According to Rotoworld, Geno Smith begins the offseason as the Jets’ starting QB. When Mike Vick first signed with the Jets, the assumption was that he’d be the starter. So which is it? And what should we do about it? To conduct this exercise, I’ll use data extracted from the excellent and recently updated QB Sim Score App.
You don’t need me to tell you that Smith’s rookie season was awful. Here is the projection for Smith’s 2014 season. Let’s take a look.
|Geno||4pt PTD||6pt PTD|
Nothing special- unless you’re in a 2QB league, that production may not be very useful. Let’s look at the change plot next. This is how QBs who had a season similar to Smith’s 2013 performed in their next season.
This is a fascinating plot. First, let’s glance at the comparable players. There are some pretty good QBs in there, like Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco. And then there are some real stinkers. On the plus side, over 60% of his comps improved their performance. On the negative side, the improvements were small. I fiddled around with Smith’s projection by removing different cominations of his worst games, but nothing really budged his median projection, which is the key number to focus on.
Vick’s 2013 was a lot better than Smith’s – when he was healthy. But it wasn’t very good in and of itself. He only appeared in 7 games- and only threw a pass in 6. Here we go.
|Vick||4pt PTD||6pt PTD|
Very interesting. Vick gets a marginally better ceiling – and a marginally lower floor. But again, the key value is the median projection, which comes in a fair bit below Smith’s. I’d read these results as “Geno has a slightly better and less variable projection than Vick.” Here’s the change plot for Vick’s comparable players.
About 50% of them improved in their subsequent season, slightly less than for Smith’s comparables, and the amount of improvement was generally less than for Smith’s comparables. But in general we could say that both Smith and Vick could be expected to perform marginally better than they did last season. I also tweaked Vick’s projection in various ways, by removing different combinations of games. While I could do that to drive up his projection pretty significantly, it also reduces the number of games – which is already small – upon which the projection is made. So I’m sticking with the base projection from the App, which again is slightly worse than Smith’s.
What Does it All Mean?
Here’s what I think. The Jets have 2 QBs who essentially offer them similar outlooks for this season. One is 23, cheap, healthy, offers a better projection for this year, and was drafted by the current front office. The other is 33, more expensive, and hasn’t played a full season since 2006. Which one would you want to be the starter?1 Barring injury or training camp collapse, I think the Jets will rightly give the job to Geno. He may not turn out to be the QB of the future. But he might. And there’s no chance Vick will.
Is That as Good As It Gets?
Probably not. For one thing, Smith has a season under his belt, so presumably he makes some forward progress of his own this season. Likewise, the Jets should have a better understanding of how to use him. More importantly, the Jets have done some solid offseason team building. The addition of Eric Decker really bolsters an epically bad receiving corps. Chris Johnson likewise improves the offense considerably. So whichever QB is under center will have significantly better weapons around him. I’d expect either QB to be able to outperform the projections we laid out earlier.
What About Fantasy?
Neither really costs much to acquire; in terms of Dynasty ADP, Vick is 29th, and Smith is 30th.2 In Redraft, Vick is 28th, while Smith is undrafted. So in either case, if you wanted to pick up a Jets’ QB, Geno is the choice because he’s cheaper, and has just as good an outlook as Vick.
But while we might expect both to perform better than predicted, that improvement may not be significant enough to matter for fantasy purposes.
So is there a scenario where you’d want to acquire either player? It’s questionable, but hear me out, because “actionable information.”
Perhaps in a 2QB league you might snag Smith as your 2nd or 3rd QB. But the best format to pursue these guys is probably a best ball format, like MFL10s. It’s best ball, so you wouldn’t need to guess which weeks to play whichever one is the starter. Both QBs are dirt cheap. Getting them late would let you stock up at other positions. Snagging both would guarantee that you’d always have the Jets’ starting QB points available to your lineup. Both offer some rushing TD potential, which score 6 points instead of the usual 4. While neither has great season-long upside, both are capable of big games. In 4 point passing TD leagues last season, Smith created just as many usable games as Ben Roethlisberger, for example. His best MFL10 weeks saw him finish 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 10th. In fewer games, Vick performed similarly, posting a 2nd and 4th place week. So, for nominal draft capital you’d have a two-headed backup QB with high scoring potential.