Kickoff: Sunday, September 19th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Betting Odds: CHI -3, 45 Total on Oddshark
Joe Burrow (Start)
Even after a considerable amount of concern going into the season, Joe Burrow started about as well as anyone could expect. In the overtime victory against the Vikings, the former number one overall draft pick completed 74% of his passes for 261 yards and picked up 2 TDs. Returning from an ACL injury, it did not seem that there were any major health issues to be concerned with and Burrow was not restricted in his play at all. He should return to his 2020 form, but the Bengals offensive line will still very much be cause for concern, giving up 5 sacks in this game. The matchup should be good overall though, as the Bears defense gave up 24 points to Matthew Stafford in week 1 and PFF ranked them as the worst in the league for their pass coverage.
Joe Mixon (Start, RB1), Samaje Perine (Sit)
Joe Mixon managers, it is time to get excited. Very excited. Mixon was the best RB in fantasy in week 1, finishing with the most rushing attempts, the most rushing yards, and the most points overall. There were only 15 snaps in which Mixon did not see the field, with Samaje Perine only taking a very minor role. Expect to see him given a lot of work this year, even in the passing game where he collected 4 receptions for 23 yards in week 1. The Chicago Bears are stout against the run and have a good defensive line but this is unlikely to do much to diminish Mixon’s potential this game, it might just mean even greater involvement in the passing game through short passes and screens. Mixon could start purely through the volume he is going to be given so you can be confident in his involvement.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Ja’Marr Chase (Start, WR2), Tee Higgins (Start, Flex), Tyler Boyd (Flex), C.J. Uzomah (Sit)
After all the negative preseason reports, Ja’Marr Chase came out and did everything possible to quiet the negative press around him. Playing in 90% of offensive snaps, considerably more than any other receiver, he started his NFL career at a quick pace, racking up over 100 yards and catching his first professional TD. The chemistry between him and Burrow was clear, demonstrating the connection formed during their time at LSU. Chase very much seemed like the game-breaking playmaker we saw in college and it signals very good news for his potential in fantasy. Against a slow-starting Bears secondary, Chase should have another big game.
Despite Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd being negatively affected by Chase’s sharp rise to the team’s WR1, they can still be good options in fantasy. Higgins had a productive game against the Vikings, bringing in 4 catches for 58 yards and a TD, putting him in the top 30 of all WRs. While Chase’s involvement will likely mean a decrease in volume compared to last year, week 1 showed that he can still put up good numbers from week to week. Boyd had a much quieter game, only gaining 32 yards in 3 catches, but this should not be representative of what is to come. He will likely have a much better time against the Bears, catching more passes than the 3 against the Vikings, particularly as the Bears defense lacks a talented nickel corner to line up against him. It is a slight risk starting either, but are decent options to fill a Flex position if needed.
The Bengals used a combination of C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample at tight end, but Uzomah was the only one to catch a pass in the game. It is likely that his participation will stay minor as a result of the bevy of options at wide receiver. He remains a poor fantasy option, the only way he puts up a good number of points is by finding the endzone and this is too big of a risk considering he has only caught 8 touchdowns total in a 7-year career.
Andy Dalton (Sit)
Starter Andy Dalton did just about everything you would expect out of him in his week one performance. He was far from terrible but was unsuccessful in putting points on the board and did not inspire much confidence that things would get any better in the near future. Dalton is what he has almost always been, a below-average floor and low-ceiling QB. That will probably be the same way until he retires. Do not be surprised if we see Justin Fields take over in the next few weeks, Bears fans may riot if not.
David Montgomery (Start, RB2), Damien Williams (Sit)
With Dalton ineffective, much of the responsibility to lead the offense fell on the shoulders of David Montgomery. Continuing his improvement into his third year, Montgomery started the season well and finished the week in the top-10 of RBs with 108 rushing yards and a TD. It is clear he is one of the better pure runners in the league and should gain a healthy amount of carries from week to week. The Bengals gave up over 2000 yards to RBs last season, a poor metric, but held Dalvin Cook to just 3 yards a carry last week which may suggest they have improved their rushing defense to some extent over the offseason. Cook was still able to put up good points because of his threat as a receiving option but Montgomery has not shown much of this element to his game, giving up a lot of work on passing downs to Damien Williams. Still, Williams is not a fantasy viable option after he brought in 4 passes for only 28 yards last week. Following a year off in 2020, Williams was also wildly ineffective in the run game, finishing with just 2 yards per carry in 6 rushes.
Montgomery is no doubt worth starting due to his performance as a pure runner but owners should temper expectations as he is unlikely to finish with as dominant a performance as he did in week 1.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Allen Robinson (Start, WR2), Darnell Mooney (Sit), Cole Kmet (Start), Jimmy Graham (Sit)
All Bears receivers will remain limited in their fantasy potential while Dalton is still on the field. Allen Robinson is the clear number one option in the passing game, seeing 11 targets in his first game in 2021. Still, that did not translate into a productive performance, finishing with just 35 yards over 6 catches. A major part of that performance was being covered by Jalen Ramsey, who does that to everyone, and we should see him return a much better performance against the Bengals.
Darnell Mooney is the only other serious receiving threat for the Bears at the moment, but he was another who had a very quiet game in the season opener. He had a considerable number of catches, 5, but that only added up to 26 yards overall. The second-year player has a bright future but with a career PPG of 8.6, he is still some way off being startable in fantasy.
Veteran Jimmy Graham has officially passed the torch at tight end over to the younger player Cole Kmet. Graham had just 2 targets compared to Kmet’s 7 and only was involved in 20% of offensive snaps compared to Kmet’s 74%. This is a pretty substantial development and should make Kmet a viable option at TE for 2021. While he only had 5 catches for 42 yards against the Rams, the Bengals should provide a much better matchup. Last year, the defense gave up the 3rd highest number of yards to tight ends so Kmet will look to capitalize with a big game. His greatest challenge will be finding the endzone though, which he only managed 2 times last year.
Statistics courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Patrick McAndrew (@PMcAndrewNFL on Twitter)