Both the Bears and 49ers will look to get the taste of defeat and tie out of their respective mouths as San Francisco hosts Chicago on Monday Night Football. Both teams are fresh off physical battles that didn’t produce the results they wanted. The Bears were limited to only six points against the Texans last week, as Jay Cutler was sidelined with a concussion. The Niners escaped their matchup with the Rams last week lucky to to avoid a mark in the loss column, as the Rams had plenty of chances to win the game but couldn’t pull it off. Alex Smith also left his game due to a head injury, but he expects to play this week.
Neither Smith nor Cutler’s replacement, Jason Campbell, are startable this week in a matchup that should be low-scoring and defense-heavy. Both defenses are top-five against quarterbacks in fantasy scoring, and even if this was a friendlier matchup for either QB, it wouldn’t be too wise to play either one.
But you can start both Frank Gore and Matt Forte this week. Gore put up 16 points last week, and while it seems like the Bears may be a tough matchup for Gore, it’s actually the opposite. Chicago has surrendered 270 rushing yards at 5.5 yards a pop to opposing backs the past two weeks. The Niners will lean on Gore and Kendall Hunter, who isn’t start-worthy for you, so expect a good amount of points from Gore. Expect the same from the Bears. Chicago should be relying heavily on Matt Forte and Michael Bush, and while Bush hasn’t been startable recently, Forte should see a large enough workload to be a good RB2 this week. San Fran has been very susceptible to running backs in its past three home games, especially last week when Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson combined to rush for 159 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Marshall is an auto-start every week, even with Campbell filling in. Marshall was targeted nine times out of Campbell’s 19 pass attempts last week. Marshall’s the only Bears pass-catcher you should be starting, and the same can be said for Michael Crabtree and the Niners. Crabtree has 20 more targets than any other Niner, and he’s caught three TDs in his past two games, which have also consisted of 70 and 72 yards, respectively. After starting the season on fire, Vernon Davis only has nine points in his last four games. The Bears have only allowed 10 points to opposing tight ends in their last five games so Davis is a non-start this week.
Unless otherwise noted, the following lineup and roster advice assumes a standard 10- or 12-team league with roster spots as 1 QB/2 RB/2 WR/1 RB/WR/1 TE. If I don’t mention a player it means I feel he isn’t worthy of starting in any league except very deep leagues. For advice regarding deeper leagues feel free to ask me on Twitter @44AMiller.