The Fantasy Football War Room

Understanding football for the sake of fantasy

NFL Style Poker

Matt Barkley

The NFL draft and the time leading up to it is one of my favorite times of the year. Back in 2000 before it hit prime time, a couple of friends and I would wake up at 8:30AM, go to the store, stock up on junk food and watch it all day long. A true 9-5 experience that most people would laughed at me about.

Teams are notorious for using smoke screens for all sorts of different reasons. It could be to bad mouth a player so he could potentially lose value and slide closer to where they’re picking. It could be to entice a team to trade up by showing interest in a player they have no real interest in (The Chiefs and Geno Smith are a great example).

This year one of the biggest smoke screens I keep hearing and really am not buying is how weak this QB class is. It’s not a complete smoke screens. These QB’s aren’t up to par with Andrew Luck, RG3, Ryan Tannehill, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. The last two years have truly blessed us with some amazingly exciting QB’s.

The 2012 draft class could go down as the best ever depending on how many super bowls they churn out. 2004 is the year to beat in my opinion, with Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning holding two each.

The 2012 QB draft class is so good that most of us have forgotten how good Eli and Ben truly are. Now our frame of reference is RG3, Wilson, Newton, Kaepernick and Luck. They’ve raised the bar to an almost unfair level of competition. Fans will turn their backs on any QB that comes in and is less than stellar the first year or two. Fans in general are a very inpatient and illogical bunch hardly taking the time to educate themselves on history and only using shallow statistics they caught on ESPN the night before as their main argument.

Well, I’m not buying the whole Geno Smith is the only true first round QB talent. Why? Well, there’s this rookie wage scale that was just implemented just in case you haven’t heard of it. It made Cam Newton’s $22 million look like a bargain and Sam Bradfords $70 million look like highway robbery. It’s the same wage scale that made Brandon Weeden a low risk first round pick.

And its the same rookie wage scale that will make 5 supposedly below average QB’s 1st round picks this year. Because of this new wage scale choosing a QB won’t put your team back 5-10 years.

While I’m not sure how many will go in the top ten, I’m going to go with at least 2. If you’ll go ahead and Google the draft order, you’ll notice just how important a QB is. In the top 15 you’ll find the teams that consistently have QB problems year in and year out. The Saints are picking 15 and have one of the best 5 QB’s in the NFL but they also fielded one of the worst defenses of all time and still finished .500.

The Panthers are picking 14 by rallying behind otherworldly QB play out of Cam Newton. If you play fantasy he probably carried you through the fantasy playoffs into the championship. At least, that’s what he did for me. While they went 7-9 it was a tale of two seasons for them. They won their last 5 games of the season.

All the teams picking after 15 are pretty much set at QB which would make you think that a lot of these QB’s will slide out of the first round. So if Geno Smith and Matt Barkley go in the top 10 are the others doomed to slide?

Not so fast. Teams in the 2nd round have a good chance of trading back into the first round to pick EJ Manual, Tyler Wilson, Ryan Nassib or Mike Glennon in very low risk high reward spots. You see, all 4 of those guys have questions and concerns but none of them are any worse or better of a prospect than Christian Ponder, Jake Locker or Blaine Gabbert were coming out.

They are very similar as far as their pros and cons go and nowadays, because of the rookie wage scale, they’re more low risk than ever. Brandon Weeden is going to cost the Browns a maximum of $8.1 million over 4 years! If he falls flat on his face next year, which I doubt will happen, they can cut him and move on or keep him around as a low risk back up.

There are some seriously freakish defensive end talent in this years draft. In the Giants two super bowl victories we’ve seen how important a good pass rush is. There are plenty of teams who would be willing to trade up into the top 12 for a chance to draft Ansah, Jordan, Werner or Mingo. That would give a QB needy team, like the Raiders, a chance to stock pile picks and also find them in a nice slot to pick EJ Manual, Nassib, Glennon or Wilson for a low risk rookie contract.

We’ve seen how aggressive teams can be when they have their targets set on a prospect. The Falcons, for example, traded into the 6th pick a few years ago, giving up what some considered a kings ransom for Julio Jones.

They gave up 2011 and 2012 first round picks, a 2011 second round pick and both 2011 and 2012 4th round picks! Now don’t you think a team like the Raiders, with a GM named Reggie Mackenzie who builds teams through the draft, will be fielding calls for a move like this? A guy like Dion Jordan would be a very good candidate for a team like the 49ers. They are absolutely loaded with 12 picks this year and imagine Jordan on that defense surrounded by Patrick Willis, Bowman, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith? I would suspect that asomugha would at least regain some of his old ways with that pass rush in front of him.

Then there are the Bronco’s, who are designed to win now and just lost a 10 sack a year pass rusher, who is in need of another explosive edge rusher on defense. A player like Barkevios Mingo or Ezikiel Ansah have created so much buzz they likely won’t make it out of the top 10. While both are very raw either one could easily step in and make a huge impact on passing downs while being coached up.

The Ravens just lost a few defensive corner stones, the falcons lost a pass rusher, the Packers need another pass rusher opposite Mathews, the Colts had a horrible defense, etc. Any number of these teams could be good candidates for teams in the top 10 both looking to stock pile picks and draft a low risk prospect at QB.

Before teams who had their sights set on a QB had to sink $50 million and multiple picks to trade up to get them. if that QB fails, not only are they out $50 million but by losing those picks they have no way to rebuild. A more complete team, like those picking at 20 and above, are probably pretty good at drafting. They not only probably have a nice young core of players on offense and defense to build around but they have something that makes drafting and rebuilding way easier: A franchise quarterback. A team like the Colts can hide many of their holes through great QB play. Look how atrocious their defense was? On the flip side Andrew Luck played out of his mind and despite the fact that he turned the ball over 23 times they still made it to the playoffs.

So, don’t let the so called experts bluff you into thinking that only 2 QB’s are worthy of first round consideration. In poker, you set your opponents up throughout a session to pay off your big hands later on. Teams downplaying this quarterback class is essentially bluff after bluff after bluff. Poker is an information war. Misinformation is a huge part of that as well. If an opponent knows your hand you’re dead. If a team knows that you want a player and you’re discussing a trade then they may be able to squeeze an extra pick out of you, and in the case of the Falcons, your clothes as well.

But Julio Jones worked out and because of the good old rookie wage scale no one will get stuck paying out jackpot lottery winnings for a QB. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of trading up and back in this years draft. This draft is full of defensive talent. A star cornerback or an explosive edge rusher could be everything one of the teams in the 20′s need to push them through the playoffs.

This year don’t be surprised if you see 5-6 quarterbacks getting drafted throughout the entire first round!

Why the new helmet rule isn’t that bad

A new rule where running backs aren’t allowed to lead with the crown of their helmets just passed and everyone is freaking out about it.

The NFL has some very passionate fans so the knee jerk reaction by both players and fans is to be expected.

Jim Brown seems to be the only running back who supports it. Most people seem to be worried about the integrity of the game and it turning into a watered down version of itself a few decades down the road.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the end is not nigh. Things will be just fine with the game we all so worship. This isn’t a final set in stone rule. The day one controversial rule passes one gets taken away. The infamous tuck rule, which essentially set in motion the New England Patriots dynasty, was taken away.

Take a few deep breathes and listen up. A few years ago people were complaining about the NFL trying to limit helmet to helmet hits. Well, did you notice something after the rule passed? Oh yeah! An offensive explosion in the NFL the likes of which we have never seen!

What exactly did limiting helmet to helmet hits do? It opened up the middle of the field and created more passing lanes for QB’s. Hard hitting safeties went extinct over night and quarterbacks felt a lot more confident throwing into traffic.

Not only that quarterbacks are more protected than ever before. If a defensive end sneezes and a booger lands on the face of Tom Brady then its a 15 yard penalty.

This gave quarterbacks even more confidence to step up and throw deep in the pocket because they know they aren’t going to get Molly Whopped like they used to.

Of course all these rules have been brought up in the best interests of the owners. The owners have liability to worry about and if they don’t at least show they’re trying to be safer than, as we have seen, they will be sued.

Owners also want to protect their investments. They don’t want to sink $100 million into the face of their franchise and watch him miss games or end his career because of injury.

I know most people don’t want to see the NFL in this light but it’s the truth. The thing that brings new fans to the game are more points, more yards and bigger plays!

Well, that’s exactly what we got, didn’t we? The past few years have been crazy. We have 4-6 QB’s pushing 5000 yards every year now, defensive ends getting between 15-20 and rookie QB’s playing like 10 year vets!

The big reason being because of the NFL limiting helmet to helmet hits. So, now we have a better product on the field and everyone is still complaining? Now we have this running back rule where they can’t lower their head and lead with their crown.

It does kind of suck a little bit but is it really going to ruin the quality of the game? No, I highly doubt it. The NFL fields the best athletes in the world. I would expect that the very best and most athletically gifted players will adjust somehow. The others won’t make it.

I’m sure everyone is worrying about how Adrian Peterson’s game will be affected or Trent Richardson. I’m sure it’s a knee jerk reaction to assume that their games will suffer and so will the game as a whole.

Trust me when I say this, it won’t. The two guys I mentioned are creative athletes who will learn how to improvise.

Jim Brown even says he never led with his crown and that he used his shoulders, arms and hands. Adrian Peterson is similar in that he’s a big physical runner with game breaking speed.

If you haven’t noticed as well the best running backs are smaller and quicker. In other words their game isn’t dominated by lowering their helmet. Their strengths lie in making people miss and finesse.

The fullback is already extinct, replaced by H-backs with more speed. Those guys would have really been effected in the worse way.

But at the end of the day the game will be fine. Expect the offensive explosion to level off somewhat as defenses adjust down the road. I expect it to explode for a little longer as more and more teams move to the spread and exploit one on one match ups.

So remember, next time some old dude stuck in the glory day’s complains about the integrity of the game and how bad it’s getting, ask him what he thought of the last 3 years.

If he says they were amazing and some of the best football he’s ever seen then you can call him a hypocrite.

Better Fantasy Value? Wes Welker or Danny Amendola?

Wes Welker or Danny Amendola?

I came up upon this article on NFL.com and I kind of had to do a double take. The answer, as far as fantasy value, is Wes Welker and it’s not as close as they would have you believe.

The reasoning of the NFL.com crew makes sense. Sure, Welker is 32 and not getting any younger. The Broncos also have a very crowded receiving core, with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker both going over 1000 yards. They’ve also got Brandon Stokely, who had 45 receptions and Jacob Tamme, who will probably post between 30-45 receptions.

Amendola is also essentially replacing Welker’s slot position, which is Tom Brady’s comfort zone. It all makes sense on paper but there are several reasons why Welker will blow Amendola’s production out of the water:

1. In my eyes, it seemed like the early season antics of not featuring Welker was an attempt at the Patriots to change up their offense. Once they got the sense it wasn’t working (Arizona game was the turning point) they reverted back to what had worked the last 6 years.

Letting Welker go is basically McDaniels fully committing to their tight ends being the focal point. Amendola will not be Brady’s first choice, although he will try, Gronkowski will. After that it will be Hernandez and then Amendola. Amendola will be the third choice and McDaniels most likely believes that a full off season with this offense will iron out the kinks. I disagree and expect a drop off in Brady’s overall numbers. Remember the offenses that the Patriots featured when they won those super bowls? The receivers never had that many yards or receptions. Expect the same thing this fall except with the tight ends putting up 70-80 receptions and a 1000 yards and the receivers being the 3rd and 4th choices and building upon last years success in the running game.

2. Amendola can’t stay on the field. He is injury prone. While The contract is pretty low risk ($10 million for 2 years) I expect Amendola to miss at least 3-4 games. So who will step up in his absence? No one knows and to be honest, since he will be the 3rd choice after Gronk and Hernandez, the Patriots really won’t miss him that much.

3. The patriots are moving more towards a balanced offense which features a top 10 running game. The Patriots of the last 6 years fielded a historically great offense that gave the greatest show on turf a run for it’s money.

But they never won a super bowl and continuously fell short. This will take more looks and receptions away from Amendola. They are moving towards a more balanced offense and did not want to sink too much money into that position if they aren’t going to use it.The offense is evolving away from focusing too much on the slot. Remember, the Patriots are innovators. There are many teams just now starting to throw to the slot receiver more while the Patriots are quietly moving away from it.

4. Another big reason that everyone thinks the Patriots went with Amendola and not Welker is age. I think this aspect is blown out of proportion. You’d think that if you worked at NFL.com you’d do your homework, especially on history.

Focused wide receivers who take the game seriously and take great care of their body generally play until 36-38 years old. In my eyes Welker is the type of player who will be productive until then. He hasn’t missed many games throughout his whole career. In fact, Amendola has missed way more games than Welker.

At minimum, Wes has 3 good years left where he will post between 90-100 receptions. After that, I’m not so sure.

5. I know that the Bronco’s are stacked at WR but that doesn’t matter. Manning spreads it around and there will be plenty of situations where all 3, Decker, Thomas and Welker will get one on one looks.

Manning completes over 70% of his passes to slot receivers, where Welker plays. Let’s also not forget the years that Reggie Wayne had. He’s had 3 100+ reception years.

Also, Eric Decker isn’t that great of a receiver. One of his biggest issues is creating separation. The Bronco’s had to put him in motion a bunch to get him open which somewhat handicaps the offense. Manning won’t have to do this as much with Welker there and the offense will run at a much faster pace, believe it or not, which is one of their off season goals.

Decker will be a great decoy and I expect his receptions and fantasy value to drop significantly. Demaryius Thomas will have similar production and Welker will close in on a 100 receptions and 1100 yards. The touchdowns probably won’t be very high. They never have been for him but expect at least 5.

6. It’s very easy to see that Welker loves the game of football. Think about both situations and tell me which player has a better chance to succeed.

In one corner you have Danny Amendola, who can’t stay on the field coming into a situation with a HOF QB who expects him to not miss a beat in the place of a player who has put up 6 of the best years ever by a WR. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who’s never really done much.

In the other corner you have Wes Welker, who has just been dumped at the altar by the love of his life (The Patriots offense) for a guy who isn’t as good as him, maybe a little better looking and younger but definitely not as good.

Basically Wes Welker has a HUMONGOUS chip on his shoulder. He’s out to prove that the Patriots have made a giant mistake and he gets the chance to do so with one of the greatest QB’s of all time.

So who do you think will put up better fantasy numbers? The guy with a tremendous amount of pressure on him who’s never really produced? Or the guy who is somewhat of a legend and got severely disrespected?

Bottom Line: The Patriots are changing their offense so in their eyes they didn’t need to pay a guy they weren’t going to throw to as much as they used to. Their offense features two athletic tight ends with different skill sets and a solid top 10 running game. The receivers just aren’t going to be the first or second options anymore. They don’t need Amendola to get 100 receptions and he won’t. If the guy gets 60-70 receptions they’ll be happy because hernandez and Gronk will get 70-80 themselves while Stevan Ridley will get 1200ish yards.

The Bronco’s offense wasn’t missing much but Eric Decker is somewhat of a liability in that they have to put the guy in motion to get separation. He can’t do it himself. Now you have Welker, who can still create separation with his elite short area burst, and is also able to improvise and put himself in a situation where the QB feels comfortable throwing him the ball.

Peyton Manning completes more passes in the slot than any other QB (70%) and you have potentially, the best slot receiver of all time. Welker is going to become Manning’s first choice in this offense, Thomas will be second and Tamme, Decker and Stokely will switch between being his third, fourth and fifth choices.

Mark it down. Wes Welker will get 100 receptions, 1200 yards and 5-8 TD’s with something to prove. Amendola is walking into a position that’s becoming an after thought on one of the best offenses of all time. I expect him to get 60 receptions, 800 yards and 4TD’s.

 

Best and Worst of Free Agency

Jermon Bushrod: How many times can you swing at the fucking ball and miss? The number one indicator of a quarterbacks success is the protection. Say what you want about Cutler but he has gotten pummeled worse than any quarterback in the league and put up solid numbers. He has a winning record in Chicago and they refuse to help this guy.

This isn’t coming from me but apparently, according to pro football focus (Look it up I’m at work typing this and can’t insert links) is one of the worst starting left tackles in the league. This is with Bree’s quick release.

The Bears have really only one real move here because Cutler is going to get pummeled again: Go for broke and pick up Jake Long. Yeah I know everyone says he’ll be a bust but at least now you can say you tried. You have J’marcus Webb driving around wasted because he sucks and Gabe Carimi completely lost out there. You lost out on Phil Loadholdt, just go for it.

Miami Dolphins: Every year the kings of free agency get pummeled when the season starts. I don’t know what it is about receivers switching teams but for some reason it just doesn’t work out. The list is endless: Peerless Price, David boston, Laurent Robinson just to name a few.

I’m calling it now, Mike Wallace will be next. He was surrounded by a great QB in Ben Ro and a world class organization in Pittsburgh. You think Wallace is going to behave himself in Miami? With Phillip Wheeler and Ellerbe signing huge contracts too? These guys will do just about everything except play good football. 3 years from now Ellerbe and Wallace will be cut. I still have hope for Wheeler but when’s the last time a quality player has come out of the Raiders organization?

Wes Welker: John Elway is a killer. Plain and simple. However good this guy was as a QB he is just murdering it as a GM. The moves this guy is making are simply unreal. Not only did he not break the bank, but he brings in Welker for as much as Brian Hartline is getting. It’s highway robbery plain and simple.

Then he goes out a brings in a Del Rio player in Porkchop Knighton. To excellent signings without breaking the bank.

How can this offense get better than it already is? There’s no way in a million years I’d guess the Patriots would low ball Welker that bad. If he just signed for 2yrs $6 million what the hell did the partiots offer him? They must really think he’s a chump, purely the product of the Patriots system.

Lets not forget McDaniels the team obliterator is the offensive coordinator. I would bet my first born son he had a huge part in this. I’m calling it. Brady has a down year. He’s had his very best years with Welker there.

Kruger and Bryant: There’s a guy like this every year. Someone who has more potential than resume. Kruger’s success depends on how they use him. I could see him coming out and getting 10 sacks a year. Ray Horton is an excellent defensive coordinator and Michael Lombardi is a solid off season pickup. If these two guys weren’t involved I would say this would be one of the worst pick ups but I feel like he’ll be ok.

This is crazy. Another guy coming out of the Raiders get’s paid. The Raiders really had no choice. They are in the middle of an awful re-building situation. It’s going to get worse before it get’s better. They are essentially playing with a $90 million cap as opposed to a $123 million cap. Desmond Bryant is supposed to be pretty good, DUI or not so I like the pick up for the same reasons I like the Kruger pick up.

Alright, I need to get back to work. Have a great day. I promise I’ll break down potential fantasy impacts for next year very soon!

Why The Broncos are making the right move w/ Dumerville

It came as somewhat of a surprise to just about everyone when the Broncos asked Elvis Dumerville to take a pay cut or be cut.

He still produced the last 2 years to the tune of 20 sacks.

But apparently he was the number 33 ranked 4-3 defensive end. $12 million is too much money for that.

Dumerville a camp has turned the Broncos down and they’re choosing the wrong year to do so. Here’s why:

1. Draft: The NFL draft is riddled with pass rushing defensive ends and linebackers who can pin their ears back and get to the QB.

Why invest $12 million a guy when you could potentially get similar or slightly better production for $10 million less?

As there has been an aerial explosion as the league becomes more and more pass first, there are many more opportunities to get to the QB.

It’s no coincidence that there were 3 players this past year with the potential of breaking Strahans record.

There are also plenty of young up in coming pass rushers producing sacks as role players.

This draft showcases players like Ezekiel ansah, barkevious mingo, dion Jordan and bjorn Werner. Those are just first round guys. This is one of the deepest drafts in years so there are plenty of bargains in later rounds.

2. Von Miller: Von miller is a potential defensive player of the year candidate every year now. He’s a guy you can build around and is becoming a defensive leader.

It makes no sense paying Dumerville $12 million while you’re at the same time paying Von miller much less. It’s also clearing room for the long term since miller will command top dollar.

Look at it this way. If you’ve got Von miller rushing the other side, he’s getting double teamed, which leaves more one on one situations for dumerville.

If that’s the case then dumerville should be producing more sacks. He’s also a liability against the run. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t sign cliff avril. Avril had 10 sacks, which is ok, but he also had ndamokung Suh and Gerald McCoy taking up double teams. Avril should be pushing 15-16 sacks a year because in theory he should be getting one on one more.

Same with dumerville. His sacks have gone down since he signed the contract and Von miller has come to town.

3. Free agency: there are plenty of decent pass rushers available for much less than $12 million a year. Dwight freeney is one everyone is linking to Denver because of manning.

It’s ironic because dumerville has always been a poor mans freeney. They’re both under sized ( freeney is 6’1 and dumerville is 5’11) have incredibly long arms and are reasonably fast. Freeney runs a 4.4 and dumerville close to a 4.7.

Then theres John abraham, and osi umenorya. Yeah they’re a little older but pass rushers play til around 37-38. I wouldn’t touch avril or Kruger because teams are about to over pay for them but Dumervilles value is dropping fast.

Freeney should come at a reasonable price and should still have a couple 10–12 sack seasons left in his tank.

4. Contender: every player wants a chance to play for a contender. The Broncos has a very good shot to go deep into the playoffs the next 2-3 years and potentially play in a Super Bowl and win it all.

The Broncos essentially will drive down the price of any player towards the end of their career who wants a chance at a ring. A guy like freeney and Abraham have already made millions. They may take less just for another shot at a ring.

Osi has been complaining for years. He already has 2 rings but who can argue with one more? He’d also have an opportunity to play opposite Von miller. Osi is smart enough to know that the more pass rushers he has around him the more isolation situations he’ll have.

I’m not saying they will take less money but the Broncos have the leverage here.

Conclusion: Dumervilles agent is giving him horrible advice. He the Broncos cut him he will no doubt find a team but no one is going to pay him $12 million. All the teams drafting in the top 15 have a shot at a blue chip pass rusher for a lot less than they’d have to pay dumerville.

So why would they pay him $12 million? Then there are several defensive ends on the market. The top 5 defensive ends will take about $50-$70 million off the market.

This is also a cornerback rich free agency period. Once teams start signing them that will take another $100 million off the market.

So how big of a piece of pie does that leave him? A lot less than $12 million.

No one is prepared to pay him $12 million. Not only that the desperate teams who will pay him close to it aren’t playoff contenders and are re-building. Dumerville also risks the chance of spending the rest of his days on a mediocre dysfunctional isquad.

At the end of the day the broncos have the upper hand and Dumerville could potentially make a career changing move for the worst. Dumervilles real market value is Round $6 million.

This is one of the last products of McDaniels complete dismantling of an NFL team and John Elway is trying to clean it up. The Broncos have over paid Dumerville for the past 2 years. They have too many options to pay him $12 million.

It’s an agents job to accurately assess the market for his players and in this situation he has failed.

What Does The Alex Smith Trade Mean For Everyone Else?

The Alex Smith trade effects more teams than just the 49ers and the Chiefs. Lets break down what it does for them first and then how it effects the team’s in the top 10 of the draft as well as other QB hungry teams.

Kansas City Chiefs: Depending on who you ask the Chiefs got a long term answer at QB or bought themselves a few years until one shows up. Regardless, they’re suddenly a contender in the AFC west. The Chiefs have everything to succeed in this pass happy NFL: A big bodied red zone threat in Dwayne Bowe, a gamebreaking runningback who can take a screen pass to the house, an above average offensive line, an offensive quarterback coaching guru and a defense riddled with play makers.

They also can use the number 1 pick to address other issues on their team. I expect them to try and trade and stockpile like the Rams did last year. That would be an incredible start to a coaching career if Reid pulls off something like that.

San Fransisco 49ers: Everyone keeps saying the rich get richer and there is no better way to describe it. The 49ers have been nailing just about every draft they’ve had under Harbaugh. Look for the 49ers to stay in super bowl contention and continue a bid to become the NFL’s newest dynasty. What’s scary is they have ammo to pull off a trade for Darelle Revis. They’ve got 12 picks in this years draft and 2 in the first 34 before picking again in the 2nd round. They could easily package picks and move up in the draft, trade picks for Revis or stay put and gain 3 day one starters in the first 64 picks! Talk about a great start to a coaching career!

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are about as quarterback hungry as you can get for an NFL team. The issue is that their offensive line is so awful that even if Alex Smith went there it wouldn’t be a good situation for anyone. It’s well known that more than anything, protection is the number one indicator of how well a QB does on a team. There aren’t many QB’s who could survive the beating they would take in the desert.

Couple that with the fact that Arians is a huge advocate for attacking a secondary down the field and Alex Smith wouldn’t make much sense there anyways. The Cardinals are better off re-building their QB situation from the ground up under Arians. He’s one of the best QB guru’s in the game. Give him a young moldable QB prospect like Geno Smith, sign a couple offensive linemen through free agency and the cardinals will be competitive in no time flat.

Alex Smith would have been ill-suited to run the high flying run and gun offense that Arians loves. I think he would have regressed and the Cardinals would have been stuck in reverse.

So, look for the Cardinals either get Geno Smith, if he falls past the Raiders, or Matt Barkley.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Everyone see’s the Jaguars going for another QB. If that’s your perception then Geno Smith makes sense. I don’t see them giving up on Gabbart just yet. The new regime seems patient and willing to build through the draft. Gabbart doesn’t look like a franchise QB but he’s only 23. Most QB’s get 3 solid years before the rug gets pulled out from under them.

Also, Chad Henne never has been the answer but he put up some pretty nice games last year. He may not be the future but he’s good enough while the Jaguars re-build. He can give you 2-3 years while the Jaguars find someone better or Blaine Gabbart finally shows up. This QB draft class is one of the worst to reach and try to re-build in.

Oakland Raiders: Thing get interesting for the Raiders. They’ve got Carson Palmer, who they will have re-structure his contract and Terrelle pryor, who no one knows what he’s capable of. If there is any time where Terrelle Pryor can produce it is now when the spread is welcomed with open arms and bear hugs.

But why not draft a much more talented Geno Smith who has plenty of speed (4.56) and a hell of an arm to boot? I’m much more high on Geno Smith than most. I think people are knocking him more than they should. You know, they say that teams pump the league with lies during this time in an effort to get players to lose value and fall to them in the draft. It’s entirely possible thats whats going on here because while I am no NFL level talent evaluator I don’t see anything out of the ordinary that can’t be fixed.

Here’s what’s funny to me. In the past the knock on running QB’s is that they look to run first and pass second. Well, finally we have a bunch of running QB’s who want to be known as pocket passers first (RG3, Russel Wilson). Geno Smith has the speed to run but is a pocket passer at his core.

In my eyes he’s the second coming of Steve McNair. That’s my comparison and I’m sticking to it! So yeah, if he is as raw as they say you’ve got a guy in Carson Palmer who can take the reins for a year. The Raiders aren’t going anywhere for a few years anyways while they climb out of salary cap hell.

And sure there is more pressure for rookies to come in to play nowadays but it’s not as if this kid is getting Jamarcus Russel money. He’ll get Cam Newton money, at $22 million, which is highway robbery compared to what top 5 picks used to get. The Raiders can afford to either let him sit for a year behind Palmer or even throw him right into the fire.

Buffalo Bills: I don’t know much about what the Bills are planning to do. In fact I don’t have much speculation that is based on any type of logic at this time so I’m not going to pretend like I do.

The Bills blew their load too early on Ryan Fitzpatrick a few years back. Hey it happens to us all and it sure is embaressing, especially when it’s with a girl you really like. All you can do is hope she gives you a few more chances to redeem yourself and if she does, you’ll show her, right?

Well, Fitzpatrick has gotten more than a few more chances and the sex just isn’t getting any better. It makes for some awkward bedroom, errr, I mean awkaward NFL Sunday’s. The team tried to hide the real issue at hand by surrounding the team with an excellent collection of defensive talent. Hell, if the defense is good enough, and you have a good running game then you can get by with average QB play, right? Not anymore old timer. This is the high flying, run and gun NFL where you need an elite level talent who is either elite (Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Flacco? Ugh, it pains me to say it) or on his way to being elite (RG3, Russel Wilson, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick).

The defense didn’t even play up to their contracts, with Mario Williams being the most disaspointing byt signing a $100 million contract and only getting like 11 sacks. Ok, you can say the sacks are good enough but the defense, especially against the run, was terrible. If you get paid that much money you should at least put up 15 sacks and the unit should be in the top 10. Let’s just say he didn’t quite have a julius peppers type impact.

So where do the Bills go from here? Do they pull the trigger on a QB in what is considered a weak QB class? or do they give old Ryan a few more bed room romps, close their eyes and hope for the best?

Everyone’s had bad sex before and it’s hard enough to give someone a 2nd chance (Unless you’re drunk) let alone another year.

But they have no real choice at this point. There is no long term answer in free agency and it doesn’t appear there is a QB that can step in and start day one in the draft unless you’re Geno Smith.

But what about Matt Barkley? He was, just a few years ago, the equivalent of QB jesus until he tried to do the right thing and stay in school. Now no one is so sure about him, unless NFL teams are simply running game again. There’s talk of him being a top 10 pick now. If the Bills do take a QB, and this Barkley hype is real, I expect him to go to Buffalo at number 8.

What else do the Bills need at this point? They’ve got a pretty good offensive line, they have an excellent collection of defensive talent at every position. Defensive end, safety, linebacker and cornerback all have potential studs.

They’ve got an amzing talent at runningback in CJ Spiller, a WR who can beat Darelle Revis in Stevie Johnson so what else do they need? Oh yeah! A quarterback! It appears that Buffalo has no choice but to draft a QB at some point. If Geno Smith falls to them they should sprint to the podium. Anyone else you kind of just go through the motions and hope for the best. They’re used to that by now….

Allow me to introduce you to Alex Smith: Elite QB

I’ve never been very high on Alex Smith. I’ve followed his career since the first game of his senior season at Utah. He was running around making all sorts of plays with his legs. He looked great, great enough to launch himself into the number 1 overall pick that year.

He has everything an NFL needs in a QB. He’s mobile (4.7 forty) and intelligent, finishing college in 2 years and he seemed to have a passion for football.

Teams were so psyched on him that Aaron Rodgers found himself in a draft free fall. We all know the story. Mr. Rodgers was supposed to go in the top 10 but Alex did instead and one super bowl victory later he suddenly found himself thought of as an NFL bust.

Alex was pretty bad his first year, throwing 11 interceptions and 1 touchdown. Every year past that he was never really that good and never really that bad. That was the problem with him. He always left you wanting more.

Alex did tease us a bit when Norv Turner was his offensive coordinator in 2006. He was very efficient with 16TD’s and only 6 interceptions and a respectable 2800 yards but those are game manager numbers.

That seemed to be his ceiling, a high end game manager. Even under Harbaugh he left a lot to be desired. Sure he had that game where he went bannana’s against the saints in the playoffs but he never really got much credit. Everyone knew that he was protected through clever playcalling and that game wasn’t to be expected.

It seemed that under Harbaugh, Alex Smith had peaked. The rest of the story goes like this: Smith gets benched blah blah blah he’s underappreaciated yada yada yada then he gets traded!

And this is where the real story begins. This is where Alex Smith carves out his legacy and finally fufills the potential that every coach in the league thought they saw coming into the league.

Smith is only 28 years old. He came into the league before he was 21 years of age. He’s mobile and highly intelligent. Best of all he walks into a dream scenario with Andy Reid, who has historically gotten the best out of every QB he has coached.

We’ve all seen how Reid can turn an average QB into a good borderline great QB. What have these quarterbacks done when leaving Reids watch? Most of them flamed out, the highest profile bust being Kevin Kolb striking it rich in Arizona. Then theres AJ Feely, who Reid got a 2nd rounder for. It’s hard to to assess Donaven Mcnabb since he was at the very end of his career but no one can argue how great he was during the 10 years he spent with Andy.

Michael Vick had his best years under Reid, putting up passing numbers he’d never touched before he went to jail. Then there’s Jeff Garcia, who didn’t quite reach the numbers in his prime but was extremely efficient leading the Eagles to the playoffs while in Philly.

Alex Smith isn’t going to a bad team or even a re-building team. The Chiefs are already loaded with talent sending 6 players to the pro bowl last year and fielding one of the best runningbacks in the game, Jamaal Charles.

The jury on whether Bowe stays or goes is still out but expect him to stick around now that Reid is in town. I don’t expect the Chiefs to try and re-build their receiver core from the ground up. That would be foolish given Smiths label as a game manager. Why make his transition to a new team that much more difficult?

But I don’t expect Smith to be a game manager any more. Under Reids watch, I expect him to flirt with being elite. Yeah. It’s bold. And I have never been high on Alex Smith but if he can put up solid numbers under Norv Turner and Jim Harbaug then expect even greater numbers under the most QB friendly coach in the league. Reid will push Alex Smith to his threshold and get a the most out of him as long as this marriage lasts.

Reid has a way of instilling a level of confidence in his quarterbacks that no other coach can. Now here’s how it effects your fantasy team: Expect Alex Smith to get between 3900-4200 yards passing, 22-26 touchdown passes and around 10-12 interceptions.

Yeah, I know, this isn’t quite elite just yet but I expect this in his very first year. 5 years from now we will consider Alex Smith amongst the very best in the league, easily within the top 10.

How is this possible? Well, I consider what Smith has gone through an advantage. He has essentially run the quarterback gauntlet, resurrecting his career several times along the way.

In that time he has dealt with an incredible amount of offensive personal, between new coordinators, WR’s, RB’s, headcoaches and offensive linemen. During that time he has shown an incredible ability to adjust which is essential in the NFL. Most quarterbacks would have been left for dead years ago but Alex Smith has found a way to continually come back from it.

One of the most valuable assets to have as an NFL QB is being mentally tough. I don’t know how much more mentally tough you can be having been through all he has during a career that seems like forever.

I don’t blame Harbaugh for starting Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith. He pulled the trigger in a situation most coaches would go the safe route. Kaepernick is a rare NFL talent you can build a team around. Alex Smith isn’t as talented as Kaeprnick and never will be.

But pair him with one of the best offensive minded coaches of all time and you have an incredible scenario for him to thrive in. If I’m Smith I’m claiming destiny, and feeling as if it were all meant to be. Consider all past transgressions water under the bridge. I’m stoked and grateful for my current situation and look forward to carving out a solid NFL career to be proud of.

Phew. This article has already gone on long enough. Thanks for reading. I know its a bold statement. It’s not so much that I believe in Alex Smith. It’s more so that I believe in Andy Reid and what he can get out of a quarterback. In Smith, Reid has everything he needs to be successful: Mobility, top level intelligence and a decent arm. If I were to compare him to one of the QB’s Reid has coach I would compare him to Jeff Garcia. He’s taller and probably smarter but they probably have similar arm strength as well as similar mobility.

 

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