by TJ HORGAN
Sorry Patriots fans, but I am on the bandwagon too.
From a fantasy football perspective, I am making a bolder statement than when very talented fantasy analyst, Matthew Berry(ESPN) advised picking Michael Vick in the first round. I know Matthew endured lots of criticism for that rank, but this article is not more exhausted assessment of that mistake. This, in fact, is about making a prediction that, many would say, could turn out worse than Berry’s.
Geno Smith, New York Jets rookie quarterback out of West Virginia University, will finish this year (2013) as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in terms of point values. There’s the prediction.
At this point, Smith has been named the week one starter, and if the New York Jets’ front office and coaching staff maintain their infamous strategy of publicity stunt followed by publicity stunt to sell jerseys, starting Smith would fit perfectly into the mold.
However, after the Jets’ first four games, they will experience an epiphany. Starting the best-selling jersey is actually, for once, in the team’s best interest for winning games. The Jets play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers week one, followed by the Patriots, Bills, and Titans. All four of those teams finished in the bottom ten teams in terms of total yards per game allowed. I’m not exclusively referring to pass or run, because Smith will excel in both areas.
Surely, TJ, Geno Smith will not blossom into a top ten fantasy option simply because of an easy schedule. I agree. Let’s start with the Jets’ offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, who openly told the press that he wanted Geno Smith, to start. When the person in charge of running the offense and calling plays wants someone to start, chances are, that person will start.
In Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense, the Jets will mostly be throwing the ball on first and second down instead of running with their stellar committee of running backs (that’s sarcasm).
The west coast offense ran by Mornhinweg revolves around consistent, short, throws to gain yards, instead of running the ball. What this means for Smith is that he will not have the burden of making deep throws to a tightly covered receiver, often resulting in interceptions for a rookie gunslinger. In addition to the opportunity for consistent, short passes, there will be plenty of chances for Smith to scramble due to New York’s uneven offensive line play, and receivers who can’t run routes.
Smith scrambling may lead to a sack or two every game, but it could also lead to vertically significant plays. One more fact on that portion of my argument, in standard scoring leagues, QBs do not lose points for being sacked, but do they gain points for rushing yards, equally weighted as that of a running back, regardless if the run was designed or not.
Geno Smith is a rookie quarterback taking over a struggling team whose offensive coordinator runs a west coast offense. Another rookie quarterback in this EXACT same scenario with whom you might be familiar? A man by the name of Robert Griffin III…
Marty Mornhinweg, who I mentioned earlier, will be instrumental in Geno Smith’s potential success. Mornhinweg ran this west coast offense with his past teams. His most recent team…The Philadelphia Eagles. Mornhinweg OC’d the Eagles from 2006-2012. Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator when Michael Vick had, statistically, the best season of his career (3,018 passing yards, 100 rushes for 676 yards, 9 rushing TDs). Michael Vick is arguably the best rushing quarterback in NFL history. The bottom line is that Marty Mornhinweg knows how to run an offense built around a mobile quarterback.
In conclusion, when analyzing the history of Smith’s circumstances, he has an ideal opportunity to break out and produce some unexpected fantasy points. His offensive coordinator is no stranger to facilitating the game for scrambling quarterbacks, and Smith is in a very similar offense, ideologically, to the offense in which RGIII succeeded during his rookie campaign.
As of now, Geno Smith is undrafted in ESPN standard, 10-team leagues.
That being said, I will wholeheartedly endorse taking Geno Smith in one of the last few rounds instead of a bye-week fill-in or handcuff such as Ronnie Hillman, Vick Ballard, or Denarius Moore (to name a few).