Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 10

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 10

Hey everybody, welcome back to Start/Sit:

It's getting to that make-or-break time of year.

All those teams on the bubble of playoff spots are basically in a must-win situation each week. Anybody sitting at 7-2 or 8-1 should obviously feel confident about their team, but there is no time for let-up with the playoffs just a few weeks away.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

Which brings us to a simple point - don't run from your studs at this point in the season.

We got a question on Twitter heading into Week 10 asking who this owner should play (two receivers, two running backs, one flex) between Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Lamar Miller, Justin Forsett, Jordan Matthews, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, Stefon Diggs and Gary Barnidge.

Now's not the time to get too cute.

And if you're one of those teams that's already out of it, don't be a jerk and just forget about your lineup.

You could always play the spoiler role. It's important to dream big:

Anyways, on to this week's start/sit advice:

START

Davante Adams, WR, GB (vs. DET) - One of fantasy football's biggest busts - realistically the hype machine unfairly exploded when Jordy Nelson suffered a torn ACL - this season turned in an encouraging performance last week against the Panthers. His seven-catch, 93-yard performance against one of the league's best pass defenses means big things are in order at home against the Lions. The Packers' run game is a mess right now, meaning Aaron Rodgers will throw early and often. With James Jones' lovely disappearing act, Adams is in line for a solid afternoon. He's a FLEX play with upside. (Mark Strotman)

Antonio Andrews, RB, TEN (vs. CAR) - He's got the ideal situation of being the main back with the Titans but he's just got a brutal matchup against the Panthers. I doubt the Titans offense in general will be able to do much but especially stay away from Andrews, who should watch Marcus Mariota have to throw a lot. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Blake Bortles, QB, JAX (@ BAL) - The guy is one fire and he's got a heck of a matchup this week against the Ravens. It seems like Allen Hurns should be healthy which will help. Bortles put up good fantasy numbers against the Jets defense last week so what's stopping him this week against a much worse Ravens team? He's on a roll and you should keep him in your lineup. (Paschall)

Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS (vs. NO)I wouldn't normally advocate starting the 23rd-ranked fantasy quarterback, but I can't resist Cousins' matchup this week. The Redskins welcome the New Orleans Saints and their woeful pass defense to the nation's capital on Sunday. The Saints have allowed 10 passing touchdowns in their last two games and have let quarterbacks accumulate 25.1 fantasy points per game this season. Cousins ain't Aaron Rodgers, but he's the best streaming option you'll find in Week 10. (Scott Krinch) 

Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (vs. HOU) - It's truly remarkable this late into the season we have to discuss whether a healthy first-round pick should be started, but here we are. Hill's carries have decreased each of the last three weeks, including an eight-carry, 13-yard dud last week against the Seahawks. He'll get one more chance to redeem himself this week against a lackluster Texans defense and in a game that could feature the Bengals leading early. That means more carries for Hill, right? I think? Either way, you've got to run him out there this week. If he craps out again, at least you'll have an easy decision to sit him the next two weeks against Arizona and St. Louis. (Strotman)

Brandon LaFell, WR, NE (@ NYG)The veteran wideout hasn't reached the end zone this season (he missed the first five games due to injury), but he's inching closer to a must-start player for the rest of the season. LaFell turned his five catches in to a respectable 102 yards against the Washington Redskins last weekend. His 24 targets over the past three games is just one fewer than Patriots leading receiver Julian Edelman, a number that clearly shows that Tom Brady has trust in him. The Giants soft pass defense should leave a nice opening for La'Fell's first 2015 touchdown. (Krinch)

Peyton Manning, QB, DEN (vs. KC) - He's been better since the Broncos' Bye and now draws a cushy matchup with the Chiefs, who were giving up the most points to opposing QBs before they cleaned it up the last three weeks (only three TDs). Of course, those last three games came against Teddy Bridgewater, Landry Jones and Matthew Stafford, so not exactly fantastic competition. With so many QBs iffy plays this week either because of Byes (Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck), or bad matchups (Marcus Mariota, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith), Manning is a sneaky play this week. (Tony Andracki)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI (vs. MIA) - Dan Campbell taking over the Dolphins was the best thing to happen to fantasy football this season. Not only because of the increased effectiveness of Miami's offensive players like Lamar Miller, Jarvis Landry and Ryan Tannehill, but also because the Dolphins defense has suddenly become Swiss cheese, allowing 24, 23 and 40 points to opposing running backs the last three weeks. The Eagles have suddenly become the offense we thought they could be earlier in the season, proving both Mathews and DeMarco Murray can be effective at the same time. Expect Mathews to take advantage of his touches again this week. (Andracki)

Jordan Reed, TE, WAS (vs. NO) - Reed moves like a receiver but technically plays tight end for the Redskins (and hopefully your fantasy team). He's been one of Cousins' favorite targets all year long and should thrive again this week against the putrid Saints defense. New Orleans just gave up three touchdowns to Delaine Walker and Anthony Fasano so what's to say they can slow down Jordan Reed? He will continue his roll this week so get him in all of your lineups. (Paschall)

James Starks, RB, GB (vs. DET)Starks has moved ahead of Lacy in the Packers' running back pecking order, which is either Green Bay's way of rewarding Starks for his recent play or it could be their way of trying to motivate Lacy. Regardless, Starks numbers in two of his last three games (25.7 vs. SD, 18.2 vs. CAR) can't be ignored. Even if it becomes a split backfield on Sunday, Starks should have a productive afternoon against the Lions, who are allowing 23.3 points per game to opposing fantasy running backs. (Krinch) 

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (@ DEN) - Charcandrick suddenly looks like a must-play each week just based on situation alone. He's not as good as Jamaal Charles, but in three games since Charles was injured, West has racked up 290 total yards and two scores, including back-to-back games of more than 100 yards and a touchdown. So much is made of the Broncos' defense, but they're right in the middle of the pack against fantasy RBs, so start West with confidence this week. It's not like he's got any true competition for touches with the Chiefs. (Andracki)

SIT

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (@ PIT) - Well, it was fun while it lasted. I personally thought we had a breakout star in Benjamin after he caught nine passes for 117 yards against the Broncos in Week 6. Since that game, Benjamin has totaled 10 receptions for 95 yards and no scores; in fact, he hasn't scored since Week 3. Josh McCown under center will help, and he has a nice matchup against the Steelers secondary. But this late in the season you need a confident lineup, and you shouldn't have any in Benjamin producing at this point. Maybe he gets back on track after a Week 11 bye. Or maybe he was a nice flash in the pan. (Strotman)

Derek Carr, QB, OAK (vs. MIN) - This one was tough for me. Carr has been a revelation for the Raiders and appears to be a mainstay under center in Oakland. In his last three games, Carr has tossed 11 touchdowns to just one interception, moving into Top 10 fantasy quarterback status. I'm going to guess that streak ends (before he starts a new one in Detroit in Week 11) when the Raiders welcome the Vikings to the Bay Area this weekend. The Vikings are allowing a measly 14.5 points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks this season. Look for a different option at quarterback this week if you've got Carr on your roster. (Krinch)

Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (@ STL) - We talk a lot about the Broncos and Seahawks pass defense (as you can see in the video above and in my Palmer write-up below), but the Rams get no respect. In eight games this season, St. Louis has allowed five passing TDs. FIVE. That is absolutely nutty. They haven't allowed a tuddie through the air since Week 5 and have forced opposing QBs under 10 fantasy points in three games this season, including two of the last three contests. It doesn't matter how great Jay Cutler is playing for the Bears right now, there's a very slim chance of him having an actual decent fantasy day. (Andracki)

Vernon Davis, TE, DEN (vs. KC) - Not just yet. After seeing just one target in his Broncos debut, Davis should see more than the eight snaps he got last week when the Broncos play the Chiefs. But I'm still not confident using him in an important week for playoff contenders. I'm still confident Davis will be a difference maker down the stretch for owners who were smart enough to scoop him up. I just don't think the timing's right yet, anxious as you may be to deploy him. (Strotman)

Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (vs. SEA) - Johnson has been a nice comeback story and one of the better waiver wire pickups of the year for fantasy owners. But just because the Cardinals are coming off a bye doesn't mean that he's in for a big week. The Seahawks defense is known for the "Legion of Boom" but their run defense has been extremely stout this year, only allowing one running back to score a rushing touchdown against them (Jonathan Stewart). They don't exactly allow a lot of 100-yard rushers either. I just don't feel comfortable with Johnson in my lineup unless you're facing a desperate situation on your roster. (Paschall)

Jeremy Langford, RB, CHI (@ STL) - Nice "debut" eh? Yes, it wasn't Langford's first time on a NFL field but in his first extended look, Langford looked great....against the Chargers. Key word in that last sentence: Chargers. San Diego's defense is terrible and Langford did what he had to do against them. The Rams are far from a bad defense. Their defense line is so stout that I'm worried about the Bears being able to run the ball. The other issue is Ka'Deem Carey got more looks than I expected and that got me feeling somewhat uncomfortable about Langford's fantasy value going forward. If you got other options than Langford, go for it. (Paschall)

Jeremy Maclin, WR, KC (@ DEN) - Maclin has been a boom or bust fantasy player thus far in his first season with the Chiefs, which isn't very surprising considering he was the same type of player with the Eagles. Outside of Maclin, the Chiefs literally have zero options at wide receiver. And their Week 10 opponent, the Denver Broncos, have allowed just one touchdown to an opposing wideout this season. Yeah, I'd stay far away from Maclin in this one. (Krinch)

Darren McFadden, RB, DAL (@ TB) - I've been wrong about McFadden before, but 'Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.' I promise if McFadden goes off this weekend I won't list him as a sit the rest of the season. The Cowboys are relying heavily on DMC with Matt Cassel throwing ducks out there. Eventually the volume of carries are going to take a toll on the injury-prone McFadden. If you see the Bucs on the schedule and think it's a great matchup, think again. Tampa Bay hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown since Sept. 27, a string of five games. (Krinch)

Carson Palmer, QB, ARI (@ SEA) - Palmer is still a Top 5 QB in most fantasy formats, even after a Week 9 Bye. But the Seahawks defense is so formidble, even Palmer is a tough start. The Seahawks are already a great pass defense (with zero TD passes allowed last two games and only three tuddies in the last six games), but they're even better at home. In three games in Seattle, the Seahawks have allowed QBs to throw just 535 yards and one TD. Sure, one of those games was the Jimmy Clausen-led disaster in Week 3, but the Seahawks are money no matter who they go up against. (Andracki)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (@ TEN) - Did you know in PPR leagues, the Titans boast the third-best defense against opposing running backs? And there's another important factor for why Stewart is on the "Sit" list: He's just not good. I won't even use a qualifier like "that" in front of good. He is not good. Period. End of story. We need to stop acting like Stewart is a must-start each week in fantasy just because of his high volume of carries (at least 20 in four straight games). He has just three touchdowns on the season and is averaging only 3.9 yards a carry. Oh yeah, and he has recorded just eight catches in eight games. Stay away. Far away. (Andracki)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (@ GB) - I'm about done waiting for the Lions offense to return to form. They looked dreadful in London and maybe a bye week does them good but I can't count on them this week. Tate especially worries me because of his numbers against the Packers. Last year in two games, he combined for eight catches, 96 yards but no touchdowns. He's also yet to top 100 yards receiving this year and only has one touchdown. If you have some other sleeper options on your roster, I might go with them over Tate. (Paschall)

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed. 

Bears grades: Was the defense *that* bad?

Bears grades: Was the defense *that* bad?

QUARTERBACKS: C+

While the context of Mitch Trubisky still learning and developing in his second year in the NFL, and first in Matt Nagy’s offense, is important, there were too many missed throws and poor decisions to overlook on Sunday. One of his interceptions wasn’t his fault — Josh Bellamy can’t let a pass that hits him in the hands and chest, while falling to the ground, wind up in the arms of a waiting defensive back. But Trubisky’s second interception was on the quarterback: Anthony Miller ran an excellent corner route and flashed open, but Trubisky’s timing was slightly off and he under threw the ball, turning what should’ve been a breezy touchdown into a 50-50 ball. Jonathan Jones made a spectacular play to come down with it for an interception, but the point is it shouldn’t have been a contested throw in the first place. Trubisky missed three throws to Miller that all could’ve resulted in touchdowns throughout the game. 

Trubisky nearly was intercepted in the end zone twice, too, a week after throwing an end zone pick against Miami. Throwing in the vicinity of offensive lineman Bradley Sowell and reserve tight end Ben Braunecker was a poor decision, one Trubisky knew immediately he shouldn’t have made. 

And Trubisky’s accuracy on deep balls was disappointing — he only completed one of 10 throws that traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage, with that one being the one-yard-short Hail Mary to Kevin White as time expired. In fact, on throws of 15 or more yards, he wasn’t much better, completing only two of 14 passes, including the Hail Mary. 

But the Bears still managed 31 points, and Trubisky did well to diagnose a Patriots’ defense that was neither containing nor spying him, gouging them for 81 yards on six scrambles. That showed an important skill of Trubisky’s — even when things aren’t going well for him through the air, his ability to make plays with this legs was critical in keeping this offense afloat. 

RUNNING BACKS: C+

Tarik Cohen again had an impactful game catching the ball, with eight catches on 12 targets for 69 yards with a touchdown. What he’s able to do out of the backfield props up the grade for a group that, otherwise, didn’t have much success on the ground: Cohen rushed six times for 14 yards, while Jordan Howard gained 39 yards on 12 carries. Cohen’s longest run was five yards; Howard’s was six, and combined they averaged barely over three yards per carry. The Bears have shown they can score points without an effective running game, but how long can that last?

WIDE RECEIVERS: C

Allen Robinson was hampered by a groin injury and only caught one of five targets for four yards, and dropped what would’ve been a third-down conversion in Patriots territory in the first quarter, leading to a field goal instead of an extended drive into the red zone. New England’s defensive strategy was to take away Taylor Gabriel, which is executed successfully — Gabriel only had one target until midway through the fourth quarter and finished with three catches for 26 yards. 

Miller had the best game of anyone in this group, consistently running open — only with Trubisky missing him frequently to the tune of two catches seven targets for 35 yards (there were, probably, three touchdowns to Miller Trubisky left on the board with over- or under-thrown passes). Kevin White caught his first two passes of the year, including a career-long 54-yarder on the game-ending Hail Mary, and also drew a penalty in the end zone on a one-on-one fade route. Josh Bellamy, conversely, did not have a good game, going 0-for-4 on targets and aiding J.C. Jackson’s interception of Trubisky by not cleanly coming down with a pass along the sideline. 

TIGHT ENDS: A-

Trey Burton had his breakout game, catching nine of 11 targets for 126 yards with a touchdown and doing an excellent job to be a reliable target over the middle for Trubisky with Gabriel taken away by New England’s defense. Seven of Burton’s nine receptions were for a first down, with another one gaining 11 yards on a first-and-15. Dinging this unit’s grade was Dion Sims dropping his only target, which would’ve gone for a first down late in the second quarter. It was Sims’ first target since Week 1. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: B-

The entire offensive line did well to protect Trubisky, especially after New England sent a few early blitzes that seemed to cause confusion up front. But even when the Bears brought in Sowell to be a sixth offensive lineman, the run blocking wasn’t there — on the five running plays on which Sowell was on the field, the Bears only gained nine yards. The Bears’ ineffectiveness running the ball has been a recurring issue, with blame spread evenly between the running backs and offensive line. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

Bilal Nichols made three splash plays — a hit on Tom Brady, a forced fumble and a run stuff — and continues to look like an excellent mid-round find by Ryan Pace. Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman did well to make sure the Patriots’ didn’t get much on the ground after Sony Michel was injured, and that interior pair combined for five pressures — nearly half the Bears’ total of 11. But when the Bears needed a quick stop, knowing New England would run the ball late in the fourth quarter, the defensive line didn’t manage an impact, allowing the Patriots to chew up 3:49 of the remaining 4:13 left on the clock. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: D

Could this have been an F? Definitely. But it’s not based on this factor alone: The scheme deployed by Vic Fangio didn’t ask Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd to rush the passer as much as usual, with those two players combining to drop into coverage more (31 times) than rush the passer (29 times). Yes, when Mack and Floyd rushed — which was a one-or-the-other thing, not both at the same time — they weren’t effective. And Floyd, especially, was picked on by Brady and James White, who easily juked him for a touchdown in the first half. This was not a good game for either player, as well as Aaron Lynch, who only had one pressure in 10 pass rushing snaps. But given what this unit was asked to do, it wasn’t a failure — though it was close. 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: C-

Danny Trevathan thumped 10 tackles and was solid in run defense, but did allow three receptions on four targets, two of which went for first downs. Roquan Smith, too, was solid against the run but was targeted five times, allowing four receptions for 35 yards with three first downs and a touchdown, per Pro Football Focus. Smith did well to pressure and sack Tom Brady on a third down play near the end zone, resulting in a field goal. Smith only played 34 snaps, though, his lowest total since Week 1. 

DEFENSIVE BACKS: C-

Kyle Fuller played well outside of getting beat on a perfectly-thrown back shoulder pass from Brady to Josh Gordon on fourth down, and his interception — which was aided by a good play by Adrian Amos — set up Trubisky’s touchdown to Burton that brought the Bears within one. Both Fuller and Prince Amukamara tackled well, as did Sherrick McManis the two times he was targeted. Gordon’s 55-yarder in the fourth quarter, though, can’t be overlooked — Amukamara was in coverage on that play, and Eddie Jackson missed a tackle that would’ve brought Gordon down around the 32-yard line. Instead, he gained another 30 yards on the play, setting up White’s second score of the game. Concerningly, this is now the third game of six in 2018 in which the Bears have allowed at least one big-chunk passing play in the fourth quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Opponents are 1-10 when allowing two or more special teams touchdowns against the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era. More recently, teams are 44-8 when scoring two or more special teams touchdowns in the last five years (as an aside, the Bears managed to beat the Baltimore Ravens in 2017 despite allowing a pair of ‘teams scores). 

Things started off well for this unit, with Nick Kwiatkoski punching the ball out of Cordarrelle Patterson’s hands into the waiting arms of DeAndre Houston-Carson on a kick return, leading to a Bears touchdown. Cody Parkey forced Patterson to return his next kickoff, and the Bears swarmed the returner to drop him at the Patriots’ 18. But the Bears lost a good chunk of their momentum when Patterson scythed 95 yards for a return score on his next return attempt, with Kevin Toliver II missing a tackle — though he was the only player who even had a chance to bring down Patterson, so the return hardly was solely the fault of the rookie. Toliver, though, did later commit a holding penalty on a Patriots punt that sailed out of bounds. 

Ben Braunecker, who’s been a generally solid special teams contributor over the last few years, wound up on his back on Dont’a Hightower’s blocked punt. It doesn’t count for much, but credit Benny Cunningham’s effort to try to get to Kyle Van Noy on that play — but there was no way he was going to get to the Patriots linebacker, who was surrounded by a gaggle of teammates to get into the end zone. 

Similarly frustrating for this unit was, after Trubisky found Burton for touchdown that cut the Bears’ deficit to seven, they allowed Patterson to take the ensuing kickoff 38 yards to the New England 41-yard line. 

COACHING: B

This may seem high given how Fangio’s defensive plan didn’t result in much success and how Chris Tabor’s special teams units coughed up 14 points. But worth noting is more than half the Patriots’ offensive possessions didn’t end in points (six of 10), which is hardly awful against an offense that scored 20 touchdowns and kicked 13 field goals while only punting 21 times in its first six games. That’s not to completely absolve the Bears’ defense, as the execution and scheming needed to be better. But this wasn’t a total failure on that side of the ball, at least in terms of holding New England to 24 points. 

That being said, this grade is mostly about Nagy doing well to scheme the Bears’ offense in a game in which his quarterback was uneven and his quarterback’s two top receivers were limited either due to injury (Robinson) or the Patriots’ defense (Gabriel). Scoring 31 points in any week is impressive, and the Bears were a few better-executed plays away from not needing a Hail Mary to get one more yards to tie it at the end of the game. Complain all you want about the ineffective of the Bears’ running plays, but this offense has scored 48, 28 and 31 points in its last three games. What Nagy’s been able to do has been a big reason why, even if the Bears are only 1-2 in those contests.