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Best Bears and Browns to Start or Sit

The Cleveland Browns put up a lot of points but does this mean everyone should insert Odell Beckham Jr. into their lineup going against the Bears defense?

If you're a fantasy owner and key players on your roster are involved in Sunday's Bears game in Cleveland, consider this a red alert, red flag, something red anyway.

There are several general reasons to avoid using offensive players in this Bears game for either team but there are also player-specific reasons.

Start first with the players who should be easy plays.

Play 'em

Baker Mayfield

It would be easy to look at what the Bears did to Joe Burrow on defense and see Mayfield's one touchdown pass to two interceptions on the year, then conclude it's a good week to play a different quarterback. Not so. The Bears defense had trouble with the Rams offense and the play-action involved. The play-action effect at freezing defensive players should be even greater for Cleveland considering how strong their running game is. Mayfield will get enough time and then it's a matter of picking apart a Bears secondary without Tashaun Gipson and with an unsettled slot cornerback situation.


Nick Chubb

The Bears have stopped the run. This can't be disputed. Cleveland's backs are better than the Rams' backs were and their offensive line is far superior to Cincinnati's. The Bears won't have a healthy nose tackle Eddie Goldman again. It's possible he'll play, but he's not going to be full strength if he does. Cleveland should be able to gain some yardage on the ground where the Rams and Bengals struggled.

Austin Hooper

The success passing achieved by Mayfield to date has been largely to his tight ends. He hasn't had both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup. Hooper is a great play this week because they can succeed it getting him matched up in the area where nickel cornerback Duke Shelley plays in the zone and pile up catches and yardage. The Bears also might have leaned toward putting Gipson on him in coverage and won't have him available. It will be Deon Bush, their career backup at safety. Hooper has eight catches for 67 yards so far.

Cole Kmet

The Bears have ignored tight ends largely the first few games but Fields is likely to be behind and in playing catch-up the tight ends are often good choices as easy underneath targets against zone coverage while trying to rally.

Allen Robinson II

When rookie passer start to panic, they'll look to that go-to guy first. Robinson hasn't established the kind of relationship Mitchell Trubisky did but it won't take much time for him to know where to go with the ball. Also, Robinson is aching to get a chance to make a difference after that drop he had in the end zone last week. It showed even through the facemask he wore during this week's press conference.

Sit 'Em

David Montgomery

The running game will go out the window when the Bears are trailing. And Matt Nagy normally needs no invitation to discard the running game at the drop of a hat, anyway. In addition, Cleveland has been solid stopping the run, ranking ninth overall.

Darnell Mooney

He's suffering from a groin injury and trying to play through it. The injury didn't prevent him from practicing on a limited basis this week but he hasn't been a full-go.

Odell Beckham Jr.

 In 2018 NBC Sports did a study over time of wide receivers recovering from ACL tears and of those involved in a group of 20 players and only six players came off the surgery to see their production improve. The rest either didn't play at all, retired or declined in production. And of those who returned to improve, their average age was 26. The older the player the more likely they didn't return or they declined in production. Beckham is 28 this year. The odds say he's not going to be the same player, at least this season. The Bears saw this with Allen Robinson in 2018. He needed that extra time between the end of 2018 until 2019 before he was back at a high level. Beckham has been away only 10 months while in Robinson's case it was about a full year. It's better to keep Beckham in reserve until skill level is proven, unless an owner is desperate.


Justin Fields

Many owners wanted Fields as a possible reserve in the future. They need to keep this focus. Just because he's starting for the first time doesn't mean he's going to produce like an established NFL player. Rookie quarterbacks in the last five years have gone 8-21-1 starting for the first time. They also have a passer rating of 71.1. The odds are against Fields. Maybe he'll buck the trend but then again maybe not. Better to stick with your plan than do something extremely risky. The one way Fields could benefit someone is as a runner in red-zone situations. However, you need to get to the red zone first.

There is also the thought that Cleveland is 23rd against the pass and so it's an opportunity. Cleveland faced Patrick Mahomes in the opener. That's why the Browns are 23rd against the pass. Their pass defense isn't as poor as the ranking.


If Khalil Mack is a defensive player in an IDP league who is depended upon, this is a week to sit him. The Browns have a strong offensive line and above-average tackles. More importantly, the Bears are going to be more consumed with shutting down the run and won't be in all-out pass-rush mode.

Conversely, if Myles Garrett is an IDP player it's possibly the week to sit him. Fields is pretty elusive and shouldn't allow for many sack opportunities anyway. The Bears offensive line could break down entirely. Even if it does, Fields is quick enough to throw away the ball.

One defensive player always to use is Roquan Smith because of the large tackle numbers he'll compile. Also, this week with Cleveland using tight ends extensively he could be a factor again in pass coverage as he was with an interception last week.

In a conventional league using team defense, the Bears are an easy no-play based on the season-opening troubles on the road at stopping the Rams and trying to halt a balanced attack.

Cleveland would be a solid defensive play because of the Bears using a rookie quarterback for the first time, and the Bears' problems keeping viable tackles healthy.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven