The Alex Smith Experiment: Week 2 Recap/Week 3 Preview

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith

Sep 15, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass during the second half of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s something I didn’t find myself expecting to do in my Week 2 match-up in the XN League of Champions: bench Russell Wilson in favor of Alex Smith.

If you’re familiar with my Alex Smith experiment, you know that I’m alternating between Smith and Sam Bradford week-to-week, as I stream the QB2 position of this particular 2-QB league team. The decision was already made to start Bradford over Smith week two, but something was pulling me towards inserting Smith into my lineup on game day.

Quarterback streaming isn’t for everybody, as you have to make tough choices when determining which quarterbacks to start every week. There’s no denying Wilson is a better quarterback than Smith and Bradford, but sometimes match-ups play a large role in roster construction, almost to the point where you overthink things.

The adage in fantasy football goes ‘you can’t bench your studs’ but that doesn’t make it 100 percent true. Terrelle Pryor in week one being a good example. Not wanting to be wrong is one of the biggest fears fantasy owners have, and the risk that comes with benching an early round draft pick over a less heralded draft pick is just one example of such a fear.

In my case, Wilson was my team’s QB1, at the cost of a fourth round draft pick, while Smith was selected in the eigth round. If I benched Wilson, and watched him go off against the San Francisco 49ers, while Smith got manhandled by the Dallas Cowboys, it would cause me to second guess my roster decisions for the rest of the season.

The opposite came true in real life, as Smith had a much better fantasy stat line than Wilson, outscoring the Seahawks’ sophomore passer by 11 points in our league. I wasn’t able to bench Wilson in the end, but luckily that decision didn’t come back to haunt me. Neither did starting Bradford over Smith at QB2, as Bradford wound up scoring five fantasy points more than Smith in the XN League of Champions this past week—and I won my first matchup of the year.

The Wilson/Smith week two debate will be one that weighs on me as I go forward, and will hopefully force myself to make fantasy decisions that go against the grain. Shawn Siegele of rotoViz/PFF said it best: It’s also important that you take ownership of your own teams and start the guys you want to start, regardless of projections.”

With week two out of the way, lets focus our attention on the QB2 week three decision.

In the first installment of ‘The Alex Smith Experiment’ the QB2 streaming code cracking led to Bradford and his week three match-up versus the Dallas Cowboys getting the early QB2 nod over Smith. Smith will be facing the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday Night.

But I’m not sure if that will be my final decision. In two games this year, the Eagles have allowed Robert Griffin III and Philip Rivers to pass on them for a combined 748 passing yards and five touchdowns.

The Cowboys haven’t been all that great either on defense, letting Eli Manning and Smith pass for 673 yards and six touchdowns combined.

One thing standing in the way of starting Smith over Bradford is that the Chiefs-Eagles matchup is a Thursday Night affair, and the negative impact short weeks have on NFL players.

This past Thursday we saw a couple of brutal quarterback performances out of Geno Smith (214 yards passing, zero touchdowns, three interceptions) and Tom Brady (185 passing yards, one touchdown). Neither Brady nor Smith finished the week in the top-24 of fantasy scoring at the quarterback position. The Jets and Patriots have put up better defensive performances than the Eagles this year, so that should be taken into account.

In 13 Thursday night matchups last season, only four quarterbacks threw for two or more touchdowns: Carson Palmer (2), Philip Rivers (2), Josh Freeman (3), and Sam Bradford (2). Out of the 26 total Thursday Night quarterbacks, 27 if you include Chad Henne in Week 10, there were five Top-12 QB1 performances, and six fantasy quarterback performances outside of the Top-24.

The average fantasy quarterback scoring finish for Thursday Night quarterbacks was QB16.

The numbers aren’t all that bad for starting Smith this week at QB2, but it’s still difficult to dismiss a short week of preparation when filling out your starting roster.

If Bradford had a difficult match-up this week, I wouldn’t entertain the notion of not starting Smith versus the Eagles, but as evidenced by the passing stats the Cowboys have given up, Bradford has the potential to put up a high number of fantasy points again this week.

Yahoo! projections for my team have Smith scoring more points than Bradford, 15.77 to 13.84, and we’ve already seen the damage done to the passing defenses of both the Cowboys and Eagles this short season.

Bradford and Smith have both looked capable in leading their offenses this year, and have each turned out to be viable QB2 options, making my QB2 streaming decision difficult.

Being flexible is something any good fantasy football owner must be, and since all good plans can come unraveled, Smith’s matchup versus the Eagles is one  I don’t think I can pass up.

The Andy Reid factor is just another part of the puzzle, and the efficient Smith-led Chiefs offense should be able to methodically put up points on the board. Either way, the QB2 nod, somewhat shockingly, goes to Smith this week.

Stats used in this article from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports

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Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and believes that 2-QB fantasy football leagues will be the future of fantasy football. You can read about his 2-QB fantasy football opinions and analysis at XNSports.com.
2 comments
dman1085
dman1085

They "say" short weeks favor an offense, but with those stats you could go either way. I have Smith in many of my leagues. Glad i've started him. 2-0 in 1QB league that I commish, but never do well in.... *crossing fingers*

Salvatore Stefanile
Salvatore Stefanile

Good luck the rest of the year. Smith's schedule is pretty nice all year long. Could be riding him a while.