Faceoff - QB Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
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Upside - by Colin Dowling
Calm down everyone, he’s not Steve Young. He’s not Mike Vick either. He’s not Randall Cunningham nor is he Steve McNair. Not yet anyway.
What Alex Smith is pretty clear at this point: He’s a football smart guy with a good head on his shoulders and just enough talent to be considered better then average physically. For the future, his chances of being a solid, successful quarterback look pretty good based on what we know if Smith himself.
However, for the purposes of redraft leagues, should you even be noticing Smith this year? The answer is, “absolutely.” I won’t be foolish enough to suggest that he’ll carry your fantasy team (he won’t) or that he’ll win you the big game with an All Pro performance (not going to happen). However, I think that Smith will surprise more then a few fans this year once he takes over the starting job from Tim Rattay.
Why? Well, for starters, Smith isn’t much like David Carr or Mike Vick. How so? Between the ears. The hardest part of playing quarterback isn’t making the throws, its knowing when and where to make the throws. Most of the recent heralded first round quarterbacks ranked highly on the mental side of things but were off the charts physically. Carr, Losman, Ramsey, the list goes on and basically reads the same: strong arm, needs to work on the finer points of the game and learn to play. Smith, conversely, is more of a guy that can be described as having an adequate arm who is already pretty far along on the finer points.
As such, I expect his development to be much quicker then that of recent first round quarterback selections. I expect that Smith will finish the season closer to QB24 in points per game then QB32. As such, he is worth consideration as a 2nd quarterback in larger leagues as the season wears on and more appealing options head to the injury list.
Downside - by Clayton Gray
Rookie QBs can be brutal to a fantasy roster. They may not even start, and even if they do they’ll likely stink up the joint (consider yourself fortunate if you can get a TD a week). Rookie QBs are so bad that there is really no reason to draft one in a re-draft league.
Here is a list of first round QBs (23 total since 1995) that were successful (at least eight starts and an average of at least one TD pass per games played) in their rookie season:
2004 – Ben Roethlisberger
1999 – Tim Couch – surprised?
1998 – Peyton Manning
What an exhaustive compilation. Of the three on the list, only Manning was worth having as a starting fantasy QB.
So the question begs, “Why bother taking a rookie QB in a re-draft?” The answer blares, “You shouldn’t!”
Examining Alex Smith’s WR corps gives us Brandon Lloyd and a bunch of not much else (actually, Lloyd could possibly be included in the not much else bag, but that’s another argument). With those WRs, it would be a surprise to see Smith finish as a Top 25 QB this season (even if he starts from day one). That passing game just will not support that kind of production. If you need a late round QB, you’ll be much better off grabbing an NFL back-up like Jeff Garcia or Billy Volek.
Further, the only reason you should even have Alex Smith in your rankings is so that you can cross him off in case some other poor soul makes the mistake of drafting him.