Fantasy Football: Don't Forget About Torrey Smith This Season

Smith is a polarizing figure in fantasy football, but he's nothing but a bargain for 2016.

The 13th round is usually when fantasy football drafts go haywire.

Your friend who drank too much before the draft is trying to draft Jay Cutler for the third round in a row. Your other friend who wore Zubaz pants that last fit him 15 years ago is beginning to experience stomach pains. Another clown inevitably drafts someone who was released days earlier. Someone gets booed for taking the first kicker of the draft and then tries to justify it.

The 13th round is also the round that Torrey Smith is being drafted in for 2016.

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, drafts that have taken place in the past month have Smith being drafted in the middle of the 13th round in 12-team PPR leagues.

He is the 57th wide receiver going off of the board. He is being drafted behind the likes of Victor Cruz and Breshad Perriman.

He is also being drafted after kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Why is he being drafted so late? Because he had the worst year of his career in 2015.

Way Back in the Year 2015

Smith had only 33 receptions for 663 yards last season in his first year with the 49ers. These were both his lowest totals in his career. But was his season that bad?

Here at numberFire, we use a metric called Net Expected Points, or NEP for short. This metric measures how a player performs on a per-play-basis relative to expectation level.

Among 86 receivers with at least 50 targets (Smith had 62) last season, his Reception NEP per target (0.86) ranked 12th-best.

Going off of that stat, Torrey actually performed well compared to other years of his career.

Year Targets Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns Reception NEP/Tar
2011 95 50 841 7 0.78
2012 110 49 855 8 0.7
2013 137 65 1128 4 0.74
2014 92 49 767 11 0.87
2015 62 33 663 4 0.86

While his targets (and by extension his receptions and yards) dropped significantly, his Reception NEP per target was about as good as it was during 2014, which he maintained over 30 additional targets.

He also transitioned from playing with a good (elite?) quarterback in Joe Flacco to playing with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, so a drop in production could have been predicted. Of the 37 quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs last season, Gabbert (-9.15) and Kaepernick (-9.49) ranked 34th and 35th, respectively, in Passing NEP.

In a season marred by poor quarterback play and an overall stagnant offense, Smith still put up an above-average Reception NEP per target score. This is encouraging when looking ahead to 2016.

Moving Forward

Anquan Boldin is now a free agent and is no longer with the 49ers. Who will take his targets in 2016?

Here is the current Niners depth chart at wide receiver along with their career statistics.

Player Name Receiving Yards Receiving Touchdowns
Torrey Smith 4,254 34
Quinton Patton 472 1
DeAndrew White 18 0
Bruce Ellington 215 2
Jerome Simpson 2,058 9
Dres Anderson 0 0

Smith has more yards and touchdowns than all of their receivers combined.

And another aspect working in his favor is the change at head coach in San Francisco.

Jim Tomsula led the 49ers to 14.9 points per game in 2015, the worst in the NFL according to Pro Football Reference.

Chip Kelly is a polarizing figure, but the stats show that he has a positive impact on offenses, particularly quarterbacks.

Even if Kelly can't completely revamp the offense overnight due to the personnel on the 49ers, Smith should still see more opportunity in 2016.

Hard to Ignore

We should not expect Smith to return to accruing 1,000 yards or scoring double-digit touchdowns, but the upside is always there in Kelly's offense.

When you draft him at the end of the draft, you'll likely get no response or an incoherent negative one from your drunk friend.

Torrey Smith is no longer a sexy pick, but in the 13th round, you could do a lot worse than taking a chance on a potential number-one option on an offense that should be trending up.