By: Russell Shaffer
Kansas City here I come. Well Alex Smith not so much as I, but you get the point. The Smith Saga has finally reached a resolution with the QB-starved Kansas City Chiefs swinging a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to acquire the former #1 overall pick in exchange for a 2013 2nd rounder and a conditional 2014 selection.
So the big question we’re all asking is “what does this mean for Alex Smith’s fantasy value”?
The unfortunate answer is, not much.
Despite moving to an Andy Reid scheme that favors the pass and a mobile QB, it won’t really change the fact Smith is what he is – a proficient NFL game manager. He is more mobile than many people realize, and the Reid offense should provide for 75-100 more rushing yards and perhaps an additional ground TD or two. But nothing to get too excited about.
From a passing perspective, Alex Smith’s stats should stay status quo. For starters, who is he going to target? John Baldwin is hardly a proven NFL receiver. The obvious choice would be Dwayne Bowe, but unless the Chiefs choose to again slap Bowe with the Franchise tag there is little chance he’s coming back to the City of Fountains.
Even if Bowe is back, it probably won’t change a whole lot. Smith had some weapons in San Francisco with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis and a workhorse back capable of catching passes in Frank Gore. He still proved to be nothing more than a reliable dink and dunk passer satisfied with letting his team’s stout defense be the unit to win games. Jim Harbaugh demonstrated after Smith went down with a concussion that he was willing and able to open up the playbook when entrusting the offense to a more prolific quarterback. All Colin Kaepernick did was go on to record a Super Bowl run for the ages and help transform Crabtree from a middling possession receiver and fantasy afterthought to a potent perimeter weapon and legitimate #2 WR.
Fantasy Bottom Line
You weren’t drafting Alex Smith as anything more than your backup QB in standard leagues when he was the 49ers starter and you shouldn’t do anything differently now that he is Kansas City’s signal caller. The QB position in fantasy is so deep that Smith would need to be spectacular to crack the top 10, and nothing on his resume suggests he has it in him. Reid is a great coach for QBs, but a system can only do so much. If you wait super late for your starting QB or are looking to nab a strong backup you’re better off going the Eli Manning or Josh Freeman route. Smith is nothing more than a low end #2 QB and competent bye week fill in. Target him at the end of drafts only if your format or league composition dictates.
If Bowe sticks around KC, his value will get a slight bump from Smith’s arrival. While Smith is nothing special, at least he has proven capable of getting the ball in his receiver’s hands – which is something that can’t be said for the Chiefs woeful 2012 QB corps. Bowe should be a low end #2 or high #3 WR if he stays in town and should thus be looked for around the 6th round.
Jamaal Charles is the player who perhaps benefits the most from the Smith acquisition. The dynamic Texas product returned from a devastating 2011 injury to post a huge 2012 fantasy season despite being the only game in town. The presence of Smith under center will at least force defenses to respect the passing game – a development that should unclog the box and create running lanes for the explosive Charles. Additionally, Smith’s brand of quick hitting passes and check down reads should get Charles – an above average pass catcher – even more involved in the passing game (look out PPR leagues). Charles was already a solid RB #1 and this move should only serve to inch him farther up your draft board. He should be the 6th or 7th RB taken in all formats, making him a worthy late 1st round pick.
Follow Russell Shaffer on Twitter @RussellShaffer