In this weekly column, I typically explore some young players who haven’t made much of a consistent impact to date on their fantasy football teams. Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap or moderate trade. Acquiring or not acquiring one of these players could decide how well your dynasty or keeper team does for the next few years. This week I take a look at Jets quarterback Geno Smith and Bengals wide receiver Mohammed Sanu:
QB-Geno Smith, NYJ- This might have been the best game I saw from the second year signal caller, but it’s a far cry to say that he is more polished right now. Against the Patriots, he made quicker decisions early on by finding an open receiver on his first or second read or deciding to scramble after the pocket crumbled around him. I’m not sure if we will ever see him use the patience to scan the entire field before making a decision though. The quarterback is improving on the little things: selling fake handoffs and pump fakes to slow down the rush. I really like when the Jets roll him out to the right, this cuts the field in half for him which either opens up something downfield or creates a running lane for him to exploit. The times Smith decided to run, he protected the ball, switching the pigskin to the arm nearest the sideline, and chose not to take unnecessary punishment.
It’s his calmness and confidence that seems to quiet and inspire his teammates. Smith intentionally targeted Revis completing a few passes over his head to Eric Decker. The quarterback threw confidently to Decker despite triple coverage, pushing the ball downfield. The signal caller got hot initially completing the first five of his passes, then cooled off with one completion for his next seven attempts, only to pick it back up in the second half. He was most inaccurate when he couldn’t step up in the pocket, which got demonstrated on a pass that fell short in the end zone due to him throwing with all arm and no legs.
Smith showed heart when he had his leg twisted leaving the game in the fourth quarter for a play, but came roaring back. On that drive, he calmly led the Jets back within a two-point conversion by hitting a nice scoring pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland. The young quarterback just missed rookie tight end Jace Amaro on the two-point conversion play. While I’m not sure that Smith will ever amount to more than a QB2, I believe with a better offensive coordinator and improved offensive weapons (Percy Harvin, perhaps?) that the quarterback could develop into a consistent fantasy producer. If you can get him as a throw-in player on a trade, why not? Just do not bank on him being a starter, unless you play in a two quarterback league.
WR-Mohammed Sanu, CIN- It has been quite the journey for the third year receiver. In the summer, he was an afterthought behind all-pro AJ Green and the flashier Marvin Jones. I say that because I drafted him in the 44th round of a 45 round dynasty startup in the summer and won him in an auction for a $2 contract with a $300 salary cap. Now that Jones is on IR and Green is hurting, Sanu is now the defacto WR1. Of course his Week 7 production of three catches for 54 yards on nine targets does not excite his owners much against the Colts. The entire Bengals offense was dismal as only tight end Jermaine Gresham had more targets (twelve) and caught ten of those for a whopping 48 yards.
Sanu is best served as a complementary wide receiver, who does his best work in the slot, by being able to manhandle smaller slot corners. He lined up against Vonte Davis usually on the single receiver side with some safety help. His quarterback, Andy Dalton, faced a Colts defense that blitzed more often than expected which forced more inaccurate throws by the signal caller. I counted two passes got thrown at least a foot too high and two others that sailed a foot behind him. Perhaps if a healthy Green were the target of those passes, the pro bowl receiver may have reached two of the four badly thrown balls. Unfortunately for the Bengals, Sanu does not have the same enormous catch radius or athleticism.
The third year receiver does a good job shielding the ball from his coverage and is willing to fully extend his body to make the most of each reception. Sanu had a beautiful sideline catch that he made while being shadowed by two defenders on the sidelines by catching the ball at its highest point. He kept on fighting throughout the game, giving great effort and intensity that the Bengals sorely needed. The offensive coaching staff tried some razzle-dazzle with a backwards pass to Sanu that attempted to take the Colts defense by surprise with a potential downfield throw. The Indianapolis defense was ready for the play and knocked the receiver down before he could toss the pigskin. Sanu has value as a flex or WR3 play this year and could be acquired quite cheaply. His long-term value is cloudy with the often injured Jones, but might be worth his current cheap price.
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