Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs made a splash – although some may describe it otherwise – when they agreed to terms with the San Francisco 49ers to acquire Alex Smith. Although the conditions of the agreement have created a stir, only the players involved matter for fantasy football purposes. So what exactly is the 2013 draft outlook for the new Chiefs’ quarterback?
Most of us have heard Smith’s story countless times by now. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist at the University of Utah under the tutelage of Urban Meyer. He then went on to become the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. The first six seasons of his career were rather tumultuous; his record as a starting quarterback was an underwhelming 19-31 and before he was placed on the Injured Reserve with a broken bone in his shoulder in 2008, he was even surpassed by the one and only J.T. O’Sullivan for the starting job.
Then everything changed… Jim Harbaugh was chosen as the 49ers Head Coach prior to the 2011 season and he helped Smith shake the treacherous “bust” label. Smith quarterbacked the team to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship Game, setting career highs in nearly every category:
Smith was off to another fine season in 2012, but suffered a concussion in Week 9 that opened up the door for Colin Kaepernick. The rest of that tale is history; Kaepernick excelled, led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and became one of the most promising, young quarterbacks in the NFL. This article is about Smith’s fantasy value though, so let’s take a closer look at his performance in 2012:
He was on pace to set career highs in completion percentage, passing yards, yards-per-attempt, passing touchdowns and rushing yards before losing the starting gig. The projected 218 total fantasy points would have tied him with Matt Schaub for 17th among quarterbacks. In order to grasp the potential of Smith in Kansas City, we’ll have to look at Reid’s track record with quarterbacks:
As you can see, the numbers support the common notion that Reid is a “pass-happy” play-caller. His offenses finished no worse than 13th in passing attempts and passing yards each year with an average finish of 8.7 and 9.5 respectfully. With such a strong history, I don’t believe his offensive philosophy will change much in Kansas City and there will definitely be some weapons at Smith’s disposal. The signs currently point to Dwayne Bowe returning for another year, whether it’s via the franchise tag or a new contract has yet to be decided. Jamaal Charles is a terrific running back, Tony Moeaki is a more than suitable pass-catching tight end, Dexter McCluster is also an intriguing slot receiver, and Jon Baldwin is entering his third NFL season with room for improvement.
In order to understand what Smith is capable of with the Chiefs, let’s use the following table as a baseline. These are the per-game stats of Smith since his 2011 resurrection projected over a full season:
If Smith performs at that same level and is afforded Reid’s average of 578.2 attempts per season, the resulting statistics would resemble this line:
Those projections would have actually placed him 8th among quarterbacks in total fantasy scoring in 2012. I don’t expect him to carry over the efficiency he maintained in San Francisco to Kansas City. However, even a whopping 10% drop-off from his passing numbers would still leave his projected total fantasy points at 253.3, which would have placed him 12th among quarterbacks in 2012. At 28 years old, he’s not exactly on the downside of his athletic career either.
His post-trade ADP has yet to be calculated, but I don’t expect fantasy owners to treat him as anything more than a late round flier and low-end QB2. While he may not single-handedly win you a fantasy football championship, the numbers indicate that Alex Smith is better than that.