Alex Smith Fantasy Football
Letís look at two quarterbacks, quarterback A and quarterback B, through the first two weeks of fantasy football. QB A posted 437 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions a 115.9 QB rating and 34 fantasy points. QB B posted 522 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions, an 89.9 QB rating and 33 fantasy points. So who is who? Well quarterback A as you could probably guess from the article title is Alex Smith. So who is quarterback B? Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers? Really? The guy who was going number one or number two in a majority of the drafts before the season started? Alex Smith is this good? Well, letís review that Rodgers had one very bad opening week against the 49ers led by Smith but still, the comparison is pretty astounding.
Alex Smith will not be the quarterback that Rodgers was last season or will be later this season (since most people would think that Rodgers will turn it around). However, Smith is a good, decent, reliable starter who, after years of obscurity found his niche in this 49ers offense. The 49ers offense is ranked 25th in terms of the pass with 196 yards/game so far this season. The real power of this offense though revolves around their ground game, which is currently ranked third with 167 yards/game after playing the Packers and Lions. Smith relies on this consistently good ground game to stabilize his own play. With Alex Smith commanding this offensive attack, the key component of his play is his ability to limit his turnovers. Zero interceptions and one fumble thus far this season. Not too badÖ
It is this type of play that has earned Smith the moniker of ďGame ManagerĒ instead of quarterback. However, is this really the case? Yes, but he is both an exceptional quarterback and a strong game manager for the 49ers. This should not be an insult but rather a compliment. With this type of player, we can expect one thing and that is consistency. Smith has produced two identical weeks of points in fantasy, scoring 17 points each week. Smith is definitely a quarterback to have as either a backup or a reliable yet not high scoring option in fantasy football. Yes, he will have his bad days, but with a 49ers offense that establishes the run first, expect Smith to usually be able to play effectively, taking advantage of the space created by the run. Additionally, there are games where he can lead a team to a win on his own but these games are far and few between. The most notable example was the second round of the NFC playoffs last year when the Saints were defeated by Alex Smith and the 49ers on a game winning drive. Smith is tough, reliable and consistent quarterback. Did anyone else see him get his nose messed up against the Lions last week? Smith is one tough dude and there should be a lot of respect around the league for him.
Smith allows the 49ers to control to the clock, which is essential towards victories. Last season the 49ers went 13-3 and with the exception of two of their wins, most of their wins came when the 49ers controlled the ball for at least 3 minutes more in comparison to their opponents. A trend which followed through in the first game against the Packers, when the 49ers controlled the ball for 33 minutes exactly compared to Green Bayís 27 minutes. The 49ers won that game handedly with little doubt of who the victor would be. In the Lions game the trend failed to show as the 49ers controlled the ball for 29:34 minutes and the Lions controlled it for 30:26 but Iím going to chalk up this amount of time difference (one minute) to be inconsequential and not indicative of the game. If Smith and the 49ers can continue their ball possession sovereignty, then they will be able to continuously post strong numbers both in the NFL and in fantasy football. The reason that Smith and the 49ers are able to control the clock so effectively, in addition to the reasons listed above, is their two dimensional approach to the offense. In week one, the 49ers called 26 pass plays (20 passes were completed- 76.9%) and 32 rushing attempts. In week two, the 49ers called 31 pass plays (20 passes were completed-64.5%) and 27 rushing attempts. I would expect for the offense to change week to week but the remarkably similar balance of offense is not to be ignored. With this balance, the 49ers can control and dominate their opponents on the offensive side of the ball.
In the first two games, Smith has been efficient and variable, throwing to six different receivers in game 1 and seven different receivers in game 2. By being variable and unpredictable without a true one-man focal point of a receiving attack, the 49ers can continue their dominance. (Although I do admit, that two of the stronger focal points in their attack are Vernon Davis (TE) and Crabtree (WR)).
It also doesnít hurt Smithís chances of being productive that the 49ers have arguably one of the best defenses in the NFL right now. They are 6th against the rush at 63.5 yards/game allowed and 19th against the pass at 246.5 yards/game allowed. These defensive strengths generate a certain degree of easiness that allow quarterback Alex Smith to perform without added or mounting pressure. With the defense and the added offensive capabilities (through free agency and the draft) the 49ers will be a consistently good team. Ball control is the name of the game and if the 49ers can continue to control the tempo, they will be able to continue to post remarkably similar numbers week to week in the NFL and in fantasy football. So whatís next for Alex Smith and the 49ers?
Letís take a look at the 49ers next five games:
- Week 3- The Minnesota Vikings, 10th against the pass (218 yds/g) and 12th against the run (98.5 yds/g).
- Week 4- The New York Jets, 16th against the pass (230 yds/g) and 22nd against the run (130.5 yds/g).
- Week 5- The Buffalo Bills, 23rd against the pass (269 yds/g) and 24th against the run (134 yds/g).
- Week 6- The New York Giants, 22nd against the pass (259 yds/g) and 16th against the run (111 yds/g).
- Week 7- The Seattle Seahawks, 14th against the pass (228.5) and 2nd against the run (46 yds/g).
In terms of the pass, these teams have allowed at least Alex Smithís average yards per game or more in the first two weeks. Consistency will rule the day for the 49ers in the coming weeks. If they can continue to do what they have done in the past two games, through the next five games, the 49ers could end up at 7-0 before anyone has even realized what happened.
Final Verdict: Alex Smithís fantasy potential is through the roof… as a consistent reliable option week to week. I would expect some degree of diversity as I do not expect Smith to post 17 fantasy points every week, but I would say that the range of scores you could be expecting would be between about 10-25 points each week. Alex Smith is the king of consistency and look for that to continue.