If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Let me rephrase that. If Geno Smith is named the starting quarterback of the New York Jets, but no has him on their fantasy roster, does he make a sound? I think he does, although that sound is far closer to a whisper than a shout.
Geno Smith, Starting Quarterback
Did you know "Mark Sanchez" is Spanish for "Matt Leinart"? Well, Sanchez's Leinart-esque fall from grace has led to a less than hostile takeover of the Jets' quarterback postion by the enigmatic rookie Smith. We've ranked Smith number 31 at the quarterback position in 2013, and this means he shouldn't be on your roster in a standard 10- or 12-team league. We've projected him to finish with 2,152 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Not too impressive. However, his projections on the ground might give you something to think about. We believe Smith will rack up 478 yards running the ball with three rushing touchdowns in 2013. Hmm... That reminds me a bit of another relatively unheralded rookie quarterback who, last season, surprisingly took over for an overpaid veteran before Week 1. This quarterback went on to run for 489 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns. That quarterback's name? Russell Wilson.
A Poor Man's Russell Wilson?
I'm not telling you Geno Smith is Russell Wilson. I'm telling you that Smith is the RC Cola to Wilson's Coke. He's the Monkees to Wilson's Beatles. He's Ben Afleck to Wilson's Christian Bale.
So I looked further into our projections and noticed that we think Sanchez will throw for 619 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in 2013. But what if Smith stays healthy and never lets go of the Jets' starting quarterback position in 2013? Could he wind up with 2,700 yards passing, 500 yards rushing, 13 passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns over a full season? It's not unfeasible. If things go down like this, Smith could average approximately 12.5 fantasy points per game in standard ESPN fantasy leagues. This would have placed him the 24th amongst fantasy quarterbacks in 2012 and put him in the company of players like Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, and Alex Smith. Not so terrible...
The Preseason Picture
But wait. Slow down before you pick Smith up and expect his season to be all sunshine and rainbows. Did you watch the preseason? That deer in the headlights wearing green and white - the one not named Mark Sanchez - was Geno Smith. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 246 yards and threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions. He looked indecisive and inconsistent. He looked like a rookie. Remember, we've been blessed with the play of RGIII, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson. These guys are outliers - exceptions to the rule that states that rookie quarterbacks will struggle.
Most disarming about Smith's preseason performance are these two numbers: zero and zero. That's zero carries for zero yards! In fact, the only time I saw him use his lauded speed was to accidentally run out of his own end zone for a safety while being pursued by Giants' pass rushers. It's true that the preseason paints an incomplete picture, but it's our best indication of what this rookie might look like during Week 1.
Your 2013 New York Jets
Smith goes into 2013 with a below-average cadre of wide receivers. Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, and an injured Santonio Holmes strike fear into the hearts of no one, and Smith's presence at quarterback does nothing to elevate them. With a rookie quarterback and subpar receivers, I suspect the Jets' will attempt to feed their mediocre two-headed running attack of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell early and often. Both backs might be valuable fantasy players in what could be a very conservative offense.
Keep an eye on Smith
We rank Smith 31st at quarterback for several reasons, and there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding him, including what the Jets do with Sanchez once he's healthy. Although you should not roster Smith now, keep an eye on him. If he can hold onto his job and let his legs do the talking, he could be a bye-week replacement or a keeper with upside.