The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions NFC North matchup represents the end of the fantasy football week and NFL Week 7. Several performances were dominant enough to decide matchups as early as the first wave of Sunday afternoon games, but fantasy matchups are often still in question on Monday night.
Trusting in a Lions offensive player may prove to be a fruitless ambition in Week 7. The Bears were last seen in Week 5 forcing Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars into two interceptions.
The Bears have 17 takeaways from quarterbacks in five games this season. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has more interceptions (five) than passing touchdowns (four) in 2012—the Bears' defense has scored more touchdowns (five) than Stafford has thrown—making Detroit’s QB a riskier play than Chicago’s Jay Cutler.
Of course, Chicago’s hot defense is a must-start coming off of a 15-day break. Stafford threw four picks in Chicago last season.
Two of them were pick-sixes.
Cutler hasn’t managed to play turnover-free football in any game this year, but the Lions have been unable to force a turnover in two of their five games. His fantasy owners (and Chicago) should be very successful if he can refrain from giving the ball to the defense.
The Lions have not covered particularly well on the road—part of why their D/ST is not a recommended fantasy option—allowing over 200 yards receiving to the opposition’s wideouts twice in three 2012 contests.
Because of that, Brandon Marshall should have a huge night on Sunday, unless the Bears get a lot of short fields following forced turnovers.
Chicago has only kept wide receivers for the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars out of the end zone this season. Calvin Johnson is a much better player than any of the receivers on either team right now, meaning his must-start status is not in jeopardy this week.
However, Donnie Avery, Donald Driver and Miles Austin have scored touchdowns against the Bears in 2012. Nate Burleson might be the better candidate to find the end zone for the Lions since none of those players tend to draw the defense’s No. 1 cornerback’s attention—as Burleson won’t.
Johnson caught just seven of his 19 targets for 81 yards in Chicago last year.
Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew is not a recommended start against the Bears. Chicago has allowed only two touchdowns to tight ends this season.
One was a garbage-time TD to the Cowboys’ Jason Witten; the other was to the Green Bay Packers’ Tom Crabtree on a fake field goal.
You can’t count on those.
Chicago’s Kellen Davis is no guarantee to be a fantasy stud, either. Running back Matt Forte is the guy who tends to get secondary looks from Cutler when his wide receivers are unavailable.
Forte is not listed on the NFL injury report entering this game; he should be at full strength against the Lions. Detroit has allowed just two total touchdowns to running backs this season, but Forte should be worth a start based on his yardage potential even if he doesn’t find the end zone.
Meanwhile, Michael Bush’s fantasy value is derived more from touchdown potential than consistent yardage, which doesn’t bode well for his fantasy prospects on Monday night.
The Bears have been even stingier to running backs than the Lions have in 2012, allowing one total touchdown to players at the position in five games. They also have not allowed any running back to top 100 rushing yards this year.
One rusher has eclipsed 100 total yards against Chicago: the Packers’ Cedric Benson (81 rushing, 35 receiving in Week 2).
Mikel Leshoure is a strong candidate to be on fantasy benches, even in a bye week for six NFL teams.