This past Sunday, Beanie Wells developed hamstring issues (shocker, Beanie Wells is injured…let me pick myself up off the ground) and didn’t play Week-3. Because of the lack of depth at RB for the Cardinals, the team was forced to rely upon 2010 UDFA Alfonso Smith at RB in Week-3. Smith responded with 54 yards rushing, and 21 yards receiving, and no TDs in a bad loss to Seattle. Two questions arise:
1) Is it wise to pick up Alfonso Smith from waivers this week for Fantasy Football?
2) Who is Alfonso Smith anyway…?
The Kentucky years….
Alfonso Smith played for the University of Kentucky from 2006-2010. His best season recorded was his 2009 Junior season with just 313 yards rushing (4.2 ypc) and 204 yards receiving, with a total of 3 TDs. Not exactly Heisman material. Alfonso Smith finished his career with 960 total rushing yards for his career, playing sporadically over all 4 seasons.
Smith never recorded a single game over 100+ rushing yards. His two best games were as a Freshman in 2006, with 92 yards rushing and 57 yards receiving against Mississippi State. He followed that game up with 88 total yards against Georgia. He followed that up with barely being heard from again. He played in most every game, every season…just with little amounts of touches and output.
The 20 touches Smith had in Week-3 in the NFL, matched his career best in college (vs. Georgia).
Not taken in the NFL Draft…
A very unremarkable college career, led to no 2010 NFL Combine invite. As the Alfonso Smith NFL Draft story looked to be over, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro-Day and got back on the NFL radar. Smith was not drafted, but was picked up as a UDFA for the Arizona Cardinals.
Smith was solid enough to stay on the Arizona roster out of 2010 training camp, and was retained for 2011…pressed into duty this week.
Our computer scouting analysis was not favorable on Smith. It’s rare to see a RB achieve little in college, and then become a superstar in the pros. Physically, Smith is fast and strong enough, but we had some concerns on his agility metrics and overall performance. Overall, under normal circumstances, we would have little interest in Alfonso Smith for Fantasy Football. However, talent evaluation is one piece of the puzzle, opportunity is another…suddenly, for Alfonso Smith, there is opportunity.
How to play this for Fantasy Football…
The RB scene on the waiver wire is a hodge-podge right now. There haven’t been any major waiver shock RBs emerge, still just a lot of speculation plays and “hope.” Smith would be speculation and hope as well, but potentially (given the Arizona RB situation) Smith could emerge as an RB-1 with 15-20 touches per game.
Beanie Wells is perpetually hurt, and not good at all for the passing game. Kevin Kolb prefers RB check-downs in the passing game, as part of his West Coast passing style. Chester Taylor was gambled on for that check-down option, but Taylor may be done/shot. LaRod Stephens-Howling is nice, but not big enough to be a feature RB or a heavy 3rd-Down RB.
All that could equal the big opportunity for Smith, a decent NFL sized RB, with a 4.38 40-time RB.
It would not shock me if the Cardinals brought in another gamble RB, and thus you might then know how management truly feels about Smith. However, until that happens — you have to consider Alfonso Smith as a reasonable gamble right now to potentially back his way into becoming an RB-1 on a team with a fairly easy schedule.
Many will chase Roy Helu, DeMarco Murray, Delone Carter, etc in the hopes they wrestle the starting job away. It’s a smart move, a gamble that talent may win the day…however, there are a lot of roster speed bumps on the path to that happening for any in that group. Smith is less talented than that aforementioned group…but may have fewer speed bumps in the way toward 15+ touches per week. Worth considering if the available RB pool is dried up in your league.