Player Points - Steve Smith (Car)
By Chase Stuart
June 22nd, 2010

I may not be the best person to advise you on Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. Fair warning: the less you hear from me, the better off you might be.

Here's what I wrote about Steve Smith for the Footballguys blog in the summer of 2007 [numbers in brackets represent using 0.5 PPR scoring as opposed to non-PPR scoring]:

Jason Wood and Doug Drinen have been discussing why Steve Smith is the consensus number one fantasy wide receiver. Jason has Smith ranked as his third best WR, while Doug believes Smith is the top choice only because there’s no All-Time Great WR (in his prime) in the league right now.

Frankly, I think my colleagues are failing to appreciate just how good Steve Smith has been. Smith was dominant in 2005, scoring 237 [288.3] fantasy points and finishing as the top fantasy WR. After averaging 14.8 FP/G [18.0] during the regular season, he averaged 20.4 FP/G [24.9] during the playoffs.

Last year, Smith missed two games early in the season, and Jake Delhomme missed three games late in the season. In the other 11 games, Smith totaled 73 receptions for 1,043 yards and 8 TDs, and threw in another 66/1 on the ground. That’s an average of 15.0 FP/G [18.3], which is even higher than his stellar ‘05 season. Is it appropriate to ignore the other five games? Chris Weinke was absolutely atrocious last year, and I don’t think projecting Smith in ‘07 off of what he did with Weinke is going to help you make an accurate prediction. While the two missed games are certainly a concern, I don’t think Smith should be downgraded much due to injury risk.

The last 30 times that Steve Smith and Jake Delhomme were on the field together, Smith totaled 3,193 yards and 24 scores. That 15.44 [18.82] FP/G average is incredible, and no other WR in the league will be able to match that in 2007. While we don’t know that Smith can, not enough has changed in Carolina for me to think that a 28-year old Steve Smith won’t once again be gaining over 100 yards per game.

In 2007, Smith was my #1 wide receiver, and he ranked as WR15. Smith then ranked as WR6 in '08, but fell back to WR20 last season. But, alas, I can again excuse any of Smith's blemishes and argue for him as a mega-stud wide receiver entering 2010. Why?

Sure, Smith ranked as only the 15th best wide receiver in 2007, but I'm sympathetic to his cause because he played half of the season with a 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde and an incompetent David Carr as his quarterbacks. In the six games started by either Jake Delhomme or Matt Moore, he averaged 17.3 fantasy points per game, which would have been the 4th best per-game average that season. In other words, he was typical Steve Smith, when he had competent quarterback play.

In 2008, Smith was suspended for the first two games of the season, but he wasn't saddled with bad quarterback play in the fourteen games he played. He averaged 15.8 FP/G, and could have done even more if he had found the end zone more frequently. That's because he led the NFL with a career high 101.5 receiving yards per game average in '08.

Then last season, again, Smith was on the receiving end of a terrible quarterback. This time Jake Delhomme was the curse, not the answer. Delhomme was absolutely awful in 2009, but Smith's numbers when Matt Moore was playing were back to the typical Smith levels -- in the four games Smith played with Moore as the starter, he averaged 16.4 fantasy points per game.

To recap:

  • In '05, he averaged an absurdly good 18.0 FP/G.
  • In '06, in games with Delhomme, he averaged an even better 18.3 FP/G.
  • In '07, in games with Delhomme/Moore, he averaged 17.3 FP/G.
  • In '08, he averaged 15.8 FP/G but set a career high in yards per game.
  • In '09, in games with Moore, he averaged 16.4 FP/G.
  • But, again, I'm a Steve Smith apologist. I see a long, consistent track record of great production as long as he's getting even average quarterback play. That means, to me, Smith can be penciled in for at least 16 FP/G in 0.5 PPR leagues this season, good enough for top-three production if he -- and his quarterback -- play 16 games. But I've said those last fourteen words every year for five straight years now.

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.