Geno. Geno. Geno!
Oh, you’re not glowing with excitement over the possibility of another great rookie fantasy quarterback this season? Figure there’s no possible way the former Mountaineer can assemble a campaign similar to RG3, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson? Well, you have a right to be skeptical.
The unparalleled play of last year’s rookie class at the QB position was among the best in NFL history. First-year players RG3, Luck and Wilson etched their names into record books with a variety of eye-popping achievements (RG3 with quarterback rating and rushing yards, Luck’s passing yards, and Wilsons touchdowns) and ushered in the era of the do-it-all, super athletic quarterback.
For fantasy owners in 2012, rookie QB’s were lifesavers. They served as lone bright spots for owners decimated by inconsistency at the position.
Ok, the Texas Hold ‘em fantasy disappointment pot is now in play. Ante up with Eli Manning. I see your Eli Manning and raise you Phillip Rivers. You raised me Rivers, eh? I’ll go all in with Michael Vick. Fold.
Every fantasy season teaches us a lesson, and last year’s lesson was simple — dual threat quarterbacks are now the gold standard for fantasy teams. I haven’t even mentioned sophomore sensation Colin Kaepernick’s emergence for the 49ers or Cam Newton’s quietly good 2012 season yet.
As more of the best young athletes favor the quarterback spot going into college, building your fantasy roster around them has become key for fantasy owners.
Previously, the fantasy cream of the crop at QB lied in prestigious pocket passers like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. These guys rack up yardage and touchdowns but can’t runt he ball. Now, with so many athletic quarterbacks, there is a new upper echelon of value for the position.
While mobile quarterbacks are nothing new (Michael Vick has been around for more than 10 years). Fantasy owners have never had the option of drafting so many quarterbacks who possess Vick’s running ability, are smart with the football, and can post pro bowl passing numbers. Everybody likes to think quarterback is one of the deepest in fantasy football, and it is. But these top tier quarterbacks are on another stratosphere.
Which leaves us with the question — Is Smith talented enough to operate in a style similar to last year’s rookie class? Is he just a good pocket passer? Is he a product of a good system or is he a sure fire success? Here are his credentials.
Physique: Size is always a big factor with quarterbacks, and at 6’3, 220lbs, Smith has that in motorhead’s ace of spades. He boosted his body weight before his senior season at WVU and still has the frame to add more pounds, which will be crucial to his durability. His size should help him avoid injury from the steady dose of hits he’ll endure from pass rushers. A-
Arm strength: Perhaps Geno’s biggest strength. His ability to get the ball downfield with velocity and accuracy is among the best in this year’s draft class. He’ll make every throw on the route tree with ease. A+
Accuracy: Something most rookies struggle with will also be what Smith will struggle with. He can misuse his rocket arm at times, throwing bullets in the short-to-medium passing game when they’re not needed. He also tends to overthrow receivers and the majority of his passing yards came from screen passes while at WVU. B-
Mobility: He’s not RG3 or Russell Wilson, but he’s quick with his feet and can elude defenders when he decides to escape the pocket. Don’t expect him to put up big-time rushing numbers though. Also, WVU ran a shotgun style offense during his tenure, so his ability to make throws outside the pocket is still unknown. Overall, his athleticism is decent but he simply isn’t fast enough to make a difference in that category. B
Intangibles: Smith has proven to be nothing but a class act in college. A film room junkie and a hard worker on and off the field, Smith earned the respect of his teammates at WVU and all indicators show he shouldn’t be a problem attitude-wise in the NFL. B+
As a leader, Smith doesn’t possess the same toughness qualities as Tyler Wilson and displayed looks of discouragement on the sidelines as his team was routed by Kansas State during the 2012 season. Overall, Smith couldn’t rise to occasion when his team played tough opponents, which is a quality he needs to work on if he expects to be the guy his team counts on every Sunday.
Fantasy value: Smith has the most fantasy upside of any quarterback coming out this year. However, his suspect running ability and unpolished short-to-medium accuracy will keep him out of the QB2 category in most deep leagues. He also doesn’t fit the mold of a dual threat QB, as his game lacks a running dimension. So keep an eye for him on the waiver wire, but look elsewhere for your backup QB.