Last Updated: September 5th at 12:38am ET.
Team Totals: Bears 24.75, Packers 21.75
After sitting out the entire preseason, Aaron Rodgers will take his first live snaps in new coach Matt LaFleur’s offense at Soldier Field, where Chicago’s league-best defense lost mastermind DC Vic Fangio but returns 10-of-11 starters after holding 15 of its last 17 home-game opponents to 23 points or fewer. Rodgers’ weekly fantasy finishes are a mixed bag over his last six meetings with the Bears (beginning with most recent, they’re QB6 > QB19 > QB10 > QB25 > QB3 > QB25), and Rodgers is something of an unknown in the new scheme at age 35 after finishing under 7.5 yards per attempt in four straight years. I would rank Rodgers below QB1 territory in Week 1’s toughest matchup with an unexciting 46.5-point total. … Aaron Jones was also an August ghost after an early-camp hamstring injury, but he will have practiced fully for nearly a month as of Thursday night. The Bears return every critical piece of last year’s No. 2 DVOA-rated run defense, while Jones has a career 20/69/1 (3.45 YPC) rushing line and one reception in four meetings with Chicago. Still a dynamic talent, Jones will be given every opportunity to maintain lead-back work over plodding Jamaal Williams, but a slow start seems likely as a road dog in the Windy City. Jones’ Weeks 1-6 schedule is a fantasy concern; Green Bay draws Chicago, Minnesota, Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Detroit, all of which fielded top-half run defenses in 2018.
Davante Adams is Thursday night’s most-confident fantasy start as the NFL’s touchdown-catch leader over the last three seasons (35). Adams has 16 or more PPR points in seventeen straight games and touched up Chicago for 8/119/0 > 5/88/1 > 5/90/1 receiving in their last three meetings. … Breakout candidate Marquez Valdes-Scantling led all rookie receivers in yards gained on 20-plus-yard downfield targets (311), then sewed up Green Bay’s No. 2 wideout job early in camp. Last year’s Bears yielded the NFL’s fourth-fewest 20-plus-yard completions (39), however, rendering MVS a boom-bust WR4 option. … Geronimo Allison is a value play on one-game DFS slates after the Bears downgraded slot corners from Bryce Callahan to Buster Skrine, who coughed up the league’s third-most yards (537) and an NFL-high five TDs on slot targets with the Jets last year. Slated for the Mohamed Sanu role under ex-Falcons assistant LaFleur, Allison ran over half of his preseason routes inside. Quietly, Allison was on pace for a 76/1,156/8 receiving line four games into 2018 before injuries ruined his season. He has Rodgers’ ever-elusive trust. … Towering Jake Kumerow’s (6’5/208) usage is to be determined after another big August (7/99/1), but he should see some snaps as Green Bay’s No. 4 wideout. … Rookie TE Jace Sternberger never put heat on Jimmy Graham in camp, missing time with a concussion before being carted off with an ankle injury in Green Bay’s preseason finale. Sternberger was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Graham managed 2/8/0 and 3/32/0 stat lines in last year’s Bears games but projects as a near-full-time player in Week 1. He’s due for positive-touchdown regression after ranking ninth among tight ends in receptions (55) but scoring only two TDs in 2018.
Before the home crowd, the Bears will unveil rookie lead back David Montgomery after the Iowa State star led the nation in missed tackles forced (100) as a 2018 Cyclone and parlayed six tackle-breaking preseason touches into 46 yards with a score. As last year’s Bears backfield averaged 30.0 touches per game, I’m projecting 16 for Montgomery, 9 for Tarik Cohen, and 5 for Mike Davis on opening night. Whereas Green Bay poured major resources into its pass rush (Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary), DC Mike Pettine’s run defense looks vulnerable after finishing 24th in DVOA in 2018, then cutting difference-maker DT Mike Daniels. Favored at home in a plus draw, Montgomery is a rock-solid RB2 play versus the Pack. … Cohen’s sporadic, game plan-specific usage always renders him a boom-bust fantasy option – he scored forty-seven percent of his 2018 PPR points in four individual games – but this is a good spot for Matt Nagy to scheme Cohen into space against Green Bay’s linebackers. Athletic ILB Oren Burks tore his pec in the Packers’ preseason opener. … Mitchell Trubisky’s uneven results in last year’s Packers meetings were QB18 and QB6. I’m viewing him as a volatile-if-viable QB2 and single-game DFS play behind a Bears offensive line that returns all five starters to counteract Green Bay’s upgraded pass-rush personnel.
Two full years removed from 2017’s Week 1 ACL tear, Allen Robinson looks poised for a leap in his second Bears season after averaging 9.0 targets over his final five games, then starring in this year’s camp. Robinson (6’2/220) has a severe size advantage on Packers No. 1 CB Jaire Alexander (5’10/196), while No. 2 CB Kevin King was an injury-riddled disappointment even before he missed all of training camp with a hamstring strain. Sports Info Solutions charted Robinson with the NFL’s third-highest target rate versus man coverage over the last two seasons, while Green Bay ran man looks at the league’s fourth-highest clip in Mike Pettine‘s first year as coordinator. … Anthony Miller missed over two weeks of camp with an ankle sprain after offseason shoulder surgery but is cleared to do slot battle with 36-year-old Tramon Williams, who toggled between safety, slot, and outside corner last year and was charged by PFF with eight TDs and a mouth-watering 125.6 passer rating allowed. Williams showed up on Tuesday’s injury report with a knee ailment. If Miller stays healthy as a second-year pro, he should push to finish second on the Bears in targets behind Robinson. Albeit more of a WR5 in season-long leagues, Miller is another value-pick candidate on one-game DFS slates versus Green Bay. … More Robinson and Miller will likely translate to less Taylor Gabriel, who played 77% of last year’s offensive snaps but averaged an anemic 35.2 receiving yards over Chicago’s final 12 games. I’d personally like to see the Bears incorporate free-agent pickup Cordarrelle Patterson into Gabriel’s gadget role. … Nagged by groin problems since last January, Trey Burton missed the Bears’ playoff loss to Philly, required sports-hernia surgery in May, experienced setbacks in training camp, and will be a game-time decision for Week 1. Burton topped 40 yards in just 3-of-16 games last season, and not once after Week 7. Next up on the depth chart are Frankenstinian Adam Shaheen (6’6/280) and Harvard graduate Ben Braunecker. I’d consider dropping Burton in season-long leagues.
Score Prediction: Bears 24, Packers 20