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Off-season Report: Dispelling The Myths Regarding Kirk Cousins

kirk cousins
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Kirk Cousins is the biggest story right now in Fantasy Football

As Kirk himself might say, “You like that?.” Yet it doesn’t matter if we do or don’t, we don’t have a choice. With the draft still weeks away and even the free agency period yet to start, Kirk Cousins is going to dominate the NFL headlines for a while. Despite being the biggest story, many fans are still asking questions about Cousins.

Let’s try to answer a couple of those.

The Myths Regarding Kirk Cousins

Question 1: Do the Redskins Really Think Alex Smith Is Better Than Kirk Cousins?

A Statistical Comparison

My personal opinion is that Alex Smith is NOT better than Kirk Cousins, but it is probably closer than many think.

Take a look at the table of 2017 stats below.

 2017 Stat  Kirk Cousins Alex Smith
Fantasy Points QB #6 QB #4
FPts/Gm QB #9 QB #4
Passing
Completions 347 341
Attempts 540 505
Percentage 64.3 67.5
Yards 4,093 4,042
Yds/Att 7.6 8.0
TD 27 26
INT 13 5
Sacked 41 35
Rushing
Attempts 49 60
Yards 179 355
Yds/Att 3.7 5.9
Long 18 70
20+ 0 2
TD 4 1
Games 16 15
Fantasy Points 278 295
FPts/Gm 17.4 19.7
Snaps 1,012 966
Snaps/Gm 63 64
Points/100 Snaps 27.4 30.6

Sure, Cousins had more touchdowns, one more passing, and two more rushing. Cousins also had about 50 more passing yards or about two standard fantasy points. But let’s recall that with the Chiefs locked into their playoff position, Cousins sat the final week of the season as the Chiefs wanted to get a look at Patrick Mahomes.

Smith was certainly better than Cousins in 2017. But 2017 was Smith’s best year ever. The odds of him exceeding or even matching that again in his age 34 season are slim to none. And if we expand the sample size to three years, we begin to see the evidence supporting Cousins:

3-year Totals Cousins Smith
Yards 13,176 11,030
Passing TDs 81 61
Comp % 67.02% 66.66%
Rushing TDs 13 8

And let’s not forget that Cousins is four years younger than Smith. The odds of Cousins having an even better year than he has had is far greater than Smith’s odds. Or did the Redskins actually make a decision based on one year’s worth of data?

Of course not. And when you look at the contract status, things become clearer.

It’s All About the Benjamins

Kirk Cousins was coming off a year in which he played under the franchise tag, a number that was certainly going to jump this upcoming year. Meanwhile, Smith is under contract through 2022 and is owed about $20 million per year. According to overthecap.com, Smith is owed $21.5 million in 2018, which is not even one of the top dozen 2018 quarterback salaries. Meanwhile, had the Redskins franchised tagged Cousins, he would have cost the Redskins the average of the top five quarterback salaries, or well north of $25 million.

Things are starting to balance out now a little, aren’t they?

But let’s recall that the Redskins did not trade Cousins for Smith. They simply refused to extend a contract to Cousins and instead replaced him with Smith. Some believe that the Redskins front office made the right choice to do so. I will not criticize or praise them for making that swap. My suspicion is that the Washington front office knew that Cousins was not going to sign a mutually agreeable deal. Whether the fault lies in the Redskins or Cousins is another debate for another day. But if you look at this as the Redskins knew Cousins was out the door, the Smith signing filled a void. So, no, I don’t think Redskins think Alex Smith is better than Kirk Cousins. But given what other quarterbacks were actually at the Redskins disposal, Alex Smith was a far better alternative.

And given how much it might cost to have Cousins as your quarterback in 2018, it might be a prudent decision. Which brings us to the next question.

Question 2: Is Kirk Cousins Really Going to Get a Guaranteed $90 million contract?

Reports surfaced late last week that Cousins was going to get a guaranteed $90 million deal.

The Jets were reported to supposedly be offering a fully guaranteed deal. And with the number of teams needing a franchise quarterback who has yet to see his 30th birthday, many thought Cousins might just get $90 million guaranteed.

But as Adam Patrick details here, “$90 million guaranteed does not necessarily mean $90 million guaranteed”.  Reporters, whose sources are often agents trying to make their contracts sound more impressive than they are, report details that are often misleading.

Take Matthew Stafford’s initially reported $135 million contract including $92 million guaranteed.  Even though the five-year extension was signed this past August, the $53 million dollars that Stafford will receive in 2021 and 2022 could disappear should he suffer a ccareer-endinginjury. Also included in the “guaranteed money” is Stafford receiving a $6 million roster bonus if he is still on the team by the fifth day of the 2019 league year as well. And while that’s likely to happen, that’s not a certainty. When you start to break it all down, the “guaranteed money” is actually closer to $60 million.

Granted, Stafford is not exactly going to qualify for food stamps any time soon, but any time you hear “guaranteed” money, take it with a grain of salt. Because I guarantee you the reports of Kirk Cousins getting $90 million guaranteed are certainly exaggerated.

Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg

Mark Strausberg remembers making Jerry Rice his first round selection as well as taking a flyer on a young pitcher named Doug Drabek. His Fantasy analysis has spanned multiple sports including football, baseball, basketball, and even golf. A FSWA finalist, his fantasy analysis has been featured in various outlets including but not limited to SI.com, USA Today national magazines, Yahoo! and RotoExperts.
Mark Strausberg

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