The Lions travel to Chicago for a Monday night matchup with the Bears. We break down the fantasy implications.
Chicago enters Week 7 sitting atop the NFC North, and after crushing Detroit last season at home, the division rankings could remain the same after Monday night. The Lions are coming off a big overtime win over the Eagles, though, so this matchup won't be a walkover for either side.
Calvin Johnson will attempt to outdo the Bears biggest acquisition in the offseason, as Brandon Marshall has once again become the go-to-guy for Jay Cutler. Megatron hasn't been on the torrid pace we saw in 2011, but he's always bound to go off at any time.
Let's go ahead and look at who you need to have in your lineup for Monday night, and who needs to be kept on the bench.
Matthew Stafford, quarterback - Stafford has yet to throw multiple touchdown passes in a single week this season, a concerning fact for fantasy owners who likely drafted higher him in the early rounds. Chicago's defense won't be making it much easier for the Lions quarterback. The Bears have allowed just four passing touchdowns in five games so far. Last year Stafford put up four interceptions on the road at Chicago. This isn't a favorable matchup, but if you're struggling for quarterbacks this week, you might have no choice.
Mikel Leshoure, running back - The Bears have given up just one touchdown to opposing running backs. Leshoure managed 70 yards against the Eagles last week, and that total is likely to decrease here. Chicago ranks first in the league against the run. Don't expect much from the Lions ground game tonight, and find a replacement for Leshoure if you can.
Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, wide receiver - You don't ever sit Megatron, that's a fact. Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown in two games against Chicago last year. He's going to be a factor no matter who he's playing. Burleson finished with eight catches for 83 yards on the road against the Bears in 2011. He's seeing plenty of targets with Titus Young being a non-factor right now, so that will help his value going forward. Burleson could be a decent PPR play, and he has scored twice in his last three games, so standard league's may take a risk. You could do worse.
Brandon Pettigrew, tight end - If you're looking for a PPR tight end, Pettigrew can help you this week. He hasn't found the end zone since Week 2. Unless you're struggling with your lineup, standard league's will want to look elsewhere. Unfortunately the Bears don't utilize tight ends very often, so you might be stuck with Pettigrew at this point. The Bears did allow Jason Witten to dominate two weeks ago. There is hope for Pettigrew.
Lions defense/special teams - The Lions rank 26th-worst in points per game allowed (27.4). Aside from Week 2's debacle against the Packers, the Bears offense is firing on all cylinders this season. Chicago's D/ST is the one you'll want to have in your lineup for Monday night. Limit your expectations if you're forced to start the Lions defense.
Jay Cutler, quarterback - Cutler posted solid numbers in his past two games, throwing for 275+ yards and two touchdowns in each. The Lions pass defense is a mediocre group at this point, but Cutler has only thrown two scores against Detroit in the past two seasons. He's a risky play given his inconsistent play. You could do worse this week, though.
Matt Forte and Michael Bush, running back - With Forte back in the picture, Bush's stats have taken a turn for the worse in the past two games. He hasn't broken 30 yards rushing in that span, and hasn't found the end zone since Week 3. The Lions allowed just one rushing touchdown through the first five games, so Bush should find a seat on your bench tonight. Forte doesn't need to score to help your lineup. Start him.
Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett, wide receiver - Coming off two huge games against Dallas and Jacksonville, we can expect Marshall to continue to thrive in Week 7. The Lions just gave up 243 yards and one touchdown to the Eagles. The passing game revolves around Marshall. You should always start him. Bennett missed time with a hand injury in recent weeks, so until he proves he can make an impact, hold off on him for now.
Kellen Davis, tight end - Davis has one touchdown this season and is never a fantasy factor. Cutler doesn't look for his tight ends often, so why should you?
Bears defense/special teams - Currently allowing the fewest points per game, Chicago's defense looks as good as ever. This is another no-brainer for Monday night. The Bears D/ST should provide another solid play in Week 7 against a Lions offense that has struggled in 2012.