NFC North Week 4 Preview

With Green Bay sitting on their couch watching this weeks’ games at home, all eyes will be on the Chicago Bears/Detroit Lions match-up. Sure, the Minnesota Vikings travel to London to face the Steelers, but Bears/Lions seemingly has playoff implications. When two division leaders square off, the result of the game will go a long way in determining each team’s fate. Without further ado, here are the fantasy implications for the NFC North main event this week, along with the lowly Vikings.

 

Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler

If you read my weekly Value Up-Value Down piece on fakepigskin.com, then you saw I dubbed Cutler’s value up after week 3. Last week the Pittsburgh defense slowed down Jay a little bit, but they are giving up the third least amount of fantasy points to QBs. Well, the task doesn’t get much easier this week as the Lions are ranked 5th vs opposing QBs. If you look closer, you realize the Lions have only faced Christian Ponder, Carson Palmer and RGIII (who is a shell of his former self at the moment). Therefore, the “5th vs opposing QB” stat is much inflated, and I wouldn’t worry too much about the match-up. As is the case with most weeks, Cutler looks like a solid QB2. This one looks like a shootout so the results should be much better than last week.

Matt Forte

Matt Forte is an elite running back. Through three weeks, the Lions are giving up the most points of any defense to opposing backs despite not allowing a 100 yard rusher. It doesn’t matter; every team to play the Lions so far has had a RB score a rushing touchdown. Forte contributes to the offense in so many ways that there is no way you can sit him. He is my #1 ranked running back for week 4. I think he becomes the first back to go over 100 and catches a handful of passes. Let’s just hope that Forte scores the touchdown and doesn’t get vultured by Michael Bush.

Michael Bush

Only start Bush if you are in a pinch. The only value he possesses come from goal line carries. Trestman named him the goal line back this week, so he will most likely be given an opportunity to score. If he fails to convert, he will likely end up with under 1-2 fantasy points. To have any real value, Matt Forte will have to go down with injury.

Brandon Marshall

Nobody in the Lions’ secondary strikes me as a shutdown corner. Marshall, on the other hand, is an elite wide receiver. Vegas determined this game as the second highest over/under of any game this weekend. What does this mean? Jay Cutler will be looking for Brandon Marshall early and often. If the Bears get down early, Cutler will look to his security blanket to provide quick points. The good news is the Lions can put up points in a hurry, so even with a lead, Trestman will not let up. Marshall should be heavily targeted and a solid bet to lead the team in targets.

Alshon Jeffrey

Have Steve Smith on a bye? Look no further than Alshon Jeffrey. When the world gives you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry walls (sorry I had to). Obviously the Lions’ game plan will lean towards Marshall and Forte which could open up opportunities for Alshon. The interesting thing about the Bears is all their receiving options are tall which means they could easily be targeted in the red zone. Start him if need be and prey he’s the one Cutler slings the ball to on an end zone fade.

Martellus Bennett

Bennett ranks second among tight ends in target percentage in the red zone (46.7%) behind just Jordan Cameron (52.9%). People panicked on Bennett in the pre-season when Cutler didn’t target him once. Well, he’s more than made up for that. Bennett ranks 12th among TE in receptions and yards. Don’t worry about the Lions numbers against tight ends: start Bennett because no linebacker in the world can cover the length of the 6’7 self proclaimed “black unicorn.”

Robbie Gould

Lions, for what it’s worth, are giving up the fifth most points to opposing kickers. Robbie Gould is the fifth most accurate kicker in NFL history. This game will be played in a dome which greatly improves’ kickers chances because it eliminates tricky elements of grass. Start him if you got him.

Bears D/ST

Unbelievable how this team just scores touchdowns. The problem is their turnover king, Charles Tillman, may or may not play this week. According to reports this week, Tillman will not shadow Calvin Johnson even if he does play even though he’s been one of the most effective corners against him. I’d have a hard time sitting this defense because they create turnovers but the Lions are a high powered offense. Consider the Bears a top 12ish fantasy play this week.

 

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford

Okay, so Nate Burleson is hurt, but Stafford gets back his #2 weapon this week: Reggie Bush. Stafford loves checking down and once he dumps it off, Bush can take it to the house on any given play. Tim Jennings will probably intercept him at least once, but then again Calvin Johnson will probably find the end zone. Just the over/under alone says leave Stafford in your lineup.

Reggie Bush

As one of the games’ most dynamic play makers, Bush needs to be in your lineup every time he plays. Period.

Joique Bell

Joique is proving he is fantasy football’s best handcuff. Not only is Reggie Bush injury prone, but Bell provides value even when Bush is healthy. Seemingly the team’s goal line back, he also catches passes and makes defenders miss. I consider Joique a viable FLEX option pretty much every week. This week is no different.

Calvin Johnson

Don’t. Ever. Sit. Him.

Ryan Broyles

After Nate Burleson tried to save a piece of pizza which caused a one car crash, that opened up an opportunity for Ryan Broyles. In PPR, Broyles should get his fair share of looks. He is not big and is injury prone so I wouldn’t bother in standard leagues. Playing him would assume that you have injuries and/or byes putting you in dire straits.

All Lions TEs

Pettigrew stinks, Fauria is inconsistent and Tony Scheffler is still lurking. Altogether, it is too hard to figure out who gets the looks each week. This is a situation to avoid this week and every week.

David Akers

Yet to attempt a field goal of over 49 yards, the old lefty is still reliable. Stafford and co. usually put up a fair amount of points so the extra points should be there. The Bears allow the 10th most fantasy points to opposing kickers. If you have to use him, realize he’s a middle of the road fantasy kicker with little upside. I prefer the guys who can hit the 55 yarders. Go with Ryan Succop instead.

Lions D/ST

So far the Lions are a middle of the road fantasy defense. The scary part? They haven’t played anyone good. Let me let you in on a little secret: the Bears are good. Avoid them if you can. If you can’t, at least Jay Cutler is prone to throwing interceptions so you might get one or two.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Matt Cassel

Nothing to see here even in 2QB leagues. Just look what the Steelers’ defense did to Jay Cutler last week: 159 passing yards and a TD. Matt Cassel is nowhere near as good and may be jet-lagged after a long flight overseas. I assume the Vikings will lean on AP like they do every week to make this offense go.

Adrian Peterson

You can’t ever sit him. He’s the best running back the NFL has to offer in both fantasy and reality. Surprisingly, the Steelers have been giving it up to opposing RBs; they’ve allowed the sixth most points. Mike Tomlin and co. will fix the holes in their defense soon but it won’t be against all day Adrian Peterson.

Greg Jennings

If he had Aaron Rodgers throwing to him, I’d say start him. Unfortunately, he has Matt Cassel throwing to him. Oh, and he probably will have Ike Taylor shadowing him for most of the day and Ike is one of the best corners in the game. Sit him down on the bench. If you need your Greg Jennings fix this weekend, just watch this video.

All Other Vikings WRs

Did I mention Matt Cassel is throwing to them?

Kyle Rudolph

See Cassel, Matt. Rudolph the red zone reindeer may see an opportunity to score if there is some sort of play action on the goal line however. So there’s a glimpse of upside in playing him but I probably wouldn’t.

Blair Walsh

One of the best kickers in fantasy football. If you own him, you’re starting him. Pittsburgh is allowing the sixth most fantasy points to opposing kickers. Hope for a long field goal because the offense probably won’t do much scoring.

Vikings D/ST

I’m worried Cassel may throw some picks putting the defense in bad spots. Roethlisberger seemed to figure it out a little last week so I think that continues this week. Minnesota’s defense has allowed at least 292 passing yards and 2 TD in every game so far. I see no reason to start them with plenty of other teams having better match-ups (Indianapolis and Arizona to name a few).

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