Monday Night Football
Chicago @ Green Bay
I'm optimistic about the Bears' chances of generating offense during Jay Cutler's (groin) 3-5 week absence for some of the same reasons Brian Hoyer had success in Cleveland. In QB Whisperer Marc Trestman's scheme, the quarterback's job description is to get the ball out quickly, delivering with timing and anticipation. Although he lacks Cutler's physical tools and Chicago will lose big-play pass-game potential, I think Josh McCown can function in that kind of offense. It doesn't hurt that the Bears' defense is a sieve, which will force Chicago into situations where they need to rack up yards and points. McCown is a sneaky two-quarterback-league start Monday night. ... Matt Forte is still likely to be the Bears' offensive foundation moving forward. Already averaging 22 touches a game, Forte should be treated as an every-week RB1 despite Cutler's loss. ... Whereas the Packers rank fourth in run defense, they're 21st against the pass with a 12:3 TD-to-INT ratio permitted through seven games. They'll also be without All-Pro edge pass rusher Clay Matthews (thumb) for at least one more week. Coming off the bench in Week 7 at Washington before Chicago's Week 8 bye, McCown completed 14-of-20 throws for 204 yards and a touchdown with a 119.6 passer rating. The Packers' defense is better than the Redskins', but hardly impenetrable. I like Brandon Marshall's chances of maintaining WR2 fantasy value during McCown's time at the controls.
McCown's target distribution against Washington: Marshall 6, Alshon Jeffery 5, Forte and Earl Bennett 3, Martellus Bennett 2, Marquess Wilson 1. ... The good news for Chicago's skill-position corps is the roles are so defined. There is no No. 2 tight end threatening for targets. Third receiver Bennett is a decent real-life slot receiver, but has never really been a fantasy asset. It's Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, and Martellus, and they all get the ball pretty consistently week in and week out. ... Jeffery can no longer be viewed as the every-week WR2 he was producing like with Cutler at quarterback, but remains a big, physical presence who commands targets. He's a high-end WR3. It's worth noting that Packers DC Dom Capers' historical strategy in Bears games has been to attempt to eliminate Marshall. Green Bay held Marshall under 60 yards in each of these clubs' two 2012 meetings. If Capers uses the same approach on Monday night, Jeffery could have increased opportunities. ... The Packers have allowed the third most fantasy points in the league to tight ends. So from that standpoint, Martellus has a favorable matchup. And the Bears are still going to sling it around the yard under pass-first Trestman. Bennett will stay in the low-end TE1 mix.
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Sixth in fantasy running back scoring the past three weeks, Eddie Lacy enters Monday night's game on a roll with another cakewalk matchup. Depleted on the defensive line and now starting two rookie linebackers, the Bears are getting hammered on the ground, where they rank 25th in run defense and have coughed up eight rushing touchdowns through seven games. In Weeks 6-7, Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, and washed-up Brandon Jacobs combined to shred Chicago for 242 yards and five touchdowns on 52 carries (4.65 YPC). Lock in Lacy as an RB1. ... "Breather back" James Starks came off the bench with Green Bay up two touchdowns against the Vikings last Sunday night and ripped off a 25-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. Lacy handled a season-high 33 touches, so it's not surprising his backup was needed to give Green Bay's beastly workhorse a blow. Starks has a chance to be more than a handcuff on a sporadic basis, but will probably only pay fantasy dividends in blowout wins. Best of luck predicting them. ... The Packers have begun motioning Jordy Nelson around the formation in an effort to prevent rolled coverage and brackets. Nelson responded with two touchdowns on slot routes in the win over Minnesota, scorching the Vikings for a 7-123-2 line. Among NFL wideouts, only Calvin Johnson is scoring more fantasy points per game than Jordy.
Aaron Rodgers' stats in his last four Bears meetings: 94-of-135 (69.6%) for 1,090 yards (8.07 YPA) and a 12:2 TD-to-INT ratio. And he's never faced a Chicago defense as weak as it is now. ... ESPN's Adam Schefter reported early Sunday that James Jones (knee) is expected to play against the Bears, although his usage is uncertain. He'll be a risky WR3. Cling to Jones tightly down the stretch. He has a chance to score a lot of touchdowns with Randall Cobb (leg) and Jermichael Finley (spine) out indefinitely. ... Jarrett Boykin will likely book end Jones at "Z" receiver in three-wide packages, with Nelson focusing on the slot. Look for Boykin to spend most of Monday night's game in diminutive LCB Tim Jennings' coverage. Boykin has a six-inch, 34-pound size advantage in that matchup, though Jennings is no slouch. I'd view Boykin as a mid-range WR3 against Chicago. ... . Short on playmaking ability, fourth receiver Myles White secured 5-of-7 targets for 35 yards in the Packers' win over the Vikings last Sunday night. He's only on the radar in 14- and 16-team leagues. ... With Finley quite possibly done for the season, the Packers are employing a timeshare at tight end. Andrew Quarless is primarily an in-line run blocker. Athletic onetime basketball power forward Brandon Bostick is still developing. Bostick played 23 snaps against Minnesota, but was not targeted. This is a fantasy situation to avoid.
Score Prediction: Packers 30, Bears 23