CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 27: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers dives into the endzone for a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter against Pisa Tinoisamoa #59 and Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 27 2010 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Bears take a trip to Lambeau Field for the first Thursday night game of the regular season. We break down the fantasy implications.
Somehow Green Bay managed to finish as the only NFC North team without a win in Week 1 after losing to San Francisco at home. The Bears faced a much easier matchup last weekend against a rebuilding Colts squad. Chicago dropped both games against Green Bay in 2011, but this year's contest has several new faces on the Windy City's side. Michael Bush rushed for two touchdowns in his first game as a Bear, while Brandon Marshall put up big numbers like we've seen him do alongside Jay Cutler in the past.
We'll take a look at the full sit/start discussion for Week 2 later on, but for now, here is a rundown of the noteworthy Bears and Packers to consider in Week 2.
Jay Cutler, quarterback -- The regular season opener was a breeze for Cutler, as he threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns against Indy. Cutler also finished with 300+ yards and two touchdowns in his lone game against the Packers last season. He should be a decent play for your fantasy lineup in Week 2, seeing that Green Bay's secondary let Alex Smith walk out of Lambeau Field with a 125.6 passer rating.
Matt Forte and Michael Bush, running back -- Just as Forte owners feared, Bush stole two scores away near the goal line in the opener. He finished with 42 yards on 12 carries as he took over the rushing duties in garbage time. Forte put in an impressive performance, though, racking up 80 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries along with three receptions for 40 yards. Despite their dismal defense, the Packers only gave up 10 rushing touchdowns in 2011. The only lone rushing score for the Niners last weekend came on a 23-yard scamper by Frank Gore. Forte should certainly be in your starting lineup, but you might want to hold off on Bush if you have other options for now.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, wide receivers -- It was just like the old days of the Marshall/Cutler connection in Week 1. Marshall finished with nine receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown, and he already looks like a force to be reckoned with for fantasy owners similar to his 2007-2009 form. Jeffery, on the other hand, caught just three passes, but a 42-yard scoring bomb in the fourth quarter solidified a decent first day on the job for the rookie. Both can likely be started against the Packers' secondary, but keep in mind Jeffery won't find the end zone every week. His value is better in deeper leagues.
Tight end? -- Do the Bears even have a tight end? Kyle Adams caught one pass against the Colts for 17 yards, and that was the last you'd see in the stat sheet from this position. Please, do yourself a favor and avoid Bears tight ends at all costs.
Bears defense/special teams -- Chicago allowed an average of 21 points and 350 yards per game in 2011. Green Bay averaged 31 points and 377 yards per game against the Bears last season. Aaron Rodgers dismantled their secondary back in December at home, throwing for five touchdowns that night. Throw out all the stats and predictions you want about Chicago's defense, the key fact here is they're playing Rodgers. That should be a good enough reason to look elsewhere for a defense/special team for your lineup.
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback -- There's not much more to say about this guy. He accumulated 330 total yards and two touchdowns against San Francisco in Week 1, and that was apparently an "off day" for the superstar. There's no reason he should ever be on your bench.
Cedric Benson, running back -- Even though Alex Green was active against the Niners, Benson handled all nine of the carries for the Packers. James Starks is still out with turf toe, so there's one less runner to worry about. Donald Brown actually fared well against the Bears last week, but he was only given nine touches on the ground as well. Chicago did rank fifth in rush defense last season, and Benson isn't anything special. Given the fact that the Packers aren't typically inclined to stick with the ground and pound mentality, Benson should be kept on your bench until we see major changes in his play/workload.
Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, wide receiver -- Unfortunately for the Packers, Jennings might not be in action Thursday night. He's officially listed as doubtful at this point, but Adam Schefter did say it sounds more like "50-50" according to a league source. If Jennings does not play, the three other aforementioned receivers see their stock go up. What happened last season when Jennings didn't play against the Bears? Nelson caught six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and Jones hauled in four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns as well. Cobb also saw much more involvement in the offense this past weekend, and now looks like he could become a starter in PPR formats and deeper leagues. All three have better value if Jennings sits Thursday night.
Jermichael Finley, tight end -- In Week 3 of the 2011 season, Finley absolutely went off on the Bears, catching seven balls for 85 yards and all three of Rodgers' touchdowns that game. The second time he faced Chicago, though, he only finished with three receptions, but still hauled in another score. Finley is one of the better options at tight end this season, and you shouldn't worry about starting him in Week 2.
Packers defense/special teams -- Green Bay gave up the most yards per game out of any team in 2011. In Week 1 it jumped out of the gates to allow 30 points and 377 total yards to San Francisco. Pretty impressive, right? You can do better than the Packers this week, and probably most weeks throughout 2012.
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