[sc name=”Author – Taylor Maxton”]
Talk about a surprise shootout in San Francisco! The Los Angeles Rams’ Week 3 matchup against the 49ers last Thursday was an exciting rebound from a boring Texans-Bengals game, with quarterback Jared Goff leading the way to a thrilling 41-39 victory. Todd Gurley and Carlos Hyde each had 25-plus carries and two touchdowns in what was two teams trading blows throughout the evening. Needless to say, these two teams exceeded expectations in providing fans with a night of crazy football!
Although it is tempting to call the Week 4 Thursday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers a foregone conclusion, I would challenge you not to write off this historic rivalry as a possible blowout candidate. Before I dive in, I would like to point out a few things that will change with the Thursday Night Matchup series for the future:
(1) Injuries will now include key projected inactives for players who may not be directly relevant fantasy assets, like offensive linemen or defensive players. Keep in mind that since this article releases on Wednesday, some of the closer game-time decisions for who is inactive are subject to change. (2) Since we are three weeks into the regular season, the offensive and defensive rankings for each team will now be from 2017 as opposed to 2016 like in the previous articles. Let’s get to it.
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Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Date and Start Time: Thursday, September 28 at 8:25 PM ET
Notable Injuries and Status:
- Ty Montgomery (RB, GB) – Wrist – Active
- Randall Cobb (WR, GB) – Chest – Active
- Kyle Murphy (OT, GB) – Foot – Inactive
- Davon House (CB, GB) – Quad – Inactive
- Quintin Demps (S, CHI) – Forearm – Inactive
Offensive and Defensive Rankings (2017):
Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup
Jordan Howard (RB, CHI)
Howard owners have gone through a roller coaster of emotions just three weeks into the regular season. His solid 52-yard performance in Week 1 was followed by a complete dud in Week 2 where he failed to even get over 10 rushing yards. The Tarik Cohen factor and an injury scare also helped write a recipe for nervousness, as it was largely questionable if Howard would keep his starting job. However, owners would do well to remember that he was able to put up 164 total yards against a capable Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense last week and faces a favorable matchup against Green Bay. His usage is also steadily increasing, with him receiving a touch on 68 percent of his snaps in Week 3 compared to 29 percent and 42 percent in the first two weeks of the regular season.
Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)
As if you really needed to be convinced to start not just one of the most prolific fantasy, but also real-life quarterbacks of all time against a sub-par Chicago pass defense. Rodgers is the only quarterback who has thrown for over 300 passing yards in every game this season and has scored at least one touchdown in each contest. What’s more, he has averaged 250 passing yards and 3 touchdowns against the Bears when playing at Lambeau Field. Let’s just say that Rodgers is the safest lock into your lineup that you will make in Week 4.
Jordy Nelson (WR, GB)
Despite dealing with a quad injury he suffered in Week 2, Nelson is money when he is on the field as quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ go-to guy. In his two full starts in 2017, he has received no less than eight targets per game and scored three times while operating all over Green Bay’s offensive formations. Although the Chicago Bears have shown a potent run defense recently, they represent a huge opportunity for Nelson to take advantage of in the passing game and put up WR-1 numbers.
Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup
Mike Glennon (QB, CHI)
Simply put, Glennon lacks both the overall talent and supporting cast to make an impact against a rising young Packer secondary. I might have been wrong last week about Brian Hoyer as a must-sit candidate, but Glennon has neither the benefit of a proven wide receiver like Pierre Garcon or an offensive mastermind in Kyle Shanahan to call plays. The Bears’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly came despite him, as his first completion to a wide receiver was a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Deonte Thompson with six minutes left in the game. Avoid at all costs!
Bears Wide Receivers (WRs, CHI)
This must-sit recommendation comes largely as a result of Mike Glennon‘s limited ability to do much of anything to make plays happen in the passing game. The Bear’s average the 12th most pass attempts per game (35.7) but rank 27th in yards per game (183.3), all but ensuring that most wide receivers in that offense will have little to no opportunity for fantasy-relevance. Even presumed No. 1 wide receiver Kendall Wright is nothing more than a mediocre WR-5 option, as he wasn’t targeted at all in Week 3 and had low yardage totals in the first two games of the season. Don’t even bother rostering Markus Wheaton, Josh Bellamy, or Deonte Thompson.
Martellus Bennett (TE, GB)
Expectations were high for Bennett when he signed with Green Bay this last offseason. However, there are simply too many capable targets (especially in the red-zone) for him to have any consistent base for fantasy production. The 30-year old is imply underutilized in a Packers’ air attack that runs through the intermediate-to-deep passing game, meaning an increase in usage isn’t likely to come anytime soon. The Bears have also been noticeably capable of shutting down opposing tight ends, allowing just eight receptions by tight ends over three games in 2017.
Other Notable Sits: Zach Miller (TE, CHI)
Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?
Solid Option – Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI)
“The Human Joystick” (or whatever nickname he has now) is proving to be a big part of the Bears’ one-two punch rushing attack, getting at least five touches and four receptions in every game so far this season. Perhaps more importantly, he has converted those looks into 283 total yards with freakish speed and elusiveness. The team may opt to be cautious with starting back Jordan Howard‘s injury by limiting his touches, meaning even more work for Cohen and a high upside flex play this week.
Solid Option – Ty Montgomery (RB, GB)
His reception floor will help him in this pass-favored matchup, but the Bears haven’t allowed a lead back on the opposing team to rush for over 70 yards so far this season. Depending on game script, Montgomery could get a heavy workload while the team is leading or be phased out entirely by a stout Chicago front-seven. He is absolutely still worth the start, but don’t expect a lights-out performance.
Adams and Cobb have accounted for 40% of the Packers’ target share so far this season, but the fantasy production between these two would make you believe otherwise. Adams has had a single explosive 99-yard one touchdown performance, with Jordy Nelson not playing, somewhat disguising his average stat-lines from previous games. Cobb has accumulated 145 yards over two games but is tough to start given his injury and the talented wide receivers around him. Of the two, I would project Adams to have the better game based on him likely being shadowed by the inconsistent Kyle Fuller.
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