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Which positions have the greatest effect on winning in the NFL?

Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Stats, Film, Contract, Fantasy, PFF Grade, 2021
Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Getty Images

Analyzing the correlation between positional productivity and winning percentage in the NFL

Quarterback is the most important position in football. Just about everyone can agree on that.

Beyond the quarterback position, the totem pole of positional importance in the NFL is subjective and lacks a firmly agreed upon order. There is no perfect consensus on which positions are the most and least important outside of quarterback being king.

I figured it was time to run the numbers and bring some clarity to the topic of positional importance. Which non-quarterback position’s productivity aligns the closest with winning and losing? Which positions do not seem to affect winning and losing as much as the rest?

Using data from all 32 teams in the 2020 regular season, I calculated the correlation between winning percentage and performance quality for every position.

Frankly, the results were extremely surprising. Positions I deemed among the most important had some of the lowest correlations with winning percentages, whereas positions I deemed relatively unimportant ranked near the top of the list.

My perception of positional value has certainly changed a bit after seeing how these numbers came out.


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