Carroll County Times

Fantasy football: Starts and sits for Thursday's Giants-Bears game

The Thursday Night Football game, from a fantasy perspective, is pretty easy to analyze this week. Start your Bears. Sit your Giants. But I suspect you want a little more analysis than that.
The fact of the matter, though, is if you own any fantasy relevant members of the Chicago Bears -- and there are quite a few -- go ahead and start them with confidence against an 0-5 New York Giants team that is a shell of the groups that won Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011.

No duh
Running back Matt Forte, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and the Chicago Bears Defense/Special Teams unit are pretty much must-starts regardless of match-up.
For the Giants, WR Victor Cruz is a fantasy football stud, and shouldn't be benched ever. The fact the Giants are going to be playing from behind most of this season means his numbers should continue to be strong.


Start 'em if you got 'em
QB Jay Cutler, who I've admittedly been a huge critic of over the years, is playing some of the best football of his life right now and is a top 12 fantasy quarterback until proven otherwise.
WR Alshon Jeffery is blossoming into a special talent, and put up a huge game with 218 receiving yards and a TD on 10 catches last week. He's in your lineup every week moving forward.

Proceed with caution
TE Martellus Bennett was fantastic the first two weeks of the season, but had fallen off in recent weeks, coinciding with Jeffery's rise. He's still a TE1 in every format. One caveat -- because of the short week, he might not play Thursday night because he dinged up his knee against the Saints. If he plays, go ahead and start him. New York is giving up the fifth most fantasy points to TE in Yahoo standard formats.


Take a seat son
QB Eli Manning, despite turning the ball over 14 times on his own, is -- remarkably -- the 15th highest scoring QB in Yahoo standard leagues. That makes him a QB2 in most leagues, but with Matt Ryan on bye and Michael Vick hurt, he might be a realistic option. I've been an Eli apologist most of the season so far, but the short week, combined with the Bears takeaway happy defense and not even disappointing David Wilson to hand the ball off to, this looks like a trainwreck in the making for the Giants. Avoid Eli at all costs this week.
Speaking of RB David Wilson, he's already been ruled out with a neck injury suffered against Philadelphia last week. As an aside, if you can still buy low on Wilson, do it. His next couple of games are against really soft defenses. The same goes for Eli, who might even be on your waiver wire. Things will start to turn for the Giants next week, in my opinion. Brandon Jacobs, averaging a paltry 1-yard per carry, is an absolute desperation play, although I guess there's a chance he punches in a garbage time touchdown. That's not a chance I'm willing to take. The Giants cut Da'Rel Scott a week ago before resigning him after Wilson's injury, so that should tell you all you need to know about him. He only has value in a PPR and even then, I wouldn't go there.
WR Hakeem Nicks and WR Rueben Randle are kind of interchangeable at this point. The difference is you probably paid a top 50 pick for Nicks and might've gotten Randle off your waiver wire (he might still be there). Both will be streaky, so your guess is as good as mine as to when they might go off. At best, you can play either as a low-end WR3 or flex option this week and hope Eli finds them a half-dozen times as the Giants play catch-up Thursday night.
TE Brandon Myers has been a major disappointment if you expected TE1 production from him. He's also questionable for Thursday night. You can find lots of better options. He's not even worth owning unless you've got Tony Gonzales on the bye week or something, and even then, I'd look elsewhere.
I'm going to list the New York Giants D/ST unit here, but if you're even thinking about starting them, your fantasy team is likely in worse shape than the actual 0-5 Giants.

Taking a flier
It won't help you for this game, but it's worth mentioning that RB Andre Brown, who was put on the designated to return IR list in the preseason, started running this week. He's eligible to return in Week 9. Put him on your watch list, because if Wilson continues to struggle, Brown will be an immediate starter for this team.