Andy Dalton and Alex Smith were both top-15 quarterbacks in ESPN standard leagues in 2013, and Dalton in particular had a big year with 4,293 passing yards and 33 touchdowns (third-most in the league) while throwing the ball 586 times (eighth-most in the league). Smith set career-highs across the board in his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs last season, topping 3,300 passing yards with 23 touchdowns while throwing just seven interceptions.
In this edition of fantasy football “Face-Off”, I will compare the two AFC signal callers and make a choice at the end.
The Case For Andy Dalton
Dalton’s career-highs last year continued an upward trend in production across the board, and he attempted 58 more passes last year than he did in 2012. All indications are new Bengals’ offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will look to run the ball a lot more this year, but Dalton has a lot of talent around him, including a legit No. 1 wide receiver (A.J. Green) on a level not many other quarterbacks have.
A more conservative offense should actually do Dalton a lot of good, as he threw 20 interceptions last year with multiple interceptions in a game five times. I don’t expect Dalton to have 10 games with at least 274 passing yards and/or multiple passing touchdowns like he did last year, which keeps his fantasy upside in check, but I don’t necessarily expect a huge drop-off this year.
Dalton has six rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons, which adds to his value in a way fantasy owners may overlook.
The Case For Alex Smith
Smith embraced a role as a caretaker quarterback last year, with more than 250 passing yards just twice over the first 10 games. But he threw 16 touchdowns over his last six games (including a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts), with more than 280 yards through the air four times in that span.
Smith had 431 rushing yards last year, which was good for sixth-best among quarterbacks. Jamaal Charles will again be the centerpiece of the Chiefs’ offense, as both a runner and receiver, but if Dwayne Bowe can rebound and tight end Travis Kelce (microfracture knee surgery) proves capable after missing his entire rookie season there is some other talent around Smith.
Both Dalton and Smith are a couple notches below the elite fantasy quarterbacks, and thus should not be relied on as anything more than a QB2. They both add something to their fantasy value with production on the ground, with Smith having the edge in yardage and Dalton in touchdowns. But this decision comes down to draft day value, and I’d rather stock up on other positions where I can get Dalton and use a pick a few rounds later on Smith as my backup quarterback.