A wise man once said “You play to win the game.” That’s what we’re all here for. Last week I looked at this season and how effective the Chiefs were at rushing and receiving. This week I thought I’d look back at a longer time frame and see who the most effective players have been to help win the game across the whole league from 2018 to now.
Since we’re all agreed that the ultimate aim is to win the game, I’m going to look at Win Probability Added.
Win Probability Added (WPA) is how much more or less likely you are to win the game after the result of a particular play.
Since the aim is to have plays that make it more likely to win the game then this seemed like a solid place to start.
Let’s look at rushing first. Have you seen people talking about “running backs don’t matter”? Here’s what they’re talking about. Looking at all the rushing plays since the start of 2018, the rusher that gives you the best improvement in chances of winning the game is a WR. 2nd is a QB. After that are a a stable of 5 RBs that barely improve your chances of winning the game. The rest of the RBs? When they rush the ball your Win Probability, on average, goes down. Some add value as receivers, these are the guys that tend to really get paid, but if your main forte is rushing the ball and not catching it then, overall, you aren’t helping your team’s chances of winning.
The top rusher in the league for giving you a better chance to win? Our very own Tyreek Hill. 119 carries is not an insignificant amount, this isn’t a flash in the pan (although he’s no Derrick Henry at 703 carries!). 5.6 YPC is a very healthy average too. Andy Reid is creative and Tyreek Hill is fast and elusive, a killer combination.
So, there were 7 rushers, taking into account 2018 through 2020 that had a positive overall effect on Win Probability. There were 94 receivers that had a positive overall effect over that same time frame. These are the guys that change the game in your favor more often than not. Lead by Kansas State alumni, Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks. Averaging 10 YPC and giving you a 2.3% better chance of winning each time he catches it, he’s a special player. Plenty more familiar names appear in the top 10 here. Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints is no surprise. Rob Gronkowski leads the TEs in the mix. The top 10 is a who’s who of stars.
The Chiefs are blessed to have 2 players in the top 10. Coming in at 7 is the leading rusher in the league, Tyreek Hill is even better as a receiver for your chances of winning. Rounding out the top 10 is Travis Kelce, another clutch player that we are lucky to have on the field. Two game winners on their own, together they form a pretty unstoppable force and are a large part of the reason why the Chiefs have been as successful as they have been.
When the game is on the line, get the ball to the players that give you the best chance of winning. No matter how they do it.