Did I mention how insanely deep the quarterback position is in fantasy land this year?
In Week 1, over 20 signal callers finished with 20 fantasy points or more. One week later, 14 quarterbacks accomplished that feat. Having expressed how many dominant options there already are at the position, it’s hard to actually consider starting a guy like Alex Smith, unless you have some serious injury concerns on your roster.
Or a bye week.
Ah, this is exactly where Smith becomes incredibly valuable. Why? Well, first of all, he is already off to a very strong start, tossing four touchdown passes, while also running the ball 12 times, which is more than the likes of Cam Newton. The Andy Reid offense obviously favors the pass, and the Chiefs have weapons around Smith in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. Over his first two games, Smith has attempted 34 and 36 passes. Last year when Smith was the starter in San Francisco, he only attempted 30 passes or more three times. The volume is there for Smith to succeed, and considering the guy rarely turns the ball over, fantasy owners won’t need to worry about turnovers too much. Now, while the system around Smith is very appealing in terms of fantasy value, that’s only part of the reason why you should target him for your bye week.
Bye weeks in the NFL start during Week 4, and fantasy owners take a major shot at the quarterback position. Smith is the ideal fill-in option because he is such a favorable schedule that odds are, he’ll have a strong matchup during the week your QB1 is off. Let’s take a look ahead into the year, shall we?
Week 4 Byes: Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers
Two top-five fantasy signal callers will be out of action during the first set of bye weeks. Owners will be hard pressed to replace the likes of these two, but if you look ahead, Smith faces the Giants awful secondary, who have already surrendered 551 yards and four scores through the air, and clearly have their issues in the secondary. Smith has the opportunity to torch this unit, as in my opinion, no one in that secondary can match up against Bowe on the outside. Last year, the G-Men allowed an average of over 17 fantasy points per contest to opposing quarterbacks.
Week 5 Byes: Robert Griffin III (MIN, PIT, TB)
There are three other teams on a bye in Week 5 (MIN, PIT, TB), but none of those quarterbacks are starters in most fantasy leagues. RG3, on the other hand, is very much a starter, but as it looks right now, perhaps the Sunday off will be good for the sophomore quarterback. Kidding, but not really. Anyway, while Griffin is kicking it on his day off, Smith will be under center against the Titans, which is another strong matchup. Last year, quarterbacks averaged 17.11 fantasy points per contest, which was the ninth-most in football. While Tennessee’s defense is very underrated as a unit, their secondary is nothing to write home about. They’ve surrendered four passing touchdowns through two games this year, and were just torched by rookie wideout DeAndre Hopkins on Sunday.
Week 6 Byes: Matt Ryan (MIA)
The Dolphins also have a bye, but Ryan Tannehill, though progressing, shouldn’t be on too many fantasy radars. Anyway, losing Ryan will be tough for owners (myself included), but don’t fret. Yes, Smith is here to save the day. The Raiders come to town in Week 6, and Smith will have an excellent chance at success against a secondary that was the 7th-most generous unit when it comes to allowing fantasy points to signal callers. The last time Smith faced Oakland he threw for just under 200 yards and two scores.
Week 7 Byes: Drew Brees (OAK)
Arguably the best fantasy quarterback in the game, owners will be without Brees in Week 7, forcing them to scramble to find someone worthy of replacing him. Yeah, you guessed right. Smith is obviously my choice. While the matchup isn’t as juicy as some of the other ones, the Texans defense doesn’t look as dominant as usual through the first two weeks, as they have surrendered six touchdown passes already. We talked about Smith’s increased volume, and against the Texans, he could be playing from behind, which could lead to even more pass attempts from the former number one overall pick. There may be other options with better matchups during this week, but I think Smith still has the opportunity and system to be productive against a stingy Houston defense.
Week 8 Byes: Andrew Luck (BAL, CHI, HOU, SD, TEN)
Many are expecting Luck to take a monster step forward into the elite level this season, but in Week 8, he’ll be off the field. While this happens, Smith faces the Browns defense, which in my eyes, is the most underrated defense in football, and despite what people think about the Browns, this is a difficult matchup. A shutdown corner in Joe Haden and some strong linebackers, the Browns can pose a problem to Smith, but still, they allowed an average of 16.43 fantasy points per contest to signal callers last year, which is respectable, and quite frankly, is more than enough out of a bye week fill-in. If you feel better off with someone else, that’s very fair, but I still think Smith will be serviceable.
Week 9 Byes: Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick (ARI, JAC)
This is a rough week for signal callers, as three potential top-five options are unavailable. And if you consider Eli, who can easily finish inside the top-10, it gets even worse. However, Week 9 is one of Smith’s best matchups yet, as he faces the Bills defense. Their secondary is currently very banged up with guys like Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd sidelined with injuries. While this unit seems to improve each year, you can’t overlook the fact that allowed over 18 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and have been one of the most fantasy-friendly defenses for years now. Last year against the Bills, Smith posted his best game, passing for 303 yards and three scores. It was his best statistical outing since the 2010 season.
Week 10 Byes: Alex Smith
Week 11 Byes: Tony Romo, Sam Bradford
Only two byes in Week 11, after six in Week 9 and four in Week 10. The only QB1 on a bye is Romo, and Smith faces a tough Broncos defense that will likely be healthier (return of Champ Bailey) and intact (Von Miller off suspension). It’s a tough matchup in the first place, but if Denver can stay healthy and out of trouble, it’ll be even more difficult. Denver only allowed the 26th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season, so despite how much I like Smith this year, I’d temper expectations in this one.
Week 12 Byes: Michael Vick, Russell Wilson (BUF, CIN)
The final byes of the season, we see two extremely relevant fantasy quarterbacks out of action, while EJ Manuel and Andy Dalton remain QB2 options. Smith will face the Chargers in this week, which is a middle-of-the-road matchup for fantasy purposes. Last year, the Chargers were the 13th-most favorable opponent for fantasy signal callers and through two games in 2013, they have allowed an average of 375.5 passing yards per game, along with five touchdowns. Smith is more than capable of putting up strong numbers in this contest.
Clearly, there is a lot to like about Smith’s fantasy prospects in his inaugural season with the Chiefs. He is expected to see the most volume he’s ever seen in his career, and the favorable schedule should allow fantasy owners to see that volume translate to fantasy production.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.