TORONTO - It looks like the Chicago Bears are in even worse trouble than we thought.
No, I’m not talking about the Brett Favre rumours that have been duly circulating after Jay Cutler went down and Caleb Hanie started stinking up the joint. We’re talking about the guy who has really been carrying their offence all season: Matt Forte.
His knee injury may not be as bad as originally feared, but it may be enough to cost you your fantasy football season. His sprained MCL will keep him out for 2-4 weeks — at the most critical time of your season.
That means Marion Barber will be in the spotlight for the time being. He definitely warrants a pickup, but I’d be speculative about playing him.
With Hanie under centre, teams can stack the line and force him to throw. That means a tough time for whoever’s running the ball. Even in scoring-only leagues Barber isn’t a sure thing. Yes, he was already the goal-line back and has punched it in five times this season, but we’re not sure how many scoring opportunities Chicago will be getting at all with Hanie playing.
— Mike Shanahan is acting very unlike himself recently. A week after giving Roy Helu all but one carry in Washington’s game against Seattle, the rookie back got every carry last week against the Jets. So far, the strategy has been paying dividends for Helu fantasy owners, with the rookie gaining at least 100 yards each week and scoring once. It’s a shame that we can’t say for sure this will continue because, after all, Shanahan is still the Redskins’ coach.
— Some other Redskins got into some trouble this week for failing drug tests. Offensive tackle Trent Williams and TE Fred Davis will miss the team’s final four games while suspended. Davis had been Washington’s best receiving threat this season, especially with Santana Moss missing time, so his loss could hurt you. But the loss of Williams could have an impact in both pass protection and the running game. He was the anchor of the line and will be missed.
— It was a bittersweet moment for believers in Kyle Orton on Sunday. After relieving the ineffective Tyler Palko, Orton threw one pass and dislocated his finger doing so. Even if he does play this week (he has been limited in practice), the Chiefs meet the Jets, who are just bad news for opposing quarterbacks. But don’t give up the Orton pipe dream just yet: Green Bay comes calling next week and if Orton’s healthy and starts, that could be a nice matchup.
— Just when you thought you had your No. 1 receiver back from a hamstring issue, Andre Johnson went out and injured his other hamstring. In his second game back, he strained his left hamstring chasing down an errant deep pass from T.J. Yates. He hasn’t practised all week and the Texans announced Friday he’ll be sitting for at least this Sunday’s contest.
— Mark Ingram’s toe injury could keep him out this week against the Titans. He had been getting the majority of the carries for the Saints, but the team was very much employing a backfield rotation with Darren Spoles and Pierre Thomas involved. This isn’t exactly good news for their owner’s either if you’re expecting a jump in carries. Now Christopher Ivory will suit up and undoubtedly see some playing time.
— The Vince Young experiment will end in Philly with Mike Vick coming back on Sunday. Just in time for a rough game against the Miami Dolphins too. In his three starts while Vick was shelved with broken ribs, Young had one decent fantasy game — throwing for 400 yards against New England — but managed to toss eight interceptions in that period of time. As for Vick, he’s not the strongest play out there, but he should be your team’s starter this week.
— Some fantasy players may not have noticed this news because it’s about two rookie defenders, but the Carolina Panthers lost their two starting DTs for the season. That means that every RB is now a must-start against them. Sure, that statement might not mean much this week or next because chances are that if you have Michael Turner or Arian Foster, you’re no doubt starting them. But in Week 16 — your fantasy Super Bowl — the Cats meet the Bucs and LeGarrette Blount could be a real difference maker.
Start Rex Grossman, QB, WAS vs. NE — If Dan Orlovsky can have a decent fantasy day against the Pats, anybody can.
Start Carson Palmer, QB, OAK at GB – The Packers will beat you, but they’ll also allow all kinds of passing yards.
Sit Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG at DAL — Ahmad Bradshaw could be back and the Cowboys are in the league’s top five against opposing RBs.
Start Marion Barber, RB, CHI at DEN — Oh, you thought the Bears are going to move the ball via Caleb Hanie’s passing?
Sit Roy Helu, RB, WAS vs. NE — The Skins will need to pass to keep up with the Patriots.
Sit Beanie Wells, RB, ARI vs. SF — That’s now 12 consecutive games without allowing a rushing TD by the Niners.
Start Percy Harvin, WR, MIN at DET — He has scored three weeks in a row and had two last week.
Sit Brandon Lloyd, WR, STL at SEA — The Rams are down to their third-string QB and Seattle is good at home.
Sit Pierre Garcon, WR, IND at BAL – He had a big game last week thanks to garbage-time TDs; don’t count on it in Baltimore.
Start Ed Dickson, TE, BAL vs. IND — You just saw the Colts let Rob Gronkowski score three wide-open TDs, right?
Tim Tebow, QB, DEN vs. CHI
— Since becoming a starter, he has only committed three turnovers, including one interception.
— Becoming better at throwing the ball, setting a near-perfect QB rating of 149.3 last week.
— The Bears are just average against opposing QBs in fantasy, ranking 17th in points against per game.
— He’s averaging nearly 50 rushing yards per game and has scored on the ground three times this season.
Joe Flacco, QB, BAL vs. IND
— In the past four weeks, Flacco ranks 21st in the league in fantasy points. That’s worse than both Colt McCoy and Matt Moore.
— Ray Rice has been on fire recently. If the Ravens get the ball close, don’t expect Flacco to be throwing for TDs.
— With Ravens defence likely to obliterate Indy’s offence, Flacco should be getting the ball a lot.
— The Colts have the second-fewest sacks in the league and have only five INTs this season.
Verdict: Despite his easier matchup, Flacco is less likely to be in on scoring plays, garnering fewer points.
Last season, the Houston Texans had 10 picks and 30 sacks. This season they already have 17 INTs and 35 sacks — playing without Mario Williams too.
Last week Aaron Rodgers completed 21 of his 25 passes to receivers outside the numbers, including all four of his passes on the Packers’ game-winning drive.