As the NFL Draft draws closer, every sports media outlet likes to review Great #1 Draft Pick Busts of the Past. Aundray Bruce. Ki-Jana Carter. Courtney Brown. Ahh, memories.
If things don't change this season, there's going to be another name added to that infamous list: Alex Smith
San Francisco took Smith #1 overall in 2005 and has been disappointed ever since. Three of the quarterbacks taken after Smith that year are currently NFL starters - the promising Jason Campbell, the still-unknown Aaron Rodgers, and a sixth-rounder out of Oregon State named Derek Anderson - so if Smith doesn't burst into stardom this season, it's officially time to start using the b-word.
While injuries limited him to only seven games last season, he didn't look good even when healthy. He finished with 914 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a dismal QB rating of 57.2. He had only two games where he completed more than 50% of his passes. How do you value Smith at your fantasy draft after a season like that?
Reasons to upgrade - The Niners have hired Mike Martz to be their offensive coordinator and Martz knows how to turn bums into fantasy stars. If he can do it for Jon Kitna, he can do it for Smith. The wide receiver corps has been significantly upgraded with Bryant Johnson and Issac Bruce. RB DeShaun Foster has been brought aboard to strengthen and broaden the running game.
Reasons to downgrade - He's going to have to earn his starting spot this season, which is never a good thing if you're planning to draft him.
Conclusion - I have to give Mike Martz the benefit of the doubt here, especially considering his years of work with Isaac Bruce. If the combination of Martz, Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Frank Gore and DeShaun Foster can't make Smith a fantasy star, nothing can. I consider Smith a top tier #2QB for fantasy this season with the chance that he could be worth a starting slot in larger leagues by the end of the season. Keep him on your sleeper list and make sure you tell all your friends how much he sucks.