Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 8

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 8

What did Week 7 of the NFL season bring us? Oh, nothing. Just the greatest Vine of the year and the only real comeback for when you beat your opponent in fantasy.

We liked it, Kirk. And we hope you all will like our Week 8 start/sit picks.

Let's get into it before Kirk calls us out.

START

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. ARZ) - We wrote about him earlier this week as fantasy football's biggest surprise at wide receiver, so it'd be tough for us not to recommend using him this week. Again, he's lifted the label of being someone to avoid just because of a matchup. He's been that good and received enough targets that you've got to start him each week, even if that means potentially Johnny Manziel facing the Cardinals defense. Don't fret; Benjamin will get his as a solid WR2 with, as always, WR1 upside. (Mark Strotman)

Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (@ CHI) - Alright. We'll give John some props for calling this one. The Professor has been Diggs' hype man all season. The rookie out of Maryland is on a tear with 19 catches for 324 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. Forget Mike Wallace and forget Charles Johnson. Diggs is now the receiver to own in Minnesota and should have a field day against the league's fourth-worst fantasy defense vs. opposing wideots. If he's still available in your league go grab him right now, ya dig? (Scott Krinch)

Mike Evans, WR, TB (@ ATL) - This isn't about matchup (the Falcons defense is actually pretty solid this year) so much as opportunity. Evans is basically the only healthy receiver on the Bucs, as Louis Murphy is done for the season and Vincent Jackson could miss several weeks with a knee injury. Evans, meanwhile, actually looks truly healthy for the first time this year, putting up eight catches for 164 yards and a tuddie coming out of a Week 6 Bye. He should have another big game as Jameis Winston will have no choice but to target the second-year wideout early and often. (Tony Andracki)

Marvin Jones, WR, CIN (@ PIT) - Double-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games, coming off the bye and facing the Steelers defense? Mmhmm, sign me up to start Jones (and every Bengal) this week. He scorched a solid Bills defense for 9/95/1 two weeks ago and, unless A.J. Green hogs all the targets, Jones is a strong FLEX play with big-play potential to shift your matchup. He's an easy start for me this week. (Strotman)

Travis Kelce, TE, KC (vs. DET) - Kelce has yet to find the endzone since Week 1, but the Lions have allowed five scores to opposing tight ends this season, including two to Kyle Rudolph. Even without tuddies, Kelce is a Top 5 TE, on pace for 78 receptions, 103 targets and 1,118 yards. He'll get in the endzone soon enough, and I'm betting that comes this week. (Andracki)

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (vs. IND) - For the past few seasons "The Daily Show" was more like the "once every few months show." Now, completely healthy for the first time since 2011, Stewart is looking worthy of his old nickname. He has posted back-to-back double-digit fantasy point totals, and averaged a healthy 22 carries in each of those contests. Look for the Panthers to get the ground game going early and often against a Colts team which was just torched for 187 yards by the Saints tandem of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson in a Week 7 loss. (Krinch)

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET (@ KC in London) - It's been an atrocious year for Stafford in "real-life" football, but in fantasy he's still the No. 15 signal caller, averaging better than 15 points per game. That's nothing to write home about or make him a sure-fire starter, but with a new offensive coordinator in line and facing a Chiefs defense that has been beatable in recent weeks, I'm going to give Stafford a chance to prove he can still be a high-volume passer capable of putting up huge numbers across the pond. I don't care if it means success for the Lions, I just want it for my fantasy team.

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

Charles Sims, RB, TB (@ ATL) - The Falcons are 28th against opposing running backs in standard scoring. Doug Martin should get the bulk of the carries again for the Bucs but Sims is a sneaky good PPR play this week. He's still tied for the lead on the team in touchdown receptions and continues to see 20-25 snaps per game. If the Bucs do fall behind to the Falcons, Sims could get more playing time than that. It's not a sexy pick but he could be a solid option in your lineup this week. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (vs. DET) - This time a week ago, we were all a little apprehensive about declaring Charcandrick (what a fun name to say) the must-own back in Kansas City. There's no concern anymore. West received 22 carries against the Steelers last week while the Chiefs' other two options (De'Anthony Thomas and Knile Davis) recorded just one carry each. West also got five targets and turned all that attention into 129 yards and a tuddie on 24 touches. He has another good matchup this week against a Detroit defense that hasn't yet shown they can stop the run from start to finish and has also allowed nine rushing TDs to opposing RBs on the season. (Andracki)

Danny Woodhead, RB, SD (@ BAL) - Woodhead might be the Prince of Garbage Time points. But those count just the same as points in the first quarter in fantasy football. By process of elimination, he's become the most reliable back in San Diego. The Chargers are also a team that loves to abandon the run (see 123 pass attempt in the past two weeks). Woodhead is their pass catching running back and should continue to be a PPR monster against a bad Ravens pass defense. Find a way to get Woodhead in your lineup. (Paschall)

SIT

Ameer Abdullah, RB, DET (@ KC) - Abdullah has been consistent, if only in the fact that he's proving he's not worth a start, regardless of how many carries he's getting. The Lions cannot run the ball consistently and they're unable to commit to one back. Throw in a tough matchup (the Chiefs have allowed only four scores to opposing RBs, but they all came in Week 4 against the Bengals) and the writing is on the wall for Abdullah: Do not start him. (Andracki)

Gio Bernard, RB, CIN (@ PIT) - Bernard has been shockingly consistent this year, earning double digit points in every week (in PPR leagues) despite not even receiving double digit carries each week. Coming out of a Bye, don't be surprised if Jeremy Hill is more of the featured back, but either way, it's a rough matchup for the Bengals' RBs. The Steelers are fourth in the league against opposing RBs and have let up just one score on the ground (to Charcandrick last week). Stay away from Gio this week if you can help it. (Andracki)

Alfred Blue, RB, HOU (vs. TEN) - Congrats on winning the waiver claim on Blue! Now he should probably stay on your bench this week. Blue just haven't been very effective so far this year (outside of an outburst against the Bucs) and that was even when Arian Foster was sidelined. Expect the Titans to stack the box against the Texans and force Brian Hoyer to beat them. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. (Paschall)

Dez Bryant, WR, DAL (vs. SEA) - We know. You've been patiently waiting to let Bryant loose in your lineup, and it appears he has a chance at playing this week. But consider two people: Matt Cassell, the guy who will be trying to throw Bryant the ball, and Richard Sherman, the guy guarding Bryant. This isn't a tasty matchup for Bryant, who may need to shake off a little rust after missing six weeks. If you're really impatient, toss him in your lineup and see if he can throw up the X for you. My guess is this week he throws up a dud. (Strotman)

Amari Cooper, WR, OAK (vs. NYJ) - Cooper should check his iCal because he's got a ticket booked this Sunday for Revis Island. As fun as it has been to watch him play this year, he has yet to face a corner the caliber of Darrelle Revis. It's likely Revis will shadow Cooper for the game and that's bad news for Cooper owners. The Jets just don't give up a lot of points to top opposing receivers so keep your expectations for Cooper this week extremely low. (Paschall)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Denver Broncos, D/ST (vs. GB) - The Broncos defense has been a fantasy force this season as the unit has totaled 106 points this season. I would advocate playing them every single week this season expect for in Week 8. I get that there is always high upside for a defense that creates turnovers and gets to the quarterback at a ridiculous clip, but I just can't recommend starting a defense against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming off a bye. Look for a streamer option like the Titans instead. (Krinch)

T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND (@ CAR) - The Panthers are fourth in the NFL at limiting opposing WR fantasy production and they've been ridiculous the past two weeks, surrendering just 15 catches for 149 yards and a TD. It's a bad matchup for Hilton, but beyond that, you can't trust last week's line. Both of Hilton's TDs (just his second and third scores of the season) came on 40+-yard pass plays, meaning they were as much fluky as anything. With Andrew Luck clearly still off (his shoulder has to be bugging him), Hilton would be a shaky play even if his matchup is good. As it stands this week, keep him firmly on your bench. (Andracki)

Darren McFadden, RB, DAL (vs. SEA) - Maybe I'm just bitter that McFadden burned me in multiple leagues last week (come on, who saw a Joseph Randle injury coming?) but his revival may be put on hold this week. The Seahawks, even with their poor record, are no joke. To make things even worse, Matt Cassel is still the quarterback and Dez Bryant will likely be taken away by the Legion of Boom. Seattle should key on McFadden and make sure he doesn't have another big game. And, by the way, the Seahawks have only given up two rushing touchdowns all season (came in one game) and one 100-yd game from a backfield. Look elsewhere. (Paschall)

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (@ CAR) - Moncrief has quietly put together a solid fantasy and heads into Week 8 as the No. 22 ranked wide receiver in ESPN standard leagues. While Moncrief has a touchdown in each game that Andrew Luck has started this season, I'm predicting their luck will run out on Monday. See what I did there? The Panthers have been eating opposing wide receivers alive as of late, with Josh Norman turning into one of the best corners in the league. Temper your enthusiasm for any Colts wide receiver this week. (Krinch)

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (vs. NYJ) - Normally you wouldn't see me bench one of my favorite players in the league, but I just can't see any positives in starting Murray against the Jets in Week 8. New York has allowed just one rushing touchdown to a running back this season and opposing teams have averaged a measly 50 yards a game on the ground against them this season. Look for the Raiders to showcase a heavy dose of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree if they want to come out on top this weekend. (Krinch)

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”