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Week Two Thursday Night Foootball Game Center

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Chicago (1-0) at Green Bay (0-1)
Thursday, September 13, 2012, 8:00 p.m. ET, Green Bay, WI
 
Game-time Weather Report:
Conditions: Partly cloudy turning clear; Temperature: 55 degrees; Winds: 6 mph; Chance of precipitation: 10%
 
Research Center
 
Production Tracker
This report uses our Points Allowed tool to break down the production each defense is giving up to QBs, RB, WRs, TEs, and DTs in our site default scoring system. To view customized data for your league’s scoring system, create a team in MyGuru and toggle to it in the Points Allowed Tool.
 
Chicago Bears:
  • Against opposing QBs: 309.0 YPG, 1.0 TDPG, 3.0 INTPG, 20.4 FPG (16th-most)
  • Against opposing RBs: 54.0 rush YPG, 1.0 rush TDPG, 1.0 receptions PG, 11.0 receiving YPG, 0.2 receiving TDPG, 12.5 FPG (11th-fewest)
  • Against opposing WRs: 15.0 RPG, 208.0 YPG, 1.0 TDPG, 26.8 FPG (9th-most)
  • Against opposing TEs: 7.0 RPG, 90.0 YPG, 0.0 TDPG, 9.0 FPG (16th-most)
Inside the Numbers: The Bears defense is allowing the 16th most fantasy points to QBs. They gave up 309 passing yards and a score to rookie QB Andrew Luck in Week One, but did intercept three passes while playing with a lead for most of the game. They are giving up the 11th fewest points in the league to RBs, but Colt RBs only carried 13 times with one resulting in a score. It’s interesting to note that the Bears only allowed one reception to a RB. They’re giving up the 9th most fantasy points to WRs. Colts wideouts caught 15 for 208 and a score while playing catch-up. Against TEs the Bears are giving up the 16th most points. While they didn’t allow a TD to a TE, Coby Fleener was featured quite a bit in this matchup.
 
Green Bay Packers:
  • Against opposing QBs: 211.0 YPG, 2.0 TDPG, 0.0 INTPG, 21.6 FPG (14th-most)
  • Against opposing RBs: 153.0 rush YPG, 1.0 rush TDPG, 2.0 receptions PG, 16.0 receiving YPG, 0.0 receiving TDPG, 22.9 FPG (8th-most)
  • Against opposing WRs: 15.0 RPG, 152.0 YPG, 1.0 TDPG, 21.50 FPG (16th-fewest)
  • Against opposing TEs: 3.0 RPG, 43.0 YPG, 1.0 TDPG, 10.3 FPG (14th-most)
Inside the Numbers: The Packers defense had their share of problems against an improved 49er offense in Week One. They’re giving up the 14th most points to QBs even though the Niners only attempted 26 passes (the 3rd fewest of any team). The Pack gave up 30 yards rushing to QBs Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, so that’s something to be aware of against teams with mobile QBs. The 49er RBs also had success on the ground (25-153-1) as the Packers are giving up the 8th most points to RBs. They’re right in the middle of the pack allowing the 16th fewest fantasy points to WRs. They’re letting up the 14th most points to TEs even though Vernon Davis scored, they did only allow him 3 receptions.
 
Notable Matchup History
This section will appear only for teams that played each other in 2011, or divisional opponents that played each other earlier in the season.
 
Chicago Bears:
After QB Jay Cutler’s dynamic performance this past weekend, Cutler heads into Thursday’s matchup looking to improve upon the 2 interceptions and 56% completion rating he posted against the Packers last year. In one game against the Pack, Cutler posted 24.2 fantasy points, while throwing for 302 yards and 2 TDs. RB Matt Forte had trouble gaining ground in the running game against the Packer D, accumulating only 2 yards on 9 carries (ouch). Forte, however, was a success in the receiving game, with 7 receptions for 80 yards (11.4 yards per reception) yielding Forte a very mediocre 8.2 fantasy points in his one game against Green Bay. Newly acquired RB Michael Bush (a Raider in 2011) had much greater success against the Packer Defense almost doubling Forte’s 8.2 fantasy points with 15.7. With 23 rushes, Bush contributed 78 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and 1 TD to the Raiders ground game. In 2011, WR Earl Bennett caught 1 long ball against them for 49 yards.
 
Green Bay Packers:
QB Aaron Rodgers is averaging a healthy 31.6 fantasy points per game in his last two games against the Bears dating back to 2011. He threw for 389 and 359 yards last year with 7 TDs and he completed 75% of his passes against them last year. But he did throw 2 INTs. In 17 carries in 2011, RB James Starks averaged only 1.1 yards per carry. WR Jordy Nelson put up 9/155/2 against the Bears in 2011, good for an average of 13.8 PPG, and he averaged 17.2 yards per catch. Greg Jennings also caught 9 passes, but for 119 yards and he did not score. Wideout James Jones put up 8/74 and caught 2 TDs. But the offensive star for the Packers against the Bears last year was TE Jermichael Finley, who caught 10 balls for 105 yards and 4 TDs.
 
Week One Pass Target Report

  • WR Brandon Marshall had 15 targets and 9 receptions for 119 yards, and 1 TD. He also had 6 deep balls. He had 2 red-zone targets, including 1 goal-line target. His long was 24 yards. Yds/Tgt: 7.9, Catch Rate: 60%.
  • RB Matt Forte had 6 targets and 3 receptions for 40 yards, and 1 TD (rushing). He had 1 red-zone target. His long was 31 yards. Yds/Tgt: 6.7, Catch Rate: 50%.
  • WR Alshon Jeffery had 5 targets and 3 receptions for 80 yards, and 1 TD. He also had 2 deep balls. He had 1 red-zone target. His long was 42 yards. Yds/Tgt: 16, Catch Rate: 60%.
  • WR Earl Bennett had 4 targets and 3 receptions for 50 yards. He also had 2 deep balls. His long was 25 yards. Yds/Tgt: 12.5, Catch Rate: 75%.
  • WR Devin Hester had 2 targets and 2 receptions for 27 yards. He also had 1 deep ball. His long was 29 yards. Yds/Tgt: 13.5, Catch Rate: 100%
  • TE Jermichael Finley had 11 targets and 7 receptions for 47 yards, and 1 TD. He had 1 red-zone target, including 1 goal-line target. His long was 16 yards. Yds/Tgt: 4.3, Catch Rate: 63.6%.
  • WR Randall Cobb had 9 targets and 9 receptions for 77 yards. His long was 16 yards. Yds/Tgt: 8.6, Catch Rate: 100%.
  • WR Greg Jennings had 9 targets and 5 receptions for 34 yards. Yds/Tgt: 3.8, Catch Rate: 55.6%.
  • WR Jordy Nelson had 7 targets and 5 receptions for 64 yards. He also had 3 deep balls. His long was 28 yards. Yds/Tgt: 9.1, Catch Rate: 71.4%.
  • WR James Jones had 5 targets and 4 receptions for 81 yards, and 1 TD. He also had 1 deep ball. He had 2 red-zone targets. His long was 49 yards. Yds/Tgt: 16.2, Catch Rate: 80%.
Red-zone/Goal-line Report
QB Jay Cutler had 4 red-zone pass attempts against the Colts in Week One, with one inside the 5 resulting in a touchdown to WR Brandon Marshall, who had 2 total red-zone targets. RB Matt Forte, in his first game back after his season-ending knee injury in 2011, had 3 red-zone carries (one for a TD) and 1 red-zone pass target. The biggest TD vulture so far this season is RB Michael Bush, who had 3 red-zone carries, all from inside the 5-yard line, and 2 TDs. Rookie WR Alshon Jeffery was the only other Bear to receive a red-zone target (1).
 
QB Aaron Rodgers attempted 3 red-zone passes. Two resulted in touchdowns, with 1 of them coming from inside the 5. No Packer RB received a red-zone carry or pass target in Week One, which actually isn’t all that rare for this team. WR James Jones led the team with 2 red-zone pass targets, turning 1 into a touchdown. TE Jermichael Finleyhad the other red-zone target, scoring a touchdown from inside the 5.
 
Game & Player Analysis
 
Matchup Overview
 
Bear offense vs. Packer defense: QB Jay Cutlerdid quite well after a slow start last week, but the same could be said for the entire Bear offense. Cutler has already said he’s eager to unleash the team’s offense on Green Bay and with how quick he fell back into step with WR Brandon Marshall, and we can understand why he’s happy. Plus, he continues to have a reliable slot option in WR Earl Bennett, and the big rookie WR Alshon Jeffery, while not a finished product, showed he can be a downfield threat, despite that area of his game being questioned coming out of college. RB Matt Forte continues to be one heck of a versatile player, with very good skills as both a runner and a passer, and look for them to target rookie LB Nick Perry, who looks vulnerable in coverage and was picked on last week. When the Bears get in close, look for RB Michael Bush to get them over the goal line. Green Bay’s pass rush, let by LB Clay Matthews, could give the Bear OL more problems than they faced last week, but their secondary, which has gone through some changes, like moving Charles Woodson to safety, is still struggling. They could be helped by a more active pass rush, although it would certainly help to have starting DE C.J. Wilson (groin) on the field.
 
Packer offense vs. Bear defense: The Packers didn’t look crisp on offense in the preseason, and that appeared to carry over into the opener against the 49ers last week. It looks like the team will be without WR Greg Jennings (groin), but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. WR James Jones, who scored last week, would probably see increased snaps if Jennings is out, plus the team has dangerous threats in WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley, who also scored last week. In a move we should expect to see more of, WR Randall Cobb was used effectively out of the backfield as a receiver last week. This can be thought of as an extension of the running game, which is good, considering RB Cedric Benson wasn’t very good last week and could struggle against a solid Bear defense. We should note Bear LB Brian Urlacher looks limited due to his knee issue, especially in coverage. Speaking of coverage, the Bears have a good CB in Charles Tillman, who is expected to play, despite suffering a leg injury in Week one. They have an even better one in the underrated Tim Jennings.
 
Weekly Starters
These are players who fantasy owners are likely starting every week in a standard 10 or 12-team league and don’t need much convincing to put in their lineups.
 
Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB) – To give you an idea of just how good Rodgers is, the Packer offense struggled to find a rhythm against a great 49er defense last week, much like they did in the preseason, yet Rodgers still managed to finish the week 6th among QBs with 25.9 FP, thanks to 303 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and 27 rushing yards. This week’s matchup won’t be much easier, but the Bears do have some issues, specifically in coverage, like the health of LB Brian Urlacher, who is limited by a knee injury. That might give the Packers more reason to use WR Randall Cobb out of the backfield as a receiver, which worked quite well last week. Rodgers may be without WR Greg Jennings, thanks to a groin injury, but we know he can function well without him, especially with the great talent like WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley, not to mention WR James Jones, who is a more than adequate replacement for Jennings if needed. It’ll be up to Rodgers to avoid what could be a dangerous pass rush led by DEs Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije and his receivers to get free of the usually physical coverage of CBs Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. The leg injury that kept Tillman out for some of Week One hasn’t been an issue in practice, and that’s important, as he’s their top CB. As usual, you’re starting Rodgers without a second thought, even against a good defense like the Bears.
 
Matt Forte (RB, Chi) – If you were worried about Forte losing touches near the goal line, your worst nightmares came true last week… sort of. It was Michael Bush, not Forte getting the first two scores at the GL last week, both from one yard out, and both after Forte picked up big chunks of yards by making unblocked defenders miss to set up the scores. However, Forte ended up finding the endzone on a six-yard TD run, as part of a 16-carry, 80-yard performance on the ground, in addition to 3/40 on 6 targets, which landed him 8th among RBs, with 18 FP. We don’t expect much to change when it comes to the roles of Bush (32% of snaps) and Forte (73% of snaps), so that should mean Forte’s big role both as a runner and receiver should continue this week. The Packers gave up 153 yards to a very good 49er rushing attack last week and will be tested by Forte once again this week. Green Bay has some playmakers in their front seven like LB Clay Matthews, but they had their issues against San Francisco and could be without starting DE C.J. Wilson, who’s dealing with a groin injury. If the Packers can get pressure on QB Jay Cutler, which we expect to happen, look for Forte to be used as a safe dump-off option. Also look for them to target rookie LB Nick Perry, who looks vulnerable in coverage and was picked on last week (Forte caught 7 passes in his only game against the Packers last year). He should be a great start once again
 
Brandon Marshall (WR, Chi) – While Marshall’s been able to put up good numbers with less-than-stellar QBs over the last few seasons, we’re pretty sure he felt a lot better catching passes from Jay Cutler last week, and his numbers certainly showed it. He finished tied for 5th at WR, with 17.9 FP, thanks to 9/119/1 on a whopping 15 targets in the beatdown of the Colts. He was involved in both the red zone and downfield passing attack, with the obvious chemistry showing between him and Cutler. He took advantage of a shaky secondary last week and could do the same this week. Green Bay had their issues with a 49er receiving corps that doesn’t have a WR as talented as Marshall. The move of Charles Woodson to safety should help eventually, but we’re still seeing an adjustment process for CBs Tramon Williams and the man who took Woodson’s place, Jarrett Bush. Our only worry for Marshall is Cutler not having enough time to throw, as we’d expect the Packers to get more pressure on Cutler than the Colts did last week. However, it doesn’t scare us that much, so we’ll call him a #1 fantasy option yet again.
 
Jordy Nelson (WR, GB) – Nelson’s expectations were probably high enough that his 5/64 (7 targets) performance against the 49ers last week was a disappointment to many, but we understand that when you factor in a tough matchup and a team that has a lot of weapons, it can limit Nelson’s chances of going off. With WR Greg Jennings looking like he’ll be out of action this week, thanks to a groin injury, Nelson is expected to move into the #1 WR role. Of course, that’s merely a title (96% of snaps last week), as the Packers have lots of weapons, including TE Jermichael Finley, WR James Jones, who would probably step in for Jennings, and WR Randall Cobb, whose versatility makes him a dangerous option. Nelson’s speed, size, and strength make him a tough matchup for anyone, but could be especially troublesome for Bear CB Tim Jennings, who may not be able to run with someone like Nelson. Of course, Nelson is 6’3 and Jennings is only 5’8, so Nelson has a big height advantage. CB Charles Tillman will also see a lot of Nelson, and while he’s not listed on the injury report, he did miss time last week with a leg injury. Nelson had good success against the Bears in two matchups last season, going for 9/155/2. Consider Nelson a top fantasy option with this solid matchup.
 
Potential Starters
These players aren’t clear weekly starters, but they’re usually in the mix to be in your lineup. We divide these mid-range players into three groups. Those listed as “Good Vibes” are generally players you should be inclined to play if you normally consider them. Those listed as “bad vibes” are players who you should be inclined to sit unless they are clearly your best options.
 
Good Vibes:
 
Jay Cutler (QB, Chi) – When Cutler got sacked at the start of last week’s game and was picked off throwing from his own endzone on the next drive, we tried not to overreact, as many do in Week One. Cutler would go on to show that there was no need for worry, as he ended up going 21/35 for 333 yards, with 2 TDs and 1 INT, which ranked him 9th among QBs, with 24.3 FP. Once Cutler got proper protection, he started to spread the ball around to all his receivers, including WRs Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, and rookie Alshon Jeffery. Cutler has what appears to be his most complete receiving corps since coming to Chicago, and he’ll need all of them to play well if this turns into a battle of the passing games. Unlike last week, we expect Cutler to face a more constant pass rush, especially if he’s using deeper dropbacks. But it’s good to know he was brilliant in the pocket last week and bought himself some more time with his movement. The Green Bay pass rush was just okay last week, but guys like LB Clay Matthews should give the Bear OL, which struggled early against the Colts, more trouble. It would certainly help Cutler if starting Packer DE C.J. Wilsonwere held out due to the groin injury he’s battled in practice this week. Cutler was able to throw for over 300 yards and 2 TDs in his only matchup against the Packers last season, and we’d expect him to take advantage of a Green Bay secondary that’s still struggling through a transitional phase. Consider Cutler a good start in all formats.
 
Jermichael Finley (TE, GB) – With a lack of time spent with QB Aaron Rodgers in the preseason, Finley complained about the chemistry between the two being off heading to the season, which was an issue he talked about openly last season. That didn’t seem to be much of a problem last week, when Finley caught 7 of 11 targets for 47 yards and a TD to finish 8th at the TE position with 10.7 FP. Finley should cause some trouble for the Bears this week, especially if his role in the passing game expands with WR Greg Jennings not expected to play because of a groin injury. Finley’s been known to give the Bears issues in the past, specifically last season, when he caught 10 balls for 105 yards and 4 TDs in two games. Finley’s a matchup problem for anyone, but look for the Packers to take advantage of LB Brian Urlacher’s limitations in coverage if he somehow ends up on Finley. The Chicago secondary is solid, but it really doesn’t have anyone who can hang with Finley, and their coverages always leave voids in the middle of the field, so he should be quite active. He should be a great start this week and will hopefully get on an early roll this season.
 
Decent Vibes:
 
Michael Bush (RB, Chi) – We thought the Bears brought Bush in to be the team’s short-yardage and goal-line option since RB Matt Forte struggled in those areas last year, and that’s exactly what he was in the opener. He ended up with just 12 carries for 42 yards, but he turned 2 of his 3 GL carries into 1-yard TDs as part of a 16.2-FP performance in his debut with the Bears. While Bush might have vultured 2 TDs away from the much more productive Forte, he played in just 32% of the team’s snaps, as opposed to Forte’s 73%. Bush didn’t show any explosiveness and was definitely sluggish, but he has a clear role and that’s probably good enough to consider him a flex option each week, especially this week against a Packer offense that gave up over 150 rushing yards to the 49ers last week. The Packer defense doesn’t look too scary, so look for the Bears to move the ball and when they get near the goal, Bush should be the one they’ll be looking to feed.
 
Bad Vibes:
None of note
 
Game-Time Decisions
These players are usually very viable, if not weekly starters, but their statuses will likely come down to a game-time decision, so they are tough to properly analyze beforehand.
 
Greg Jennings (WR, GB) – After missing the end of last season with a knee injury, Jennings finds himself giving fantasy owners more headaches with the groin injury that’s kept him out of practice all week and has him listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game. Jennings was injured in last week’s loss to the 49ers, a game in which he disappointed with just 5/34 on 9 targets. While he could certainly be a problem if he plays (9/119 against Chicago last year), it’s not like the Packers need him to succeed. WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley have both given the Bears problems in the past, and WR James Jones should be a reliable backup option if Jennings can’t go. The Bears aren’t a terrible matchup, but they’re not a good one either, so if Jennings plays, we’d expect him to be limited, which is a real pain when it comes to putting him in your lineup. Obviously, you should keep a close eye on this situation, but it doesn’t look like Jennings will be in any lineups this week.
 
Reach Starters
These are players generally on the low-end, but for a variety of reasons, they are standing out as viable reach players this week for those who need to dig a little deeper.
 
Randall Cobb (WR, GB) – Cobb was a hot Waiver Wire pickup after Week One of last season after a 2-TD debut, but as we all know, he ended up being a victim of an offense with too much talent, which made him mostly useless as a fantasy option, unless you got points for return yardage. Well, he’s a hot topic once again after Week One, but for a much different reason. We saw the Packers use Cobb out of the backfield as a receiver on multiple occasions in last week’s game against the 49ers. Now he played only 53% of the snaps, but with his use as an extension of the running game, it should be noted that RB Cedric Benson saw just 35% of the snaps. We don’t want to go overboard when it comes to Cobb, but it looks like the team is trying to get the most out of his versatility, and with WR Greg Jennings looking iffy to play, Cobb should see increased snaps this week. If the Packers want to keep Cobb working out of the backfield, it might be a good idea, since Bear LB Brian Urlacher is noticeably limited in coverage. Cobb could be a sneaky play, especially in PPR formats this week.
 
James Jones (WR, GB) – Jones was the lost man in Green Bay last year, but he has already seen his fantasy stock rise just one week into the 2012 season. He appears to have flown right past WR Donald Driver on the depth chart, as Jones played 86% of snaps last week compared to just 4% for Driver. That number might go even higher in Week Two, as WR Greg Jennings (groin) may not play. We don’t consider Jones to be that speedy, but he should be able to run well enough to give Bear CBs Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman some trouble. While WR Jordy Nelson is the team’s de facto #1 WR if Jennings is out, QB Aaron Rodgers has made it clear he throws to whoever is open, as he did last week when Jones had 4/81/1 on 5 targets and 14.1 FP. Jones would certainly see his fantasy value boosted if Jennings doesn’t play, but even if he does, Jones could be a good reach with a decent matchup.
 
Alshon Jeffery (WR, Chi) – The big knock on Jeffery coming out of college was his ability to run and gain separation in the pros. He quieted the critics in a hurry, with 3/80/1 on 5 targets last week, including a 42-yard TD from QB Jay Cutler. We don’t think Jeffery has arrived just yet, but as someone we thought would be a developmental player this season, it’s a great start. Although it was his NFL debut, Jeffery was second among Bear WRs with 55% of snaps played, compared to 43% for Devin Hester and 26% for Earl Bennett. While we don’t want to assume Jeffery will become Cutler’s #2 target so quickly, it’s good to see his getting on the field so quickly. Much like last week, this week’s matchup doesn’t look so bad, as the Packers are still struggling to figure things out in their secondary. Once again, we don’t want to overrate Jeffery after just one game, but if you’re stuck this week, he might be a decent reach, especially if the Bears get into a shootout with the high-powered Packer passing attack.
 
Non-Starters
These are players who, for a variety of reasons, we’d be inclined to bench this week.
 
Cedric Benson (RB, GB) – We thought this summer the hype for Benson was too high, and Benson proved us right with a measly 18 yards on 9 carries against the 49ers last week. Now we know San Francisco has one of the best defenses in the league, but Benson showed very little to get excited about, and apparently the Packers agreed because he played just 35% of the snaps in a game that saw RB Alex Green not even take the field. It appeared that the Packers used more of an extension of the running game with WR Randall Cobb (53%) being used as a receiver out of the backfield. This week’s matchup doesn’t get much better facing the Bear defense, but we think it’s more about Benson needing touches to put up any kind of respectable numbers, and that just might not happen. Until he proves otherwise, we’d be staying away from using him unless the matchup is in his favor.
 
Earl Bennett (WR, Chi) – Bennett is a very reliable target for someone he has good chemistry with like QB Jay Cuter. Having said that, he had a very quiet 3/50 on just 4 targets last week in the blowout of the Colts, although he did have a TD taken off the board. The Bears didn’t use a lot of Bennett last week, as he played just 26% of the snaps, which shouldn’t be surprising since he plays in the slot. However, that ranked him just fourth on the team compared to other WRs like Brandon Marshall (92%), Alshon Jeffery (55%), and Devin Hester (43%). When he’s out there, he can be good security blanket for Cutler, especially against a good pass rush like the Packers’, but that doesn’t mean he’ll get consistent targets. We’d be avoiding using him, unless you’re really stuck and play in a PPR league.
 
Kellen Davis (TE, Chi) – We thought Davis was being kept around to get more use as a receiver this year, but he didn’t get off to a good start in Week One. Not only did he end up with 0 receptions and just 1 target, but he struggled as a blocker and that’s not good news for a team with OL issues. Until further notice, you can forget about Davis as a fantasy option, which is probably what you were doing anyway.
 
Lineup Updates:
 
  • Packer RB James Starks (toe-doubtful) saw light work in Wednesday’s walk-through, but is not expected to play. RB Cedric Benson is expected to start, with RB Alex Green (knee) backing him up. Green is not listed on the injury report, but he did see 0 snaps last week.
  • Packer starting WR Greg Jennings (groin-doubtful) didn’t participate in Wednesday’s walk-through and is listed as doubtful. While it’s unlikely that he’ll play due to the short practice week, the team is still going to give him a chance to see what he can do in pregame warm-ups before making a final decision on his status. Backup WR James Jones, who is listed as his backup, would likely start if Jennings can’t play.
Game Prediction:
Packers 27 Bears 24

 

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