Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 6

With just 14 regular-season weeks in the fantasy realm, every Sunday is important.

But Week 6 presents an opportunity for teams on the cusp. If you're sitting at 3-2, a win essentially gives you the inside track toward a playoff spot. At 4-2, playing .500 ball the rest of the way gets you to seven or eight wins, locking you into a playoff spot.

If you've crawled back to or fallen to 2-3, reaching that .500 mark is essentially your only hope of reaching the playoffs. Falling to 2-4 means you'd need a 5-2 finish to have any real postseason chances.

That makes Week 6 huge. And that's why we're here.

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

If you've got specific questions, drop us a question on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Without further adieu, let's get into it:

START

Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL (@ SF) - The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver situation is a mess. Steve Smith is questionable, Michael Campanero is on IR and Breshad Perriman isn't returning anytime soon. Regardless, Joe Flacco has to throw to somebody, right? Enter Aiken. The third-year wideout out of UCF has registered nine catches for 155 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. Those numbers should increase against the NFL's 28th ranked fantasy defense against opposing receivers. Aiken may not be a household name, but he's a solid flex play this week. (Scott Krinch)

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. DEN) - It's time to stop considering Benjamin's performance in 2015 just a hot start. Though he hasn't scored since Week 3, Benjamin is racking up targets and finds himself in a Browns system that's clearly to his liking under Josh McCown. Yes, waiting for him this week is Aquib Talib and Chris Harris. But the Browns are fifth in the league in passing yards (!) and ninth in attempts. Playing from behind has its benefits in fantasy football, so while I don't expect Benjamin and the Browns to pull off the upset, Cleveland's top wide receiver is going to see volume and production. You have to keep him in your lineup. (Mark Strotman)

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN (vs. KC) - No matter your league scoring, the Chiefs are one of the cushiest matchups a QB can get in fantasy, allowing multiple passing TDs in four of five weeks and at least 250 passing yards in all five games. Bridgewater hasn't yet found his fantasy groove, but he's a good bet to get right this week. Plus, I know so many of you are desperately searching for a QB to replace Brandon Weeden on a Bye, so figured I'd help ease your mind a bit. (Tony Andracki)

John Brown, WR, ARZ (@ PIT) - The ghost of Larry Fitzgerald resurrecting itself has really hurt Brown's production, but we're starting to see the sleeper we all thought he'd be. He caught seven balls in Week 4 and found the end zone in Week 5. Now facing an average Steelers defense I expect the league's highest scoring offense to spread it around, and the means a nice day from Brown. Toss him in your lineup as a high upside WR2 this week. Reaching on him in your draft is about to pay off in the next week or two. (Strotman)

Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (@ DET) - Normally I'd recommend approaching Cutler with extreme caution. This isn't one of those weeks. We all know Cutler has his deficiencies. He's going to give the ball up at least once almost every game. But right now his production with limited weapons is eye-popping among fantasy circles. In his last two weeks Cutler has posted respectable fantasy totals of 17.2 and 17.6 points. A date with the miserable Lions defense and an expected return of at least one of Alshon Jeffery or Eddie Royal has all the makings of Top 10 QB numbers for Cutler this weekend. (Krinch)

Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (vs. WSH) - Decker has been in Brandon Marshall's massive shadow this year but has quietly produced. He's caught a touchdown in every game he's played in this year and is averaging around six targets a game. The Redskins secondary is banged up, and the Jets love to look at Decker, who now is healthy, in the red zone out of the slot. Expect a solid FLEX performance from Decker this week so make sure he's back in there. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (@ CLE) - The Broncos absolutely have to figure out their run game and the sooner they're able to, the better for Peyton Manning and that awesome defense. They'll have a good chance to get all their ducks in a row against a Cleveland defense that ranks 29th at limiting fantasy RBs and I'm betting Hillman is the Bronco that will break out with the biggest game. (Andracki)

T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND, (vs. NE) - Hilton hasn't found the end zone yet this year and he's surprisingly not even a Top 30 WR in fantasy this year. I'm betting that changes this week with a decent matchup, Andrew Luck's presumed return and just the fact that Hilton is too good a receiver to be denied big fantasy days on a consistent basis like this. (Andracki)

Allen Hurns, WR, JAX (vs. HOU) - Just keep the momentum rolling for this Jaguars offense. Hurns has been a big play machine for a Jaguars team that hasn't won much this year. Blake Bortles is coming off a monster game and there's no reason why he can't keep it going against the train wreck that is the Houston Texans. With a Jaguars offense that could be without T.J. Yeldon, expect Bortles to throw more and Hurns to be one of the beneficiaries. (Paschall)

Lamar Miller, RB, MIA (@ TEN) - So Joe Philbin is out, and in comes a member of the Dolphins' offensive staff (tight ends coach Dan Campbell). That can ONLY mean we're going to see more production, or at least touches, out of Miller this week, right? I sure hope so, and it's why I'm starting him this week in Tennessee. His touches in Miami's first four games went: 14, 15, 10, 8. I expect closer to 18 or 20 as Miami looks to reinvent itself. It's risky, but give Miller a look in your FLEX and hope that a new staff means new production from the third-round back. (Strotman)

Torrey Smith, WR, SF (vs. BAL) - If you've been reading our start/sits in the past, you know I'm a big fan of the revenge game. I feel a bit better about Smith this week because the 49ers offense didn't embarrass itself last week against the Giants. Smith will want to prove to his old team that he was worth the big money and the Ravens secondary isn't exactly the group to stop him. Get Smith in your FLEX spot this week. (Paschall)

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (@ PHI) - Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo finally used Vereen in the passing game and the results were impressive. The former Patriot hauled in eight passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Vereen is a capable flex player as long as he sees targets, and all signs point to that trend continuing. With Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. both banged up heading into a Week 6 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, expect Vereen to be heavily involved in the passing game on Monday. (Krinch)

SIT

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. DEN) - Who had Benjamin as a Top 10 fantasy wideout going into the 2015 season? Probably not even his own family. Benjamin has been targeted at least 10 times in each of his past three games in the now high-octane Browns offense led by journeyman quarterback Josh McCown. His sudden rise to stardom is startling and maybe he'll keep it up, but I'm betting against him this weekend. The Broncos defense is on a ridiculous run right now, and have only allowed one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver this season. Benjamin won't be the guy pushing that number to two. (Krinch)

Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (@ BUF) - Hill is the 20th-ranked fantasy running back right now, but can anybody really make the case that he's a must-start this week, even with RBs like Lativus Murray, Doug Martin, Todd Gurley and Joseph Randle on Bye? Hill is simply too inconsistent, scoring multiple TDs in two games this year, but finishing with less than three points in the other three contests. He hasn't received more than 12 carries since Week 1 and Gio Bernard looks like the better back in Cincy right now. Combine that with a tough matchup against a solid Bills run defense and Hill is a must-sit for me this week. (Andracki)

Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (vs. BAL) - Last time one of us recommended sitting Hyde it didn't go so well. I'm confident lightning won't strike twice though. Hyde, currently the No. 7 ranked fantasy running back because of his Week 1 outburst, draws a tough matchup against the Ravens this week. Baltimore has allowed just two rushing touchdowns and only one player, Le'Veon Bell, has reached the century mark against them this season. I don't envision a less-than-100-percent Hyde doing much damage in Week 6. (Krinch)

Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (vs. WSH) - The Redskins defense doesn't get talked about enough. They're actually having a pretty solid year, especially against opposing running backs. Devonta Freeman and the Falcons RBs just combined for 26 points against this Redskins unit, but prior to that, Washington had given up just 35 standard fantasy points in four weeks to RBs, an average of only 8.75 a week. Ivory is a risky play this week, even if he should be fresh and healthy coming out of the Bye. (Andracki)

Andre Johnson, WR, IND (vs. NE) - It was nice to see Johnson have a big week against his former team. Some owners may think he's finally got it going. Well, not so fast. I think part of it was the fact that he was playing his former team and now it seems like Andrew Luck could be coming back. Normally that would be good but Johnson hasn't done anything this year with Luck in. I'm expecting the garbage time yards and points to go to Moncrief instead of Johnson this week. (Paschall)

Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (@ PIT) - I've done a double-take each day this week when I've glanced at the NFL's leading rushers. It's 2015 and Johnson is somehow the league's No. 2 rusher with 405 yards. Johnson is running like this is his last opportunity in the league, and it's paying dividends for his career and the first place Cardinals. It's hard to tell if his sudden resurgence is real, but this is one week I'm going to stay away from CJ2K. He's got a touch matchup against a Steelers defense that hasn't given up a rushing touchdown this season. Streaks are meant to be broken, but I'm not placing any bets on that happening in Week 6. (Krinch)

James Jones, WR, GB (vs. SD) - We talked on the podcast about how well this week matches up for Eddie Lacy, but Jones and the GB WRs are not as lucky. The Chargers are the No. 2-ranked defense at limiting opposing WR fantasy production, surrendering an average of just 15 points per week. Jones has been very good all year for the Packers, but he's dealing with a hamstring issue and this is going to be a tough week for him to find the end zone or put up a ton of yardage. (Andracki)

Peyton Manning, QB, DEN (@ CLE) - Only Matthew Stafford has thrown more interceptions than the NFL's all-time leading passer. Worse, his six touchdown passes leave him behind 15 other players. It'd be one thing if Manning was taking chances that resulted in scores more often than interceptions, but he's not. The volume is still there - he's fifth in the NFL in attempts - but you simply can't trust him not to kill you with more turnovers at this point. There's a real chance we've seen the last of a dominant Peyton Manning. I can't even trust him against a porous Browns defense. Life in 2015 comes at you fast. Bench Chicken Parm until he shows us anything.

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (vs. NE) - Well, it was fun while it lasted. Andre Johnson wasn't going to toss up goose eggs forever, and you get the feeling that Johnson's confidence is on a serious high after his two-touchdown performance against his old team. And no, I don't think it had anything to do with Matt Hasselbeck throwing him the ball. With Andrew Luck back in the fold, Johnson takes on No. 2 duties and that leaves Moncrief as a dangerous play with certainly high upside, but a pretty low floor as well. If I'm flipping a coin, I stay away from him this week against a tough Patriots defense. (Strotman)

Denard Robinson, RB, JAX (vs. HOU) - Shoelaces! While it's nice to see him back, I don't know how good he will be this week in what will likely be a starting role. Yeldon hasn't practiced all week and may sit out, and Robinson hasn't exactly been that healthy either. I'm guessing the Jaguars lean more on Bortles arm than Robinson's legs so I'm not a fan of him this week in fantasy. (Paschall)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. CHI) - Tate saw a ridiculous 18 targets last week from Stafford/Orvolsky and I still don't like him this week against one of the league's worst secondaries. Simply put, keep all Lions not named Calvin Johnson out of your lineup. This team is a mess.

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (@ MIN) - It was an all out war for him on waivers this week. He's likely to get the majority of the touches for the Chiefs with Jamaal Charles out now but it's just not a great opening matchup for him. The Vikings defense has quietly been very solid against the run and should load the box and make Alex Smith beat them through the air. It could get ugly for the Chiefs who were a mess last week after Charles went down. Don't expect it to get much prettier this week for West and the Chiefs. (Paschall)

Drilling further down on Matt Nagy after Bears OT loss to Miami Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Drilling further down on Matt Nagy after Bears OT loss to Miami Dolphins

The 31-28 overtime Bears loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday had myriad authors on the Chicago side of the ledger. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky correctly assessed the defeat as a team loss, which is pretty much the case in any NFL loss, but particularly so in this case.

“Growing pains” only goes so far in explaining the variety of problems that befell all three Bears phases in the heat of south Florida. And while devastating mistakes are inevitable for young, inexperienced head coaches and players, it falls to those coaches and players to demonstrate that Sunday in Hard Rock Stadium was an anomaly.

Because after five 2018 games, it is not clear that the Miami missteps are indeed exceptions, on the parts of players or coaches, both in fact. Regardless of whether the fault lies with offense or defense (special teams get a pass; Sunday should never come down to Cody Parkey needing to make a field goal from 53 yards).

The Bears have gone into four 2018 fourth quarters with leads and lost two of those games. The late-game defensive collapses at Green Bay and Miami should suffice to put a sock in mentions of the ’85 Bears defense and the ’18 iteration in the same conversation.

And the fact that the Bears offense has not scored more than 7 points in any of the five 2018 fourth quarters says that more than just the defense lacks a consistent finishing kick.

Coaching not to lose?

There is a fourth “phase,” and not the one (fans) that Lovie Smith once cited. It is coaching, which is intricately interwoven with each of the three main units but is its own phase. How well this fourth phase performed in Miami is a matter of some hazy perspectives.

“I’m a big boy; I can handle criticism,” Nagy said Monday. “You talking about the 53-yard field goal? No, I’m fine with that. I have no issue at all with the criticism. That’s where people are? That’s their own opinion. I felt good with what we did and, shoot, we’re all in this thing together and I trust our guys.”

Beginning with relative minutiae: Two flags were thrown (one declined) in Miami for illegal formations, in both cases for leaving the right tackle uncovered. A delay-of-game penalty on a second-and-3 at the Miami 44, led to a punt when the offense only made up seven of the resulting eight yards. That sloppiness pointed to issues on the sideline rather than in the huddle.

On multiple occasions coach Matt Nagy strongly defended Trubisky during training camp when interceptions occurred, the coach considering those acceptable temporary losses in the greater quest for his quarterback learning to stay aggressive in learning his limits and capabilities.

Yet in more than one situation Sunday, it was Nagy who dialed back the aggressive edge that he’s spoken of seeking to install in his quarterback and team. It left at least a small question as to whether Nagy lacked confidence in himself or his quarterback or his team to deliver in a critical moment.

Did Nagy second-guess himself the morning after? “Nope.”

Shaky confidence?

Whether the Bears were properly prepared coming into Sunday was an issue. A team on a three-game high came out of an off week with its poorest first-half performance of the season.

But it is what happened, or didn’t happen, later that warrants the some scrutiny.

As in: Nagy’s playcalling with the game there for the winning – the overtime possession starting from the Chicago 20, needing only a field goal for a win.

The point is not second-guessing a specific call or calls, but rather what may be at work with Nagy’s overall thinking and propensities.

After a short, high-percentage throw to Trey Burton on first down, Nagy called five straight runs. The first two, runs of 19 and 15 yards by Jordan Howard, worked. Howard went out for a two-snap break, then was back for a final run on third-and-4, which failed, leaving the ball at the Miami 35, Nagy’s minimum for attempting a field goal.

Beyond the obvious conservatism, the overall put the Bears in position of not only needing to convert a 53-yard field goal, but also leaving the Dolphins with field position at their 43 if the kick missed, which it did, although NFL kickers convert from 50-plus yards at a rate approaching 62 percent.

“To me, that 35-yard line [was the minimum], a 53-yard field goal, I have ultimate trust in [kicker Cody Parkey] making that,” Nagy said. “But at the same time, every yard that you get brings the percentage up a little bit.

“We just hit a [19]-yard run, we just hit a 15-yard run, and then we had a couple more runs right behind that. That’s just the decision we ended up making. Now, [if] he makes that kick and we’re good. He doesn’t and it’s ‘could you get a little bit closer?’ It would have helped, but at the same time I think Cody would be the first to tell you that he knows he can make that.”

One problem: Were Nagy’s defense playing at the level it had in the three previous games, he could be excused for trusting his defense to deliver a stop even with the Miami starting point. But the Dolphins had pushed the defense backwards for 344 total yards over the prior six possessions. There should have been no reasonable expectation that the defense, which already had driven backward 74 yards before a fumble on the first overtime possession, would suddenly rise up for a stop.

Nagy’s tactics also hint a lack of convinced confidence that his quarterback and offense could pull off an aggressive, under-control possession at that point. Exactly what Nagy is likely to stay in-house. His offense had scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions of the second half, when the Bears never punted.

But Trubisky had thrown an inexplicable interception from the Miami 13 and Tarik Cohen had lost a fumble at the Chicago 45 on the fourth-quarter possessions on either side of the final Bears touchdown. So by the time the overtime possession arrived, Nagy had seen turnovers by all three principle members of his backfield – Cohen, Howard and Trubisky.

Whatever his reasoning, Nagy flashed defensive in the face of questions on his calls – “You go ahead, you throw it and then [media] are here asking me why you took a sack” – a response loosely suggests that Nagy either cares what people think (unlikely) or that he was mad at himself and/or his players (more likely).

That Nagy alluded to Trubisky taking a sack recalls sacks that the quarterback has taken that cost his team yardage before a missed field goal (Arizona) and other sacks incurred trying to force a play. Nagy sidestepped a question as to whether he would play that situation differently at such time as when Trubisky and his offense are more mature.

An erudite non-answer answer.

Fatigue factor

Running back Tarik Cohen mentioned his own failure to deal sufficiently with fatigue in Sunday’s second half, mentioned it in connection with his lost fourth-quarter fumble. Whether fatigue being allowed to reach a red-line level falls on coaches or player is debatable; players owe coaches honest self-assessments, and coaches had balanced snaps reasonably well for Cohen (34) and Howard (36) for the game.

Cohen is a young player. Nagy and most of his staff are young, and heat-management is not usually at the top of game-planning sheets. The last time (1994) the Bears played a day game in Miami, Cohen was still a year away from being born and Howard was two weeks old. Trips to Tampa the past three years don’t qualify for carryover conditioning; besides, one of the three was in December, a second in November.

But in the absence of player restraint/moderation/discretion/whatever in the face of in-game physical decline, it falls to Bears staff to monitor conditioning. The clear fall-off by the defense was more than apparent in the form of ebbing effort, missed tackles and generally flagging performance.

“I want to say that I’m not sure that our training staff and sports science staff could have done a better job in that situation,” Nagy said. “It was absolutely phenomenal. They were unbelievable, with how they handled the hydration and the cramping with our players. It was unreal. And so, that’s a credit to them for being prepared and getting our guys right.

“That was a long game. And when you play an extra period, or extra quarter in that heat, that’s a lot. For our guys to do that, that’s another part of the challenge that they battled through and that was everybody collectively — not just the players, but our staff as well.”

Neat Tweets: The reaction from a not-so-neat loss in Miami

Neat Tweets: The reaction from a not-so-neat loss in Miami

The Bears dropped a heartbreaker yesterday, losing in OT to Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins. 

It wasn't a great look for the Bears, who were coming out of the bye and looking to establish themselves as one of the NFC's best. 

BearsTwitter, if you can believe it, wasn't pleased. The game featured a weird mix of existential dread and a humerous understanding that Brocktober is a mystical force that cannot fully be explained. 

Here were the most neat tweets from yesterday's loss: