On a day filled with quarterbacks suffering concussions, fantasy owners everywhere were likely most affected by the one to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler against the Houston Texans on Sunday night.
Just before halftime, Cutler took a hard hit from Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins while scrambling to make a play. He grabbed his head on the ground and did not return for the second half.
While we await word on Cutler's status for Week 11 next Monday night against San Francisco, his potential absence has a direct impact on the fantasy value of the top offensive players for the Bears, like Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall.
Here is what will happen to the fantasy stars on the Bears if Cutler is unable to go or will be playing at less than full strength in Week 11.
Matt Forte, RB
Forte has been a fantasy disappointment this season. He hasn't been bad by any means, just not producing at the level you want from a No. 1 running back. He has just 578 rushing yards, 176 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Part of the struggles can be attributed to Forte missing a game early due to injury, but you still expect more from a first- or second-round running back.
One positive that could come from Cutler being out is the Bears moving back to the run more often. Forte hasn't carried the ball more than 16 times in a game since Week 7 against Detroit.
Of course, going up against a 49ers run defense that ranks seventh in run defense is not going to help Forte get his fantasy value up.
If Cutler is out and Jason Campbell has to start, I would expect the Bears to make a commitment to the running game with Forte. He should have 20 carries, though his total yardage will not likely be very high given the Bears' protection issues and the 49ers' strength up front.
Fantasy Projection: 21 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD; 5 receptions 34 yards
Brandon Marshall, WR
With or without Cutler, Marshall is going to produce. He is the only receiver on the roster worth talking about and preparing for. Marshall has 67 receptions, 907 yards and seven touchdowns.
For the sake of comparison, Earl Bennett is the Bears' No. 2 receiver with 17 receptions and 187 yards. Alshon Jeffery, who hasn't played since October 7 due to a hand injury, is second among Bears wide receivers with two touchdown catches.
Even with Cutler sidelined for the second half against Houston, Marshall still had eight receptions for 107 yards.
If Campbell is the starter against the 49ers, he is going to look Marshall's way a lot. The 49ers secondary has had some issues this season, even though it's ranked No. 5 in pass yards allowed per game.
The 49ers just got torched for 11 receptions and 102 yards by Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola in Week 10, whose numbers would have looked even better if not for a penalty that negated an 80-yard reception in overtime.
Marshall has had at least six receptions and 81 yards in six consecutive games. He also has six touchdown catches during that span. He is playing as well as any receiver in football right now, which gives Campbell a huge safety net to go to.
As long as Campbell doesn't force the ball to Marshall, but is able to guide the receiver to the ball, he should still maintain his fantasy production without Cutler throwing him the ball.
Fantasy Projection: Six receptions, 88 yards
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