Time to cut bait after wave of injuries
Editor’s note Nate Jackson, a San Jose native, spent six seasons in the NFL. This his weekly fantasy football column for the Bay Area News Group. His books include “Slow Getting Up” and “Fantasy Man.”
Quick, who won the Super
Bowl two years ago? Can’t remember? I guess the players aren’t the only ones with brain damage.
It is Week 6 in the NFL and men are dropping like bees with no stingers. Lets quickly eulogize a few of them here, as the recognition of their pain and agony, once again, will help us win our computer game.
Among the major injuries last week: Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who folded his ankle in half on live television, and then sobbed as he disappeared into the tunnel. Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard — also Giants receivers — also had ankle injuries, which raises the question: Who is tying their shoelaces?
JJ Watt, Charles Clay, Bilal Powell, Terrance West and Travis Kelce were injured, as well. Kelce has a concussion, so he probably won’t miss any time. Concussion is an “invisible” injury that relies on self-reporting of symptoms, and is difficult to diagnose. As long as a player can remember that he is not Batman, he can play.
But for many of last week’s injured players, the season is over. As a fantasy owner, it’s time to cut bait.
TREND >> The Raiders have been lost since the minute Derek Carr went down. Considering the NFL’s player injury rate (100 percent), this is a problem. No one man should be so valuable that the team falls apart without him. This happens every year to someone — and now two seasons in a row for the Raiders. This makes the case for redesigning offensive systems with less emphasis on the franchise quarterback, and more emphasis on versatile players, all of them ball handlers who take snaps at practice and can play anywhere on the field. Yay, stats!
That said, the Chargers face the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday. Both teams need a win. But despite the 1-3 record, the Chargers are the hotter team right now. I would start quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon, who looked solid last week in New York, and resist starting Carr & The Boys until we see Beast Mode dancing again.
TREND >> Chiefs are playing the best football in the NFL, winning this weekend despite low numbers from the league’s leading rusher, Kareem Hunt. The 5-0 Chiefs are held aloft, not by Hunt, but by the above-average right arm of 49ers reject Alex Smith. Alex has turned out to be the man that no one thought he was. Despite being drafted No. 1 overall, he, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. Not even from his head coach, Andy Reid, who, after Smith’s excellent season last year, selected his replacement in the first round of this year’s draft. Cold blooded. But a fire has been lit in Alex’s jockstrap. Spite is a hell of a drug.
The latest beneficiary of Smith’s mastery is Charcandrick West, who had two touchdown catches last week. With Kelce affected by a concussion, receiver Chris Conley down with an achilles, and Hunt probably fatigued, Charcandrick is a viable option Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, which struggled against Jacksonville last week.
TREND >> The Niners have a new fan: Vice President Mike Pence. He’ll be attending every 49ers game this season, where he will watch the national anthem, squint disapprovingly and leave on a private jet. This gives the home stadium the opportunity to doublebook his suite. Who said the anthem protests aren’t revenue-generating?
The 49ers are in Washington on Sunday, trying to find their first win of the season. The Niners have scored the fewest touchdowns in the league but the second-most field goals. That’s something we can build on. So come on, let’s all jump on kicker Robbie Gould’s back as we ride out this losing streak, so that when we finally do find success, and we look back in wonder at what we’ve endured, Robbie will remind us: “It was then that I carried you.”