Monday Night Football Preview
Soldier Field | 8:30 p.m. | ESPN
Monday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings (5-1) and the Chicago Bears (1-6) will officially put the 2016 season at the midway point. Monday night’s game features one of the best teams and one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Vikings will look to bounce back after losing their first game of the year in Week 7, while the Bears are looking to win their first game since Week 4.
The Vikings were the last undefeated team to lose as they couldn’t beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. Most of their wins have come on the back of their defense, but quarterback Sam Bradford has filled in nicely for the injured Teddy Bridgewater.
Bradford had a rough game against the Eagles as he had three total turnovers in the loss. He hasn’t had much fantasy relevance this year as he has yet to throw over 300 yards in a game. Bradford only has two games with multiple passing touchdowns. Bradford is the QB31 heading into Monday night’s game and does not have much usage outside of two-QB leagues.
Running back Jerrick McKinnon has already been ruled out against the Bears so Matt Asiata should see a heavy workload. Asiata and McKinnon have shared the rushing duties with Adrian Peterson on the Injured Reserve (IR) list, but Asiata has been the most productive back. The Bears run defense has made a turnaround from last year as they are ranked sixth in the NFL in fantasy points against running backs. Asiata should be a solid play on Monday night.
While the run defense for the Bears has been solid, Stefon Diggs and the rest of the Vikings wide receivers have a most favorable matchup going against the Bears secondary that’s allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers in the NFL. Diggs has struggled as of late but his ability could take over and owners will see a big game from the second-year wideout.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has become a steady performer amid a position that has been turned upside down this year. Currently the TE8, Rudolph is seeing eight targets per game and is the top red zone target for Bradford. The Bears are currently ranked 10th against tight ends but volume usually trumps matchup so you can roll him out there with confidence.
The Vikings defense has been the best defense in the NFL and easily the best fantasy defense. Owners should start them with confidence as the Bears offense is ranked 16th against fantasy defenses.[the_ad id=”65749″]
The Bears have not played how they would have liked through seven weeks into the 2016 season and they face another tough matchup in the Vikings.
Quarterback Jay Cutler will resume his role under center as the Bears placed Brian Hoyer on IR and Cutler’s thumb injury healed just in time for him to resume duties. Cutler has not been good this year and that goes for his fantasy value as well. Add in that he’s facing the best fantasy defense in the NFL, Cutler should remain on the bench on your team.
After Jeremy Langford’s injury, it seemed as though rookie running back Jordan Howard would take over every-down duties, but it seems after Week 7, it will likely be run by a committee. Langford is questionable with an ankle injury and Howard and Ka’Deem Carey split snaps so this backfield is one to avoid, especially against the Vikings.[the_ad id=”63198″]Alshon Jeffery is the only Bears wide receiver to play and that is solely based on name value. Jeffery has struggled in 2016 as he is currently the WR35. The offense has not been funneled through him and only has two games with more than seven targets. Start him, but don’t expect a huge performance.
Tight end Zach Miller was seen as a value pick in drafts as he was going in the double-digit rounds but other than a 19-point performance in Week 3, he has been somewhat pedestrian in terms of fantasy. He’s ranked as the TE6, but his only double-digit performance was the aforementioned Week 3 game. Going against the ninth-ranked defense against tight ends.
The Bears defense could be a solid stream option for those who have their main defense on a bye. There are ranked 12th in fantasy points which definitely makes them a startable group. The Vikings offense is 21st against fantasy defenses and the Bears are stronger at home.
Prediction: Vikings 20, Bears 7
Kevin is from Hilton Head, SC and is very passionate about football and fantasy football. He attended Charleston Southern University where I played baseball for four years. Currently Kevin covers the New York Giants for Sports Media 101 and contributes content to QBmecca.com.