Mike Martz has been more bad scientist than mad scientist lately.
Known as the brains behind a wildly innovative offense, his once-maniacal creations have mostly just fizzled in the six years since his St. Louis teams produced the NFL's first back-to-back-to-back 500-point seasons.
As San Francisco's new offensive coordinator, however, Martz can sport his white lab jacket proudly while unveiling his most madly innovative concoction yet: Behold ... the offense of J.T. O'Sullivan!
Thanks to Martz, the unspectacular journeymen is among a handful of 49ers - yes 49ers - actually worth putting on your fantasy football roster this year.
Yes, it is true that Martz has been far from the mastermind whose Rams finished first in scoring and yards for three straight seasons, 1999-2001. In his final three full seasons in St. Louis and in two as Detroit's offensive coordinator, Martz had far more reputation than firepower. Those teams averaged 16th in scoring and 14th in yards.
Yet the normally dreadful Niners are worth a look this year because even Martz's worst teams still provide at least some decent fantasy stats.
O'Sullivan's worth a late draft pick or waiver-wire pickup because Martz has an amazing history with absolutely random quarterbacks (despite his blocking schemes that often get them killed).
As the Rams offensive coordinator in 1999 he had some guy named Kurt Warner, at the time most interesting because he had the same name as the old Seattle running back. But in Warner's first year as a starter, Martz helped the small college star/indoor league player/grocery store worker put up more than 4,300 yards and 41 scores.
In 2003, Martz, then the Rams head coach, turned the offense over to some character named Marc Bulger. Bulger went over 3,800 yards with 22 scores in his first full season - nothing on the Warner level, but certainly worthy of a fantasy start most weeks.
O'Sullivan could be compared to both.
Like Warner, O'Sullivan did time at a small school, Cal-Davis, and in a low-grade league, playing somewhere in Europe. He even has a statistical head start over Warner, with 26 career NFL throws to Warner's 11 before he became a Martz starter.
, also in the sixth round.
What really makes a Martz offense go is a big-time running back, which the Niners definitely have in Frank Gore. He had an off season last year, but still went over 1,500 total yards with six scores.
If Martz's previous years with a stud RB are any indication, Gore's carries will go down but his productivity will go way up.
In those three years Martz had the Rams' offense dominating, Marshall Faulk only averaged about 240 carries, yet he also had about 85 receptions a year. He ran for 37 scores and had 22 TD catches in that span. Even when the Rams were falling off and Faulk was getting older the next two seasons, he racked up 21 scores.
Gore may not be a cutout of Faulk, but he's certainly far better than Kevin Jones, who limped to eight scores a year in two seasons of Martz's run-free offense in Detroit.
The one position where the Niners don't come close to Martz's two other stops is at wide receiver.
Martz had Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce in St. Louis, and Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson in Detroit, but now his best options look like Arizona castoff Bryant Johnson, a much older version of Bruce, and rookie Josh Morgan.
Even so, all three are worth late picks, or free agency pickups.
While Martz has been blessed with top-flight receivers, he's also made the most of some spare parts. Who expected Shaun McDonald to go for over 900 yards and six touchdowns last year? The year before that, converted defensive back Mike Furrey led the NFC with 98 catches.
Of course, this whole Martz thing could all easily blow up.
Martz is a man of sizable ego who has in the past ignored everyone in the world while abandoning the run and abandoning the traditional pass block. So he could be forcing the issue with O'Sullivan to prove his genius to all.
Or he could be forcing things altogether with the traditionally sad-sack Niners, who've finished 30th or worse in league scoring three of the past four years. These poor fellas just aren't used to playing good offense, let alone complicated good offense.
Based on Martz's history, though, he'll make some good things happen for fantasy owners.
Even in San Francisco.

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