Last week on Niners Nation, 53% of voters felt the 49ers would finish 2010 as the top fantasy scoring defense. It's not too ridiculous to think it's possible, considering the team finished second amongst fantasy defenses last season. This week on Niners Nation, I'm going to take a look at Alex Smith and other late round quarterbacks that could provide your fantasy roster with a boost. Considering how many productive fantasy QBs there are, it's often a strategy of mine to sit tight and take a QB later on in the draft. For example, last year I landed Matt Schaub in the 9th round of a 10-team fantasy league I participate in. Expecting to land a guy like Schaub in round 9 this year is insane, but Alex Smith on the other hand, should be around, ripe for the picking. Do I think Alex Smith will produce a fantasy season similar to Matt Schaub's 2009? Heavens no, I do, however, expect Smith to have tremendous fantasy value that you can find in the 11th round according to Fantasy Football Calculator.
Many of us will agree, Niner fans likely won't see as much as the Alex Smith Formation (or the Shotgun set) as we did in 2009. To say that the team will completely scrap it from the playbook is ludicrous; Mike Singletary has stated the importance of continuity since taking over as head coach, and Alex Smith finally has that on his side. During this offseason, Smith has been noted to have a command of the offense since he's not learning a brand new system for the 856th straight year. In other words, even if the Niners don't rely on the Shotgun as much, Smith will have his feet comfortably planted in the starter's role. Let's also not forget Smith gets an entire offseason and preseason to work with Michael Crabtree to further develop chemistry the duo developed in late 2009. Don't forget about the animal that is Vernon Davis either; Alex Smith actually has some weapons at his disposal (Crabs, VD, Frank Gore, Josh Morgan, Delanie Walker, and sprinkle in some Ted Ginn). So while I do not expect Alex Smith to have a Matt Schaub type season, I do expect Alex Smith to have reasonably productive fantasy output.
I'm not saying draft Alex Smith and rely on him to be your weekly fantasy QB1, it's hard having success in fantasy football wihtout an insurance policy at QB. What I recommend doing is draft a QB in round 7/8/9, then grab Smith in round 11. If Smith pans out, you'll still need a QB to plug in during his bye week. If Smith stinks, you were wise enough to take a QB sooner, and only wasted an 11th round pick. After the jump, I'll get in Smith's favourable match-ups, list some other late round QBs, and look at great pairings for Alex Smith in your QB rotation. Before the jump, I'm going to bold face forecast the fantasy production of Alex Smith for 2010. Fantasy Forecast 2010: 3,250 Pass Yards, 24 PaTDs, 12 INTs; 110 Rush Yards, 1 RuTD, 2 FL.
Alex Smith's Favourable Match-Ups
Week 1 @ SEA - Smith has played some of his best football against the division rival Seahawks. In six career games, he's thrown 5 PaTDs to just 1 INT and rushed for 2 TDs against Seattle.
Week 3 @ KC - Smith's one game versus the Chiefs was brutal, but Kansas City is rebuilding and despite the hostile territory, this is a great match-up for the signal caller. Well, unless Eric Berry can single handidly cover everyone.
Week 10 vs. STL - Maybe the Rams won't be a doormat in 2010, but you can expect Alex Smith to wipe his shoes all over St. Louis when they come to San Francisco in Week 10. Of course, Frank Gore could be rude and steal all the fantasy thunder this week.
Week 11 vs. TB - I'm not sold that the Buccaneers aren't a terrible team, therefore, when Tampa Bay comes to town have Smith ready to go in your fantasy lineup (and every other 49er for that matter).
Week 12 @ ARI - Coach Singletary seems to have a knack for preparing the 49ers against Arizona. This is a Monday Night contest, and Alex Smith could shine in prime time. The Cardinals might punk the 49ers in Arizona, but this game will be huge for San Francisco's chance at putting a stranglehold on the division.
Week 16 @ STL - The Fantasy Championship Week for most leagues, and Alex Smith draws the Rams, this time in St. Louis. This actually could be a trap game, or the 49ers could have the division in hand, either way, Smith vs. St. Louis for your fantasy title shouldn't scare you.
QBs Possibly Available After Round 5 (ADP courtesy of FFC)
Round 7: Matt Ryan QB ATL (ADP - 80.7), Jay Cutler QB CHI (ADP - 84.4)
Round 8: Joe Flacco QB BAL (ADP - 88.2)
Round 10: Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT (ADP - 117.4)
Best Alex Smith Combinations:
1. Jay Cutler in Round 7 - I'm not just suggesting Cutler because of the Mike Martz effect, or because I can't envision Cutler repeating 2009's epic fail. Cutler gets to face the Detroit Lions twice, and the Buffalo Bills during Alex Smith's bye week. The Bears play Detroit in Week 13, when the 49ers are faced with a road trip to Green Bay. Cutler's Week 16 match-up is against the New York Jets, I don't think I'd want any part of that.
2. Joe Flacco in Round 8 - Flacco is surrounded by a pretty formidable offense in Baltimore, something we're not used to seeing. Anquan Boldin should help improve Flacco's fantasy output, and a relatively easy (if there is such a thing) schedule should also pad Flacco's stats. If you're taking Flacco, you'll likely be torn between starting him or Smith on several occassions, as most of Flacco's favourable match-ups come at the same time as Smith's. I would still love to have the option of Flacco or Smith on a weekly basis from Round 8 and 11.
3. Eli Manning in Round 9 - Manning faces a tough schedule in weeks 14-16 (@MIN, vs.PHI, @GB) while Smith's is a bit easier (vs.SEA, @SD, @STL). When the Giants play the Lions in Week 6, the 49ers face the not-so-hilarious pass defense of the Oakland Raiders. Plus, during Alex Smith's bye week, Manning makes a trip to Seattle where the rowdy crowd shouldn't scare the Giants too much.
Any of late round QBs might be worth pairing with Smith, but those three above seem to mesh well when looking at either the schedule or prospects of a good season. Keep in mind that Donovan McNabb shares the same bye week with Smith and the Redskins have a pretty tough schedule in 2010. Ditto for Kevin Kolb and the Philadelphia Eagles, their schedule isn't a cake walk either and Kolb has a lot of pressure to produce in Philly. Obviously, if Brett Favre returns, he could put up another banner year in Minnesota's offense, but I expect his ADP to increase considerably when he announces he'll be back. If you're drafting sooner, rather than later in the preseason, taking Brett Favre in Round 6 could be an absolute steal.
That about wraps it up for this week's Fantasy Football post, now let's see just how many TD Passes Niners Nation thinks Alex Smith has in him this season.