35-Year-Old Wide Receiver – Baltimore Ravens
2014 Fantasy Football Outlook
The 35-year old Smithís productivity declined by every measure last year whether it was YPC (11.6), YPT (6.8, 32nd), big plays (only four catches for 20-plus yards) or touchdowns. Itís hard to believe...
Steve Smith Contract Information:
Signed a three-year deal with the Ravens in March of 2014.
Smith (illness) caught 5-of-5 targets for 37 yards in Sunday's 20-12 win over the Jaguars.
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|Receiving||Rec Distance||Big Rec Games||Rushing||Kick Ret||Punt Ret||Fumbles|
|2014 Proj||35||BAL||Subscribe now to see our 2014 projections for Steve Smith|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Fantasy Points Per Game||Receiving Stats||Red Zone Targets||Rushing Stats||Red Zone Runs|
|2014 Proj||35||BAL||Subscribe now to see our 2014 projections for Steve Smith|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Snap Count||Receiving||Rec Distance||Rushing||Fumbles||Kick Ret||Punt Ret||Red Zone Targets||Red Zone Runs|
A blank stat line is used above whenever a player was not on the field for any plays in the game that week.
Steve Smith: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Coming off one of the better years of his career, Smith took a small step back across the board in 2012. Still, he managed 16.1 YPC and 8.5 YPT, caught 17 passes of 20 or more yards and three of 40-plus. His modest four touchdowns hurt his overall value, but at 5-9, 185, Smith isn't much a red-zone target, and this is compounded by quarterback Cam Newton's prowess at taking the ball in on his own. That means Smith needs to score from deep, a high-degree-of-difficulty task subject to plenty of variance over 16 games and made harder by advancing age Ė Smith turned 34 in May. Nonetheless, Smith should once again be the team's easy leader in targets this year as the team's additions at receiver, Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn, are merely depth players.
Sometimes it pays to draft highly talented players, regardless of their apparent circumstances. This was emphatically the case last year with Smith. Saddled with a bad run-first team and a rookie quarterback known more for his playmaking than pocket passing, Smith finished the year with 1,394 yards, seven scores and 10.8 YPT (2nd). Of course, it turned out that Cam Newton could throw the ball as well as run it, and he should only get better in Year 2. At 5-9, 185, Smith is a small receiver, but at 32 he was still blazingly fast and as tough as anyone in the league. Heís also a fierce competitor who will go up over similarly sized cornerbacks and snatch the ball out of the air. Smith isnít going to see a lot of red-zone looks, but heís got little competition for targets as Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen are complementary options at best. The Panthers apparently believe Smith (who turned 33 in May) will continue to age well as they locked him up with a three-year deal this offseason.
A balky ankle and horrendous quarterback play derailed Smith's season to the point where it's nearly impossible to take anything meaningful away from it. It's worth looking back to the end of 2009 when Smith thrived with a competent Matt Moore under center after suffering through 11 games with the recent incarnation of Jake Delhomme. Even so, Smith was 30 years old then, and he'll be 32 and coming off an injury-nagged campaign heading into 2011. At his best, the 5-9, 185-pound Smith is as tough and explosive as any receiver in the league. Imagine Hines Ward crossed with Santana Moss in their primes, and you get an idea of what he was at his peak. Smith is athletic and immensely strong for his size, enabling him to fight for balls in traffic and go up over top of defensive backs down the field. After contemplating retirement or demanding a trade, Smith decided to report to the Panthers on time and will try his best to stay positive while the team decides whether Jimmy Clausen or Cam Newton is their quarterback of the present and future.
In seasons past the key to Smithís value was the health of quarterback Jake Delhomme. In 2009, it was the opposite. In the 11 games when the ineffective Delhomme was playing, Smith had 46 catches, for 604 yards and four scores ó numbers that prorate to 67 catches for 879 yards and six touchdowns over a 16-game season. In four games with backup (and presumed 2010 starter Matt Moore), Smith had 19 catches for 378 yards and three scores ó numbers that prorate to 76 catches for 1,512 yards and 12 touchdowns over a full slate. And keep in mind Smith only played three and a half games with Moore as he broke his arm early in the third quarter of Week 16. At 5-9, 185, Smith isnít much of a red-zone target ó he saw just 12 from that area of the field (eight from inside the 10), and thatís despite Carolina not having another go-to receiver or tight end. But even at age 31, heís still one of the leagueís elite deep threats, able to blow by defenders with his speed, outmaneuver them with his quickness or outfight and outleap them with his tremendous strength, toughness and athleticism for his size. Consider that despite the poor quarterbacking of Delhomme and Smithís adjustment to a new signal caller in Moore, he still managed seven catches of 40 yards or more in 15 games (tied for 5th). Smith heads into 2010 as the teamís unquestioned No. 1 receiver (either Dwayne Jarrett or rookies Brandon LaFell and Aramanti Edwards will be charged with keeping defenses honest), but the key to his season is the continued strong play and development of Moore.
While Andre Johnson ran away with the receiving yards title last year, thatís only because Smith was suspended for the seasonís first two games. On a per game basis, Smith would have topped Johnson, and on a per-target basis, Smith blows him away. But thatís no knock on Johnson Ė Smith just happened to be the most efficient receiver in the league (11 yards per target). It was the second time in four seasons, not coincidentally, the only two seasons when starting quarterback Jake Delhomme didnít miss significant action due to injury, that Smith finished in the top-two. Put differently, Smith amassed a whopping 1,417 yards (3rd) on just 129 looks (tied for 15th). As good as Larry Fitzgerald was last year, it took him 25 more targets to get just 17 more yards. While Panthers coach, John Fox, has a run-first philosophy, keep in mind that Smith was on a pace for 147 targets over 16 games, which would have put him at eighth. That still constitutes underuse for a player who averaged 18.2 yards per catch (2nd) and 11 yards every time his number was called. But Smithís opportunities arenít too far out of line with what most top receivers get. At 5-9, 185, Smith is the smallest of the leagueís elite wideouts, but heís compact and powerful, and hard to bring down after the catch. Smith has strong hands and will fight for the ball when itís in the air and is not afraid of contact over the middle of the field. Smith also has excellent speed and quickness that he uses to gash defenses for big plays - 23 catches of 20 yards or more (1st), six of 40-plus (tied for 6th), in just 14 games. But Smith has to do most of his damage from long range because the Panthers donít look to him very often in the red zone (just 15 targets, tied for 24th) or inside the 10 (seven targets, tied for 20th). Smithís much larger teammate Muhsin Muhammad was the Panthersí preferred choice from in close last year as Smith doesnít have the height or bulk to excel in that part of the field.
When you look at Smith's numbers from a year ago (11.5 yards per catch, 6.7 yards per target), it seems like a steep fall from his monster 2005 when he led the NFL in receiving yards and touchdowns. But on closer inspection, not all that much has changed. If you look at the two full games in which quarterback Jake Delhomme played before getting hurt, Smith had 22 targets, 15 catches, 271 yards and four touchdowns. That translates to 12.3 yards per target and 18.1 yards per catch. Of course, it's a small sample, and the Panthers faced the St. Louis and Houston defenses, but when you add the 11 games the two played together in 2006 (projected over a 16-game season, Smith was on pace for 106 catches, 1,517 yards and 12 scores), it's evident Smith's drop-off in 2007 had more to do with the three-headed monster of Vinny Testaverde, Matt Moore and David Carr than a decline in his skills. At 5-9, 185, Smith is a small receiver, but he's extremely strong for his size, and his lower body strength helps him break tackles in the open field. Smith is also blazingly fast, can change directions on a dime and is tough enough to make catches in traffic. The key for Smith living up to his top-10 status is obviously for Delhomme to return at something approaching 100-percent health. At press time, Delhomme, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery in October, was throwing a football on a limited basis and is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. Smith himself has been prone to nagging injuries, but other than a broken leg that cost him the 2004 season, he hasn't missed more than two games in any year.
After winning the receiving Triple-Crown (receptions, yards, touchdowns) in 2005, Smith came back to earth last season, thanks in part to a hamstring injury that cost him the first two games of the year and also to quarterback Jake Delhommeís absence in Weeks 14-16 with a sprained thumb. Without Delhomme, Smith had just 10 receptions for 123 yards and no scores. If you project the 11 games that Smith and Delhomme played together over a full 16-game season, Smith would have caught 106 passes for 1,517 yards and 12 touchdowns, numbers right in line with 2005. At 5-9, 185, Smith is a small receiver, but heís compact, strong and unafraid of contact. Smith is also one of the quickest receivers in the league, and he has the straight-ahead speed to get deep. Smith will catch passes over the middle and will also see screens at the line of scrimmage when defenders give him too much space. Smith isnít going to leap over the bigger defensive backs, but he has strong hands and excellent body control to fight for the ball when itís in the air. Smith saw just 14 red-zone looks last year (22nd), but given that he missed two games outright and played without Delhomme for three more, thatís not surprising. If he had just four more targets inside the 20, it would have tied him for 10th, which was about where he finished in 2005 (ninth). Smith was able to lead the league in touchdowns that year because of his ability to score from distance, and age 28 he is still very much in the prime of his career. Heading into 2007, Smith should be poised for another strong season. Not only is Delhomme completely healthy, but the team brought in David Carr, who should be a more competent backup than Chris Weinke should Delhomme miss any time. Rookie Dwyane Jarrett should replace the recently departed Keyshawn Johnson and help keep the chains moving without in any way cutting into Smithís status as the focal point of the passing game.
After missing virtually all of 2004 with a broken fibula, Smith didnít just come back healthy, he won the triple crown of receiving, leading or tying for the league lead in receptions, yards and touchdowns last year. Smith beat opposing defenses deep (seven catches of 40-yards or more) but was also dangerous catching screen passes at the line and running after the catch. With Carolinaís top running backs sidelined due to injuries, and second year wideout Keary Colbert playing only a bit part in the offense, Smith was the only game in town. Even so, Smithís enormous stat line wasnít solely a function of being heavily targeted. Consider that his 150 targets ranked him eighth, behind players like Plaxico Burress and Joey Galloway. Smithís production was due to reeling in 69 percent of the passes thrown his way (tops among receivers with 100 targets or more), and averaging more than 15 yards per catch. Smithís 10.4 yards per target was second only to Santana Mossís 11.1 - in other words, even though entire defenses were gearing up to stop him, Carolina averaged a first down every time they called his number. The icing on the cake was Smithís absolute annihilation of the Bears top-ranked defense in Chicago last January. With the arrival of Keyshawn Johnson to keep secondaries honest, and the addition of DeAngelo Williams to spell DeShaun Foster in the backfield, the Panthers should have more offensive options. Still, given that Smith ranked only eighth in targets a year ago, we donít think his opportunities will drop off significantly. Smith was ninth in red-zone targets a year ago, and tied for 13th in targets inside the five, and given his lack of height or bulk, thatís not likely to change much. While goal-line specialist Stephen Davis is gone, Williams and Foster will see their share of looks from in close, but Johnsonís never been a huge red-zone presence despite his size.
After establishing himself as one of the leagueís better wideouts in 2003 and then starring in the playoffs and Super Bowl, Smith broke his left fibula in the first game of 2004 and missed the rest of the season. In his stead, Muhsin Muhammad stepped in as quarterback Jake Delhommeís No. 1 target and put up the best fantasy numbers of any receiver in the NFL. Now that Muhammad has left via free agency, Smith returns as Delhommeís No. 1 wideout, and the two will try to rekindle the chemistry they had two seasons ago. At 5-9, 179 pounds, Smith is nothing like the massive, physically imposing Muhammad, but heís quicker, faster and more explosive. Smith has excellent hands and isnít afraid to catch balls in the middle of the field and take a hit. Given his lack of size, Smith isnít much of a target near the goal line, so heíll have to get most of his scores from 20 yards and out. (In 2003, the Panthers threw to Smith in the red zone just seven times, though with Muhammad (14) gone, that could increase). Smith looked good during spring practices, making sharp cuts and running full speed, so barring a setback, he should be 100 percent healthy for training camp.
Many (including the Panthers) felt that Smith was too short to ever amount to a top receiver. But the well-built Smith, who is explosive with the ball in his hands (second-best last year among receivers in yards after catch), proved the doubters wrong. Smith was targeted 141 times last year and caught 62 percent of those passes (despite 10 drops). Smithís yards per catch is hurt by the Panthersí reliance on screen passes (21 of them to Smith in í03). But he is a dangerous downfield weapon, with four of his 2003 TDs coming on passes caught between 20 and 30 yards from scrimmage. Smithís size hurts him in the red zone (only three catches inside the 20 in í03), but he and quarterback Jake Delhomme lit up four solid defenses in the postseason, and thereís a strong possibility that the two will build on that chemistry heading into 2004.
The undersized wideout was eighth in the NFL in 2002, averaging 16.1 yards per reception, and is a constant threat to reach the end zone with strong evasive skills after the catch. With a year of starting experience under his belt, Smith aims to improve on his 54 receptions and 872 yards in 2002. He also returns punts and has scored two and three return touchdowns in 2001 and 2002, respectively.