The Alex Smith Experiment: Week 4 Recap/Week 5 Preview
For one week, ‘The Alex Smith Experiment’ was a resounding success. Not only was Alex Smith a better fantasy QB2 this week than Sam Bradford, he also produced more points than my team’s QB1, Russell Wilson.
In fact, in standard scoring fantasy football leagues, Smith was the 4th highest scoring fantasy quarterback in Week 4. Every fantasy football quarterback is going to have a good week, just as they’re going to have many bad weeks. Heck, we saw Christian Ponder put up a QB1 fantasy performance last week, and his injury replacement Matt Cassel was Week 4′s QB12.
The past four weeks in the NFL has led to some revelations, at least from my point of view, regarding the quarterback position, and it’s not anything practitioners of the Late Round QB draft strategy didn’t already know. The biggest takeaway is that you don’t need an early round drafted quarterback to lead your fantasy team; not even your 2-QB fantasy team.
Sure, if you were able to land Peyton Manning and Michael Vick as your starting fantasy quarterbacks, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, you have a huge advantage at the position. But there are some late round drafted quarterbacks doing just fine so far in this young fantasy season. Take a look at some of the standard scoring highly ranked later round drafted fantasy quarterbacks after four weeks: Philip Rivers-QB3, Michael Vick-QB4, Alex Smith-QB6, and Jake Locker-QB12.
Will those four be able to sustain their current level of production? Locker won’t, after suffering a rib injury that will see him miss a few weeks, but he seemed to have made quite a bit of progress this year. Rivers is having a resurgence under new Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy, and that Chargers defense is so bad, shoot-outs are going to occur almost every week, forcing Rivers to keep passing. Vicks seems to have entrenched himself in the QB1 tier going forward, barring any injury.
That leaves Alex Smith. We already know what Smith’s limitations are but the Chiefs have been able to limit his mistakes, by avoiding anything deep. His 6.6 yards/attempt has him ranked 28th in the league, an almost full three yards behind Peyton Manning. Part of Smith’s success is his avoidance of turnovers, he had zero interceptions before being picked twice in Week 4. A nice bonus to Smith’s fantasy production has been his rushing ability, and his 151 rushing yards ranks him third in that category amongst quarterbacks, behind Vick and Terrelle Pryor.
One of the main reasons Smith was touted as a guy to target in 2-QB fantasy football drafts was because of his soft schedule, and Smith and the Chiefs have taken advantage of that. The Titans will prove a big test this week for both, but after that it’s relatively smooth sailing, except for a couple of potentially tough match-ups versus the Texans and Browns in Weeks 7 and 8. While Smith might not finish the season as a Top-12 fantasy quarterback, high-end QB2 territory is a real possibility.
As much as Smith has been a boon to my 2-QB fantasy football team in the XN Sports League of Champions, Sam Bradford has not. Currently QB21 in standard leagues, it was a rough Week 4 outing for Bradford versus the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football. One thing you want out of your fantasy quarterback is for them to throw a lot. Volume can equal fantasy production, and the Rams do nothing but throw the ball. After four weeks, Bradford leads the league in attempts, with 182. That’s 45.2 pass attempts/game, which has him on pace to throw for more than 2012′s pass attempts leader Matthew Stafford, who finished 2012 as QB11.
The Rams’ lack of a running game has forced them to become a pass heavy team, and the hope is that the more Bradford passes, the more fantasy points he’ll have a chance to put on the board. However, the downside is that teams will be able to key on him even more, as the run game becomes less of a factor in defensive meetings each week for opponents. It’s a tricky time to be a Bradford owner right now, because he started off the season with back-to-back QB1 showings, but has since regressed and put up QB2 and QB3 performances the past two weeks, respectively.
If you own Bradford in 2-QB leagues, and are in need of an upgrade elsewhere, now would be a good time to start fielding trade offers, as his second half schedule has some pretty tough match-ups, including two games versus the Seahawks.
That’s not the case this week though as the Rams play the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have given up the 8th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. If Bradford has a good game versus the Jags it will only help enhance his trade value.
When it comes to ‘The Alex Smith Experiment’ for Week 5, Bradford’s great match-up, and Smith going up against a Titans defense that has allowed the 8th fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks, makes this a week where I can feel comfortable starting Bradford in the QB2 slot in the XN Sports League of Champions.