What if I told you that, over the last three years, there’s an NFL quarterback who has won 78 percent of his games, tossed nearly three times as many touchdowns as interceptions and completed 62 percent of his passes? You would say that probably one of the better QBs in the league, right?
Smith has done everything I already mentioned, including posting a 28-8-1 record as a starter since the start of the 2011 and throwing 46 TDs and only 16 INTs during that span. In the only two playoff games he started, he did his best Joe Montana impression, with five TDs and not a single interception.
All the Kansas City QB has gotten for his stellar performance, however, is (along with a benching in favor of Colin Kaepernick) an endless number of comments concerning his supposed status as a mere “game manager.” He’s won games by limiting his turnovers and leaning on excellent defenses and forceful rushing attacks, or so his critics claim.
Is that really such a bad approach, though? Smith does what he has to in order to get victories. If a team boasts stone-wall defenses (like Smiths 49ers and Chiefs teams have had) and dynamic running backs like Frank Gore or Jamaal Charles, their quarterback needs only to protect the ball, not air it out. There is absolutely no shame in having the ability to keep the ball out of defenses’ hands on a consistent basis. It’s a skill that more than a few QBs in today’s NFL could improve upon (looking at you Eli Manning, with your 18 picks).
For much of this season, that game-plan worked extremely well for the Smith and the Chiefs. They won their first nine games in a row on the backs of Charles and a defense that didn’t surrender more than 17 points in any game. In the last three games, however, the Kansas City ‘D’ has been exposed thanks a major upgrade in competition and they team has needed to score points to keep up with the explosive Broncos (twice) and Chargers.
The Chiefs have lost all three of those most recent games, but it hasn’t been because of Smith’s lack of big-play ability. The former Utah star has thrown seven TDs and only two INTs combined in those three games, as the Chiefs have averaged 28 points per game.
In Week 13, Smith stood toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning and nearly came out on top, throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns on 42 attempts. The former no. 1 overall pick has proven he can make plays and it seems as though he will need to for the duration of the season as the Chiefs defense tries to right itself.
KC’s increased reliance on Smith and its offense means that the nine-year veteran may finally some credit as a very good NFL quarterback. He’s certainly good enough to start in standard fantasy leagues; he’s posted 21 points or more in four of his last five games and in Week 14 he faces a Washington pass defense that’s ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed per game.
Smith has become a must-start, but he’s still only owned in 72 percent of fantasy leagues, despite his recent success. It’s obvious that the 29-year old has much more in his arsenal than the ability to protect the football, but fans and even media have been slow to realize it. If he’s available in your league, pick him up; he’ll probably do what he does best-help get you a win. Sleep on him at your own risk.