Week 15 Saturday Night Football Preview – Bears at Lions/Chargers at Chiefs

Two games on deck this Saturday, and I’ve analyzed both providing an overview of each team’s outlook from the fantasy football perspective, some statistical “analysis”, and my betting picks.

For the fantasy portion, I’ve broken each team’s fantasy relevant players into four categories:

  1. Ballers –  Either the guys you just aren’t benching, or the ones with favorable match-ups. Either way, they should be in your lineups.
  2. Under the Radar – Guys who you may not start regularly, or have what appear to be tough matchups, but have a good opportunity to produce. Good for dfs (DraftKings, Fanduel, etc.) as they should have low(er) ownership.
  3. Temper Expectations – Proceed with caution. May be players you’d normally start, or guys who’ve been playing well in recent weeks/have a plus matchup, but might not put up the numbers needed to justify a start this week.
  4. Bums – It’s a good idea to just avoid these guys in your lineups.

For the betting side, I used the opening spread and over/under totals from sportsinsights.com. The lines have moved in reaction to the money, injury updates, etc., but picking and choosing which current odds to use felt a bit too arbitrary.

Chicago Bears (4-9, 6-6-1 ATS) at Detroit Lions (7-6, 6-6-1 ATS)

Spread: DET -7

O/U: 44

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
CHI 14.83 (7th) 18.76 (12th) 22.04 (18th) 6.65 (6th) 9.67 (27th) 9.67 (27th)
DET 17.60 (17th) 22.16 (29th) 21.19 (16th) 9.67 (25th) 8.67 (20th) 7.50 (9th)

Some people like to keep their options open, and by options, I mean opposite sex companions. You know, the “playa” type. The type to have several “friends” of the opposite sex – all of whom are readily available – but not the type to commit.

You know the type.

Now personally, that’s never been me. Keeping up with one is enough of a struggle as is. But I’ve known a friend or six who liked to dabble in the options game, and damn near every one of them came to me at a crossroads like, “Man, I really like him/her but this one…” or some variation of the message.

Well, the Bears faced a similar fate after signing Mike Glennon to a hefty 3 year, $45 million contract only to draft Mitch Trubisky #2 overall a little over a month later.

Chicago decided they’d give Glennon a shot initially, but it wasn’t monogamous. They’d still slide in Trubisky’s DMs here and there, and say a few sweet nothings just to make sure the door was still open. Good thing they did because after Glennon stood them up for a couple dates, under cooked their steak, and just wasn’t quite all that they expected, the Bears had reached that crossroads after just four weeks.

It was time to see if what they had in Trubisky was real, and like most, they didn’t jump in feet first. After averaging just 16 pass attempts through his 1st three games, Trubisky has now attempted 29.5 over the Bears last six. In fact, he’s put up less than 30 just once over that stretch. Problem is, it hasn’t exactly led to an inseparable bond.

Chicago won two of those first three games despite facing two of the top teams in the NFC (Minnesota and Carolina) and a team with a decent shot a a playoff berth in the AFC (Baltimore). At that point, they were feeling pretty good about the new fling, and their 3-4 record had them lustfully entertaining a future of love and prosperity.

They’ve now lost five of their last six games, and once again find themselves jockeying for a Top-5 draft pick.

Things fall apart over time, and sometimes we lose sight of what initially lead us to the relationship in the 1st place. In this case the missing piece goes by the name of Jordan Howard. After averaging 25.3 carries a game in those 1st three with Trubisky under center (a low of 19), Howard has seen that average drop to just 16 carries per game.

Last I checked, John Fox is still the Bears head coach, and they still don’t have Cameron Meredith and/or Kevin White so I’m really not sure what caused them to go astray. Probably those playa ways kicking in.

However, I do know that Howard saw 23 carries last week in a game which Chicago won handily; ending their five-game losing streak. I also know that Howard rushed for 125 yards the last time these two teams faced one another (Week 11), and that Detroit has been one of the worst teams against the run since losing Haloti Ngata. Logic suggests we’ll be seeing the 15-25 pass attempt Trubisky, 20+ carries Howard in this one.

Howard should ball out, too.

That said, this probably isn’t the best week to stream Trubisky. But the Lions have allowed a TE to find the endzone in four straight games, a total of 5 TDs over that stretch – with one of those landing in the hands of Bears’ TE Adam Shaheen – and just five teams have allowed more receiving yards to the position.

Now Shaheen is interesting, but he’s not the one you want to catch feelings for. He’s more of the number you keep saved just in case all else fails, it’s last call at the bar and you’ve struck out all night “friend”. Mainly because in the six games since losing Zach Miller, the Bears TE situation has been nothing short of haphazard. Dion Sims has seen 11 targets, Daniel Brown has seen 15, and 12 have headed Shaheen’s way. In other words, they’ve been consistently inconsistent, and there isn’t a clear #1 option.

Shaheen is clearly 1A, however, as he has three TDs on the season and is the only Bears TE to score sans Miller. Problem is, he’s been limited in practice this week, and is listed as questionable for this game. If he plays, there aren’t many better streaming options at the TE position this week, and if not, don’t go sleeping with his friends.

If you haven’t already scrolled through this verbose breakdown of the Bears offense – which nobody really utilizes in fantasy leagues anyway – then I’ll do you a favor, and end it here.

You’re welcome.

So shifting gears, Matthew Stafford is virtually a lock to put up his 7th straight 4,000 yard passing season, and at 283 yards per game, he ranks 3rd to only Brady and Roethlisberger. Just in case those numbers didn’t tickle your fancy, put it like this, he’s put up less than 15 fantasy points in just four games this season (one he left with an injury) and ranks 11th on the season in fantasy points at the QB position.

He also went 21 for 31 with 299 yards and 2 TDs the 1st time these two met in Week 11.

Wifey type.

Unfortunately, Detroit will be without starting center Travis Swanson as well as right tackle Rick Wagner, but they’ve dealt with an injured o-line all year. More concerning are the 253.3 passing yards a game the Bears have allowed (9th fewest), and the 15 passing TDs (6th fewest). Oh, and if my theory holds true and Howard sees 20+ carries, maybe Chicago can control the clock a bit here and limit the damage done by Stafford’s right arm.

Key words: limit, and maybe.

Maybe you should limit your excitement over Eric Ebron. Now Ebron is a different type of playa, he’s the heartbreaker. Builds you up, leads you to believe there’s so much potential, then disappears with the wind. If you’ve held on to this point in your fantasy leagues, congratulations! Your patience was rewarded last Sunday as he went off for 94 yards on 10 catches; easily his best game of the season.

However, if you see him floating around on waivers after his big day, just leave him floating (unless you enjoy disappointment). He has just two TDs on the season, and only the Chiefs and Steelers have allowed fewer than the three TDs which the Bears have allowed to the position. There’s also that part about 68% of Stafford’s passing yards coming at the hands of his wide receivers.

Speaking of, while the Bears have held QBs to the to the 9th fewest passing yards, 64% of those yards have gone to WRs. It’s worth noting that Antonio Brown is the only receiver to go over 100 yards against the Bears – so I wouldn’t expect either Marvin Jones or Golden Tate to have a monster game – but with 80 yards being around the baseline (plus the TD potential), there’s really no reason I can think of to not have either guy in your lineup this week.

Thanks, Captain Obvious. But, what to do with Detroit’s backs?

Nothing.

Did I mention they’ll be without two starters on their offensive line? Oh, I did? Well, did I mention that the Lions have the fewest rushing yards in the league? Or that the Bears have held backs to just 40.1 receiving yards per game which is the 7th fewest in the league? Or that Chicago hasn’t allowed a rushing TD in four straight and has given up just one receiving TD to a RB all season?

I know, I know, Theo Riddick has now put up his two best games of the season in consecutive weeks… It’s just too bad the fantasy football trade deadline has passed because it’s not likely we’ll see a third.

Glad we got that out of the way, but here’s a question for you, what were you doing around this time back in 2012? If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember, or it took a few minutes to think back that far. But on 12/30/12 the Bears beat the Lions in Detroit, and they’ve failed to do so again since. In fact, including that game, the Lions have won eight of the last ten matchups overall.

Don’t expect the Lions recent dominance to end here either, but you can bet the Bears will find a way to make it interesting. As a matter of fact, you should as the opening line of -7 is entirely too high.

Bears 20 – Lions 24

Ballers: Jordan Howard, Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate

Under the Radar: Kendall Wright, Adam Shaheen

Temper Expectations: Tarik Cohen, Josh Bellamy, Theo Riddick, Eric Ebron

Bums: Dontrelle Inman, Daniel Brown, Dion Sims, Ameer Abdullah, Tion Green, Zach Zenner, Kenny Golladay, T.J. Jones, Darren Fells

Los Angeles Chargers (7-6, 7-5-1 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6, 7-6 ATS)

Spread: KC -1

O/U: 46

FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED BY POSITION
QB RB WR TE DST K
LAC 13.47 (3rd) 19.34 (17th) 19.57 (7th) 6.66 (7th) 3.00 (5th) 6.92 (6th)
KC 19.67 (26th) 19.27 (16th) 26.13 (31st) 7.22 (13th) 2.92 (4th) 6.83 (4th)

Before we jump into this, what the hell is a Charger? I mean obviously the name/lightning bolt embodies some type of energy source, but were electrical outlets created in LA? How about power adapters? Is there a NFL team with a name less congruous than the Chargers? Hell, even the Dodge brothers were from Michigan.

I’m just not understanding the relation.

… Ok, so Frank Leahy picked the Chargers name when he purchased an AFL franchise for Los Angeles: “I liked it because they were yelling ‘charge’ and sounding the bugle at Dodgers Stadium and at USC games.”

It’s worse now. I shouldn’t have looked that up.

In any case, Philip Rivers has been charging this offense. Over their last three games Mr. Bolo Tie has averaged 365.7 passing yards a game, tossed six TD passes, and has zero INTs. On the season, Rivers ranks 4th in passing yards (3,611), 5th in yards per game (277.8), and is tied for 5th in TDs (23). Now he’s been slinging the rock for years, so none of this is surprising, but let’s not downplay this run he’s on.

Let’s also not overlook that despite ranking among the league’s worst against the pass on the year, Kansas City has limited four-straight QBs to one (or less) passing TDs while allowing an average of just 232.5 yards through the air. Kareem Hunt and this KC offense has gotten back on track in recent weeks, and with the Chargers allowing 4.6 yards per carry (30th) and 114 rushing yards per game to RBs (28th) it’s likely this KC defense won’t find itself on the field quite as often.

Nevertheless, you’ll want Rivers, and Keenan Allen in your lineups this week. The Chiefs have also allowed a rushing TD in seven of their last eight games, so no surprise, you’ll want Melvin Gordon in there too.

For the Chiefs though, it’s not quite as simple.

Kareem Hunt is a must-start this week given the matchup, but if you have viable alternatives for Alex Smith, or Tyreek Hill, I wouldn’t be completely against utilizing them. LA has limited virtually every QB they’ve faced this season (including Smith), and while the Chiefs offense has shown signs of life recently, I don’t know that I’d trust them completely now that we find ourselves in the playoffs.

I’m lying. I do know, and I don’t trust them.

PS – LA has allowed a TE to find the endzone in two-straight. Nobody was considering benching Travis Kelce anyway.

While we’re on TEs, Kansas City has allowed just two TEs to find the endzone all season (tied with Pittsburgh for the fewest TDs allowed to the position). Hunter Henry has seen at least five targets in four-straight games, scoring two TDs and averaging nearly 60 receiving yards… He’s worth the gamble.

With the AFC West belt on the line, this game figures to be a heavyweight bout. And, for the 1st time in recent memory, the Chargers are actually pretty healthy in December. That’s the difference here. LA has the talent defensively to contain this Chiefs offense, and Rivers a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal.

Yeah, the Chiefs have won seven-straight games in this matchup, but I’ve been saying it for weeks and I’ll say it again, the Chargers are for real.

Chargers 23 – Chiefs 19

Ballers: Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce

Under the Radar: Albert Wilson

Temper Expectations: Austin Ekeler, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Henry, Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill

Bums: Andre Williams, Mike Williams, Charcandrick West, Demetrius Harris

 

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