SEAHAWKS // BEARS OVERVIEW
As of this mid-week writeup, the Seahawks and Bears are pegged with an Over/Under of 43.5, giving us another small-slate contest this weekend that has a low offensive expectation on both sides of the ball. After losing Doug Baldwin last week, the Seahawks are now so thin at wide receiver that they are considering using running back C.J. Prosise out wide; and on the other side of this matchup, Mitchell Trubisky is still trying to adjust to the shift from the John Fox “bleed out the clock until we lose” style of coaching to the more aggressive Matt Nagy style. This will be an interesting game to watch from a “football fan” perspective, with a pair of 0-1 teams that each need this win to keep their season on track; but from a DFS perspective, this game is underwhelming.
SEAHAWKS PASS OFFENSE
Russell Wilson was under seige again last week, and he must be wondering where all the money went that isn’t going to Earl Thomas, as he is working behind one of the worst offensive lines in football, and is throwing the ball to a washed Brandon Marshall, a gadget speedster in Tyler Lockett, and a blocking tight end in Will Dissly. This roster honestly makes so little sense right now.
Russ will be staring down the Bears’ suddenly ferocious pass rush, and he will be throwing at a Vic Fangio secondary that held quarterbacks to 85% of league-average fantasy expectations last season before adding Roquan Smith in the draft and Khalil Mack via trade. The Bears’ defense is honestly a sneaky, long-shot bet for top DFS score on the slate.
As is the case in any matchup, Russ can make hay with his legs or with his aggressive deep passing; but from a “predicting what is likeliest to happen” perspective, this is a very difficult spot.
Dissly’s big game last week appears fluky in light of the fact that he ran only 20 pass routes — fewer than fellow tight end Nick Vannett. Who knows what random player might catch a random touchdown on a given week for this team, but Brandon Marshall should receive the bulk of the targets, while Lockett has the clearest shot at upside. If upside-hunting on the small slate, it is also noteworthy that Jaron Brown ran 24 pass routes last week and saw three targets to Lockett’s four. (Yeah. It’s that kind of game…)
SEAHAWKS RUN OFFENSE
Chicago was a top ten run defense last year, and they have only improved in the personnel department since then, making this a shaky spot for a split backfield running behind a poor offensive line. Chris Carson has looked like the much better back so far — both in preseason and in Week 1 — but he and Rashaad Penny split snaps and work almost exactly down the middle last week. Pete Carroll has implied this week that Carson will begin to see a larger share of the workload, but it still appears as though the Seahawks are intent on getting their rookie involved as much as they can.
BEARS PASS OFFENSE
The Seahawks’ new-look secondary was exposed last week by the Broncos, just as we expected — though it will be interesting to see if Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears are able to do the same. Trubisky had some poor moments down the stretch this last weekend — messing up his reads, holding the ball too long, and overthrowing targets. But earlier in the game, he also showed a strong command of this offense, and he was able to generally get the ball where it needed to go.
Allen Robinson was an every-down player and appears set for the highest-impact role on this offense after running 45 pass routes last week on 46 Trubisky drop-backs. It’s concerning that Trubisky was only able to complete one of four passes outside the numbers to Robinson (compared to completing three of three inside the numbers), but the usage is definitely in place.
This offensive hierarchy established itself quickly, with Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton all proving to have immediate, locked-in roles in this offense as well. Miller ran 39 pass routes while Burton and Gabriel each ran 40.
Gabriel had five catches for 25 yards. His longest catch went for 31 yards — while his other four catches lost six yards. The Bears are using Gabriel creatively, getting the ball into his hands behind the line of scrimmage (both out of the backfield and out wide), and big games will come this year as a result. A small, one-game slate provides a good opportunity to take a shot on him in the hopes that this is one of the weeks he hits.
Miller was rarely the first read on Sunday night for the Bears and saw only three targets. Burton, on the other hand, was intended to be a big part of the offense — with six targets and a number of other plays designed to go to him in which he was covered. Even after his Week 1 dud, there is every reason to expect Burton will have a big year.
BEARS RUN OFFENSE
Jordan Howard is far and away the best play on this slate — with the only reasonable competition for “top sore on the slate” being the quarterbacks. Anything can happen in one game, and if multi-entering the Showdown it could make sense to go off the board in your 1.5x multiplier slot; but in terms of what is likeliest to happen, Howard is likely to have the biggest impact in a game with little to like on either side of the ball.
Last week, Howard not only ran the ball 15 times (for a productive 82 yards), but he also hauled in five passes on five targets — showing that his work in the offseason on improving that part of his game is paying off. Howard’s usage last week reminded me of the way Nagy tried to use Kareem Hunt down the stretch last season, and while I’m hoping Howard simply posts a “respectable” game on Monday so that his price can remain depressed until he gets back on the Main Slate, a “respectable” game is likely all you’ll need in this spot.
On the full slate, there is nothing on the Seahawks’ side of the ball that would stand out to us. If playing the Showdown slate, you may have to close your eyes and simply pick someone from this offense, in the hopes they don’t give you anything too terribly putrid.
On the Bears’ side, Howard is the main guy, with solid opportunity both on the ground and through the air. Tarik Cohen was not nearly as involved in Week 1 as some had speculated he would be (there were whispers that Cohen would take on the “Tyreek Hill” role, but if that went to anyone, it was Gabriel), but he does have the talent for a long score, which makes him quietly viable on a slate like this.
Allen Robinson and Trey Burton should provide the best floor/ceiling combo away from Howard. Gabriel provides big ceiling, but his floor is less enticing.