Comparing PFF QB grades to traditional passer rating

PFF Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo breaks down the difference between passer rating and the more performance-driven PFF grades.

(Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Our goal at PFF is to always provide context to traditional stats, giving proper credit and attribution to the collection of those stats. As fantasy football continues to rise in prominence, stat lines are of utmost importance to many fans, and while they may win and lose leagues and daily games, they are not always the best indicator of actual on-field performance.

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The first issue to recognize is the power of the stat line. Nothing paints a picture quite like the five numbers most commonly associated with a quarterback’s performances — completions/attempts/yards/touchdowns/interceptions — and the corresponding passer rating that is formed by using those numbers. A line of 24-35-350-3-0 implies an outstanding effort by the quarterback and spits out a “perfect” passer rating of 158.3, while a 15-30-148-0-2 line implies a difficult game and a passer rating of only 68.2. However, the stat line is missing the nuance of each play with regard to the quarterback’s supporting cast and the quality of his opposition.

At PFF, we look beyond the stats on a play-by-play basis, often giving out the same grade on plays with drastically different results. That’s the important part to grasp when using the PFF system, it’s an isolation of the quarterback’s role on a given play, providing context to where the stats are achieved. Because passer rating is so dependent on receivers, offensive linemen and even the quality of the…

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