NFL Soup|Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thursday Night Football Fantasy Versus: Start Matt Forte and Your Bears 

If you’re like me, you’re sick of Thursday Night Football games. After all, they’re generally boring, one-sided clunkers. And now we get the 0-5, turnover-prone New York Giants against the Chicago Bears – on the road. That certainly doesn’t offer up a ton of encouragement on paper.

The Giants can’t rush the passer. So, naturally, Jay Cutler and his explosive passing weapons should have a field day. While that should happen, I can’t help but think the TNF gods will rain dog poo down on us and have this be a low-scoring defensive battle that the Giants win. That’s how much I hate Thursday Night Football. Or at least how little I trust it.

But we have to go with what’s on paper. Let’s be honest, the Giants have been down-right awful for five straight games and Chicago has shown they can defend and put up points. The paper suggests a Bears win and a good amount of points – maybe even from both sides. I’m actually hopeful this week and think Eli Manning and co. can do enough to make this thing interesting.

It’s worth noting that the Giants haven’t necessarily struggled to move the ball. They just turn the ball over like crazy, struggle in pass protection and aren’t great at running the ball. But they actually rack up good yardage and if they can take care of the football, they might just score some points and make a game of it. That’s the hope.

With that, fantasy owners have to make those Thursday calls. Do you leave certain Giants and Bears players on your bench, and if you play some, which ones win out? Let’s tackle that below in our Thursday Fantasy Football Versus:

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Eli Manning (Giants) vs. Jay Cutler (Bears)

Manning leads the league with 12 interceptions. He has a solid eight scores and gets decent yardage, but he’s on the road against a still solid Bears defense and he has little support from his running game and offensive line. Cutler, on the other hand, is turning the ball over far less and has a cakewalk matchup at home against a Giants defense that has been just shredded in basically every game this year. You have to go with Cutler here.

Running Backs

Matt Forte (Bears) vs. Brandon Jacobs (Giants) vs. Da’Rel Scott (Giants)

Forte has at least 90 total yards in every game this year and has actually found the end-zone three times already. With Michael Bush not at all a factor in the ground game, he’s in for a huge game against a bad New York defense. You’re obviously not considering any Giants’ backs ahead of him and he’s a must-start tonight.

As for those putrid G-Men runners, if you must go with one, I’d say Jacobs is the safest bet. He’ll get starter touches and is the best bet for a touchdown. Truth be told, you can’t feel good about either him or Scott, but they will touch the ball a decent amount with David Wilson out, so there’s desperation appeal there if you’re hard up for a body with a role.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall (Bears) vs. Victor Cruz (Giants)

It’s been Alshon Jeffery, not Marshall, going off the past two weeks. And with Cruz still regularly dominating the fantasy charts despite New York’s struggles, I can see why some would consider Cruz over Marshall this week. However, Marshall is a lock to be heavily targeted in this one, and he has a much better matchup than Cruz does. It’s a close call, but if we have to bank on one guy blowing up on Thursday night, it’s going to be Marshall.

Hakeem Nicks (Giants) vs. Alshon Jeffery (Bears) vs. Reuben Randle (Giants)

I think you go Cruz ahead of any of these other guys, but I still expect all of them to put up solid numbers. Nicks actually comes in second to Cruz and third overall at wide receiver, as he’s had one down game all year and he’s really due for a score (zero touchdowns). After him, I’m sure Jeffery will make noise and be solid, but coming off of a 200+ yard game, you know the Giants are going to make sure he doesn’t wipe the floor with them. Randle scored twice last week and should be involved still, but I think he misses out on touchdowns tonight, leaving him dead last in this group.

Tight Ends

Martellus Bennett (Bears) vs. Brandon Myers (Giants)

Bennett is a true game-time decision tonight, so unless you get early word that he’s playing, you’ll have to go with Myers. However, I’d prefer guys like Coby Fleener or Garrett Graham over Myers this week.


Robbie Gould (Bears) vs. Josh Brown (Giants)

Gould has clearly been the more consistent option. His offense takes care of the ball much better and is at home, too. Go with Gould.

Team Defenses

New York Giants vs. Chicago Bears

About the author: Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. In 2012, Roberts finished 16th overall in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup’s NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin

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