Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Justin Fields was removed from the injury report entirely this week – good news for the upside of this game.
- Chase Claypool and Equanimeous St. Brown returned to limited sessions on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice.
- Everything we’ve seen from Chicago indicates the team will continue pushing through Week 18 as they figure out what works best for the future of the franchise.
- Dante Pettis was downgraded from limited to DNP on Thursday for the Bears.
- The biggest name on the Detroit injury reports is center Frank Ragnow, who maintained his status as DNP through Thursday with a foot injury.
- This game carries immense upside, with the primary uncertainties introduced through the middle of the season surge from the Lions run defense and the poor rushing output from Justin Fields last week against Buffalo – more on these two aspects below.
- The reality of this game is that the Lions should be able to move the ball in any way they choose, with the Bears likely needing increased rushing output and a few deep completions from Fields to stay in it.
How chicago Will Try To Win ::
Chicago is one of only three teams to have a below-average pass rate over expectation value in every game played this season, which should continue through the end of the season, considering their offensive personnel. As we’ve discussed, the Bears appear steadfast in their resolution to treat this season as an extended preseason, tinkering with various aspects of both sides of the ball throughout the year. Those sentiments were reinforced further this week when head coach Matt Eberflus told the media that the team would continue with business as usual through the end of the season and had no intention of resting Justin Fields (even with his shoulder injury). Expect a motivated and hungry Chicago team here, with the biggest influence on their fantasy prospectus being the ability of Justin Fields to play as he’d like to. Last week against the Bills, Fields was contained to just 11 yards rushing on only seven carries, leading to the first game with under 20 fantasy points since Week 6. The biggest concern rests with whether that lowered rushing output was more caused by the Bills’ heavy zone and spy scheme or whether it was due to the lingering injuries from Fields. From tape and reports out of Chicago, I would say with a high degree of confidence that it was more caused by the Bills than Fields’ health. That’s good news for the upside from this game environment as a whole, as games involving the Bears have a much higher fantasy expectation in games where Fields is aggressive and able to escape the pocket with his legs.
Khalil Herbert returned to his standard snap rate in Week 16 in his first game off injured reserve, playing 41% of the offensive snaps and handling nine running back opportunities. It’s fair to expect more of the same against the Lions, denting lead-back David Montgomery’s upside slightly in the process. Montgomery had been a modicum of stability for the Bears in the absence of Herbert, putting up 14.3 fantasy points or more in each of the four contests played without Herbert – a threshold he eclipsed just twice throughout the rest of the season. The final piece to the Chicago rushing attack is very clearly quarterback Justin Fields, who had rushed for 60 yards or more in every game since Week 6 prior to last week’s 7-11-0 line on the ground against the Bills. All indications point to a return to increased involvement on the ground against a Lions defense highly susceptible to mobile quarterback due to the high rates of man coverage and elevated blitz rates.
The Bears appear likely to get both Chase Claypool and Equanimeous St. Brown back from injury this week after the two returned to a limited session on Thursday. That said, we’ve seen the Bears utilize a head-scratching six-man rotation at wide receiver since Darnell Mooney was lost for the season back in Week 12. That leaves only tight end Cole Kmet as likely to operate in a near every-down role amongst pass-catchers, capping the upside of all parties involved in the process. The Lions have allowed opponents to work the deeper areas of the field with ease, ceding the deepest defensive aDOT in the league at 9.7 (the second worst Steelers are down at 9.1, a massive gap in the average depth of target against). That keeps the relative ceiling higher than in other spots with low expected snap rates, but any Chicago pass-catcher is a tough bet outside of Kmet. What that does do, however, is serve to open up the potential game environment quite a bit as Fields and the Bears are capable in the deep passing game against an opponent susceptible in that area.