Week 3’s Sunday Night game features two teams heading in opposite directions, the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bears lead the NFC North at 2-0, while the Steelers are at the bottom of the AFC North at 0-2.
This game doesn’t have many fantasy options. The two obvious starters are Chicago’s Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall. If you are in a deeper league (12-14 teams), you may have to start Jay Cutler. On the other side, there are no Steelers players I would want to start this week, or any week for that matter. The receiving core is suffering without Mike Wallace and there is no clear-cut No. 1 running back.
With that being said, here are my predictions for the Sunday night game.
Cutler has been on a roll so far. He’s thrown for 534 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in two games. With two more weapons to help out on offense, Cutler is slowly becoming a top 15 option at quarterback. His offensive line is protecting him very well, only allowing one sack this season.
The Steelers’ defense has allowed only one receiving touchdown this season (to a running back), but they are still susceptible to the pass. They let Andy Dalton throw for 280 yards last week. Cutler should have a pretty good game for a QB2
Prediction: 27-of-40, 280 yards, two TDs, one INT (17 points)
It’s been said over and over, but it is worth mentioning again. Ben Roethlisberger needs Maurkice Pouncey. Without him, the offensive line falls apart and Big Ben goes down. Roethlisberger only has 442 passing yards after two games, which has him at 27th in the league. In context, Aaron Rodgers threw for 480 yards last week.
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is listed as questionable. If he’s out, this could put some pressure on the rest of the secondary. Until a ruling is made, Tillman is still a top cornerback that can shut down almost any receiver. Roethlisberger should not be started in any league, regardless of Tillman’s status.
Prediction: 20-of-45, 225 yards, one TD, 2 INTs (nine points)
Speaking of Forte, he’s been used more and more in the Chicago offense. He already has 138 rushing yards and 114 receiving yards. Backup running back Michael Bush, a player known for taking points away from the No. 1 back, has 15 rushing yards. This time last year, he had 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Forte will take advantage of a poor Steelers’ rush defense. Last week, BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard had 123 combined rush yards. Forte is more than capable of doing that on his own.
Prediction: 26 carries, 122 yards, one TD (18 points)
It doesn’t matter who the starting running back is for the Steelers. Whether it’s Felix Jones, Isaac Redman or some practice squad guy, I wouldn’t start, let alone own, any Pittsburgh running backs. The Bears have allowed 186 rushing yards in two games (100 to Adrian Peterson). I can see one of these running backs sneaking in for a garbage-time touchdown, but nothing explosive. Start at your own risk.
Prediction: Combined 20 carries, 80 yards, one TD (14 points)
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandon Marshall has enjoyed the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. The threat of those two players has allowed Marshall to dominate the defense. In two straight games, Marshall had over 100 yards and a touchdown.
Jeffery has eight fantasy points in two games. He had five receptions in Week 1, but only one the following week. The Steelers’ defense will be spread thin, allowing Jeffery to find one-on-one coverage. He should break out for a couple of big receptions.
Bennett caught seven passes for 76 yards and two scores. He’s been the No. 2 receiver for Cutler, especially at the end of games. He is third among tight ends and will remain in the top five again this week.
Marshall: eight receptions, 102 yards, one TD (16 points)
Jeffery: four receptions, 50 yards (five points)
Bennett: five receptions, 40 yards, one TD (10 points)
The two Steelers receivers are not worth starting right now. Both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have 12 fantasy points after two weeks and no touchdowns. I mentioned in an earlier article that Brown is a must-bench. Sanders can join him on that list. Until the Steelers can protect Big Ben, I would keep both receivers on my bench, and maybe even look to trade one of them before it’s too late.
Brown: six receptions, 60 yards (six points)
Sanders: five receptions, 65 yards (six points)