I’ve won a lot of money in fantasy football by drafting my QB1 after half the league has a QB2. Due to a lack of scarcity and the somewhat bizarre way most formats further depress QB scoring, it’s very difficult to justify taking a QB before the 10th round. But that doesn’t mean you can just draft anybody. In 2012, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and RG3 were all trendy QBBC guys, but two of those guys were still terrible picks relative to expected value. Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and Andrew Luck were all selected as the back end of committees, but if you wanted to redeem Eli or Rivers, you were better off not taking the eventual Super Bowl MVP.
My suggestion for finding great QB value is to try the QB app. There are a couple of guys generating zero fantasy buzz who have awesome projections – guys with similarity scores that put them in the same fantasy ppg tier with a bunch of clear cut QB1 types. Even if they don’t hit those levels, their value relative to ADP is likely to be astronomical.
While you’re playing around with the app, I’m going to make the case for a guy the sims don’t like particularly like: Alex Smith. As a Chiefs fan – yes, Chiefs, Lions, and Cardinals; so at least the first seven picks of the draft will be exciting – I did a little research in how he might fare in KC and just posted a Banana Stand column about his reality prospects. Suffice it to say that his age 26 to age 28 comps based on adjusted yards per attempt include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Troy Aikman, and Donovan McNabb.
Okay, so that seems wildly optimistic, but Smith doesn’t need to end up in the Hall of Fame to be a fantasy juggernaut. He’s just got to throw the ball. A lot. And that’s where I think the perception doesn’t mesh with the likely future reality.
When I’m selecting late round QBs, I want guys who play on teams with bad defenses and for coaches who are pass-heavy. Under Andy Reid, the Eagles finished in the Top 10 in points eight times. Over the last nine years they finished in the Top 10 in passing attempts seven times and never ranked lower than 13th.
It’s hard for a team that has the No. 1 pick in the draft to be overrated in any facet, but the Chiefs have a decent defensive reputation around the league that’s entirely undeserved. If the Chiefs are going to be remotely competitive in 2013, Smith will be forced to chuck it around the yard like Stafford and the Not So Great Show.
Smith is known as a game manager, but he’s been one of the most efficient passers in the NFL over the last two seasons. If the Chiefs really do acquire him, they’ll be expecting him to be the guy who threw 42 passes for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns in rallying the 49ers over New Orleans in the 2011 playoffs. Andy Reid doesn’t trade for a guy just to tell him to hand it off. Even if Smith’s efficiency plummets – and it will – there’s plenty of cushion built into his stats. This is a guy who spent 2012 completing 70% of his passes at a clip of 8 yards per. You can give those numbers a big haircut and still have more per play value than Stafford.
Andy Reid doesn’t manipulate QBs the same way Harbaugh does, but he does it arguably as well. More importantly, he does it in a way that turns them into fantasy dynamite. Every year the NFL has a garbage time superstar. In 2013, don’t be surprised if that guy is Alex Smith.