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Don’t Sleep on Geno

If you’re one to lock up the quarterback position early in drafts, you probably don’t burn another such pick until late (if at all) on another quarterback. Given typical bench sizes and unless we’re talking best ball or 14+ team formats, you’re scooping up Luck or Rodgers in the 2nd round partly to make space for that long-shot running back, wideout or tight end shortly before it’s time to go kicker. No offense, but the following pro-Geno propaganda isn’t as much for you. Now, if you’re one to wait on quarterback in most drafts and kinda like streaming them from week-to-week, keep reading.

After a small handful of elite fantasy quarterbacks of the no-brainer, start ’em & forget ’em sort, I rank upwards of a dozen quarterbacks similarly. What I mean by that is, the range of reasonable outcomes for my QB5 or QB6 doesn’t point to much of a competitive advantage over that of my QB15 this season. This is due to a number of reasons, not the least of which is an ever growing tendency toward more passing, at all levels of football. Simply put, more quarterbacks than ever are fantasy relevant these days.

I’d like to draw your attention to the quarterbacks most websites rank in the 20s range. Robert Griffin III, who has looked unfortunately like a shell of the athlete he once was. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, who intrigue you for dynasty but let’s be honest, face an uphill battle in 2015. Derek Carr and Blake Bortles, either of whom could turn the corner in year two, but have in common the setbacks of a below average supporting cast and having to learn a new system. Alex Smith will undoubtedly be a favorable streaming option some weeks. But why target someone with marginal upside? And when it comes to Nick Foles‘ migration from a Chip Kelly offense to that of Jeff Fisher, I just … no.

When you look to Geno Smith as a late-round flyer, you’re looking to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. In his experience as a builder of NFL offenses, Gailey has made do with the Jay Fiedlers and Tyler Thigpens of the world, more extensively in the case of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Geno has more physical tools and deep accuracy as a passer than those guys, and was anointed the starter as the incoming coaching regime got settled in. He’s improved from the standpoint of efficiency and touchdowns per attempt, while cutting down on interceptions. Actually, he finished up the 2014 season rather nicely, completing 65.1% of his passes for 1,001 yards (9.2 per attempt) and six touchdowns, over his final four games.

I can’t emphasize enough the stark difference between the predictable, ball-control brand of football Rex Ryan and Marty Mornhinweg opted for, as compared to what the Jets spread attack will now begin to look like under Chan Gailey. Regardless of what you think of Geno’s outlook as a talent, there’s no question these are the best receivers he’s ever worked with: newly signed Brandon Marshall, both Eric Decker and Jace Amaro are in their second year with the club, Jeremy Kerley will reprise his role from the slot, and rookie speedster Devin Smith. Make no mistake, this team is poised to throw the football a lot more — often to its big money perimeter targets, as opposed to checking down so often.

Geno Smith’s average draft position would suggest that he’s on the cusp of squandering his opportunity to flourish under Gailey, which might actually be the best part. Seeing as he’s going undrafted in numerous leagues, you needn’t reach for Geno as a backup. He faces a tough Browns defense in Week 1, fortunately it’s at home. Then at Indy in Week 2, then versus Philly in Week 3. Weeks 4 (at Miami) and 5 (bye) aren’t ideal, whereas hosting Washington in Week 6 is a gift. You would want to stream other quarterbacks for at least two of New York’s opening six weeks, of course, but that schedule strikes me enough as a positive to warrant further consideration.

I’m not saying that the Jets’ third-year quarterback is the secret to winning your league. Considering he’s virtually free, though, why not wait several rounds longer as opposed to settling for one of the aforementioned 20-somethings — each of whom carry plenty of risk in their own right. Or if you’d rather, keep him in mind as a waiver add when the starter you waited until double-digit rounds to draft faces a difficult Week 2 and/or Week 3 opponent. The signs that point to a breakout season from Geno Smith are obvious, which you will do well not to ignore.

About Joshua Simmons

Fantasy football has been a passion of mine since the days of tallying league scores with newspaper sports page, pencil, paper and calculator. What I like most about FantasySharks is the projections-driven weekly content, of which I have been a contributor for a number of years now. I also contribute on the dynasty rankings side of things, year round.