Fantasy Fallout: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Dom Murtha gives his rapid reactions to the Alex Smith trade, the subsequent Alex Smith contract extension, and the definitive end of Kirk Cousins in D.C.
"Mr. Smith Goes To Washington"
That's my favorite newspaper headline that is likely going to grace several back pages on Wednesday morning. And not only because it is also the title of a 1939 best picture nominee, but mostly because of the parallels from this situation to the plot of the movie. Like appears to be the case for Alex Smith, in the film Mr. Smith heads to D.C. in hopes of cleaning up the corruption riddled throughout the capital. In today’s version, the quarterback has a lot in front of him in terms of a fractured roster, embattled ownership, and an overall controversial standing as an NFL franchise in our contemporary American culture…
Just down the wire a few hours ago, word broke – first from The Kansas City Star – that the Redskins and Chiefs had agreed in principle to trade Alex Smith. Later, Adam Schefter of ESPN confirmed on twitter the details of the trade “In Alex Smith trade, Chiefs will receive third-round pick And CB Kendall Fuller...” In an even more shocking turn of events, Schefter continued – along with Chris Mortensen – that the Redskins and Smith had already agreed in principle for a four-year contract extension that would include a whopping $71 million in guaranteed money. Considering Smith’s career of mediocrity and seemingly advanced age of 33, what a time it must be to be an NFL quarterback.
To look at this from a fantasy angle, we must break it down into a few parts. 1) How does Alex Smith fit? What will his long and short-term impact be with Washington? 2) The Chiefs and life after Smith; Mahomes now in the driver’s seat. 3) The Haul: Adding a third rounder and Kendall Fuller. 4) What’s next for Captain Kirk?
How does Alex Smith fit? What will his long and short-term impact be with Washington?
Looking at the graphic, with Alex Smith’s numbers being on the left and Kirk Cousins’ being on the right, according to last year at least, the Redskins and fantasy owners will be getting the same quarterback for all intents and purposes. While over the last three years Kirk Cousins has been the better statistical quarterback, Smith should continue to offer adequate production at the cost of fewer turnovers.
Something to keep in mind however is the difference in surrounding talent for Smith.
Alex Smith is going from a Kansas City roster loaded with playmakers by the names of Kelce, Hunt, and Hill, to a Redskins roster with little supporting cast outside of Jordan Reed, who can never seem to stay healthy for more than a month at a time.
As for his long term future with Washington, at four years and over $70 million guaranteed, the Redskins clearly have to have a plan in place to build around him. Seemingly until he retires, Alex Smith is going to be a Washington Redskin. Considering that, Washington will get to work this offseason – particularly in the draft – looking to make their new signal caller as comfortable as possible. That now puts the running back position in play for the Redskins, as Smith’s best years have come with elite backs in the backfield behind him. Most notably we saw this past year with his pairing with rookie Kareem Hunt, but also remember his KC days with Jamaal Charles and his many San Francisco years with Frank Gore. Simply put, Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley, and Chris Thompson won’t be cutting it. Beyond that expect the Redskins to target a game breaking speed threat on the outside, who can do damage both on deep routes and in the intermediate, mainly in hopes of filling the Tyreek Hill void. In many ways over the last two years, Tyreek Hill was Smith’s most important weapon, as he possesses the ability to take it to the house on any given touch. Hill’s ability made Smith’s elite short passing accuracy suddenly a weapon, while his long speed also allowed Smith to become one of the more comfortable looking deep passers in the NFL over the last few years.
The Chiefs and life after Smith; Mahomes now in the driver’s seat
Pivoting here, we take a look at what in the world the Chiefs were thinking… It’s simple really; Andy Reid and co. felt confident in Patrick Mahomes’ ability to run their offense. Moreover, they not only felt confident that he could run the offense, but they felt that his raw physical arm talent, pocket creativity, and athletic ability to make plays with his legs would allow him to run the offense better than Alex Smith is currently capable of.
I personally wasn’t a fan of his college tape, but that is mainly because I saw an incredibly raw quarterback prospect with a lot of work left to do before he would ever become an NFL starter. In his one game of action, which came in the last game of this past season – his rookie year – Mahomes displayed some solid progression. By that I mean that I was floored by the fact that he even managed to complete over 60-percent of his passes and the 284 yards passing weren’t too shabby either. The zero touchdowns and one interception can’t be ignored as downsides, but all in all it was a solid debut for a rookie considered greener than grass. All things considered, as it stands right now, I’ll take a shot in the dark and say that Mahomes will be a fantasy starter in 2018. His surrounding talent in KC is far too good and his potential – given his combination of athletic ability and instincts – is far too high for anything otherwise.
The Haul: Adding a third rounder and Kendall Fuller
While maintaining their anointed “quarterback of the future” the Chiefs shed an aging QB with a soon-to-expire contract. In the process they added a third round pick in this upcoming draft – a selection that is typically considered an instant starter – and Kendall Fuller – the Redskins best defensive player last year and a former third round pick in his own right. Considering the fact that he will step in as an immediate starter opposite Marcus Peters, it is safe to say that adding Fuller may instantly upgrade the Chiefs to possessing one of the most dangerous cornerback duos in the NFL.
When taking into account the fact that the Chiefs are sold on Mahomes as an NFL quarterback on top of the great haul that they got in return for Alex Smith, it is hard to consider this move anything other than a slam dunk for KC.
What’s next for Captain Kirk?
With all of this commotion, it is easy to forget about the best player involved in this scenario… Kirk Cousins is finished in Washington and it appears that after three great seasons – of which he eclipsed 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in each, and was franchise tagged in two – the two parties are not going to leave on amicable terms. The ugly divorce ends with Cousins wondering what else he could have done to please the vengeful owner in Dan Snyder.
According to Adam Schefter, Cousins’ story doesn’t end just yet; it is only just begun. He mentions off the cuff several teams “Buffalo, Cleveland, Denver, NY Jets, amongst others...” who will be pursuing his services this offseason, and considering the fact that a career mediocre and suddenly 33-year-old signal caller could get $71 million just a few hours ago, chances are that Cousins will do very well for himself in free agency.
Through all of this, the most likely outcome is that all three quarterbacks involved will finish up with positive endings. Mahomes inherits the keys to a playoff ready roster and an offense loaded with playmakers. Kirk Cousins has the opportunity to sign with a team that actually wants him, while he also has the option of which team he likes best; this may be very good news for those worrying about his potential fantasy prospects in 2018.
The guy I’m most concerned with is Alex Smith because by many, he can be considered a fantasy one-hit-wonder. After all, 2017 was his first season with over 4,000 yards passing, over 25 touchdowns, and over 275 fantasy points. This was all accomplished while playing behind an excellent defense, on an offense loaded with playmakers, and for an incredibly talented coaching staff. Going to a Redskins organization currently in complete disarray may be a bit of a culture shock. For inspiration, Smith needs to channel his inner Mr. Smith, who too went to Washington with nothing but his heart on his sleeve. While it took perseverance and persistence, Mr. Smith accomplished what he set out to do… Only time will tell how the story will end for Mr. Alex Smith.