247 78.9% 13.6 4.3
Deshaun Watson HOU 94 26.1% 34 356 70.6% 9.9 4.8
Matt Ryan ATL 92 13.6% 45 411 63.6% 10.9 3.8
Nick Mullens SF 83 25.4% 29 320 67.9% 10.7 3.7
Cam Newton CAR 79 17.1% 37 377 63.9% 12.6 4.3
Ryan Tannehill MIA 63 31.6% 20 205 60.0% 10.3 8.5
Jameis Winston TB 58 5.8% 43 385 65.1% 12.0 2.3
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 55 12.3% 31 256 73.3% 9.1 2.5
Derek Carr OAK 52 11.3% 29 252 65.5% 10.3 4.3
Sam Darnold NYJ 51 21.7% 19 220 63.2% 11.2 6.3
Marcus Mariota TEN 51 19.6% 21 221 55.0% 13.8 3.4
Matthew Stafford DET 47 0.2% 49 319 66.7% 7.4 2.7
Eli Manning NYG 47 6.5% 33 292 57.6% 8.7 5.5
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 35 7.6% 22 222 63.6% 11.7 4.1
Case Keenum DEN 31 3.9% 26 215 57.7% 8.9 4.0
Andrew Luck IND 28 -5.5% 58 476 62.1% 10.0 3.2
Patrick Mahomes KC 25 2.0% 28 217 57.1% 10.2 2.5
Josh Rosen ARI 25 6.5% 16 132 60.0% 10.9 1.8
Aaron Rodgers GB 24 5.5% 19 154 52.6% 13.0 2.8
Kirk Cousins MIN 23 -1.1% 29 225 69.0% 8.4 2.6
Carson Wentz PHI 19 5.1% 18 140 55.6% 9.9 4.0
Josh Allen BUF 18 1.1% 18 164 44.4% 15.8 3.8
Russell Wilson SEA 14 15.6% 8 55 50.0% 10.3 2.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 11 -0.7% 12 91 58.3% 12.3 2.6
Alex Smith WAS 7 -6.1% 22 140 59.1% 10.4 1.8
Andy Dalton CIN 3 -9.8% 17 129 52.9% 10.9 3.9
Nick Foles PHI -1 -14.4% 7 41 85.7% 5.6 1.2
Joe Flacco BAL -1 -12.8% 32 250 50.0% 9.6 5.9
Blake Bortles JAX -33 -27.0% 26 206 53.8% 10.6 4.4
Dak Prescott DAL -41 -30.4% 31 191 60.0% 8.2 2.8
NFL Digs TOT 1,877 11.1% 1,093 9,852 63.4% 10.6 3.7

Nine non-qualified quarterbacks had at least as many dig targets as Nick Foles in 2018: Brock Osweiler (50 DYAR, 47.4% DVOA), Jimmy Garoppolo (31 DYAR, 31.3% DVOA), Jeff Driskel (30 DYAR, 26.5% DVOA), Josh McCown (17 DYAR, 12.3% DVOA), Nathan Peterman (11 DYAR, 3.3% DVOA), C.J. Beathard (10 DYAR, 1.3% DVOA), Lamar Jackson (9 DYAR, -0.2% DVOA), Blaine Gabbert (9 DYAR, 3.1% DVOA), and Sam Bradford (-22 DYAR, -53.9% DVOA). That such a motley collection of players like that could produce such positive results shows the power of the dig.

Tom Brady finished dead last in dig DYAR in 2017; the addition of one Josh Gordon helped him significantly last year. Gordon wasn't enough to vault Brady to the top of the table, however; Jared Goff vaulted up the table just past him. Goff just had 18 DYAR on dig routes in 2017, with Sammy Watkins as his primary target. Watkins' departure bumped up Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds in the pecking order, with Brandin Cooks coming in and taking some targets too, and Goff's DYAR shot up accordingly. Receivers matter -- not that Watkins is bad, but dig routes have never been his thing.

Dak Prescott saw his dig attempts drop between 2017 and 2018, which makes sense as he had a negative DVOA on them two years ago. Perhaps they didn't drop enough, however, as Prescott joined Blake Bortles as the only quarterbacks to put up significant negative DYAR on the route in 2018. If you take out Cole Beasley (say, by letting him go to Buffalo) Prescott drops to -75 DYAR on the route. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten were Prescott's best two dig targets in 2017, so some dropoff last season probably would have been expected, but eesh.

Sam Darnold's spot in the middle of the table might not immediately grab your attention, but no player had more DYAR on deep digs than Darnold did last season. It's a small sample size -- basically six passes to Terrelle Pryor and Robby Anderson -- but it is worth noting. Darnold's passes were 30th in receiving DYAR last season, but 14th in dig DYAR. Whenever you see a discrepancy like that, it's worth pointing out.

And while we're pointing out discrepancies, Russell Wilson's passes were fifth in receiving DYAR but 27th in dig DYAR. He's near the bottom of the table, despite having a double-digit positive DVOA on dig routes; in fact, his 27th-place ranking is the lowest we've seen so far on any route for a player with any positive DVOA. The initial suggestion would be to throw the route more, but 23 of Wilson's 14 DYAR went to Doug Baldwin, so meh. You just can't have an offseason article without talking about the weird Seahawks passing attack.


Screen

We're combining wide receiver and running back screens for this table, so there are 1,743 pass attempts. For the record, however, Ryan Fitzpatrick led the league in wide receiver screen DYAR. With 20. On 10 attempts, the lowest for any of the qualified quarterbacks. Stop throwing wide receiver screens.

Screen Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Patrick Mahomes KC 202 28.0% 77 615 88.3% -3.1 12.3
Tom Brady NE 36 -2.7% 52 313 88.5% -2.7 9.5
Eli Manning NYG 30 1.5% 45 315 88.9% -3.6 11.4
Jared Goff LAR 30 -3.8% 52 439 86.5% -3.3 13.3
Dak Prescott DAL 29 -2.3% 53 388 96.2% -3.2 10.8
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 21 -8.5% 91 528 91.2% -1.9 8.2
Nick Mullens SF 13 -3.0% 25 190 92.0% -3.5 11.7
Carson Wentz PHI 10 -9.4% 50 323 92.0% -3.3 10.4
Marcus Mariota TEN 9 -9.7% 55 320 92.7% -3.1 9.3
Andy Dalton CIN 8 -8.6% 30 206 90.0% -2.7 10.6
Derek Carr OAK 4 -11.5% 54 323 87.0% -1.8 8.7
Russell Wilson SEA 2 -11.8% 26 154 88.5% -3.3 10.2
Philip Rivers LAC 1 -11.9% 36 244 75.0% -2.6 11.5
Ryan Tannehill MIA -5 -15.1% 37 216 94.6% -1.8 8.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -8 -14.4% 59 358 89.8% -2.2 8.8
Sam Darnold NYJ -11 -16.1% 43 319 81.4% -3.1 12.3
Kirk Cousins MIN -13 -17.9% 41 259 87.8% -2.6 9.8
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB -14 -27.5% 18 123 83.3% -2.4 10.3
Jameis Winston TB -16 -24.4% 22 140 90.9% -1.3 8.3
Alex Smith WAS -16 -20.0% 35 227 88.6% -2.1 9.4
Aaron Rodgers GB -25 -18.0% 74 452 89.2% -1.6 8.4
Drew Brees NO -29 -20.9% 53 308 86.8% -3.7 10.6
Baker Mayfield CLE -29 -20.4% 58 320 87.9% -2.1 8.5
Nick Foles PHI -30 -33.6% 24 116 79.2% -4.1 10.2
Deshaun Watson HOU -33 -26.6% 38 223 92.1% -2.7 8.9
Josh Allen BUF -35 -34.8% 24 123 87.5% -4.1 9.8
Case Keenum DEN -40 -26.3% 47 255 91.5% -2.5 8.4
Matthew Stafford DET -44 -24.2% 63 355 87.3% -3.4 10.2
Joe Flacco BAL -50 -56.8% 20 77 90.0% -2.2 6.2
Matt Ryan ATL -60 -31.8% 50 257 78.0% -3.2 10.0
Blake Bortles JAX -60 -39.4% 36 196 83.3% -2.2 9.0
Andrew Luck IND -73 -31.8% 61 342 82.0% -3.0 9.8
Josh Rosen ARI -81 -36.1% 58 341 74.1% -2.1 10.2
Cam Newton CAR -104 -49.1% 44 223 93.2% -4.2 9.7
NFL Screens TOT -586 -17.9% 1,743 10,589 87.3% -2.8 9.7

Two non-qualified quarterbacks had more screen attempts than Ryan Fitzpatrick: C.J. Beathard (75 DYAR, 44.1% DVOA) and Jeff Driskel (-37 DYAR, -36.3% DVOA). Beathard actually had most of his DYAR on tight end screens to George Kittle; no other player in the league had more DYAR on tight end screens than Beathard, so there's your weird little trivia tidbit for the day.

This is mostly a running back stat, so we won't spend too long talking about it, but boy howdy, did Patrick Mahomes lap the field here. For the record, that's 84 DYAR to Kareem Hunt, 62 DYAR to Spencer Ware, and 45 DYAR to Damien Williams … and a grand total of -2 DYAR to all players lined up out wide or in the slot, despite seven attempts to the speedy Tyreek Hill (-20 DYAR). Even Hunt had -2 DYAR on screens when lined up wide. The best quarterback in football, on the best screen-throwing team in football, with two of the best playmakers with the ball in their hands of all football, could not get above replacement level when throwing screen passes to players lined up outside of the backfield. Stop. Throwing. Wide. Receiver. Screens.

Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers tied for the most screens to players split out wide with 50 apiece, explaining why Steelers and Packers fans were frequently frustrated with their offense. Roethlisberger managed -11 DYAR, mostly thanks to JuJu Smith-Schuster's positive screen value nearly erasing Antonio Brown's negative value. Rodgers hit -99 DYAR, because both Davante Adams and Randall Cobb were terrible.

Mahomes tied Matthew Stafford for the most screens thrown to players lined up in the backfield at 34 apiece. Their difference in DYAR and DVOA mostly goes to show you that Theo Riddick is not as good as Kareem Hunt. This is the sort of award-winning analysis you've come to expect from Football Outsiders.


Drag

We're now getting down into the routes which some teams simply did not use. There were 855 drag targets in the league last season, with some teams being more than happy to send their guys short over the middle, and others not using the route more than once a month or so.

Drag Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Matt Ryan ATL 88 21.8% 36 319 86.1% 2.9 7.2
Jared Goff LAR 78 16.3% 34 285 79.4% 4.8 6.2
Patrick Mahomes KC 69 27.4% 22 146 81.8% 3.2 5.2
Matthew Stafford DET 58 11.1% 32 255 68.8% 3.2 8.4
Andy Dalton CIN 29 6.4% 21 152 76.2% 4.0 5.1
Dak Prescott DAL 25 25.6% 10 76 90.0% 4.8 3.8
Marcus Mariota TEN 18 16.6% 9 61 77.8% 4.1 4.4
Derek Carr OAK 18 10.1% 12 93 66.7% 4.2 7.4
Tom Brady NE 15 6.3% 11 95 81.8% 4.9 6.4
Drew Brees NO 14 -7.3% 32 217 93.8% 3.7 3.6
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 13 2.0% 13 87 61.5% 3.2 7.5
Deshaun Watson HOU 13 -0.8% 14 71 71.4% 3.6 2.3
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 12 -6.3% 33 226 75.8% 2.3 6.7
Kirk Cousins MIN 8 -9.2% 44 301 75.0% 2.8 6.5
Jameis Winston TB 5 8.2% 3 7 66.7% 4.7 0.0
Russell Wilson SEA 2 -0.8% 4 13 75.0% 2.5 2.0
Joe Flacco BAL -1 -12.4% 22 148 72.7% 3.1 6.6
Aaron Rodgers GB -2 -15.8% 11 69 63.6% 3.1 6.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB -5 -30.3% 2 16 100.0% 3.0 5.0
Alex Smith WAS -5 -17.3% 12 85 83.3% 4.3 4.2
Carson Wentz PHI -7 -15.6% 16 98 75.0% 3.0 5.0
Ryan Tannehill MIA -13 -25.1% 15 89 66.7% 3.5 6.0
Baker Mayfield CLE -15 -20.9% 24 124 83.3% 3.1 3.3
Josh Rosen ARI -20 -31.7% 13 65 69.2% 3.9 3.8
Andrew Luck IND -22 -17.2% 48 264 70.2% 2.9 5.0
Nick Foles PHI -22 -23.9% 22 162 90.9% 2.5 5.7
Cam Newton CAR -38 -31.7% 27 141 74.1% 2.8 4.3
Josh Allen BUF -39 -45.5% 15 92 60.0% 4.7 5.6
Sam Darnold NYJ -40 -79.5% 10 28 50.0% 3.1 3.2
Nick Mullens SF -41 -38.4% 19 89 63.2% 3.9 3.8
Philip Rivers LAC -44 -28.0% 36 198 75.0% 2.0 5.2
Blake Bortles JAX -46 -23.3% 52 367 61.5% 3.8 7.4
Eli Manning NYG -50 -26.6% 44 299 70.5% 2.7 6.7
Case Keenum DEN -63 -47.0% 25 130 56.0% 3.4 5.5
NFL Drags TOT 33 -11.0% 855 5,640 74.0% 3.4 5.6

Nineteen non-qualified quarterbacks had at least as many drag attempts as Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brock Osweiler led the way with 20 (-33 DYAR, -35.4% DVOA), while Josh Johnson had the most DYAR, albeit on four attempts (31 DYAR, 117.8% DVOA). That's right, remove Josh Johnson, and the league had 2 receiving DYAR on drag routes in 2018.

Any table with Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, and Patrick Mahomes at the top of it can't be all bad; the drag route can still provide value if used effectively. That often means scheming those routes open, which in and of itself often means "setting a questionably legal pick," but hey, don't knock what you can get away with. A lot of the value here comes from yards after the catch -- one or two big plays by Austin Hooper, Cooper Kupp, and Sammy Watkins are the difference between Ryan, Goff, and Mahomes being atop the leaderboards or down in the middle of the pack. It takes precise throws to get receivers open for YAC opportunities, but this feels like more of a receiver's stat than a quarterback's -- see Andy Dalton (Tyler Boyd) and Dak Prescott (Amari Cooper) being near the top.

Blake Bortles threw more drag routes than anyone in football last season, though he should have been more selective. He had 20 DYAR throwing to James O'Shaughnessy, and -66 throwing to everyone else on the team. Case Keenum didn't even have an O'Shaughnessy -- nine different targets, with none of them above 5 DYAR.


Deep Cross

Now we get to the realm of the guys with cannons for arms. There were 625 deep cross targets thrown in 2018, more than half of them thrown more than 15 yards through the air.

Deep Cross Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Patrick Mahomes KC 150 49.7% 34 444 54.5% 18.1 5.0
Matt Ryan ATL 125 77.2% 19 386 73.7% 20.6 6.8
Russell Wilson SEA 115 65.4% 19 318 66.7% 23.5 1.8
Josh Allen BUF 112 87.8% 16 246 66.7% 19.1 4.2
Drew Brees NO 92 33.2% 26 351 56.5% 17.9 6.2
Philip Rivers LAC 89 57.3% 17 267 82.4% 14.8 4.1
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 84 62.3% 15 242 66.7% 16.7 7.2
Deshaun Watson HOU 84 49.1% 18 231 50.0% 18.9 6.2
Matthew Stafford DET 81 77.1% 11 202 72.7% 18.8 7.1
Eli Manning NYG 79 53.4% 17 219 64.7% 16.1 5.4
Cam Newton CAR 79 39.0% 20 279 60.0% 17.7 4.9
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 78 70.5% 14 200 64.3% 18.2 5.7
Tom Brady NE 75 40.2% 19 277 63.2% 16.3 8.3
Andy Dalton CIN 64 42.3% 16 176 62.5% 14.4 3.8
Aaron Rodgers GB 58 20.1% 25 334 52.0% 20.9 8.2
Jared Goff LAR 54 5.5% 35 321 48.6% 17.2 3.8
Kirk Cousins MIN 53 27.8% 17 178 64.7% 18.3 1.6
Alex Smith WAS 37 41.2% 9 124 66.7% 17.3 4.0
Derek Carr OAK 35 28.8% 13 176 53.8% 15.5 9.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 35 13.1% 20 273 47.4% 20.8 6.7
Ryan Tannehill MIA 35 26.7% 11 112 63.6% 13.4 2.0
Carson Wentz PHI 32 11.4% 20 225 55.0% 17.5 4.9
Nick Mullens SF 28 20.8% 13 154 38.5% 13.8 17.8
Andrew Luck IND 24 12.1% 13 148 46.2% 20.5 6.3
Marcus Mariota TEN 24 29.1% 9 84 55.6% 13.0 5.2
Joe Flacco BAL 24 13.5% 13 129 53.8% 14.8 5.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 15 20.8% 6 41 50.0% 14.0 3.0
Case Keenum DEN 10 -6.7% 19 162 42.1% 16.3 7.3
Jameis Winston TB -4 -14.7% 12 81 41.7% 15.7 2.2
Dak Prescott DAL -7 -16.5% 16 111 43.8% 16.8 3.4
Josh Rosen ARI -12 -26.7% 11 90 30.0% 16.1 3.3
Nick Foles PHI -17 -63.4% 4 17 25.0% 22.8 5.0
Sam Darnold NYJ -36 -49.0% 12 77 33.3% 16.7 3.8
Blake Bortles JAX -45 -46.3% 17 123 29.4% 19.5 6.2
NFL Deep Crosses TOT 1,688 24.0% 625 7,484 53.8% 17.5 5.5

Five non-qualified players had at least as many deep cross attempts as Nick Foles: Lamar Jackson (65 DYAR, 51.2% DVOA), Brock Osweiler (12 DYAR, 7.9% DVOA), Josh McCown (9 DYAR, 4.3% DVOA), Blaine Gabbert (9 DYAR, 14.0% DVOA), and Matt Barkley (6 DYAR, 4.8% DVOA).

No surprise to see Patrick Mahomes at the top of this table. He actually attempted more deep crosses to Travis Kelce than Tyreek Hill, but Hill was responsible for 75 percent of his DYAR. The average deep cross to Kelce was "only" 15.6 yards downfield, as well, while Hill averaged 24.9 yards downfield per target. The news that Hill would not be disciplined for his offseason troubles was very good for the Kansas City offense.

When Buffalo selected Josh Allen, they pointed to his arm strength as one of the primary reasons. Allen certainly can chuck the ball -- indeed, he might have the strongest arm in the league, just ahead of Mahomes -- and he finishes with the highest DVOA in the league on the deep crossing route. Now, it should be noted that 45 of his DYAR came on two targets to Zay Jones, but that shouldn't take away too much from Allen's general success on this route. Only three of his 16 pass attempts here were marked as over- or underthrown, so he was significantly, significantly more accurate here than he was on, say, go/fly routes. We'll get back to that in a second.

The bottom five names on this list are not known for their deep-ball skills, making Jameis Winston the only player with negative DYAR and what you'd normally consider a powerful arm. This comes down to play selection; Winston attempted more than twice as many go routes as deep crossers last season. We'll get a better picture of arm strength as we travel on to...


Go/Fly

The most simple route in football, and the one that should benefit from arm strength the most. There were 633 go/fly-route targets called in football last season. Grip it and rip it.

Go/Fly Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Drew Brees NO 203 136.2% 18 424 60.0% 24.6 13.7
Eli Manning NYG 128 66.4% 21 425 52.6% 32.3 5.7
Russell Wilson SEA 107 46.8% 26 418 37.5% 30.2 8.1
Case Keenum DEN 93 32.8% 27 378 38.5% 33.6 3.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 88 26.4% 29 382 33.3% 31.3 7.2
Deshaun Watson HOU 85 64.3% 14 242 30.0% 36.1 3.3
Patrick Mahomes KC 79 46.6% 19 294 33.3% 36.5 12.0
Matt Ryan ATL 74 56.3% 15 256 25.0% 37.1 13.7
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 69 9.7% 40 507 28.9% 29.2 13.4
Jameis Winston TB 68 20.8% 27 332 29.2% 33.2 3.3
Matthew Stafford DET 62 22.4% 24 344 33.3% 29.3 6.7
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 61 31.6% 17 267 41.2% 33.7 3.9
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 52 14.3% 25 371 33.3% 36.1 2.1
Blake Bortles JAX 48 18.7% 20 251 35.0% 29.4 8.9
Dak Prescott DAL 42 6.6% 28 359 29.6% 29.7 11.8
Derek Carr OAK 41 42.4% 9 182 44.4% 34.7 13.8
Marcus Mariota TEN 19 20.3% 8 88 28.6% 32.3 0.0
Kirk Cousins MIN 17 1.9% 18 191 27.8% 36.2 0.4
Baker Mayfield CLE 14 4.5% 11 132 27.3% 34.1 8.0
Jared Goff LAR 12 0.4% 16 161 14.3% 36.6 7.0
Philip Rivers LAC 9 -3.3% 13 135 23.1% 32.2 14.0
Tom Brady NE 6 -6.2% 14 155 16.7% 35.3 19.0
Andy Dalton CIN 2 -11.7% 14 139 28.6% 30.5 7.8
Nick Foles PHI 1 2.6% 3 34 33.3% 38.3 0.0
Nick Mullens SF 0 N/A 0 0 0.0% 0.0 0.0
Josh Rosen ARI -2 -13.7% 6 68 33.3% 32.3 5.0
Sam Darnold NYJ -4 -16.7% 15 148 20.0% 31.0 15.0
Andrew Luck IND -5 -22.6% 8 72 14.3% 31.6 2.0
Carson Wentz PHI -6 -21.8% 8 90 25.0% 36.0 0.0
Joe Flacco BAL -30 -39.3% 14 79 16.7% 28.9 0.0
Alex Smith WAS -35 -65.5% 8 34 12.5% 31.3 8.0
Ryan Tannehill MIA -48 -63.5% 13 48 8.3% 35.3 4.0
Cam Newton CAR -53 -83.8% 10 24 0.0% 29.6 0.0
Josh Allen BUF -79 -79.4% 17 53 0.0% 36.6 0.0
NFL Go/Flys TOT 1,052 9.5% 633 7,794 28.4% 32.4 7.6

Among non-qualifiers, Brock Osweiler had the most attempts (eight, for -56 DYAR, -111.1% DVOA), while Kyle Allen had the most DYAR (51 DYAR, 217.0% DVOA). Allen had one completion and drew two DPIs on his three attempts; pretty sweet deal if you can get it.

With Tyreek Hill leading the receivers' go/fly table, you might have expected Patrick Mahomes to lead the quarterbacks. But Hill was Mahomes' only deep target with positive value; Drew Brees had seven, led by Michael Thomas. Brees fell off the pace a bit in 2017, but was second in the league in go/fly DYAR back in 2016, so this is a bit of the old man reclaiming his rightful throne. The only player Brees had negative value targeting on these routes was Ted Ginn, whom you'd think would excel at this sort of thing. A 60 percent completion rate on fly routes is incredibly good, and while some of that is due to them being a good 10 yards shorter than the league average, 25-yard passes aren't exactly dink-and-dunks. Brees' game (and record-setting completion percentages) may be predicated around short passes, but the old man can still air it out when need be.

I would not have expected the likes of Eli Manning or Case Keenum to top Mahomes on go/fly routes, either. That's partially due to volume and play selection -- Mahomes threw plenty of deep passes that weren't go/fly routes, so he has fewer attempts than Manning and Keenum here -- but it also may have something to do with the element of surprise. Brees, Manning, and Keenum all threw much shorter passes on average than Mahomes did, and went to a multitude of targets when they did try to bust a big play with a go route. It's actually impressive that Mahomes rates as highly as he does -- but it also may have something to do, again, with multiple targets. When Mahomes was throwing a go route, it was either going to Hill or it was a negative play. Brees, Keenum, and Manning spread the ball around a lot more, and while none of their targets were as efficient as Hill was, they were able to generate more total value. Manning is unlikely to repeat with Odell Beckham out of town (72 of his 128 DYAR!). Manning, Keenum, and Brees also threw much shorter passes on average than Mahomes did; their deeper balls were more of a surprise and thus perhaps caught defenses off guard more.

Down at the bottom of the table we have Cam Newton and Josh Allen, neither of whom completed a single go/fly route in 2018. Allen went 0-for-15 (once you exclude DPIs), which is the most incompletions we've recorded in go/fly routes in the three years we've been doing this study. Allen's 17 pass attempts ended up with:

  • Two DPIs (his two positive plays, worth a combined 22 DYAR)
  • One incomplete Hail Mary
  • One pass dropped by Robert Foster
  • One play where Foster tripped
  • One play where Foster lost the ball in the sun
  • Three passes defensed (on target, but broken up by the defender)
  • Eight overthrows

To put it another way, Newton and Allen had as many go route completions as Nick Mullens. Mullens did not attempt a pass on a go route in 2018.


Post

Posts are the third and final primarily deep target we're looking at. There were 556 post targets in 2018.

Post Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Jared Goff LAR 129 66.5% 22 347 66.7% 21.0 3.1
Philip Rivers LAC 127 61.0% 23 315 56.5% 22.2 2.9
Andrew Luck IND 127 111.9% 14 326 61.5% 28.1 9.5
Ryan Tannehill MIA 113 170.2% 9 233 55.6% 35.8 12.0
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 107 98.6% 13 316 69.2% 18.5 17.1
Baker Mayfield CLE 98 53.2% 21 259 50.0% 16.6 1.6
Marcus Mariota TEN 95 68.8% 16 264 62.5% 25.9 4.7
Matt Ryan ATL 86 41.8% 21 263 55.0% 26.7 3.5
Drew Brees NO 79 85.8% 12 167 63.6% 22.0 1.9
Nick Foles PHI 77 69.5% 11 273 63.6% 27.7 11.4
Dak Prescott DAL 76 109.2% 9 194 77.8% 16.2 11.6
Carson Wentz PHI 68 76.7% 10 210 55.6% 26.9 10.8
Case Keenum DEN 66 139.9% 6 151 66.7% 29.0 8.0
Jameis Winston TB 63 30.9% 19 207 52.6% 18.0 3.8
Alex Smith WAS 58 71.1% 9 182 50.0% 28.8 8.5
Kirk Cousins MIN 52 26.5% 17 216 41.2% 25.3 6.7
Tom Brady NE 49 34.4% 15 189 60.0% 18.5 4.8
Andy Dalton CIN 46 39.1% 13 157 50.0% 18.2 4.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 42 34.7% 12 132 41.7% 19.7 3.2
Russell Wilson SEA 40 79.0% 6 133 66.7% 19.7 15.0
Deshaun Watson HOU 28 5.9% 18 217 44.4% 26.7 7.8
Josh Rosen ARI 26 5.6% 21 162 38.1% 26.3 3.0
Matthew Stafford DET 23 9.1% 16 161 56.3% 19.4 3.3
Eli Manning NYG 21 7.9% 16 156 33.3% 23.9 4.2
Cam Newton CAR 16 4.3% 14 111 42.9% 19.3 1.2
Josh Allen BUF 16 2.1% 15 146 28.6% 24.3 11.8
Derek Carr OAK 15 2.4% 12 79 33.3% 25.0 2.0
Nick Mullens SF 12 7.6% 8 105 37.5% 21.8 18.7
Patrick Mahomes KC 4 -10.3% 20 172 26.3% 28.3 6.6
Sam Darnold NYJ -3 -13.2% 16 111 43.8% 20.3 2.7
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -5 -17.7% 11 91 20.0% 23.4 4.0
Blake Bortles JAX -12 -34.2% 8 35 25.0% 23.3 2.5
Joe Flacco BAL -26 -34.7% 14 69 23.1% 22.5 2.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT -31 -29.7% 21 125 20.0% 23.7 0.5
NFL Posts TOT 1,755 30.8% 556 6,925 46.6% 23.0 5.8

Four non-qualifiers had at least as many attempts as Russell Wilson: Jeff Driskel (73 DYAR, 55.3% DVOA), C.J. Beathard (33 DYAR, 66.2% DVOA), Blaine Gabbert (0 DYAR, -10.5% DVOA), and Brock Osweiler (-14 DYAR, -41.9% DVOA).

Long live L.A., as Jared Goff and Philip Rivers take the top two slots in the post table. This makes back-to-back years for Rivers in the second slot, though the loss of Tyrell Williams will make a threepeat more difficult; Williams gave Rivers 57 of his 127 DYAR. It was a much more one-sided total for Jared Goff, with 107 DYAR coming from Brandin Cooks. Cooks has had at least 48 post DYAR in each of the three seasons we've tracked this, so Goff's jump up the rankings here is perhaps not a surprise.

Ryan Tannehill's fourth-place ranking is eye-catching. He threw fewer posts than he did the other two deep routes, yet ended up with a much higher DYAR and DVOA. Here's where we remind you that this is receiving DVOA and does not penalize for interceptions; Tannehill threw two picks on deep posts. That's not the most in the league, but doing so on just nine targets is worth noting; that would create a significant difference between receiving and passing DVOA.

It's also worth noting that Patrick Mahomes had three picks on his 20 post routes, tied for the most in the league. It also means his 4 DYAR is also a little overrated, so he might deserve to be a little bit lower than he ended up. A lot of that is the fact that Tyreek Hill was no good at posts, however; Mahomes would have 39 DYAR (and only one interception) if you ignored the 10 Hill targets. Ben Roethlisberger, in dead last, doesn't have that excuse; he had negative value to Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Justin Hunter.

While posts are generally the third of the deep balls, there are a decent chunk of posts which fall short of the 15-yard depth that separates "short" from "deep" in NFL play by play. The most effective short post connection was probably Matt Ryan to Julio Jones -- five passes for 68 yards, 29 DYAR, and a 72.2% DVOA.


Broken Play

When coverage is too good, or your offensive line's protection breaks down, what do you do? The 617 broken-play targets are sandlot football; everyone scrambling around trying to make a play when the plan has gone to pot. High DYAR and DVOA here indicates a quarterback good at improvising, staying on his feet, and extending a play. A high number of attempts likely means that happens far too often, though it could also indicate an ability to avoid sacks and throwaways.

Broken Play Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Jameis Winston TB 173 121.7% 19 304 83.3% 13.6 5.5
Patrick Mahomes KC 155 50.4% 39 426 59.0% 14.2 5.3
Russell Wilson SEA 123 31.8% 35 305 68.6% 9.2 3.2
Deshaun Watson HOU 118 43.5% 30 354 62.1% 12.1 5.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 100 22.1% 41 428 60.0% 11.0 5.9
Dak Prescott DAL 71 50.1% 16 244 62.5% 15.5 6.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 67 28.4% 25 245 64.0% 14.2 4.4
Cam Newton CAR 45 80.2% 7 90 85.7% 7.7 6.8
Matt Ryan ATL 43 35.0% 13 136 58.3% 12.5 6.3
Blake Bortles JAX 37 69.4% 8 91 87.5% 10.0 3.1
Andrew Luck IND 35 17.4% 15 104 60.0% 9.2 1.7
Tom Brady NE 30 41.7% 9 63 55.6% 14.4 0.0
Carson Wentz PHI 30 23.0% 11 113 81.8% 6.6 6.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 25 66.7% 5 29 100.0% 4.2 1.6
Jared Goff LAR 25 20.0% 11 133 54.5% 12.0 8.2
Andy Dalton CIN 21 13.7% 11 120 54.5% 12.5 6.8
Philip Rivers LAC 20 13.8% 11 43 54.5% 11.4 0.8
Sam Darnold NYJ 15 -1.7% 24 141 41.7% 13.0 5.1
Nick Foles PHI 7 22.9% 5 40 40.0% 20.0 1.0
Josh Allen BUF 2 -11.1% 24 209 37.5% 14.9 10.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 0 -10.8% 44 371 41.9% 14.2 5.5
Case Keenum DEN 0 -13.6% 20 119 45.0% 8.1 1.9
Ryan Tannehill MIA 0 -12.9% 1 0 0.0% 2.0 0.0
Joe Flacco BAL -7 -18.1% 14 85 64.3% 8.7 3.1
Josh Rosen ARI -12 -42.1% 7 44 28.6% 13.3 0.0
Matthew Stafford DET -16 -25.9% 16 124 33.3% 15.4 3.6
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -19 -24.9% 18 115 38.9% 12.9 2.4
Kirk Cousins MIN -23 -38.6% 13 61 61.5% 7.2 1.3
Eli Manning NYG -25 -49.1% 11 47 60.0% 2.9 3.0
Drew Brees NO -26 -46.8% 11 45 45.5% 9.7 1.2
Nick Mullens SF -30 -67.9% 7 30 28.6% 12.4 6.5
Marcus Mariota TEN -32 -50.2% 11 44 36.4% 10.4 3.0
Derek Carr OAK -36 -44.7% 14 57 50.0% 10.1 3.0
Alex Smith WAS -38 -78.8% 9 29 44.4% 12.1 3.3
NFL Broken Plays TOT 809 7.0% 617 5,120 54.2% 11.8 4.4

The non-qualifier with the most broken plays was Lamar Jackson, with 11 (14 DYAR, 6.0% DVOA). The non-qualifier with the most DYAR was Brosk Osweiler (34 DYAR, 154.4% DVOA)

With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin leading the receiving version of this table, you should not be surprised to see Jameis Winston atop this list. Winston was at about replacement level in each of the previous two seasons, but seemingly couldn't miss last year; only three of his 19 broken-play attempts fell incomplete, and all were at least on target. There's a bit of luck going on there, as Winston's not one to extend plays as much as the rest of the top five are, but it worked out well for him. The previous record for DYAR on broken plays was 91, set by Matthew Stafford in 2016.

Aaron Rodgers had more broken plays than anyone else in football, but couldn't get above 0 DYAR. He also led the league in broken plays back in 2016, and yet he has never been particularly good in these situations. He has -13 DYAR on 111 attempts over the last three season. It's good that he's avoiding sacks, but you have to look at the success players such as Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson have year-in and year-out, or how much Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were able to do last year, and wonder why Rodgers can't produce more in a sandlot situation.

Of the elite quarterbacks, Drew Brees is the most likely to give up on a play, with just 11 pass attempts on broken plays last year. He's much more likely to just throw the ball out of bounds or take the sack than scramble around trying to keep plays alive. Dude's 40; those knees aren't going to last forever.


Flat

The running back screen's lesser cousin, and the king of checkdown routes. There were 1,142 throws to flat routes in 2018; 615 of them produced negative DYAR.

Flat Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Patrick Mahomes KC 67 19.5% 30 196 76.7% 1.0 7.8
Marcus Mariota TEN 46 24.0% 19 132 94.7% 0.8 6.5
Cam Newton CAR 41 7.6% 32 204 93.8% 0.9 5.6
Kirk Cousins MIN 40 2.1% 39 232 74.4% 0.4 7.4
Sam Darnold NYJ 36 11.1% 24 137 75.0% 2.0 6.2
Philip Rivers LAC 36 9.7% 26 198 80.8% 0.9 8.5
Ryan Tannehill MIA 28 4.0% 24 112 75.0% 1.9 4.4
Matt Ryan ATL 28 -1.2% 38 185 86.8% 1.0 4.4
Dak Prescott DAL 27 4.3% 28 182 85.7% 1.3 6.1
Nick Foles PHI 26 15.4% 17 120 94.1% 2.1 5.4
Nick Mullens SF 25 73.7% 5 54 100.0% 2.6 8.2
Drew Brees NO 24 -1.2% 32 146 81.3% 1.3 4.5
Andrew Luck IND 23 0.6% 28 126 85.7% 0.7 4.5
Alex Smith WAS 17 3.9% 18 187 83.3% 2.1 10.6
Blake Bortles JAX 11 -7.4% 23 104 73.9% 1.1 5.1
Baker Mayfield CLE 8 -8.3% 23 126 87.0% 1.1 6.3
Aaron Rodgers GB 5 -9.2% 57 279 82.5% 1.5 4.5
Andy Dalton CIN -2 -15.9% 14 92 71.4% 2.1 8.3
Russell Wilson SEA -2 -12.2% 34 179 85.3% 1.2 5.1
Ben Roethlisberger PIT -12 -15.4% 48 237 81.3% 1.2 5.2
Derek Carr OAK -21 -17.0% 66 340 81.8% 1.7 4.5
Josh Allen BUF -23 -52.5% 9 28 55.6% 1.1 3.6
Eli Manning NYG -27 -20.3% 53 210 67.9% 1.2 4.7
Deshaun Watson HOU -28 -32.6% 16 66 68.8% 1.9 4.7
Jared Goff LAR -30 -29.9% 23 105 63.6% 2.2 5.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB -32 -40.7% 15 35 53.3% 1.6 2.4
Joe Flacco BAL -36 -37.4% 20 56 65.0% 1.6 2.8
Tom Brady NE -42 -27.6% 38 193 71.1% 1.4 6.1
Jameis Winston TB -43 -38.5% 24 120 83.3% 2.1 3.8
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -44 -37.9% 24 85 66.7% 1.3 3.9
Matthew Stafford DET -48 -25.8% 46 226 84.8% 1.0 4.8
Carson Wentz PHI -65 -52.6% 24 89 83.3% 1.2 3.3
Case Keenum DEN -66 -27.8% 57 289 80.7% 0.7 5.6
Josh Rosen ARI -77 -81.0% 17 46 47.1% 2.6 2.6
NFL Flat TOT -260 -15.2% 1,142 5,737 78.1% 1.3 5.2

Among non-qualifiers, Brock Osweiler had the most flat throws (23, for -8 DYAR and -15.5% DVOA). Kenny Stills actually had the most DYAR (14 DYAR, 144.6% DVOA), on one Philly Special pass to Ryan Tannehill in Week 17.

Once again, the DYAR leaders here are mostly about which running backs did the most in the passing game. Sixty-five of Patrick Mahomes' league-leading 67 DYAR went to Kareem Hunt and Damien Williams, even though Travis Kelce was actually his most common target in the flat. Marcus Mariota had Dion Lewis, Cam Newton had Christian McCaffrey, Kirk Cousins had Dalvin Cook, and so on and so forth.

More interesting to note is the correlation between flat routes and failed completions. Not all failed completions are flat routes, and not all flat routes are failed completions, but there's a 0.74 correlation between the two. The five players with the most failed completions -- Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, and Case Keenum -- are all in the top seven in flat routes thrown. Derek Carr, who threw the most flat routes, was ninth in failed completions. Of the top ten in failed completions, only Dak Prescott, Andrew Luck, and Deshaun Watson were not in the top ten in flat attempts. These are not great routes, in other words.

Andrew Luck had the most DYAR on flat routes to players not in the backfield, with 42 DYAR on 10 attempts. Thirty-seven of Derek Carr's league-leading 66 flat attempts were to players not lined up in the backfield (mostly Jared Cook and Seth Roberts); they were worth a grand total of -3 DYAR.


Corner

There were 459 throws to corner routes in 2018. Nearly a third of them went to tight ends, making this the most common tight end route of the 13 we're looking at today.

Corner Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Philip Rivers LAC 186 80.0% 29 409 62.1% 19.6 5.0
Andrew Luck IND 114 50.9% 26 285 56.0% 17.0 4.1
Kirk Cousins MIN 106 68.1% 17 232 75.0% 16.4 2.9
Jared Goff LAR 79 40.3% 19 244 47.4% 19.6 5.8
Patrick Mahomes KC 74 41.1% 20 249 52.6% 22.9 2.8
Matthew Stafford DET 69 55.0% 15 166 53.3% 17.1 4.1
Aaron Rodgers GB 52 32.9% 14 135 42.9% 17.9 6.7
Blake Bortles JAX 51 58.9% 9 152 55.6% 18.8 12.2
Baker Mayfield CLE 50 39.1% 13 166 50.0% 24.8 1.5
Deshaun Watson HOU 37 21.4% 15 122 46.7% 17.3 1.9
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 31 33.4% 9 101 44.4% 20.6 7.8
Nick Mullens SF 29 55.1% 6 68 66.7% 14.8 4.3
Russell Wilson SEA 29 12.3% 15 121 40.0% 17.2 1.8
Tom Brady NE 27 10.4% 17 152 50.0% 17.4 1.4
Sam Darnold NYJ 26 13.3% 14 136 50.0% 19.0 0.3
Andy Dalton CIN 25 21.8% 11 78 40.0% 17.6 0.8
Carson Wentz PHI 20 17.5% 11 95 54.5% 17.2 2.2
Ryan Tannehill MIA 18 8.8% 10 95 40.0% 23.7 2.0
Nick Foles PHI 9 14.7% 5 36 50.0% 12.4 0.0
Drew Brees NO 9 5.8% 9 59 44.4% 19.2 1.0
Matt Ryan ATL 8 -1.1% 16 176 43.8% 20.3 5.0
Case Keenum DEN 6 -5.6% 9 71 44.4% 18.7 2.5
Eli Manning NYG 4 -9.5% 19 122 35.3% 17.1 0.7
Jameis Winston TB 3 6.0% 2 17 50.0% 16.5 2.0
Dak Prescott DAL 2 -10.2% 9 81 44.4% 16.4 1.3
Cam Newton CAR 0 -12.1% 7 61 42.9% 19.6 5.0
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB -3 -15.6% 4 35 25.0% 25.3 16.0
Josh Allen BUF -8 -20.3% 10 95 22.2% 25.2 2.0
Alex Smith WAS -9 -26.4% 8 61 37.5% 17.3 5.7
Joe Flacco BAL -10 -34.1% 6 34 20.0% 15.3 7.0
Marcus Mariota TEN -15 -31.5% 9 53 33.3% 17.6 0.7
Derek Carr OAK -21 -30.0% 13 78 30.8% 18.8 2.3
Josh Rosen ARI -39 -54.5% 10 61 20.0% 19.1 2.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT -57 -61.8% 15 60 20.0% 18.1 0.0
NFL Corners TOT 1,065 19.8% 459 4,553 46.7% 18.7 3.5

Among the non-qualifiers, Sam Bradford had both the most attempts (five) and the most DYAR (61, with a 166.3% DVOA)

It seemed like we would not be talking about Philip Rivers-to-Antonio Gates in 2018, but here we are. Rivers targeted Gates on 10 of his league-leading 29 corner routes in 2018, for a not-too-shabby 53 DYAR. That's less DYAR that Rivers-to-Mike Williams generated on half the attempts, mind you, but not too bad for a connection with a combined age of 75.

This is Blake Bortles' one time to shine; the only route where he finishes in the top 10 in DYAR, despite only having nine corner attempts on the season. Bortles also had 96 corner DYAR last season on only 10 attempts, as the Jaguars seemed determined to not let Bortles throw his best route. That might be a datapoint that, with better coaching, Bortles' talent might turn into something useful. There are plenty of other datapoints which contradict that, of course, but at least Sean McVay will have a starting point with his new backup quarterback.

Ben Roethlisberger ends up in dead last on both posts and corners, which is basically just a post but backwards. Posts might be a one-year blip; he was much better on them in 2017 than he was in 2018. Corners have been an ongoing problem, however; he had -21 DYAR in 2017 to go along with his -57 this season. Two years ago, he at least had positive value targeting Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown; in 2018, he had negative value targeting everybody. That happens when you complete just three of your 15 corner attempts.


Fade

There were 431 fade targets in the NFL last season; they produced the lowest DVOA of any of the routes we're looking at today. It should also be noted that "back-shoulder fades" are a separate category in our database. The back-shoulder fade is notably more effective (2.6% DVOA on 180 targets). These stats are for the more general form of the route.

Fade Route Leaders, 2018
Player Team DYAR DVOA Passes Yards C% aDOT YAC
Derek Carr OAK 55 28.6% 17 210 50.0% 21.2 1.4
Joe Flacco BAL 41 17.2% 18 197 33.3% 24.1 1.6
Russell Wilson SEA 38 20.4% 15 123 27.3% 15.8 4.0
Patrick Mahomes KC 32 68.5% 5 95 60.0% 21.0 9.0
Philip Rivers LAC 23 29.3% 7 52 42.9% 18.9 3.3
Case Keenum DEN 22 7.6% 16 149 33.3% 17.3 5.3
Deshaun Watson HOU 19 4.2% 14 100 35.7% 18.4 0.6
Nick Mullens SF 15 13.4% 8 67 42.9% 18.4 2.7
Aaron Rodgers GB 14 4.9% 10 101 28.6% 16.8 1.5
Alex Smith WAS 13 3.4% 11 105 33.3% 19.4 8.0
Tom Brady NE 9 -7.8% 18 182 29.4% 18.9 8.6
Andrew Luck IND 7 0.0% 11 56 36.4% 15.6 2.0
Baker Mayfield CLE 7 -8.0% 28 170 39.3% 17.3 0.8
Matthew Stafford DET 7 -4.5% 12 94 25.0% 22.6 5.7
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB 3 8.1% 2 21 50.0% 14.5 4.0
Andy Dalton CIN 1 -11.3% 12 78 27.3% 14.0 1.7
Jared Goff LAR 1 -11.9% 5 53 40.0% 19.2 6.5
Josh Allen BUF -1 -12.8% 7 59 28.6% 20.1 4.0
Nick Foles PHI -2 -17.8% 6 42 33.3% 20.0 2.5
Cam Newton CAR -5 -23.7% 5 23 25.0% 17.2 0.0
Matt Ryan ATL -11 -23.1% 13 124 23.1% 18.6 14.3
Drew Brees NO -15 -30.7% 12 50 27.3% 16.9 1.0
Eli Manning NYG -21 -23.1% 24 132 30.4% 16.8 1.9
Kirk Cousins MIN -23 -36.4% 12 59 18.2% 25.9 2.0
Marcus Mariota TEN -24 -102.3% 3 0 0.0% 22.7 0.0
Jameis Winston TB -24 -32.3% 14 58 21.4% 17.1 1.0
Blake Bortles JAX -26 -52.8% 8 26 25.0% 15.5 3.5
Ryan Tannehill MIA -29 -63.4% 7 25 0.0% 19.9 0.0
Sam Darnold NYJ -30 -56.2% 8 41 12.5% 22.3 0.0
Josh Rosen ARI -42 -77.9% 8 17 0.0% 20.6 0.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT -43 -44.7% 17 71 18.8% 15.7 2.3
Carson Wentz PHI -46 -80.4% 9 31 11.1% 19.0 2.0
Mitchell Trubisky CHI -64 -75.8% 12 35 9.1% 18.6 0.0
Dak Prescott DAL -79 -69.3% 17 18 12.5% 18.0 0.0
NFL Fades TOT -285 -20.2% 431 2,837 26.7% 18.7 3.5

Among non-qualifiers, Tyrod Taylor had the most fades (six, for -1 DYAR and -15.3% DVOA) while Lamar Jackson had the highest DYAR (23 DYAR and 96.8% DVOA on three targets).

Derek Carr has been near the top of the table in fade attempts in each of the three years we've done this; his 17 fades in 2018 represent the fewest he's had. His most common target, Jordy Nelson, takes up six of those fades, but just 6 DYAR as well. It was Jared Cook, instead, with whom Carr had the best luck hooking up. Nelson and Cook are both gone now, so we'll have to wait and see who takes the role of Carr's favorite fader in 2019. If it's Antonio Brown, buyer beware -- he's responsible for -33 of Ben Roethlisberger's -44 DYAR.

Two years ago, Dak Prescott threw 17 fades to Dez Bryant, and managed a total of 4 DYAR on the route. With Bryant gone, Prescott never found someone he was comfortable with -- Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper combined for 11 fades from Prescott, with only one completion between them. Each player had at least -20 DYAR on the route, but Prescott and the Cowboys kept throwing it. Cut it out, just a little bit, guys.

Baker Mayfield threw the most fades last season, with Jarvis Landry being his top target. The second-most fades went to Eli Manning, who had Odell Beckham as his top target. With Beckham and Landry now both on Cleveland, will there be enough fades to go around? Considering that neither of them could put up a positive DYAR, the answer, we hope, is no.

In our third and final part of this series, coming next week, we'll look at defenses against these routes.

Comments

4 comments, Last at 24 Aug 2019, 3:28pm

1 The king of throwaways

I wonder how one differentiates broken plays and throwaways.   You could have a broken play that ends in a throwaway, correct?  I'm assuming Rodgers was the king of throwaways in 2018.

4 The classic inline TE seam route

Is usually a post, but could be a curl if the TE just kind of chills out between the safeties and LB's and waits for the ball or a fly if the deep middle is completely uncovered for some reason and he just keeps booking it upfield?