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NFL Week 17: Will Chicago’s Offense Bounce Back Against Green Bay?

With Josh McCown at the helm, the Bears offense looked as good as the top offenses in the league. With Cutler now back at QB, the offense has struggled, sputtering to victory against a bad Browns team, and flat out getting demoralized against the Eagles. On paper, the matchup against the Eagles seemed very good. The Eagles have a solid run defense and a bad pass defense which normally means fantasy point gold. But Cutler only managed 222 yards and 1 TD on 35 attempts while Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall combined for only 10 catches for 112 yards and 1 TD.

On paper we see another great matchup for the Bears. They face the Packers with Aaron Rodgers back this week in a game for the NFC North title. But this time will the Bears struggle on offense or will they have the sort of offensive attack they’ve shown for most of the season?

Data

Notes from the Bears Offensive Season

Week 2 at home against Minnesota, who has the worst pass coverage in the league but average run defense and pass rush, Cutler throws for 292 yards and 3 TDs. Cutler also threw 2 INTs.
While Matt Forte failed to get a TD, he caught 10 passes for 73 yards and ran for 88 yards. Martellus Bennett was the stud of the day, with 7 catches for 76 yards and 2 TDs. Marshall added a solid day with 7 catches for 113 yards and 1 TD.

Week 5 at home against New Orleans, an above average defense, Cutler threw for 358 yards and 2 TDs and no INTs on 33 attempts. Despite his effectiveness, the Bears only scored 18 points, and Forte only managed to run for 55 yards on 12 carries. Jeffery has a monster game with 10 catches for 218 yards and 1 TD.

Week 7 on the road against the Redskins, one of the worst defenses in the league, Bears lose but score 40 points. Cutler gets injured but is not very effective in the limited time he plays. 3/8 for 28 yards and an INT. Forte ends up having a monster game with 16 rushes for 91 yards and 3 TDs.

Week 14 at home against Dallas, arguably the worst defense in the league, McCown starts and has a very good game, 348 yards and 4 TDs. Forte rushes for 100 yards on 20 carries, as well as catching 7 passes for 73 yards and 1 TD. Marshall has 6 receptions for 100 yards while Jeffery adds 5 catches for 84 yards and a TD.

Cutler returns Week 15 against the Browns, who are good against the run but very bad against the pass. Forte is very effective, running for 127 yards on 24 carrries, but doesn’t manage a TD and gets just one catch. Jeffery and Marshall have nearly identical stats, with 5/72/1 and 6/95/1 respectively. Cutler throws 2 INTs but has an okay fantasy day, 22/31 for 265 yards and 3 TDs.

Week 9 is the previous matchup against the Packers. McCown is relatively ineffective going 22/41 for 272 yards but manages 2 TDs. Forte has a great day, with 24 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD, while catching 5 passes for 54 yards. Marshall is a little more effective than Jeffery, with 7 catches for 107 yards and a TD. Marshall is targetted much more than Jeffery, 13 vs 8.

Best Fantasy Performances Against Packers

Week 1 Colin Kaepernick throws for 412 yards and 3 TDs. Vernon Davis adds 8 catches for 98 yards and 2 TDs while Anquan Boldin has a monster 13 reception, 208 yard performance and adds a TD.

Week 10 Lesean McCoy goes for 155 yards rushing on 25 attempts but only manages 1 catch. The Eagles are almost too effective running the ball and only pass it 18 times, but Foles scoops up 3 TDs with 228 yards.

Week 13 The Lions annihilate the Packers. Stafford throws for 330 yards and 3 TD. Reggies Bush and Joique Bell combined for 211 yards on 39 rushes for 2 TDs as well as 8 catches for 99 yards.

Week 15 Tony Romo throws for 358 yards and 2 TDs. Dez Bryant has 11 catches for 152 yards and a TD and Jason Witten adds 4 receptions for 71 yards and a TD. Demarco Murray adds 134 yards and a TD.

Week 16 Le’veon Bell gets 26 rushes for 124 yards and a TD in the snow. Antonio Brown adds 6 receptions for 105 yards but no TD. No other receiver has more than 2 catches.

Packers injuries since last matchup

Jamari Lattimore has replaced Brad Jones at inside linebacker. Lattimore has played better than Jones, although he’s slightly worse in coverage.

Clay Matthews did not play in week 9.

Sean Richardson has gotten more time at FS than MD Jennings. Richardson is an upgrade.

Conclusions

The Packers are a bad defense and a good fantasy matchup which should bode well for the Bears. Rodgers is back this week which could cause an intangible moral boost for the defense. But since Rodgers improves the Packers team we should assume a larger likelihood the Bears fall behind and give a slight boost to Cutler and pass catchers. Forte had almost 30 touches in the last matchup which should bode well for his fantasy production. Given how well #1 receivers have done against the Packers we should probably favor Marshall over Jeffery, especially given the target disparity in the last game. McCown played in the last matchup and did not fair too well, but it was his first start of the season so that sort of performance should be expected. Cutler should probably fare better. This game is also at Soldier Field which will be a plus for the Chicago offense. The Packers have only managed 10 INTs on the season, so don’t expect a lot of turnovers from Cutler despite 11 in 10 games this season.

The Bears only managed 1 TD against the Eagles, but don’t expect the same performance against the Packers. The Eagles game got out of hand so quickly and was on the road which probably caused a pretty demoralized Chicago team. This game is meaningful for both teams as whoever wins will take the NFC North crown so you don’t have to worry about starters resting.

I think Forte and Marshall are the good starts, and if I can only choose one I’d choose Forte, who got enough touches last matchup to have a monster fantasy game if he scored more TDs. Forte has also shown a lot of effectiveness against really bad defenses like the Vikings and Redskins. This makes a lot of sense as play calling is a lot more conservative when conservative plays are effective, and running and short passes are basically only to Forte. The Lions RB combo of Bell and Bush completely torched the Packers, and they are both pretty similar backs to Forte. Marshall and Jeffery are both elite recievers but Marshall gets the nod as the #1 wideouts have fared very well against the Packers. The Packers linebackers and safeties are pretty average, not bad enough to justify starting Bennett. Cutler is a good QB but probably not above his price tag, I’d rather take just Marshall to arbitrage worse performances from Jeffery and Bennett. I like the Forte/Marshall combo for heads up games. I’d probably only go with Forte in GPPs, who seems like a great start.

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View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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