It’s a battle of NFC North rivals on Monday Night Football. The Chicago Bears and their stingy defense host the underperforming Detroit Lions. This matchup is full of interesting questions: Can Matthew Stafford actually throw multiple touchdowns? Will Jay Cutler, again, get abused in a primetime game? Can Calvin Johnson rescue his underwhelming season (compared to expectations) with a monster game against one of the best secondaries?
The Bears defense has been lights-out most of the season, leading the league in points allowed, rush defense and opposing quarterbacks’ fantasy points allowed. Matthew Stafford has been able to put up the yardage (311 per game), but he’s thrown five interceptions to only four touchdowns. He has scored twice on the ground, but that only puts him on pace for about 20 touchdowns on the season, which is certainly not what you were looking for when you spent a first- or second-round pick on him. The Bears D has put the clamps on Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo this year, and has only allowed more than 10 standard fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks once this year. I recommend sitting Stafford this week.
Jay Cutler has a better matchup, going against a Lions D that’s only intercepted two passes this year and is allowing 15 fantasy points to opposing QBs. But he’ll be without his second-most targeted receiver, Alshon Jeffery, due to a broken hand. Even though he’ll still have Brandon Marshall to throw to, I’d also recommend keeping Cutler on the bench as the Bears should rely on Matt Forte andMichael Bush a lot this week.
Despite facing a quality running back four of five games, the Detroit defense has limited opposing RBs to 3.7 yards per rush, which ranks ninth, and it’s only allowed one rushing touchdown to those same RBs. Its 10.2 fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs ranks sixth, but I wouldn’t be afraid to start Forte this week. In his career against Detroit, Forte is averaging close to 122 yards from scrimmage and he’s scored seven times in eight games. And if you’re struggling with a bye week conundrum, starting Bush as a flex play isn’t a bad idea either. I expect the Bears to be in the red zone a few times, and Bush is their red zone back so he has a good shot at getting into the end zone.
You could do worse than starting Mikel Leshoure this week. Since he’s the Lions’ clear No. 1 back he should get at least 15-20 carries and produce 10-15 points even with a rough matchup.
Marshall is an obvious must-start, and so is Calvin Johnson. Both will be heavily targeted and will produce whether or not they get into the end zone. In nine career games against Chicago, Megatron has hauled in 45 passes for an average of 77 yards a game and four touchdowns. Last year against Chicago Mega had either 81 yards or a touchdown in both games. Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew are the only other pass-catchers I’d recommend starting from this game. It’d surprise me to see either approach 100 yards, but both will be targeted close to 10 times and five or six catches for around 60 yards and maybe a touchdown should be in the cards for both players.
The Bears D/ST is a must-start, and even though the Lions D/ST hasn’t done much of anything this year fantasy-wise, a primetime game against Jay Cutler and the always banged-up and ineffective Bears offensive line cures a lot of ills. So if you’re desperate for a replacement defense go ahead and roll with the Lions.
Written by Andrew Miller exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.
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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.