The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in the National Football League, riding a punishing defense and the running of tailback Frank Gore to a collision course with their second-straight NFC West championship.
What's often lost when talking about the San Francisco 49ers is just how well quarterback Alex Smith has played at times for the team. But between the conservative San Francisco offense and now concerns about his health, the fantasy prospects for the eight-year veteran are cloudy at best.
The 28-year-old Smith, who has thrown 1,731 yards and 13 touchdowns this season while posting a quarterback rating of over 100, suffered a concussion in last week's tie with the St. Louis Rams.
However, Smith has already returned to practice, and head coach Jim Harbaugh told Eric Branch of The San Francisco Chronicle that there's a good chance Smith plays in the 49ers huge NFC showdown with the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
“Yeah, seems like things are progressing as it does,” Harbaugh said. “And then the same thing we’ve always said is, again, it’s in the doctor’s hands and they’ll evaluate him as the week goes. There seems to be some progress.”
Granted, only a maniac or Alex Smith's mother would start him this week in a terrible fantasy matchup with a formidable Bears defense, and even momma Smith took a look at her league's waiver wire.
So, that begs the question: at this point in the season, is Smith even worth a roster spot?
The answer is probably not, with a caveat.
It's not really Smith's fault. Sure, he may never exactly live up to the billing of being the first overall pick in the NFL draft, but under head coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith has developed into a very effective game manager who fits nicely into what Harbaugh wants...solid, mistake-free football.
However, that doesn't exactly portend a ton of fantasy upside, and as evidenced by Smith's 22nd place ranking at his position, the odds of getting a big game from Smith stat-wise aren't good.
With that said, there are a couple of matchups left on Smith's slate that leave him with a measure of appeal to fantasy teams with a hole at quarterback. In Week 13, the 49ers travel to face the New Orleans Saints, while in Week 15 San Francisco faces the New England Patriots.
Both of those clubs rank in the top three so far as allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. While the prospect of starting Alex Smith in a fantasy playoff game isn't necessarily appealing, the knowledge that Smith has that very favorable matchup is enough to make him worth a look as a backup—just in case your starter were to go down with an injury.