Editor’s note: Nate Jackson, a San Jose native, spent six seasons in the NFL. This is his weekly Fantasy Football column for the Bay Area News Group. His books include “Slow Getting Up” and “Fantasy Man.”
An old guy with a gravelly voice and long grey hair crumples up his Ben Roethlisberger jersey and throws it in a fire pit. He douses it with lighter fluid and sets it ablaze — then posts it to Facebook, where it garners 5,000,000 views in half a day. He has been a Steelers fans for 38 years, and now it’s all over, he said. These overpaid sissies standing up for themselves is getting old.
If you ask me, this week’s NFL maelstrom has made a good case for a smaller fan base. Would it be so bad if some of these “fans” made good on their promises? The most fun I ever had playing football was at Menlo College in front of 1,000 fans, anyway.
Make Football Fun Again. (MFFA)
So, now that those people are gone, we don’t have to whisper anymore. We can relax and get back to the things that matter, like fantasy football trend spotting. You are here to win, am I right?
Trend: Higher scoring throughout the league. Week 3 saw a surge in points on the board, which makes fantasy football more fun (MFFA).
When you are on the field during a game, they call it taking “live bullets,” and it’s hard to prepare for that in practice. (I know they’re not really “live bullets.” But when the “gunslinger” is in “shotgun” formation and the “blitz” is coming, he would be smart to throw a “bomb” to his “flanker,” know what I mean?) Restricted practice time in the off-season and training camp means that it takes longer to get into offensive rhythm, so the first few games may seem sloppy. But guys just don’t spend as much time on the field as they used to. After a few weeks of live bullets, though, the players are, once again, comfortable under attack and higher scoring is the result. Bet the over before Vegas notices.
Trend: Low attendance. What’s the fastest way to empty an NFL stadium? Move it to Los Angeles. Despite the Rams playing well, attendance is at a historic low at the LA Coliseum. No one wants to sit in traffic on the weekend. Which is why I would continue to play Todd Gurley and Jared Goff of the Rams. They are, like most Angelenos, caught in a desperate attempt to get other Angelenos to love them, which is producing some very sound football. They will beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday, taking advantage of Jerry Jones’ emotional fragility after Monday Night’s kneel-for-unity photo-op in Arizona.
Trend: Young running backs. Keep riding them. The top fantasy scorer is rookie Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs. Rookies Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette aren’t far behind, with a handful more young backs breathing down their necks. In a league being distracted by real world problems, the players most focused on football are those newest to the system. They have yet to read between the lines: They only read between blocks — and hit the holes like Rocket Man.
Trend: London games are still bad. So bad that John Harbaugh said he never wants to go back. Ravens lost to the Jags, 44-7. Turns out Coach Harbaugh’s version of English was different than the hotel operator, who set the team wake-up calls for 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. A similar confusion will happen again this Sunday, when the Dolphins and Saints meet at Wembley. “What’s that, mate? Football?” Be careful touching this one. There has been some kind of a controversy in the build-up to the national anthem, I hear. Who will sing it? Paul McCartney or Dizzee Rascal? The Queen wants Dizzee. The people want Paul.
Trend: The 49ers offense is scoring points again, albeit, for only the last few quarters. But Niner ball movement is current, nonetheless. You can play with that. But don’t get too excited. I read a few days ago in this very paper that there is no reason to be optimistic about the 0-3 49ers. They’re actually worse than you think. And they’re acting as if they have a chance of winning. Can you believe that? The gall of these guys!
That said, I think Kyle Shanahan gets his first victory as head coach when the 49ers travel to Arizona on Sunday to face the uninspired Cardinals. By the look on his face, and based on reports of imminent retirement, it appears that Bruce Arians is ready to play some golf.
Trend: The Broncos defense is tough in Denver. This has been true for a while now. The Raiders travel to Colorado on Sunday after a rough game in D.C. last week. They are banged up. I would temper my enthusiasm for point production against the Broncos.. Whatever bug the Raiders caught seems like it might hang for a week or two. I’d sit them all if you can afford it. They’ll be back next week in Oakland, and Raider stock will rise again.
I say all of this with conviction, but I must confess to you, dear reader, that many of my predictions from last week turned out wrong. It is true. I have failed you. I have displayed the same inability to predict fantasy football as ESPN’s highest paid fantasy experts. And if no one knows anything, everyone is right.
Now, c’mon, it’s your turn. Here, close your eyes, let me put this blindfold on you. Now I’m going to spin you around and around and around. Dizzy yet? No? And around and around and around. How about now? Yes? Good.
Now, let’s play pin the tail on the donkey.
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