• Alex Smith's and Deshaun Watson's play this season only hammers home the point that fantasy football owners should not draft a quarterback early.
By Michael Beller
October 09, 2017

One Week 5 matchup pitted two of the league’s most prolific quarterbacks against one another, and they did not disappoint. The two quarterbacks traded touchdowns and scoring drives for 60 minutes. One put his team up by multiple scores in the first half, only to watch the other lead his team back into the contest. When it was all over, the road team had scored a major victory, but both quarterbacks left the field having burnished their reputations.

I’m talking, of course, about Deshaun Watson and Alex Smith, the QB1 and QB2 in all fantasy formats.

Watson and Smith entered their Week 5 showdown in Houston as two of the most surprising, talked-about quarterbacks in the league, and, with poor quarterback play one of the unfortunate topics of conversation this season, it was fun to see these two juxtaposed against one another. It also drove home the lesson, yet again, that you can always wait on a quarterback in fantasy football leagues.

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On one side was Watson, the rookie out of Clemson who’s less than a year removed from winning the National Championship. Four weeks ago, he was on the sidelines to kick off the season. Now, he’s making a lot of people wonder why he wasn’t a top in the draft. Watson quickly turned Tom Savage into a relic in Houston, putting up 709 yards, 7.79 yards per attempt, six touchdowns and three interceptions in his first three starts.

On the other side was Smith, the 13-year veteran who was all but counted out when, two picks before the Texans grabbed Watson, Smith’s Chiefs traded up to select his heir apparent, Patrick Mahomes, with the 10th overall pick in the draft. Mahomes, however, will have to wait at least one full season. Through the first four games of this year, Smith has thrown for 1,067 yards, 8.82 YPA and eight touchdowns against zero picks.

Both delighted their fantasy owners on Sunday night, but Smith was the better quarterback. He completed 29 of his 37 pass attempts for 324 yards, 8.76 YPA, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, helping the Chiefs move to 5–0 and remain the early Super Bowl favorites. Watson, however, was just as good from a statistical standpoint. He threw for 261 yards, 8.42 YPA and five touchdowns, which tied the single-game rookie record set by Matthew Stafford in 2009 and tied by Jameis Winston two years ago. Watson did a lot of his damage in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand, but the yards and touchdowns still count, making him a fantasy hero for the third straight week.

Watson has played just four games, plus half of another, this season, and his first career start was on a Thursday night at Cincinnati. In the three games since then, he has taken over Houston’s offense. He’s up to 1,072 passing yards, 7.39 YPA, 12 touchdowns, 179 rushing yards and two scores on the ground, making him the top-scoring fantasy quarterback through five weeks. Smith is just 1.34 points behind him in the No. 2 spot. He has thrown for 1,391 yards, 8.8 YPA, 11 touchdowns and zero picks, amassing a league-leading 125.8 quarterback rating.

For what it’s worth, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, three of the first four quarterbacks off draft boards by average draft position this season, rank third, fifth and seventh, respectively, in total points. Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, who were both outside the top 10, are fourth and sixth. But it’s Watson and Smith, with their respective ADPs of 195.5 and 214.8, that are first and second through five weeks. Not only have they been great to this point of the season, but there’s no reason to doubt them as QB1s the rest of the way.

Always wait on a quarterback.

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