In the cosmic scheme of things, Monday’s Chargers/Bears game didn’t mean much. Let’s face it—the Bears and Bolts kissed their playoff hopes goodbye more than a month ago. At this point, these teams are just jockeying for draft position.
Of course, in the absence of good teams, we always have fantasy to fall back on. Despite their lack of real-life relevance, the Chargers and Bears both offer a surprising amount of fantasy talent. So in that sense, Monday was must-see television.
The Bears overcame a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit Monday to capture a 22-19 victory, stunning the Chargers on their home field. Though maybe not as heartbreaking as their previous Monday night loss to Pittsburgh (that game was decided on a buzzer-beating touchdown by Le’Veon Bell), this one will sting a bit.
Zach Miller punched in the go-ahead score with 3:19 remaining on a 25-yard strike from Jay Cutler. The touchdown was Miller’s first since 2011. It also marked Cutler’s 139th touchdown as a member of the Bears. That’s two more than the previous record holder, Sid Luckman.
The Bears stunned fantasy owners and rational thinkers everywhere by starting Ka’Deem Carey over Jeremy Langford at running back. Carey hadn’t played a snap all season prior to Monday night. Though Carey played most of the snaps on the Bears’ opening series, he eventually took a backseat to Langford, who led the way with 21 touches.
Langford was tremendous Monday. Le’Veon Bell’s former backup at Michigan State corralled three catches for 70 yards and delivered 72 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He also added a two-point conversion on the Bears’ final touchdown. The highlight of his night was a sprawling 31-yard catch in the first quarter. Langford kept the chains moving and was instrumental on the Bears’ longest drive of the night, a 15-play, 93-yard possession that burned over eight minutes of clock.
Langford turned out to be a terrific DFS investment. He totaled 23.7 points on FanDuel at the bargain price of $6400. Langford has a tough matchup against the Rams next week, but his heavy usage will be enough to warrant RB2 consideration. Matt Forte (MCL) should be sidelined for at least another week after undergoing a platelet rich plasma injection. Forte will immediately take over as the starter upon his return but Langford should have a massive role next year when Forte inevitably leaves in free agency.
While Alshon Jeffery struggled to get open in the early going, he fared much better after Jason Verrett went out with a groin injury. In total, he pulled in 10 of his 16 targets for 151 yards. He came inches away from his third touchdown of the year, falling just short of the goal line on a 14-yard pickup in the second quarter.
Jeffery has been a force of nature, averaging 138 yards per game since making his return from a hamstring injury. Like Forte, Jeffery will also be a free agent after the season, though it would be a mild upset if he didn’t at least get the franchise tag.
Malcom Floyd, a popular player in DFS this week, went down with a shoulder injury in the first half and never returned. Philip Rivers spread the wealth equally in his absence, distributing double-digit targets to Danny Woodhead, Antonio Gates and Stevie Johnson. If Floyd’s shoulder injury proves to be serious, those three can expect even more work going forward. Remember, the Chargers are already without Keenan Allen, who was placed on injured reserve with a lacerated kidney.
Rookie Melvin Gordon disappointed Monday with just 31 yards on 11 carries. The first-round pick is still looking for his first NFL touchdown. Gordon was handed the early-down role when turf toe sent Branden Oliver to injured reserve. At least fantasy owners won’t have to deal with him during the Chargers’ bye week.
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Dion Done for the Year
Dion Lewis’ breakout year will not have a happy ending. New England’s third-down back left Sunday’s game against Washington with a knee injury. An MRI revealed the worst possible outcome: a torn ACL. Lewis will now miss the rest of the 2015 campaign.
This isn’t the first time Lewis has suffered a major injury. He broke his fibula in 2013 and sat out the entire season. Lewis signed a two-year contract with the Pats in September, so if all goes well, he should be back in his familiar third-down role next season.
How valuable has Lewis been to the Patriots this year? In the seven games he played, Lewis was responsible for 20.1 percent of the team’s offensive yards. That’s a higher percentage than LeGarrette Blount (15.3 percent), Julian Edelman (18.4) and even Rob Gronkowski. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Lewis was third among running backs in receiving yards (388) and tied for fifth in the NFL in yards after catch (335). In a backfield known for its endless moving parts, Lewis was a stable force and someone fantasy owners could count on for weekly production.
James White and Brandon Bolden lead the list of in-house replacements. Of those two candidates, White would seem to be the favorite. He was the lead man on passing downs when Lewis missed Week 7 with a strained abdomen. Bolden was a healthy scratch for that game. White logged five touches in that contest, which is well below the 12.1 Lewis was averaging. More likely, those targets will go to Gronkowski, Edelman, Brandon LaFell and anyone else Tom Brady feels like throwing to.
Speaking of Patriots, ex-Pat Wes Welker resurfaced Monday by agreeing to a one-year deal with the Rams. He had a tryout with the Giants earlier this year but left without a contract. Welker makes sense for the Rams, especially in the wake of Stedman Bailey’s four-game suspension. It’s not an ideal landing spot for his fantasy value as Todd Gurley’s emergence has turned the passing game into an afterthought. Teams were hesitant to sign Welker this offseason because of his long history of concussions. Another one would almost certainly end his career. Let’s hope the Rams can keep Welker out of harm’s way.
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Quick Hits: The 49ers are going to stick with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. The Niners will play the Seahawks after their bye week … Luke McCown was placed on season-ending injured reserve. He’ll undergo back surgery on Tuesday. The Saints signed journeyman Matt Flynn to take his roster spot … Latavius Murray has entered the league’s concussion protocol. That puts his status in question for Sunday’s game against the Vikings … Teddy Bridgewater has passed Phase 1 of the league’s concussion protocol. Bridgewater was injured on a late hit by Rams CB Lamarcus Joyner … Though he didn’t explicitly say it, Ryan Fitzpatrick strongly hinted that he’ll undergo thumb surgery on Friday. That’s one day after the Jets’ game against Buffalo. That would give him nine days to recover for Week 11 against the Texans … Nick Folk is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks with a quad injury. It’s possible the Jets could put him on injured reserve. Either way, they’ll need to add a kicker by Thursday … The Buccaneers released Tim Jennings on Monday. Demar Dotson was activated from injured reserve in the corresponding roster move … Sammy Watkins (ankle) participated in the Bills’ walkthrough on Monday but was walking with a noticeable limp. He’s coming off a 168-yard game against the Dolphins in Week 9 … Eddie Lacy suffered a groin injury Sunday against the Panthers. Easily this year’s biggest fantasy disappointment, Lacy is on pace for just 616 rushing yards and four touchdowns … Allen Hurns is dealing with a sprained left foot and was seen in a walking boot on Monday. That obviously clouds his status for Sunday’s game against Baltimore … The Ravens are hoping to have Breshad Perriman back for the final four games of the season. Knee issues have prevented him from suiting up this year … Kendall Wright won’t be ready to take the field when the Titans return to practice on Wednesday. He sat out Sunday’s game with a sprained MCL … Aqib Talib was suspended one game for poking Dwayne Allen in the eye. His appeal will be heard by Derrick Brooks, who was actually Talib’s teammate on the Buccaneers in 2008 … DeMarcus Ware could miss 2-to-4 weeks after aggravating his back injury Sunday against the Colts. Ware leads the Broncos with 6.5 sacks this year … Cecil Shorts (hamstring) was back at practice on Monday. That puts him on track to play Monday night against Cincinnati … Johnathan Hankins was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. He owns PFF’s 12th highest defensive tackle grade … Luke Kuechly could miss practice time this week with a sprained ankle. He should be okay to play Sunday against the Titans … We’ve already had SpyGate and DeflateGate. Here's BannerGate … Wait, was that cameraman at the Chargers/Bears game Ken Griffey Jr.?