Mike Fanelli | December 5th, 2019
Hopefully, everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and found out Monday night that they made the playoffs. If you did be thankful for it and if you didn’t, it’s never too early to start preparing for next year, especially in dynasty leagues. With three weeks to go (unless you play in week 17 for some weird reason), every decision on who the start and who to sit is even more critical. To kick off the start of the fantasy playoffs we have a matchup between the Cowboys and Bears. Not only is this game critical to fantasy owners but to both franchises as they fight for the playoffs.
To recap last week, the Thanksgiving slate had mixed results. My biggest miss was suggesting to sit Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones as third-string quarterback David Blough was making his first career start against a good (at least on paper) Bears defense. However, the wide receiver duo combined for 38.8 fantasy points as both guys scored a touchdown. Never in a million years did I expect that outcome to happen but that’s what makes fantasy football so much fun (sometimes). With just two Thursday night games left in 2019, let’s see how I do this week.
Quarterback – Dak Prescott
As long as Prescott isn’t playing the Patriots, he is a safe play for fantasy owners. Despite a tough matchup against the Bills last week, Dak scored 22.7 fantasy points. It marked the sixth time he’s scored 20 or more fantasy points over his last eight games. He has scored at least two touchdowns in 75% of his games this season including five of his last six games. While the Bears give up the eight-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks at 13.8 per game, the fact that they gave up 17.3 to Blough last week makes me more than comfortable to play Dak tonight. He’s a top 12 quarterback this week.
Running Back – Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard
Zeke is a stud and you’re going to start him every week regardless of the matchup. Elliott has scored 15.9 or more fantasy points in nine of his last 11 games this season including three straight despite having just one rushing touchdown during that span. Meanwhile, the Bears give up a little more than the league average in fantasy points to running back, at 24.2 per game. The Bears gave up 19.6 fantasy points to the Lions’ running backs on Thanksgiving and none of their running backs are anywhere near the talent Zeke is. For those of you who own Elliott, go add Pollard off the waiver wire. He has no value this week but don’t get caught looking stupid in the event that Zeke gets hurt and misses week 15 or 16.
Wide Receiver – Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb
On paper, this is a tough matchup as the Bears give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers at 29 per game. However, they gave up 45 fantasy points to the Lions’ wide receivers last week, the second-most fantasy points the Bears have given up to wide receivers this season, with a third-string quarterback throwing them the ball. Furthermore, against the Lions and the Giants the week before, the Bears gave up 78.4 fantasy points and three touchdowns to wide receivers. Despite the tough matchup on paper, I’m not afraid to play my wide receivers against the Bears based on their recent play.
After getting shut out by the Patriots, Cooper bounced back with 16.5 fantasy points last week against the Bills. He saw 11 targets, his second-highest for the season, and topped 80 yards for the seventh time this season. Cooper practiced on Monday without limitations and it appears the knee injury is behind him. As the WR7 on the season despite putting up a fat zero two weeks ago, Cooper is a stud and basically, a must start this week.
While Cooper had a good game on Thanksgiving, Gallup and Cobb combined for 17.6 fantasy points. In the previous three games, Cobb had scored at least 12.5 in every game, scoring 21.5 or more twice. Gallup has put up back-to-back games under 10 fantasy points but before that, he had scored over 11 fantasy points in three straight games. In the first three games after the bye week, Gallup averaged almost 10 targets per game but over the last two games, he is averaging just six per game. Of the two I would rather start Gallup because of his big-play ability but if I can leave both on the bench this week, that would be best. Both receivers are low-end WR3/flex options with a lot of risk.
Tight End – Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin
Before last week, Witten had scored a total of 13.5 over his last three games but on Thanksgiving he went off, catching six of eight targets for 43 yards and a touchdown, scoring a season-high 18.2 fantasy points. While that isn’t likely to happen, the Bears struggle against tight ends, giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to the position at 13.5 per game. They have given up 13 or more fantasy points to tight ends in 50% of their games this season.
In season-long leagues I have Witten as a low-end TE1 but where I really like him and Jarwin is in DFS. Witten is $5,600 on DraftKings while Jarwin is just $2,200. Given the matchup and the value on their salary, I would consider playing both in DFS tonight, especially Jarwin, who only needs one downfield shot to provide a positive return on the investment.
Surprisingly, the Bears offense has played better over the last few weeks and that has limited D/ST’s fantasy production against them. Over their last four games, D/STs have scored more than seven fantasy points just once while averaging 5.8 fantasy points per game during that span against the Bears. Meanwhile, the Cowboys D/ST has struggled over their last four games. During that span they are have scored under eight fantasy points in every game, averaging just three fantasy points per game. I don’t expect a lot of defense to be played in tonight’s game.
Quarterback – Mitchell Trubisky
Despite getting plenty of hate from fantasy owners (most of it he earned), Trubisky has scored 18.9 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games, averaging 18.1 fantasy points per game during that span while scoring at least two touchdowns in three of those games. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have given up an average of 20.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over their last four games, including 27.5 to Jeff Driskel. In that game, Driskel scored 11.1 fantasy points on the ground while Josh Allen scored 10.3 fantasy points on the ground last week against the Cowboys. Trubisky is a high-end QB2 this week with a safe floor given his recent success and the Cowboys’ struggles slowing down quarterbacks with running ability.
Running Back – David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen
Before last week, Montgomery has put up three straight bad performances, scoring six of fewer fantasy points in all three games despite averaging just under 15 carries per game. However, against the Lions, Montgomery had 16 carries for 75 yards and had a receiving touchdown, scoring 16.7 fantasy points, his best outing since week nine. While Montgomery and Cohen had a similar snap count (40 for Montgomery, 36 for Cohen) against the Lions, Montgomery out-touched Cohen 18-7.
Meanwhile, Cohen scored just 7.5 fantasy points on Thanksgiving, snapping a three-game stretch where he scored 12 or more fantasy points in every game. Unfortunately, it appears that when Montgomery has a good game, Cohen struggles and when Cohen has a good game, Montgomery struggles. Cohen’s touches this season have been inconsistent from game to game while Montgomery’s have been about the same almost every game.
The Cowboys give up a little more than the league average in fantasy points to running backs, giving up 24.1 per game. However, since they got destroyed by Aaron Jones in week five, the Cowboys have held running backs under 23 fantasy points in six of their last seven games, with the only exception being Dalvin Cook and the Vikings in week 10. Given the tough matchup and their recent history of one back struggling while the other having a good game, both Bears’ running backs are high-risk high reward flex options this week.
Wide Receiver – Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller
No wide receiver has been better than Robinson over the last two weeks. The only wide receiver to finish as a top 10 guy in each of the last two weeks is Robinson, scoring 25.1 and 22.6 fantasy points during that span. He gets a tough matchup against Byron Jones this week and if not for a passing touchdown, Jones held John Brown to 5.6 fantasy points last week. Robinson has seen at least six targets in four straight games including 22 over the last two weeks. Despite a tough matchup, Robinson is still a solid mid WR2 this week.
Taylor Gabriel missed the Thanksgiving game with a concussion and will miss tonight’s game as well. This is good for Miller owners as over the last three weeks (the two games Gabriel missed with a concussion and the game he suffered the injury), Miller has scored 11.4 or more fantasy points in each game while increasing his production in each game. Last week he had nine catches on 13 targets for 140 yards and 23 fantasy points, all easily season-highs. With his recent hot play, combined with Gabriel missing the game, Miller is a solid WR3/flex option with plenty of upside despite the Cowboys giving up the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers, at just 29.3 per game.
Tight End – Ben Braunecker, Jesper Horsted
Braunecker missed the Thanksgiving game against the Lions with a concussion and has been ruled out for tonight’s game. Whether it is him or Horsted, neither guy belongs in any kind of fantasy lineup this season. Even before Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen were placed on injured reserve, the Bears lacked a fantasy relevant tight end.
After their let down last week against the Lions and their third-string quarterback, I have no faith in the Bears D/ST the rest of the season and certainly not this week against the Cowboys. D/STs are averaging the second-fewest fantasy points per game at just 0.7 per game against the Cowboys. D/STs have scored zero or fewer fantasy points against the Cowboys in 50% of their games this season. Meanwhile, the Bears D/ST has scored under eight fantasy points in eight straight games despite playing some struggling offenses. With the Packers and Chiefs to close out the fantasy playoffs, anyone who is still rostering the Bears D/ST should look to the waiver wire for a better option. I would stay away from both D/STs tonight.
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