PFN Roundtable: Impact of Geno Smith Being Named the Seattle Seahawks’ Starting QB

This week's PFN Roundtable discussion revolves around Geno Smith being named the Seattle Seahawks' starting QB quickly after the team's preseason finale.

The Seattle Seahawks’ QB competition is over. Just minutes after Seattle’s preseason finale loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Friday, head coach Pete Carroll anointed Geno Smith as his starting QB for Week 1.

The decision to go with Smith followed an abysmal three-interception showing from Drew Lock against the Cowboys. Smith will now run the offense as a starter.

How Geno Smith could impact the Seahawks’ offense

Smith was the starting QB for each of the Seahawks’ three preseason games. While he didn’t light it up on the way to the starting job, he did unquestionably outperform Lock. Smith has been in Seattle’s offense for three years, so he had the edge over Lock from a familiarity standpoint. Smith completed 58.9% of his throws for 256 yards during the exhibition slate.

Having started in 34 of 45 games he’s appeared in, Smith has plenty of NFL experience. While he’s mostly known as a draft bust, the former second-round pick has flashed during his stops with the New York Jets, New York Giants, and Los Angeles Chargers. Last season, Smith — filling in for Russell Wilson — threw for 702 yards, five touchdowns, and an interception in four games (three starts).

Smith has a background with top wideouts Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, which should help him in his quest to win this season. Seattle also has a solid running back rotation that Smith can lean on. The Seahawks aren’t expected to be contenders this season, but they need to remain somewhat competent for Carroll to avoid losing the locker room. Smith is the logical captain to steer the offense’s ship. — Mike Kaye, PFN Lead NFL Reporter

What is Smith’s impact on fantasy football?

As far as the options Seattle had at their disposal, Smith being named the starting quarterback is likely the better option for fantasy football managers this fall. Now that doesn’t absolve them from trading or picking up another QB, but that’s a different story.

In his spot starts last year with Wilson rehabbing his mallet finger, Smith played well enough to keep players like Metcalf and Lockett fantasy-viable. The same can’t be said for Smith.

In his three starts, Smith averaged 18.3 completions on 26 attempts for 190.3 yards and 1.3 touchdowns. That’s less than 15 points a game, and in 1QB leagues, there are too many options for Smith to be a starting QB in fantasy outside of Superflex leagues.

By no means should we be expecting Lockett or Metcalf to have the same upside as they did with Wilson, but I can’t completely write them off. In those three games, Metcalf was the (WR8), averaging a healthy 17.2 PPR/game (WR14) on 14 of 18 receiving for 197 yards and three touchdowns.

Lockett didn’t have the same upside, but he was still the WR24, ranking 44th in per-game scoring (11.6). He was very close to Metcalf in volume with 16 receptions on 23 targets for 189 yards but didn’t have any touchdowns.

Of the two, Metcalf has the higher upside. At a certain point, we have to ask ourselves if it’s a good gamble to let a 6’4″, 230-pound WR who can run 4.33 and jump out the building keep sliding in the draft. Although he doesn’t have WR1 upside (top 12), I can’t discount a mid-to-low-end WR2 finish for Metcalf with Smith under center.

As for Lockett, he’s fine at his value as the risk is baked into his ADP. But even with Wilson, Lockett was never consistent. Since 2018, Lockett has finished as a top-16 WR in PPR formats every year. Great. But over that stretch, Lockett was a WR3 or worse in 59% of his games. His blow-up games inflated his stats. The lack of ceiling now makes him more volatile, and outside of a bench player (WR5 range), I’d stay away from Lockett in 2022 for fantasy. — Tommy Garrett, PFN Senior Fantasy Analyst

How does Smith as QB1 impact the Seahawks’ betting odds?

Seattle will be bad regardless of whether Smith plays the entire year or Lock eventually earns some playing time. The Seahawks’ offense was able to move the ball fairly effectively with Smith in the game throughout the preseason but couldn’t create scoring opportunities once near midfield. This is an issue that will only continue because Smith remains a below-average quarterback.

However, the variance each week won’t be nearly as severe with him in the game. He generally plays to the team around him. The Seahawks have a fine supporting cast, so this will be the best version of himself that he can provide.

The lack of upside is a major concern with Smith. His accuracy is considerably lower than his starting peers, and that discrepancy has only increased since he entered the NFL. If Smith can become more of a modern, efficient passer who avoids turnovers, the Seahawks could push the over.

But that’s a big leap for a career backup. It’s more likely Seattle is competitive but still bad, and ultimately, still falls short of their 5.5-win total. — Ian Wharton, PFN Fantasy and Betting Analyst

What is the impact on Seattle’s 2023 NFL Draft plans?

Smith has experience in Seattle’s system and second-round pedigree as well. But no matter who won this battle, there’s already been a prevailing assumption that someone entirely different will man the QB position for the Seahawks in 2023.

Lock’s failure to earn the starting job serves as somewhat of a cautionary tale for draft evaluators. Lock has all the physical tools necessary to be an impact player. But his consistent failings derive from flaws that have yet to be fixed, even dating back to his college days.

Lock’s mechanics and decision-making are both tirelessly inconsistent, and his processing has been a tick behind for a long time. There was hope that Lock could put things together in Seattle, but his relegation to the backup role isn’t a ringing endorsement. It’s a reminder that, while physical tools are alluring in the NFL draft process, you need more to succeed at QB.

Luckily, the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft appear to have physical tools and more. C.J. Stroud is an underrated athlete with a strong arm, who molds his game together with high-level processing ability, anticipation, general accuracy, and pocket management.

Bryce Young, meanwhile, has elite creation capacity, to go along with a supremely elastic arm, steely poise in off-script situations, and impressive field vision. Marriage of the physical and mental is what makes a great QB. Stroud and Young already look the part, and other passers like Will Levis and Anthony Richardson also have the tools to rise.

Currently projected to pick at No. 5 overall, the Seahawks will be in position to grab a QB next cycle. And barring a late-career breakout from Smith, they’ll have the incentive to do so.

There’s always a chance that Smith plays well and earns more time. But more likely than not, he’s a bridge QB who helps the Seahawks stay in play to draft Stroud, Young, or someone else in Round 1. — Ian Cummings, PFN NFL Draft Analyst

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