Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 7

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 7

Can you believe it? We're nearly halfway through the fantasy football season.

Sitting 6-0 in your league and think you're in the clear?

That's probably how Michigan punter Blake O’Neill felt before he took the field on Saturday.

Ouch. The hard work never stops if you want to be a champion. That's why we're here to help you for Week 7.

[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

Blake Bortles, QB, JAX (vs. BUF) - Don't let the early start fool you; the Jaguars offense has already woken up in a big way. Leading the charge has been Bortles, quietly fantasy's No. 4 quarterback. That seemingly has him in must-start territory, but this is simply to confirm it. The Bills' 25th-ranked pass defense won't be any match for Bortles and his pair of Allens (Robinson and Hurns), meaning you should roll the signal caller out once again. Don't expect him to be a top-5 QB the rest of the way, but he'll keep his QB1 tag for now. (Mark Strotman)

John Brown, WR, ARI (vs. BAL) - So I may have been a little early to his coming out party (better than being fashionably late) but now every one of his fantasy owners is popping bottles. He's exploded the last few weeks (especially last week with his 10 catch 196-yard effort) and it's just getting easier for him this week against a bad Ravens secondary at home. Carson Palmer should have another big game and Brown's big play ability will shine in the brightest of lights. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Jamison Crowder, WR, WSH (vs. TB) - Crowder has quietly become a big part of the Redskins offense. He has 29 targets in the past three weeks, five more than Pierre Garcon over that same time span. DeSean Jackson doesn't look like he's going to play and the Bucs defense isn't anything special. If you're looking at a lot of guys on byes, Crowder is a nice FLEX play, especially in PPR leagues. (Paschall)

Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (@ NE) - Decker has been remarkably consistent, scoring a touchdown in every game he's played this season. The only reason he's outside the Top 25 among receivers is because he missed Week 3 and has already had his Bye. He's got a good matchup going up against the Patriots, who are 25th in the league at limiting opposing WRs. The Jets will have to throw and Decker should be on the receiving end of that, pun intended. (Tony Andracki)

Michael Floyd, WR, ARI (vs BAL) - Welcome, Mr. Floyd. A terribly quiet start to the year was erased with his 5/50/1 line last week against the Steelers last week. He still has to contend with the run game, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, but against an ugly Ravens defense there will be enough to go around for Floyd to be started in your lineups. He's a solid FLEX play this week with plenty of upside. (Strotman)

Rashad Jennings, RB, NYG (vs. DAL) - I know the Cowboys have had a week to prepare for this always-tough NFC East showdown with the Giants, but the extra time ain't gonna fix the Cowboys' porous run defense. Dallas heads into Week 7 allowing the third-most points to opposing fantasy running backs. Jennings has been shaky this season, but I think he's going to have an extra early Thanksgiving feast on Sunday. 20 carries, 100 yards with a few receptions should be in order. (Scott Krinch)

Travis Kelce, TE, KC (vs. PIT) - I love when I can pick a tight end in Start/Sit and it's especially sweet when it's my boy Kelce. He's been solid, but unspectacular this season after a gigantic Week 1 (6 catches, 106 yards, 2 tuddies). I'm betting he breaks out again this week with a fantastic matchup at home against the Steelers, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. (Andracki)

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (@ SD) - Murray has had a pretty pedestrian year, especially of late. But the Chargers are very bad against the run, as evidenced by James Starks running wild on them last week. (I'm still butthurt that Eddie Lacy was the one that went off, but whatever.) Murray is primed to once again state his case as a Top 20 fantasy back this week. (Andracki)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Joseph Randle, RB, DAL (@ NYG) - The running back by committee taking place in Dallas still doesn't have me down on Randle this week. He had 15 carries and even caught four passes last week. He's still found the end zone two of the last three weeks and hasn't lost a fumble. He's still the Cowboys' most trusted running back, and with no Tony Romo or Dez Bryant for another week they'll need to rely on their run game. Start Randle coming off his bye as an RB2 with touchdown-upside against the Giants. (Strotman)

Willie Snead, WR, NO (@ IND) - The Willie Snead hype train has left the station and hopefully you hopped aboard. If not, limited tickets will be on sale in Indy on Sunday. The second-year receiver out of Ball State has become Drew Brees' favorite target in the Big Easy. The sure-handed Snead has an ideal matchup against a brutal Colts secondary — Pro Bowler Vontae Davis will likely be matched up with Brandin Cooks — and should victimize Greg Toler with ease. (Krinch)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (vs. HOU) - See what happens when you don't over-coach the talent? Dan Campbell simplified things and would ya look at the outcome? Just look at it. The Dolphins destroyed the Titans and looked like the playoff team which everybody thought they would be in doing so. Yes, Tannehill had two turnovers but he threw for nearly 300 yards in the win. Sunday's matchup against the Texans (five passing touchdowns allowed the last two games) should further boost Tannehill's value for the stretch fantasy run. (Krinch) 

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (vs. DAL) - He's a PPR stud and should continue his ways against the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys pass rush should be pretty active and aggressive so expect Eli Manning to have a lot of short, dump off passes to Vereen. Dallas also isn't great covering backs out of the backfield (anyone remember C.J. Spiller's game-winning TD?). Vereen should be a bright spot this week for the Giants. (Paschall)

SIT

Sam Bradford, QB, PHI (vs. CAR) - The Panthers defense has been playing well all year and they're especially stingy through the air, allowing just five touchdown passes in five games. Bradford really only has two good games this season and has thrown multiple INTs in four of his six contests, so I'm gonna stay far away from him this week. (Andracki)

Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK (@ SD) - I think Crabtree will always be one of those players who's a better real life wide receiver than an NFL wide receiver. Crabtree has posted respectable numbers in his first year in Oakland, but nothing really stands out from a fantasy perspective, especially if you take away his Week 2 stat line against the Ravens. The Chargers are stingy against opposing wideouts, having allowed just four total touchdowns all season. Staring Crabtree is a pure gamble that likely won't pay off. (Krinch) 

Melvin Gordon, RB, SD (vs. OAK) - I feel like I'm watching the Titanic sink. I'm trying to hold on to hope that Gordon is going to be okay this season but it almost seems like every week is getting worse. From fumbling issues to just being ineffective, it's clear the guy to own with the Chargers is Danny Woodhead. The Raiders defense is also sneaky good against the run. It's not a great lookin' Sunday for Gordon. (Paschall)

Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE (vs. NYJ) - Of course you're not going to sit Gronkowski. If he's on your roster, you HAVE to start him. It'd be silly not to. But if ever there was a matchup to be scared of, it's this one. The Jets are awesome against tight ends, allowing just one touchdown to TEs this season and never allowing an opposing TE to go above 65 yards. In fact, over the last four games, the Jets have permitted TEs to accumulate just 10 catches for 109 yards and a TD. Over FOUR games! Of course, Gronk is not your average tight end, but temper your expectations. This could spell a very pedestrian week for the Gronk. (Andracki)

Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (vs. BAL) - The Ravens defense is very susceptible through the air, but they're pretty stingy on the ground. They've allowed just one game of more than 75 rushing yards by opposing RBs and only two TDs on the ground. Chris Johnson is far from a stable fantasy option and given the presence of David Johnson and Andre Ellington in the backfield and a passing offense that is firing on all cylinders, expect plenty of fantasy production from Carson Palmer and the WRs, but not from any of the RBs. (Andracki)

Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI (@ CAR) - As I mentioned earlier in the year, the Panthers are really good at taking away team's top receiving options. So it may not be pretty for Matthews. Sam Bradford also hasn't inspired any hope in me that he can get this Eagles offense moving. A team on a short week that hasn't looked good on offense against one of the top defenses in the league? Not a good recipe. (Paschall)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Alfred Morris, RB, WSH (vs. TB) - There can't be a bigger disappointment at the position following his 121-yard outing in Week 1. Since his 14.1-point outing in Week 1, he's combined for 22.8 points since then. Even with Matt Jones out, Morris hasn't been able to grasp the reins and put things together. And even against an average Bucs defense, I can't trust him just yet. Consider me happy if he puts together a solid game on my bench this week; at least I'll know he's improving some. (Strotman)

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET (vs. MIN) - Maybe I'm bitter having predicted a Bears win last week or maybe I'm just in denial. Having said that, I'm still not buying into Stafford's performance against the Bears secondary. I still see a guy with bad mechanics and poor decision making. Those two areas will exploited by a Minnesota Vikings defense which keeps getting better and better each week. (Krinch) 

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (vs. PHI) - I'm still on board the Eagles run defense hype train. They're good and Stewart is the definition of "meh." The Eagles haven't given up a rushing touchdown to a running back this year and I think it continues in Week 7. Look elsewhere if you can. (Paschall)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. MIN) - The volume game has allowed Tate two double-digit scoring weeks, and he found the end zone (kind of) for the first time against the Bears. Still, I can't keep running him out there when the Lions look so atrocious on offense and the Vikings' pass defense has been so good. I promise this will be the last week I put Tate here, but it's worth noting every week: Keep him out of your lineup. (Strotman)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (vs. PIT) - A poor man's Jamaal Charles, huh? More like fantasy irrelevant, amirte? Alright I won't compound on West's struggles against the Vikings too much, it was his first career NFL start. I think he'll get better in time. But his time won't come against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, and I'm guessing that won't change this weekend. (Krinch)

T.J. Yeldon, RB, JAX (vs. BUF) - Yeldon certainly is getting better (double-digit points in his last two games) but he is listed as questionable and is facing a stingy Bills run defense ranked 13th against the run. If you need to play him in a running back spot that'll do, but there's probably better FLEX options out there, assuming he even plays Sunday. Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson would be sits as well, should Yeldon miss Sunday's game. (Strotman)

Bears offense opens up in 24-23 comeback win over Denver Broncos

Bears offense opens up in 24-23 comeback win over Denver Broncos

Preseason games are about isolated goods and bads, snapshots really, rather than sweeping overalls. All in the eye of the beholder. And for the Bears, after losses to Baltimore and Cincinnati in Matt Nagy’s first efforts as a head coach, getting out of Denver with a 24-23 win over the Broncos looked pretty good in the eyes of any Bears beholder.

Saturday’s preseason game three was a collection of snapshots for the Bears, playing their third “practice” game but the first with enough of the starters on offense and defense to matter, or at least as much as these can matter.

The Bears achieved their first win under Nagy on the right arm of No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel, pressed into extra duty when Tyler Bray was hurt in the third quarter, and who completed 19 of 28 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game-winner just inside the 2-minute warning on a 12-yard throw to tight end Ben Braunecker. The win was preserved when cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc punched the ball out of the hands of Denver receiver Isaiah McKenzie and linebacker Isaiah Irving gathered in the loose football to end a potential Denver comeback drive at the Chicago 38.

Before all of that, in his longest appearance of the presesason, quarterback Mitch Trubisky started and directed a pair of sustained drives, the first covering 51 yards to a missed field-goal attempt, and a second going 75 yards and culminating in a touchdown. Combined with the work by Daniel, the Bears put up five drives 50 yards or longer. Trubisky completed 9 of 14 passes for 90 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and the No. 1 offense produced 10 first downs.

Notably perhaps, the Trubisky score came in a fashion that was previewed more than a few times throughout camp, and that projects as a template for a staple in the offense under Nagy:

A high-percentage flip going to tight end Trey Burton cutting across the field and going seven yards for Trubisky’s first TD pass of the preseason. The design of the play forced the Denver secondary to drop in coverage of Bears wide receivers and left rush linebacker Von Miller needing to choose between dropping into a short zone or going after Trubisky. Miller did the latter and Burton, who caught 4 of 5 passes directed to him for 45 yards, was alone in the underneath zone.

“I’m just trying to be who I am, do what the coaches ask me to do and go wherever that leads,” Burton told the FOX 32 broadcast. “Obviously, every week and every game is different so whatever my role is, I’m down for it.”

Trubisky did suffer his first interception over the span of two preseasons and 71 pass attempts, but appeared to be victimized when running back Tarik Cohen broke off the route on a short in-cut and failed to break back toward Trubisky. The throw was to where Cohen was supposed to be but was instead an easy pick for Denver safety Justin Simmons.

“I think [Cohen] learned he can’t do that,” Nagy said.

But the passing offense overall was functional under Trubisky, not insignificant in the context of the quarterback in a new offense with a complement of receivers largely unfamiliar with him. And some who hadn’t graced stat sheets to date.

Kevin White came up with his first two catches of the preseason and followed each with some nifty running after the catches. White also drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty that accounted for about half the yardage on the Trubisky touchdown drive.

Rookie Anthony Miller caught 3 passes for 33 yards, with a long of 19 yards. Allen Robinson started by played sparingly in the first half in the first test of his surgically repaired left ACL and was not targeted. Taylor Gabriel, with a foot injury, did not play for the third straight game.

Thoughts from Bears-Broncos: Injury absences, special teams woes and a world of confusion over new helmet rule

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USA TODAY

Thoughts from Bears-Broncos: Injury absences, special teams woes and a world of confusion over new helmet rule

No Roquan Smith but Bears injury absences vs. Broncos far more troubling
 
No real surprise that coaches decided to hold linebacker Roquan Smith out, given that the rookie had exactly one practice in pad and two without pads last week after signing his contract on Monday. But it was not Smith’s absence that was concerning coming out of the Bears ____ loss to the Denver Broncos.
 
Linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has been hampered by injuries in each of this first two Bears seasons, went out midway through the first half with an unspecified hand injury and did not return. Tight end Adam Shaheen, starting his second straight game after three catches for 53 yards at Cincinnati, caught a first-quarter pass from Mitchell Trubisky but left the field on a cart after injuring his ankle during the ensuing tackle.
 
Along with Floyd’s absence, the pass rush was again without outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who hasn’t been on the field since the first practice of training camp, that after missing play time with ankle twisted in the first April minicamp practice and with a hamstring strain in a June minicamp practice.
 
The Bears did get a sack from Roy Robertson-Harris, his third in as many games and likely establishing him as the starting defensive end opposite Akiem Hick in the Bears’ base 3-4.
 
First quarter not-so-special teams
 
Repeating a pattern from some years past, Bears kick returns did the offense no favors early, with multiple mistakes in first quarter alone:
 
Recently signed running back Knile Davis took the opening kickoff six yards deep in the end zone and got it only to the Chicago 15;
 
After the first Denver three-and-out, Cre’Von LeBlanc fair-caught a punt at the Chicago 5 instead of gambling on a touchback. Three plays later Mitch Trubisky mishandled a high snap and was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
 
On the free kick, reserve tight end Ben Braunecker lost contain and contributed to a 17-yard return by Isaiah McKenzie, setting the Broncos up at their 40, from where they moved for a first-quarter field goal. After that field goal, Davis returned the Denver kickoff 43 yards but the runback was nullified by a holding penalty.
 
Throw in Cody Parkey’s missed field goal from 52 yards and Bears special teams combined for one of the poorer possible quarters short of allowing a touchdown return.
 
 
Helmet hi-jinks
 
And the league thought it had problems with the catch rule?
 
The NFL’s leading-with-the-helmet prohibition and its enforcement bordering on the bizarre reared its ugly head early  flag on Denver cornerback Isaac Yiadom for his tackle of Bears tight end Adam Shaheen defies explanation. Yiadom got his head in front of Shaheen’s quads in a textbook go-low tackle with minimal risk to either player but was hit with a 15-yard penalty. Not sure what Yiadom was supposed to lead with? His feet?
 
Then Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller drew a leading-with-the-helmet when he went shoulder-first into tight end Andy Janovich, while Denver left tackle Garrett Bolles went helmet-first into a basic cut block on linebacker Leonard Floyd and drew no flag.
 
 
Duly noted
 
Quirky rules and their enforcement don’t account for a worrisome spate of penalties (eight through three quarters) that cost the Bears more than 100 yards. 
 
In the first half alone, besides the Fuller flag, tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie drew holding penalties, and a holding penalty on the kickoff-return team negated a 43-yard return by Knile Davis. Tight end Ben Braunecker was tagged for pass interference.