Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton is hauled down by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) With quarterback Joe Burrow healed, the Cincinnati Bengals came into the season believing they were in position to improve on a dismal 2020.
They're off to a good start. The Chicago Bears can't say the same.
Burrow and the Bengals will try to build on a season-opening win while the Bears hope to bounce back from a loss when the two teams meet at Soldier Field on Sunday.
''We're excited for another opportunity to go out there and prove to the world what we're about,'' Cincinnati safety Jessie Bates III said. ''Not just being good on Week 1, we've got to be good throughout the whole season.''
The Bengals beat Minnesota 27-24 in overtime last week, a promising opener for a team that finished last in the AFC North at 4-11-1.
Burrow threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns. The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick in 2020 completed 20 of 27 passes while setting career highs in passer rating (128.8) and yards per attempt (9.67). Not a bad opener for a quarterback who suffered a major injury to his left knee in Week 11 last year.
As for the Bears?
A 34-14 thumping by the Rams in Los Angeles was not a good start. Andy Dalton did little in his Chicago debut to silence the calls for Justin Fields, and the defense couldn't contain Matthew Stafford.
Dalton got intercepted on the game's opening drive. He threw for 206 yards, but did not have a completion for more than 19 yards against a defense that led the league in 2020.
''We weren't able to take very many chances downfield,'' Dalton said. ''I think if you look back it's something that we wish we could have done a little bit more in that game. I think we understand that, we understand how we want to play.''
Now, Dalton goes against his former team for the second time.
The three-time Pro Bowler led Dallas to a win at Cincinnati last season after spending his first nine years with the Bengals. They released him after drafting Burrow.
MORE FIELD(S) TIME?
Fields impressed in a brief debut.
Drafted 11th overall, he was in on only five plays. But the former Ohio State star made the most of them. He completed both of his passes for 10 yards and scored from the 3 on his lone run.
''He was very composed,'' receiver Allen Robinson said. ''But again, he's kind of been like that.''
The Bears insist their defense remains a strength. The Monsters of the Midway didn't show it last week.
They got shredded by Stafford, who threw for 321 yards, three touchdowns and a 156.1 rating and was sacked just once. Safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson committed a big gaffe on Van Jefferson's 67-yard touchdown reception, failing to put a hand on the receiver when he hit the ground near the 15 after hauling in the long pass. Instead, Jefferson got up and ran to the end zone. Chicago also gave up a 56-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Cooper Kupp.
GOING FOR IT
The Bengals kept the offense on the field on fourth down three times last week against Minnesota and converted two of them. The big one came in overtime when Burrow checked out of a called quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches from the Cincinnati 48 and completed a 32-yard pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah to set up the game-winning field goal.
Coach Zac Taylor said that's expected to happen a lot more, especially since he trusts Burrow completely and has more confidence in his defense this season.
''If we want to do great things here, we've got to go get them,'' he said.
The Bears were more banged up at left tackle after starter Jason Peters (quadriceps) and rookie backup Larry Borom (ankle) exited in the third quarter last week.
That's in addition to losing second-round draft pick Teven Jenkins prior to the season. He suffered a back injury that required surgery, leading to the Bears signing the 39-year-old Peters - a two-time All-Pro - in mid-August.
The Bears went with Elijah Wilkinson after Peters and Borom left the opener.
After missing most of last year with a foot injury, Bengals running back Joe Mixon opened his fifth season by rushing 29 times for 127 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings.
''It was fun to watch,'' Taylor said. ''And it's just a great weapon to have. There (were) a lot of well-blocked plays. It's good to get him back, his energy. He's playing with a lot of confidence right now.''
Bears running back David Montgomery is off to good start following a strong finish last season.
The third-year pro ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. Montgomery had 598 yards over the final six games in 2020 and finished the season with 1,070.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah caught all three targets for 92 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The 28-year-old exploded for two scores, including a 52-yard touchdown reception. He has now hit pay dirt in three of his last four games. The Bengals' tight end has reeled in 17 catches for 256 yards and five touchdowns across seven games in 2021. Uzomah is a boom-or-bust low-end TE1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase caught eight passes on 10 targets for 201 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-17 rout of the Ravens. He led the team in catches and receiving yards in Week 7. Bengals QB Joe Burrow and Chase showed great chemistry on Sunday, connecting for an 82-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The 21-year-old has had an impressive rookie campaign, hauling in 35 receptions, 754 yards, and six touchdowns over seven games. Chase is a borderline WR1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 23-of-38 pass attempts for 416 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception in Sunday's 41-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He connected with tight end C.J. Uzomah for two touchdowns and fired an 82-yard score to wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase. In his sophomore campaign, the 24-year-old has been excellent, throwing for 1.956 yards and a 17:8 TD: INT ratio over seven games in 2021. Burrow is a borderline QB1 against the New York Jets in Week 8.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense struggled again in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. In a 33-22 loss, the Eagles defensive unit allowed Derek Carr to throw for 323 yards and let multiple Raiders runners combine for over 100 yards on the ground. They did not record a sack or force a fumble, but they did end up with one interception. All of that made for a fantasy score of -2.0 in standard scoring, the fourth time this season where they've scored one point or less. This is not a defense worth starting in fantasy, regardless of their opponent. They can be left alone on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins made two catches in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Watkins saw four targets, catching half of them for 37 yards. Watkins is playing an important role on the Eagles offense, but this is not a passing game that can support multiple fantasy-relevant wide receivers. With tight end Dallas Goedert and rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith ahead of Watkins on the passing tree, Watkins is not much more than a hold-and-hope asset in most fantasy formats.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) is undergoing X-rays on his injured ankle, but head coach Nick Sirianni doesn't think Sanders suffered a broken ankle in the Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Sanders was carted off the field and was quickly ruled out with his ankle injury. While he may have avoided a broken ankle, it doesn't mean that he won't be forced to miss time moving forward. The 24-year-old has been a huge disappointment so far this year and had six carries for 30 yards before his injury, adding one catch for minus-three yards. Quarterback Jalen Hurts led the team with 13 carries for 61 yards, but Boston Scott had seven carries (two more than rookie Kenneth Gainwell) for 24 yards and a rushing score after Sanders left the contest. Gainwell was second on the team with eight targets, catching four of them for 41 yards and a touchdown. If Sanders misses time, Scott and Gainwell figure to share the backfield, with Scott being the early down back and Gainwell playing in passing situations.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor finally did something useful in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Reagor was targeted twice, catching both for 25 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came on a 17-yard catch in the fourth quarter to bring the Eagles within two scores. Last year's first round pick has two touchdowns on the year and hasn't totaled more than 25 yards since Week 3. He's been jumped on the receiver hierarchy by Quez Watkins and does not need to be rostered in most formats.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott attempted and made two extra points in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Elliott did not get a chance to attempt a field goal, leaving him with just two fantasy points in most scoring formats. Elliott is a decent enough NFL kicker, but he's kicking at a very low volume in this offense and doesn't have the big leg upside to make him worth starting in any formats. He can be left alone on the waiver wire.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell scored a touchdown in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. With starter Miles Sanders (ankle) forced to leave the game early, Gainwell and Boston Scott took over in the Eagles backfield. Both of them worked behind quarterback Jalen Hurts, however, who once again led the Eagles in rushing yards and attempts. Gainwell ran the ball five times for 20 yards and added four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. He saw eight targets and scored on a 13 yard catch in the first quarter. If Sanders is forced to miss time, Gainwell should get the first crack at leading the Eagles running back room with Scott working behind him. Gainwell is likely to be one of the top waiver wire adds heading into Week 8.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert led the Eagles in receiving yards in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. After the Eagles traded Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals, Goedert worked in an alpha-TE1 role in this one. He was the only Eagles tight end to see a target. He was thrown to five times, catching three for 70 yards. It was a decent game for Goedert, but more importantly it was a sign of things to come. Without Ertz around, Goedert should be an easy TE1 every week.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith caught five passes in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Smith led the Eagles in targets, seeing nine balls thrown his way. He came down with five, gaining 61 yards. Smith continues to see WR1 usage but just hasn't done much with his plentiful targets of late. He gained 122 yards in Week 4 but has gained just 169 total since then. He may be a decent buy-low target in redraft leagues right now, there should be big weeks ahead for the rookie.
The Las Vegas Raiders ruled running back Josh Jacobs (chest) out of the Week 7 game against the Philadelphia Eagles after he was injured during the game, but early indications are that he avoided a major injury, according to a source. The Raiders are on bye next week as well, so Jacobs will have extra time to recover and may not have to miss a game. The 23-year-old had six carries for 29 yards and managed to find the end zone before leaving the game, so at least it wasn't all bad for his fantasy managers on Sunday. He also caught all three of his targets for 39 yards. Jacobs has scored in three straight games after a rough start to the season, and it sounds like he won't have to miss much time, if any. With Peyton Barber a healthy scratch, Kenyan Drake led the team with 14 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown with Jacobs leaving the game against Philly.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts had another solid fantasy performance in a Week 7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Hurts attempted 34 passes, completing 18 of them for 236 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he led the team in rushes and yards, running 13 times for 61 yards. It was another up-and-down performance on the field for Hurts, but he's the only quarterback in fantasy to score 20 points or more every week of the season (in standard scoring formats). Hurts has shown that he's probably not the long-term answer on the NFL field for the Eagles, but he's a valuable QB1 in all formats as long as he keeps running the ball.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott shows up on offense in Week 7 and scored a touchdown, his first of the season. Starting running back Miles Sanders (ankle) was forced to leave with an injury, leaving backfield duties to rookie Kenneth Gainwell and Scott. Scott had been playing exclusively on special teams this season, but ran the ball seven times in this game, gaining 24 yards and scoring a touchdown. His score came on a one-yard plunge at the end of the third quarter. If Sanders is forced to miss time, Scott will likely find his way into a role on offense, but he's unlikely to develop much if any fantasy value.
New York Jets running back Michael Carter has seemingly run away with the lead back job over the last few weeks. The fourth round rookie continued his success against the New England Patriots in Week 7. Carter rushed 11 times for 37 times, but hauled in a team-high eight receptions and 67 yards through the air. The rookie back hasn't surpassed 40 rushing yards in a game since Week 2. Despite that, Carter has continued to have fantasy value in PPR formats. Although, it's uncertain if his fantasy value will continue with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) likely sidelined next week. Fantasy managers in deep leagues might need to look for another option if Carter's touches decrease.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (finger, shoulder) is in danger of missing more time moving ahead. The veteran has reportedly been playing through multiple fractures in his finger, and even worse, a torn rotator cuff. However, he didn't appear to be injured by any means in Week 7, at least on the statistical end, as he would record two sacks during the win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Nonetheless, while it's apparent that the 32-year-old isn't as effective as he once was, any further absences would certainly be unfortunate for any fantasy manager participating in formats that utilize individual defensive positions.
New York Jets quarterback Mike White came into the game unexpectedly during the Week 7 matchup with the New England Patriots. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was forced out of the game earlier than expected on Sunday. That forced White into action and he struggled as expected against a tough Patriots secondary. White completed 20-of-32 passing attempts for 202 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss. It's uncertain whether or not Wilson will be able to make the next start versus Cincinnati next week. White might be asked to start and wouldn't be a recommended streaming option in any format.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore had just two catches for 17 yards during the win over Houston on Sunday. Moore had only three targets on the afternoon, one less than he got in Week 6 and three fewer than he had in Week 5. Nonetheless, the rookie should have a few more games of effective play moving forward. However, it's clear he's the No. 4 option behind DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green, and with Zach Ertz now in town, his place on Kyler Murray's priority list could be even lower. Yet, he's worth a stash, especially in dynasty setups, and could see his value rise if an injury were to occur at some point. Still, his outlook isn't bright against the Packers on Thursday, although the upside is always there for DFS contests.
Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) is set to be designated to return and practice on Wednesday. After the designation, the team will have 21 days to activate him and place him back on the roster or be forced to keep him on the injured reserve list for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign. Taylor hasn't played since suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain during the second game of the year against the Cleveland Browns. He played relatively well before succumbing to the ailment and had thrown three touchdowns while maintaining an acceptable 70.5 completion percentage. Although it's unlikely Taylor suits up for the upcoming matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, there is a chance he could be back for Week 9 against the Dolphins. His presence would mean Davis Mills would head back to the bench, while Brandin Cooks could benefit from the play of a more stable signal-caller.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton caught 5-of-9 targets for 63 yards in Sunday's 25-3 win over the Carolina Panthers. He returned to action on Sunday after missing the last three weeks due to a hamstring injury. Kadarius Toney (ankle), Kenny Golladay (knee), and Sterling Shepard were ruled out ahead of Sunday's game. The 24-year-old was QB Daniel Jones' top option and led the Giants in targets (9) and receiving yards (63). Slayton's role in the Giants offense will depend on the availability of Toney, Golladay, and Shepard for Monday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.