A new way to rate the top 50 players in college football

NCAAF

If college football had a video game-style rating system, who would grade higher: Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins or Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood?

How about LSU safety Grant Delpit vs. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert?

Starting this year, we do have a rating system: the PlayStation Player Impact Rating. A 0-100 number for every FBS offensive and defensive football player.

How do we get these numbers?

While no human can watch every single player on every single snap every single week and objectively rate them all, a mathematical model built by ESPN Sports Analytics can.

The abridged version is this: For every player, we compare his team’s performance when he’s on the field vs. when he’s off it, and then we adjust for the skill of his teammates and opponents on every snap and consider whether each play was a run or a pass.

Think of it as real plus-minus, scaled 0-100, just for football.

Every week, we’ll list the top 50 players here. Through seven weeks, it’s probably no surprise that a couple of dynamic Alabama playmakers are near the top of the list. But some of the other names may surprise you.

And keep in mind that this is a rate stat, so the amount of time a player is on the field isn’t really a factor.

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