The Monday Night Football matchup pitting the Dallas Cowboys against the Chicago Bears features a few fantasy football stars who could have monster games.
Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives with four games left in the season, so there's more at stake in this upcoming contest than how many fantasy points will be scored.
The Bears are currently half a game behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. Detroit defeated Chicago twice already but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14 to move to 7-6 on the season. At 6-6, the Lions need a win to keep pace with their divisional rivals.
The Cowboys need a win to keep pace with Philadelphia, which took down Detroit in one of the craziest snow games we've seen in years. At 7-5, Dallas is currently half a game behind the Eagles.
Bright lights often bring out the best in elite players, and there are a few of the league's best offensive playmakers suiting up on Monday night. Here's a look at what you can expect out of the top fantasy stars when the Cowboys take on the Bears at Soldier Field.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
It's been a rather disappointing season for fantasy owners expecting Dez Bryant to challenge Calvin Johnson as the top fantasy receiver in the NFL.
Bryant comes into Week 14 as the league's No. 9-ranked receiver, averaging a respectable 11.5 points per game. But respectable isn't what anyone expected. The talented and athletic receiver has only had three games in which he scored 20-plus points, and he comes into Monday night's game on a low note.
In his last four starts, Bryant has averaged 7.5 points per game, hitting double digits once—a 12-point output against Oakland in Week 13. During this stretch, his highest yardage total was 86 yards in Week 12, and he caught only one touchdown.
Chicago's defense comes into the game with the league's No. 15-ranked defense against fantasy receivers, allowing 21.1 points per game. The game's being played in Chicago, where the temperatures are expected to be in the teens when the game starts (Weather.com).
Given his recent struggles, Chicago's defense and the weather, there's a good chance Bryant won't have a huge impact on the game. However, this competitive receiver will fight his way to a respectable stat line.
Projected Stats: Five catches for 80 yards and one touchdown.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears
It's not surprising that Brandon Marshall comes into Monday's game as the No. 4-ranked fantasy wide receiver, averaging 12.4 points per game. He's tall, quick and strong with excellent hands, and he's a player Chicago quarterbacks target on a regular basis.
Marshall struggled in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings, of all teams, catching just four passes for 45 yards, while Alshon Jeffery destroyed Minnesota's secondary with 12 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
Don't expect another poor outing from the Bears' No. 1 receiver, though. Since Week 6, Marshall has followed up his two other single-digit performances with no less than 16 points in his next start.
Furthermore, Dallas' defensive secondary has been atrocious this year—most recently giving up 25 points to Oakland's receivers in Week 13.
Projected Stats: Six catches for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The cold (as mentioned earlier) will certainly have an impact on the passing game, but it's not the chief concern. In addition to the chilly temperatures, a strong wind is expected to be in play (16-19 miles per hour, per Weather.com).
Given Dallas' penchant for abandoning the running game on offense (440 attempted passes to just 249 rushing attempts), it's a given Romo will throw the ball early and often, however.
Chicago's defense will have something to say about how well Romo performs.
Heading into Week 14, the Bears featured the league's No. 8-ranked fantasy defense against quarterbacks, allowing just 13.5 points per game.
Going up against lackluster offenses has helped Chicago's cause the past three weeks, as the Bears have allowed just 10.67 points per game to the Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings.
With the playoffs on the line, playing on the road on Monday night, it'll be fascinating to see how Romo performs in the spotlight once again after so many previous debacles in big games.
Projected Stats: 275 total yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Of all the top players in this game, Matt Forte has the best chance to put up legitimately monster numbers for fantasy owners.
Dallas' defense comes into the game as the league's absolute worst against fantasy running backs, allowing an astonishing 21.8 points per game on average. Forte is currently the league's No. 3-ranked fantasy running back, averaging 14.9 points per game.
You don't have to be an NFL offensive coordinator to realize Forte should be able to dominate the game at home against Dallas' tackle-allergic defense.
Chicago will heavily feature Forte on Monday after getting 23 carries in Week 13 against Minnesota. He gained 120 yards on the ground in that game, adding another 31 yards on two receptions. He's due for another big game on Monday.
Projected Stats: 175 total yards and two touchdowns.
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