A few weeks into any NFL season, it always becomes a war of attrition. The team with healthy stars is the team that becomes the betting favorite, even if it would be a lopsided matchup in the other direction in week 1.
The Bears have been burned by injuries plenty of times; just a few recent examples include Jay Cutler in the NFC Championship Game, Akiem Hicks in 2019, Tarik Cohen in 2020, and Kevin White nearly the entire time he was with the Bears.
David Montgomery is the fresh news, though. The Bears have been so desperate for any type of identity on offense, and seemed to finally find one last Sunday, with Monty going off for 106 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns before hurting his knee in the 4th quarter. With him due to miss at least a month, the Bears will have to look elsewhere for offensive output.
Andy Dalton is finally healthy, so does that mean he’ll take his starting job back on Sunday?
Not so fast, says head coach Matt Nagy.
On Wednesday, Justin Fields was officially named QB1 for the Bears in the coming game against the Las Vegas Raiders, and he’ll look to continue the success he had against the Detroit Lions last Sunday. Fields’ stat line in that Lions game, with 209 passing yards and 1 interception to no touchdowns, doesn’t exactly jump off the page. However, some elite deep throws, including a 64-yard quick-zoom-the-camera-out-so-you-don’t-lose-the-ball beauty to Darnell Mooney, are as much as you need to know about what the rookie is capable of.
The Bears are still led by their defense, but for the first time in a long time, it looks like they could be interesting on offense. With Montgomery out, it will be essential for the Bears’ offensive line to keep Fields upright, as the gameplan will demand a few more passing plays than normal. When Montgomery returns, and Allen Robinson and Fields develop more rapport, this will be a dangerous offensive group.
Here’s your start/sit guide for the Bears in week 5:
START: Damien Williams
For non-Bears fans, seeing Damien Williams as one of the top waiver wire pickups this week may have looked like putting the cart before the horse. Through the first 3 weeks of the season, he amassed 10.4 fantasy points total, an average of 3.47 fantasy PPG which wasn’t even worth a spot on your bench.
What’s more, he’s not 100% healthy, originally listed as questionable for week 5 with a quad injury which sent the Bears looking for a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency running back.
What does Damien Williams have that I don’t have on my bench already?
When Tarik Cohen’s injury-recovery carried into the 2021 regular season, it was assumed that Damien Williams would see a boost in production moving from third-string up to primary backup. He should have had some third-down boost catching dumpoffs on third-and-long that don’t get the first down but help PPR league owners. Those who remember his Super Bowl performance for the Chiefs know that he doesn’t shy away from the big stage when his number is called, and it doesn’t look like anybody else will challenge him for carries this week.
ESPN lists his projection as:
Likely to step up into a major role for the Chicago offense with David Montgomery ailing, Williams averaged seven yards per touch last week and has some experience as a dual-threat option from his time with the Chiefs. The Raiders have been soft against backfields this season, setting up Williams nicely.
The Raiders have given up the 7th-most fantasy points to running backs so far this season. Sure, you could make a risky fantasy play for Khalil Herbert and hope that he can score a touchdown after a big Williams run or Fields pass, but Williams was already seeing a decent amount of the Bears’ offensive snaps, and now he’ll see most of them.
SIT: Justin Fields
Rabble rabble rabble.
The parade left a half hour ago, and now I want to send the crowd home without the candy?
No. Justin Fields is going to be an elite NFL quarterback. Justin Fields is going to make Bears fans forget about all the swings-and-misses at quarterback in the past 30 years. Justin Fields is going to make elite players chase a championship here in Chicago (see: Chiefs, Bucs).
He’s just not lighting it up in fantasy right now.
In one half of action against the Bengals in week 2, Fields played well enough to hold onto the win, and had some good clean fun flashing his running ability with double-digit carries. Still, he was held to 3.5 fantasy points and failed to crack 100 passing yards in an entire half of football.
In week 3 against the Browns, he never had time to throw, his receivers weren’t getting open enough, and the gameplan never adjusted to the Browns consistent pass rush and Fields was sacked 9 times. He didn’t have a disaster of a game in fantasy production, which would be negative points from interceptions (of which he had none), but football is a team sport and Fields didn’t do his part any more than anybody else on the Bears’ offense did their part, which they obviously did not. Fields finished with 3.92 fantasy points.
The Lions are a bad team, and should be an easy 20 fantasy points for Fields, right? 7.26 fantasy points. 3 rushing attempts. 0 touchdowns through either the ground or the air. 1 INT. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The Raiders are 3-1 and are a team that competes until the clock hits 0:00, with two overtime wins and a tendency to come back from early deficits. The Bears could take an early lead and look to hold it better than the Raiders’ previous opponents have. Still, with 3 carriers in each of the past 2 games, it doesn’t look like Fields will be the primary rusher for the Bears again.
Remember how Mitch Trubisky was restricted from running, and sit Fields for a week before a tough contest against the Packers in week 6, where Nagy will have him throw 50 passes to try to keep the Bears in the game. Justin Fields will be the starter for the Bears unless for an injury, and you should absolutely stash him on your bench this week if you’re lucky enough to have him on your roster at all.