Kickoff: Sunday, September 12th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California
Betting Odds: LAR -7.5, 46 Total on Oddshark
Andy Dalton (Sit)
Bears fans, like the rest of us, are chomping at the bit to see Justin Fields take the helm. For now, we’re stuck with Andy Dalton, which is like watching your teenage nephew’s garage band instead of going to see Weezer, Fallout Boy, and Green Day on the Hella Mega Tour. The statuesque Dalton will have a hard time finding time to throw with an oppressive Rams pass rush in his face. We recommend just about any other starting quarterback in the league this week. If you’re forced to start Andy Dalton in Week 1, it’s going to be a long season.
David Montgomery (Start, RB2), Damien Williams (Sit)
As the RB4 in PPR last season, David Montgomery silenced his many detractors who didn’t foresee such a high level of productivity. Once again, Tarik Cohen is on injured reserve, so once again, more will be asked of Montgomery in the passing game. The game script heavily favors the Rams, so we expect his steady volume on passing downs to make him a worthwhile start in what appears to be an ugly proposition on the surface.
We don’t expect Damien Williams to do much in this one, however. He can be productive if given volume, but that won’t be happening in this particular matchup unless the game gets out of hand in the first quarter. Williams shouldn’t even be rostered in most 12 team PPR leagues.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Allen Robinson (Start, WR2), Darnell Mooney (Sit), Damiere Byrd (Sit), Cole Kmet (Sit), Jimmy Graham (Sit)
This is no time to get cute with your lineup. The only Chicago player who can be started with confidence this week is Allen Robinson, and even those expectations need to be tempered: those starting Robinson as a WR1 might be disappointed. We expect merely WR2 production this week, and that may be optimistic with Rams All-Pro caliber cornerback Jalen Ramsey lurking. We wouldn’t dare to sit “A-Rob,” however. As bad as Dalton seems to many Bears fans, he’s unquestionably the best quarterback to lace ’em up in Chicago since Smokin’ Jay Cutler, and he has a demonstrated propensity to lock in on his favorite receiver and pepper him with targets.
The Bears will have a few spike weeks, and Darnell Mooney will be a part of them. Unfortunately, this is not one of those weeks, although we can’t rule out some late garbage time production. However, we don’t make a habit of starting players who *might* pop off if the game gets out of hand, especially those expected to be on the losing end. Damiere Byrd has no business being on a 12 team PPR roster unless you have the luxury of approximately 47 bench spots. Even then, we’d have questions.
Cole Kmet is a player we like long-term, but it’s hard to get too excited about his prospects with Jimmy Graham still hanging around. This is the antithesis of the symbiotic two tight-end existence employed by the New England Patriots with great success many years ago. With a target hog like Robinson around, neither Kmet nor Graham will see consistent volume until the other fades from the picture. This holds especially true against a staunch defense like the Rams. Let’s refrain from playing the “maybe he’ll score a touchdown” game and look for better, more consistent options for your flex spot instead.
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford (Start)
Many analysts understandably faded Matthew Stafford this offseason due to his history of back issues and other injury problems. By all accounts, however, he’s fully healthy, and there’s no better time to start him than Week 1 against the Chicago Bears. Stafford, who has thrown for 4,000 yards or more in eight of his last ten seasons despite said injury history, gets to work with a wide receiver corps that’s deeper than any he’s had in many years. We expect a Top Ten finish this week for the very startable Stafford.
Darrell Henderson (Start, RB2), Sony Michel (Sit)
As soon as Cam Akers went down with an unfortunate season-ending Achilles tendon injury, many analysts moved Darrell Henderson up into their Top 20 running back rankings. We found that a bit rich, and we’re moving off him just a bit more after the recent acquisition of Sony Michel from the New England Patriots. While we don’t trust Henderson to put up solid RB1 numbers this week, we’re hard-pressed to find a reason to keep him out of an RB2 slot this week. A favorable game script and questionable depth behind him should offer Henderson more than enough work to make him fantasy-relevant.
As for Michel, we see several flex-worthy days ahead, but this is not one of them. His usage will definitely be capped in his first few games as he learns a brand new playbook, including pass protection nuances that matter even more with an aging, immobile, injury-prone quarterback like Stafford at the helm.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Robert Woods (WR1), Cooper Kupp (WR2), Van Jefferson (Sit), DeSean Jackson (Sit), Tutu Atwell (Sit), Tyler Higbee (Start)
We expect Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to see upwards of ten targets apiece, if not more. We also like the chances of the duo combining for at least two touchdowns against a mediocre Bears pass defense. Woods is a borderline WR1 and a must-start this week in any format. Kupp, right behind him, will be as solid a WR2 as they come. We love Van Jefferson‘s upside, but we can’t recommend starting him as long as DeSean Jackson looms. The veteran should steal more than a handful of snaps, and also we expect second-round draft pick, Tutu Atwell, to see the field in certain packages. Until the picture behind Woods and Kupp becomes clearer, we’re avoiding this trio altogether.
Finally, Tyler Higbee is no Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, but he’s a decent start in most 12 team PPR leagues that require at least one tight end in the lineup. As our ninth-ranked player at the position this week, he’s more than capable of holding down the fort as the likely third option in the Rams’ passing attack. Higbee should garner quite a few looks in the red zone against a Bears defense that has much to prove: only the New York Jets allowed more fantasy points to tight ends last season.