Monday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Bears vs. Vikings

Monday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Bears vs. Vikings

This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.

The Bears don't have anything to play for but pride at this point – that and perhaps spoiling further an already teetering season for their in-division rivals Minnesota, who at 6-7 still have some flickering hope for a playoff run. For now two of the teams relatively unaffected by Covid, knock on wood, Chicago and Minnesota both head into this game with limited injury reports. Adam Thielen is by far the most notable exception – he was declared questionable for this game but did not practice at all this week due to his ankle injury. Although Thielen is questionable and the game is both on the road and during primetime – traditionally struggle spots for Kirk Cousins – the line has gone from favoring Minnesota by 3.5 to 6.5, with the over/under rising only 0.5 points after opening at 44.
 

QUARTERBACKS

Kirk Cousins ($11000 DK, $16000 FD) is a bit of a punchline for his struggles on the road and in nationally-televised games, but he probably has the personnel advantage in this game and the weather should be somewhat tame for the location and time of year – just above freezing and with winds around or under 10 miles per hour. It could be a lot worse, and Cousins has fewer excuses as a result. Perhaps he won't need any – the Bears have one good corner in Jaylon Johnson, but (A) he can't stop Justin Jefferson and (B) the Bears' cornerback depth beyond Johnson is about as

The Bears don't have anything to play for but pride at this point – that and perhaps spoiling further an already teetering season for their in-division rivals Minnesota, who at 6-7 still have some flickering hope for a playoff run. For now two of the teams relatively unaffected by Covid, knock on wood, Chicago and Minnesota both head into this game with limited injury reports. Adam Thielen is by far the most notable exception – he was declared questionable for this game but did not practice at all this week due to his ankle injury. Although Thielen is questionable and the game is both on the road and during primetime – traditionally struggle spots for Kirk Cousins – the line has gone from favoring Minnesota by 3.5 to 6.5, with the over/under rising only 0.5 points after opening at 44.
 

QUARTERBACKS

Kirk Cousins ($11000 DK, $16000 FD) is a bit of a punchline for his struggles on the road and in nationally-televised games, but he probably has the personnel advantage in this game and the weather should be somewhat tame for the location and time of year – just above freezing and with winds around or under 10 miles per hour. It could be a lot worse, and Cousins has fewer excuses as a result. Perhaps he won't need any – the Bears have one good corner in Jaylon Johnson, but (A) he can't stop Justin Jefferson and (B) the Bears' cornerback depth beyond Johnson is about as bad as any defense in the league. The Bears do have two star front seven defenders rounding into improved health after dealing with injury lately – linebacker Roquan Smith and tackle Akiem Hicks – but as long as Cousins keeps his eyes downfield he should see someone open most of the time. The Bears have struggled on pass defense all year, conceding 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions at 7.8 yards per pass.

Justin Fields ($10400 DK, $14000 FD) is probably more risky than Cousins, and to this point the rookie's fantasy upside has been more theoretical than evident. Fields' rushing ability is compelling and he has the tools to become a good passer, but in the meantime his highest fantasy point total was against San Francisco in Week 8, when he produced 26.3 fantasy points. The 20.4 points against Green Bay last week would have looked much worse if not for anomalous YAC production by Jakeem Grant and Damiere Byrd. It's possible that Fields' improvement is occurring even now and he'll display some improved form in this matchup, and if so he might be able to capitalize on a Minnesota secondary that features some of the most big-play prone corners in the league. Patrick Peterson isn't what he used to be, Cameron Dantzler is both skinny and slow, and Mackensie Alexander is more of a slot bully than a player who can pursue speed in the open field.


 

RUNNING BACKS

Dalvin Cook ($11800 DK, $15000 FD) doesn't exactly have an easy matchup here, as the Bears run defense has played only slightly worse than average despite missed time for Roquan Smith and especially Akiem Hicks, both of whom seem close to full strength for this one. Cook costs what he does because he has the talent to single-handedly wreck any given game, and sometimes it doesn't really matter how well the defense plays if Cook is in the zone. Not just that, but Alex Mattison is out, which means Cook might play even more snaps than usual. Kene Nwangwu ($800 DK, $5500 FD) is more interesting than usual as a result, but the speedy rookie still hasn't demonstrated any ability to play on offense consistently. It's possible that, although he's only been with the team one week, Wayne Gallman ($600 DK, $5000 FD) might need to serve as the top backup to Cook, especially in passing situations. If you do pick Nwangwu you might want to consider pairing him with the Vikings D/ST, because if Nwangwu finds the end zone he's at least as likely to do it on a kick return as he is from scrimmage.

David Montgomery ($9000 DK, $125000 FD) might not quite have Cook's outrageous talent, but he's plenty solid in his own right and he probably has the easier matchup of the two in this one, game script aside. Pro Football Reference's defensive metrics identify the Vikings as the league's second-worst run defense behind only the Chargers, so if the Bears keep the score close and retain the privilege of leaning on the run game, then Montgomery could get rolling a good amount. The catch is that the Vikings have been pretty good at stopping running backs as pass catchers, so if the ground game doesn't go for Montgomery then it might be more difficult for him to draw targets than against some other defenses. The Vikings have allowed running backs to produce just 436 receiving yards this year, which ranks eighth-lowest in the league. Then again, Montgomery has been raking targets the last two weeks, with nine targets against the Cardinals and seven against the Packers. Khalil Herbert ($1200 DK, $6500 FD) only played five snaps last week and Damien Williams ($1600 DK, $7000 FD) only played seven, but they are your backups to Montgomery.


 

WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS

Justin Jefferson ($11200 DK, $145000 FD) is arguably as good as any receiver in the league right now, so even if the Bears shadow him with Jaylon Johnson it should prove a speedbump at most. The other side of that is if the Bears don't shadow Jefferson with Johnson then they are begging the Vikings to light up the other corners. Johnson has a prayer against Jefferson, but the other corners don't even have that. If Jefferson fails here as a fantasy investment it's more likely due the Vikings scoring too easily with other players, or due to an inexplicable meltdown on the part of Cousins. Perhaps we can't rule those possibilities out, but they should be slim all the same. If Adam Thielen ($8400 DK, $12000 FD) plays then we might need to worry both that his snap count is limited and that he plays more of a decoy function on the limited snaps he plays. Thielen is probably a gamer and his abilities are beyond question, so if he's miraculously able to play through his ankle issue then he would project as highly dangerous to Chicago's weak cornerback depth. Not just Thielen – the Bears also need to prepare to take a beating from K.J. Osborn ($5800 DK, $9000 FD), who would probably prove quite chalky especially if Thielen is out. Osborn is a solid player and the Bears backup corners are beneath him. If Osborn disappears here it might be due to a reappearance by tight end Tyler Conklin ($5400 DK, $8000 FD), who tends to trade big games with Osborn over the course of this year. Then again, if Thielen is out there might be room for both Osborn and Conklin to pay off. Osborn and Conklin might have played a zero-sum game when both Jefferson and Thielen were active this year, but if Thielen is out then the scenario is entirely different. Rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette ($200 DK, $5000 FD) is risky but he might be a good value as Minnesota's WR3 with Dede Westbrook on the Covid list. It's also possible that Minnesota's wide receiver issues could result in more snaps than usual for Chris Herndon ($200 DK, $5500 FD).

Darnell Mooney ($7400 DK, $11000 FD) has done most of the lifting for Chicago's passing game this year, and this game will have to be more of the same with Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin unavailable. Players like Jakeem Grant ($5000 DK, $7000 FD) and Damiere Byrd ($4600 DK, $6500 FD) put themselves on the map with their big games last week, but the diminutive burners are both candidates for regression, especially Byrd. Grant plays fewer snaps than Byrd, but Grant draws targets and carries more often per-snap. If Grant and Byrd do regress then it could leave enough slack for both Cole Kmet ($4800 DK, $7500 FD) and Jimmy Graham ($3800 DK, $6000 FD) to get involved. With that said, the Vikings have been rather tough on tight ends this year. It's easier to beat the corners than Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith.


 

KICKERS

Both of these teams allow more points to kickers than average, and both offenses are capable of sputtering once they enter scoring range. It would not be shocking to see one or both kickers prove useful for fantasy investors in this one. Greg Joseph ($3400 DK, $9500 FD) is the favored option as the kicker for the favored team – that and the fact that Joseph has shown a lot more range than Cairo Santos ($3200 DK, $8500 FD) does for the Bears. Santos is reasonably accurate under 50 yards, but he can't kick farther than that. Joseph, by contrast, is 6-for-8 on field goals over 50 yards this year. Santos is 0-for-2 on kicks from 50 or more.


 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

The Vikings ($4400 DK) don't have an intimidating defense, but if Fields were to struggle it would hardly be surprising for the rookie. Not just that, but the Vikings have at least one dangerous returner in Nwangwu, who has two kickoff returns for touchdown already this year. Smith-Marsette might have to return punts with Westbrook out, and Smith-Marsette was a very good kick returner at Iowa. It seems like it has to be Smith-Marsette or Osborn returning punts. The Bears ($3600 DK) have a worse projection as the underdogs and their defense certainly has some weak spots, but if Cousins does have one of his patented primetime meltdowns then the folks with the Bears DST will stand to profit. Plus, Grant is one of the league's more dangerous returners.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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