If you owned Alex Smith in a playoff league, no complaints (US Presswire)
Before we begin our preview of the San Francisco 49ers, let me remind you that the Juggernaut Index is entirely about fantasy potential. Repeat: FANTASY.
The Niners had an outstanding season under head coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011, going 13-3 and dominating their division, then knocking off the Saints in a gloriously entertaining playoff game. This was a terrific team, a group that featured a punishing defense and an offense that rarely gave away the ball. That's a winning formula.
However, from a fantasy perspective, there really wasn't much to get excited about. San Francisco delivered the No. 18 quarterback in our game, the No. 13 running back, the No. 33 wide receiver and the No. 8 tight end. That's not terrible, obviously, though it hardly makes 'em a fantasy buffet.
The Niners added a few buzzy names during the offseason, but, after finishing as a runner-up in the Peyton Manning pageant, this franchise chained itself to quarterback Alex Smith for another three years. Smith is coming off the best year by far of his NFL career, yet he didn't help fantasy owners in any significant way (unless you owned him in a playoff league. He accounted for six postseason TDs, which was 3-4 more than anyone expected). Since arriving in the league in 2005, Smith has never had a 20-touchdown campaign, he's never averaged 220 yards per game, and he's never attempted 450 passes in any season — and none of those numbers are especially good. He has reliably been a poor-to-average fantasy QB, a guy with a slow trigger and less-than-ideal improvisational skills.
In a year where the middle tiers at quarterback really seem loaded with potential, Smith is tough to draft. Sure, he'll have a few interesting weapons at his disposal, but he's never demonstrated that he's the sort of quarterback who can maximize the potential of his receivers.
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