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Geno Smith: The Next Fantasy Phenom QB?

Matthew J. Stein February 1, 2013 6:08PM EST
The Kansas City Chiefs hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.  A quick glance at mock drafts from around the web will show Geno Smith, quarterback from West Virginia as a common choice for Kansas City.

The big question for Fantasy Football lovers is going to be attempting to figure out just how productive Smith can be as a rookie.  Will he produce similarly to Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III?  Or are we looking at more of a Ryan Tannehill or, God forbid, a Brandon Weeden type rookie season?

We are going to break down just how Smith compares to both Luck and Griffin, and try to establish what to expect from the former West Virginia quarterback.  We’re going to do this with the assumption that Smith will be the first player selected in this year’s draft because frankly, Kansas City needs a quarterback, and Smith is the best prospect out there.

Skills

 

When looking at the overall skill set of Smith compared to Luck and RG3, it isn’t even close.  Luck was considered by many to be the best quarterback prospect in the past decade while Griffin was another stellar prospect.  That isn’t that say that Smith isn’t very talented, he just isn’t on the same level as a prospect as either Luck or Griffin.

Smith does bring an interesting set of skills to the table for an NFL franchise.  He’s an above-average athlete who displays great pocket awareness.  He rarely looks to tuck the ball and run at the first sign of trouble, but he is capable of moving around in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield.

His arm strength needs to be considered truly elite.  He has the ability to make any throw at the necessary in the NFL, and his touch on deep balls is quite impressive.  Smith is accurate, doesn’t waste motion when throwing and consistently places the ball where it needs to be for his receivers to make plays after the catch.

Overall, Smith isn’t an NFL-ready quarterback like Luck or Griffin, but the talent and skills are certainly there to have some success as a rookie.

Talent Surrounding Him

Once again, we’re going to assume that Smith gets drafted by Kansas City.  If that happens, Smith will actually have better pieces surrounding him than either Luck or Griffin did as a rookie.

He’ll have one of the best running backs in Jamaal Charles to help take the pressure off him.  If the Chiefs can re-sign Dwayne Bowe, he’ll have a good number of respectable receivers to throw to.  With Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, Dexter McCluster and Steve Breaston, the Chiefs could be a quality quarterback away from being quite productive on offense.

The amount of talent on offense in Kansas City would certainly be a plus for Smith, and could help to boost his production in his first season.

What to Expect for Fantasy Football

Before the 2012 Fantasy Football season started, Griffin had an average ADP of 8.12.  That put him above quarterbacks like Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco, but below Jay Cutler, Tony Romo and Eli Manning.  As for Luck, his final ADP heading into drafts was at 10.02, just a few spots lower than Griffin.  By the end of the season, both Luck and Griffin proved to be way more valuable than their respective ADPs, and finished the season as the eighth and ninth ranked quarterbacks.

For starters, expect Smith to have a much lower ADP heading into the 2013 season.  People may want to reach for Smith because they figure he’s another “athletic” quarterback like Griffin, but that certainly isn’t the case.  Smith has always been hesitant to run the ball, and will be even more hesitant in the NFL.  Extra points from yards picked up on the ground or with rushing touchdowns will be an added bonus, and likely not consistent.

With the quarterback position becoming more and more important in the NFL, look for Smith to get drafted somewhere near the end of the 10th or 11th round in most standard 12-team leagues.  But don’t be surprised if Smith outperforms his draft position.  He certainly won’t throw for 4,300 yards like Luck or rush for 815 yards and seven touchdowns like Griffin, but he could easily finish the 2013 season in the top half of scoring for quarterbacks.

Final 2013 Prediction

As long as Smith can stay healthy, he should have a solid rookie season.  Look for him to finish the 2013 season with just over 3,000 passing yards, 18-19 touchdowns and under 10 interceptions.  It won’t be spectacular for Smith, but it’ll certainly be enough to making the highest scoring rookie quarterback in Fantasy Football, and a solid QB2 in most leagues.

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