Generally speaking — if we are trying to find week-winning scores at every position in tourneys, the Bears’ spread-the-wealth offense is one of our less-likely bets. We’ll probably get about eight different week-winning scores from skill position players on this offense this year; but those scores will likely be spread across five different players, making it best, in general, to leave these guys alone outside of obvious matchup boosts or game stacks in shootout environments. A Week 2 trip to the thin air of Denver (where the Broncos defense always plays far better) is not an “obvious matchup boost,” and a shootout is particularly unlikely with Flacco and a run-based offense on the other side. More than likely, the Bears have to battle in this game — picking up some chunk plays, but balancing these with a few drives that stall out too quickly and shorten the game enough for the score to end up something like (before looking at the Vegas line for this game) 24-16. Checking the line, this is right about where Vegas has this game installed: with an early-week Over/Under of 40.5 (and with home field advantage for Denver keeping them at only 2.5 point underdogs at the front end of the week).
With the Bears spreading the ball around and squaring off with a run-based team that has a unique home field advantage and an above-average defense (and is coached by a defensive wizard who knows the Bears well), this game screams “stay away” in cash games, and it holds limited appeal in tourneys.
If choosing to chase this spot in tourneys, however, there are a few things you could keep in mind:
The player on the Bears likeliest to see a big workload is Allen Robinson, who could just go totally overlooked on this slate. He’s really no match for Isaac Yiadom on the outside — and that’s a matchup Matt Nagy will look to isolate. If Robinson manages to push for nine or more targets in this spot (not a given, as the Bears are unlikely to be chasing point; but still a possibility), it wouldn’t be crazy to believe he could fall into a hundred yards and a couple scores; and while this is not typically the type of play we focus on in the NFL Edge, the likely gap between “chances of Robinson having a really strong game” and “percentage at which he will be owned” is big enough for him to be considered +EV in a small portion of large-field builds.
Elsewhere on this offense: Mitchell Trubisky // Taylor Gabriel // Trey Burton // Tarik Cohen all have at least a 15% shot at a solid game and a 5% shot at a big game in just about any matchup, making them “technically non-awful darts” (though as this matchup does nothing to boost their expectations, I don’t see myself trying to “guess right” on one of these guys myself). David Montgomery and Mike Davis are dart throws in the mold of the guys listed above — though each carries obvious question marks surrounding role and consistency right now, making them hope-and-pray at best.
On the other side of this game: while we occasionally see a strong game emerge against this Bears defense, such games are rare enough (and unpredictable enough) that it has been -EV the last couple years to try to guess on where those games will come from. After Joe Flacco passed for 268 yards against the Raiders, it’s tough to envision many scenarios in which he goes off in this game vs the Bears. The only way to justify the downside of rostering Flacco in this game would be to bet on a scenario in which he posts the highest score on the slate. If that were to happen, Flacco — as a pure pocket passer — would carry multiples of his receivers with him, so if you choose to bet on some crazy outlier scenario in which the Broncos’ offense goes off, be sure to go all-out with this bet. This scenario (which I am unlikely to bet on myself, unless it’s with less than 1% of rosters — i.e., one out of 150) is also the only scenario in which it really makes sense to chase Courtland Sutton // Emmanuel Sanders, as there are too many paths for this game to turn into a low-scoring affair for either to be bet on for slate-breaking upside unless you’re choosing to go all-in.
The Broncos’ backfield has an awful matchup against what is likely the top run defense in the NFL. The Broncos’ backs appear set to split work down the middle. You know the deal here; you’re either betting on some crazy outlier scenario, or you are leaving this side of the game alone.
JM’s Interpretation ::
As I have continued to develop my knowledge and understanding of MME play this year — looking to incorporate it alongside my standard single-entry // small-field play (in such a way that the MME mindset doesn’t negatively impact my tighter-build mindset) — one of the exercises I have engaged in (something I talked about a bit toward the end of last year) is building at least one roster apiece for each game on the slate (i.e., starting my roster by looking at the Bears // Broncos game, assessing viable upside paths for skill position players, and building a roster that bets on one of these upside paths occurring). After doing that through the entire slate, it’s fairly clear that this game is one of the least likely on the slate to produce a week-winning score, and you probably won’t be missing much if you choose to just leave this game alone. Though as most of the field will be doing the same thing, it’s also worth noting that there is some potential leverage to trying to isolate some unowned upside in this spot. The Bears are the team where you are likeliest to find that upside — and I’ll have at least 2% to 3% exposure to Allen Robinson in my large-field play (which may be enough to double or even triple the ownership of the field!). Trubisky // Robinson // Cohen // (and to a lesser extent:) Gabriel // RBs can all be considered if you are in a Build Mode where you are trying to find upside that no one else will be on; though as with Robinson, all of these guys are lower-percentage bets in a game that may just turn into a dull, change-the-channel affair in the same time slot as Chiefs // Raiders and Saints // Rams.