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Fantasy Monsters of the Midway: Start/Sit Guide for Week 3

It’s week 3, and we have multiple games to reflect on to set our fantasy lineups.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always going to be easier to discuss the Chicago Bears after a win. Considering the team is tied for first place in the division, some of the cracks in the armor can be ignored.

For now.

What can’t be ignored are the NFL team offense rankings, and where they have our beloved Monsters out of 32 NFL teams.

The Bears are 30th in yards per game (YPG), 31st in Passing YPG, and 31st in yards per play. Despite solid rushing yards per game (8th in the NFL), this team is still middle of the pack in rushing yards-per-attempt and clearly struggle to move the ball down the field.

If the defense wasn’t bailing this team out as we’re all too used to seeing them do, there may not be a startable player for fantasy past David Montgomery and Allen Robinson. With an inconsistent offensive line and the most quality off the bench coming in the way of Marquise Goodwin (31 snaps, 3 targets), this Bears offense is shallow.

If you like to load your fantasy bench with Bears players, here’s your start/sit guide for week 3:

Start: Darnell Mooney

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, Mooney actually was more productive with less snaps in week 2 than in week 1. Where he saw 100% of the offensive snaps against the Rams and answered with 7 targets for 5 receptions, he saw his snaps drop to 89% against the Bengals and turned in 8 targets, 6 receptions. He’s played more offensive snaps for the Bears than any player who doesn’t play on the offensive line, and he’s tied with Allen Robinson for the lead in targets with 15 on the season.

What’s more, the Bengals game saw the Bears open up the playbook to target Mooney downfield. Where he carved up only 26 receiving yards against the Rams in week 1, and was a liability in non-PPR leagues (thanks to the Bears’ play-calling), he nearly tripled that against the Bengals in week 2 with 66 receiving yards.

ESPN has Mooney’s week 3 outlook as:

In Week 2, Mooney collected six catches on eight targets for 66 yards, pacing the Bears in all three categories in their 20-17 win against Cincinnati. Despite the busy afternoon, Mooney is at best a deep league flex option for Week 3’s road tilt in Cleveland.

With Mooney yet to catch a touchdown in 2021 after averaging 1 in every 15.25 catches in 2020 (he’s touchdown-dry at 11 catches on the season so far), look for Mooney to find the endzone against the Browns and turn in a very nice performance in PPR leagues.

HONORABLE MENTION: Justin Fields.

It was no secret that Justin Fields was going to be the quarterback in this game, but the Bears made that official on Wednesday and there couldn’t be more reason to be excited as a Bears fan. If the Bears continue their gameplan from the second half of the Bengals game, favoring Fields’ running ability as much as his passing, the rookie quarterback is going to get some fantasy points one way or another.

He’s not exactly the safest play, as his interception late in the Bengals game showed growing pains to be expected, but it’s a fun play, and remember that we’re playing fantasy games. Wouldn’t it be sweet to cheer twice when Fields does something amazing - once for the Bears, and once for your fantasy team?

  • Links to all our BreakingT Justin Fields, Bears shirts/hoodies can be found right here.

SIT: Jimmy Graham

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

If the Bears made it clear in the preseason that they have plays designed specifically for multiple tight ends, then the team dog must have come and ate a few pages of that book. Through two games, tight ends not named Cole Kmet have averaged 35.5 offensive plays per game combined, and that’s between Graham, JP Holtz, and Jesse James. What’s worse, they aren’t seeing the ball at all. One second they’re a motion man on a run play, the next they’re a 5 yard out-route where the Bears take a deep shot.

The evidence just isn’t there for a second Bears tight end to be on your fantasy radar right now.

Jimmy Graham, despite his flashy career making plays in the redzone, doesn’t look like he’ll get enough playing time for this Bears’ offense to be worth the risk that comes with such a touchdown-or-bust fantasy player. He had 14 snaps in week 1, and 22 snaps in week 2, with only 1 catch total to show for it. Even a short touchdown catch wouldn’t have put him into double-digits.

While some of it appears to be his performance - he doesn’t have the burst he used to have, even if his strengths were always elsewhere - the gameplan can always change to give him more looks in the midfield, where he can get some yards-after-catch and be a quarterback’s best friend again.

If you have a spot on your bench, there’s no shame in stashing him. But this isn’t the week to take the risk on a start.


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