How much is an NFL starting quarterback worth to the point spread?
Who’s the starter? Who’s the backup? Do they play similar styles or are they polar opposites?
All of those questions must be answered when weighing the difference between QB1 and QB2. Legendary Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White has been making power ratings and spreads for four decades for all the major professional and collegiate sports. Not only does White have numbers on every team, he takes it to another level and assigns a point value to every player above his replacement, too.
According to White, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is the most valuable NFL quarterback to the point spread. White is obviously high on Wilson, but he’s also bullish that backup Brett Rypien just ain’t it. A league-average quarterback like Rypien is worth “0” in White’s system and Wilson is an “8.5.” So it’s the combination of Wilson being an absolute game changer and Rypien being interchangeable.
Kenny White’s top NFL quarterback drop-offs:
Russell Wilson -> Brett Rypien = 8.5
Aaron Rodgers -> Jordan Love = 7
Josh Allen -> Case Keenum = 6.5
Kyler Murray -> Trace McSorley = 6.5
Deshaun Watson -> Jacoby Brissett = 6.5
Joe Burrow -> Brandon Allen = 6
Patrick Mahomes -> Chad Henne = 6
Matthew Stafford -> John Wolford = 6
Lamar Jackson -> Tyler Huntley = 5.5
Justin Herbert -> Chase Daniel = 5
You’re probably wondering why Kyler Murray is worth more than Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. It’s a fair question because Mahomes and Jackson are league MVPs while Murray is still finding his way in the NFL. But remember, the drop-off is predicated on a centralized situation. And if you swapped Mahomes and Wilson, Mahomes would be worth more because of the steeper drop to Rypien.
“Mahomes and Jackson have better backups, plain and simple,” White said. “Henne is a savvy veteran who has been in Kansas City for five years and knows Andy Reid’s offense. Then there’s the Ravens. Baltimore is unique because if Jackson goes down, Huntley is a very similar player. Obviously, Jackson is much more dynamic, but the offense doesn’t really change if he’s out and that’s why the gap isn’t larger.”
Here in New England, White makes the difference between Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer three points. The Patriots’ situation is complex because Bill Belichick and his staff have been extra conservative with Jones and Hoyer is another one of those vets that knows what’s expected of him. He’s mostly going to hand the ball off and make safe throws. It’s clear to White, though, that Jones has a long way to go to be in the conversation with the league’s best.
At the end of the day, there’s no underestimating the value of a top-tier quarterback.
“Whoever has the ball in their hands the longest is the most essential,” White told me. “The quarterback has the ball more than 60% of the time. That’s the most important guy on the field. My dad came up with his player power ratings back in the ‘70s, and right away, he figured out that ratings for quarterbacks are three-and-a-half times higher than they are for regular players.
“It’s all I’ve known for 40 years. The quarterback has the most value.”