FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 9 Monday Night (Bears at Steelers)
I'm guessing this Bears-Steelers matchup wouldn't have been anyone's first choice for a primetime slot entering Week 9, but given some of the wacky results we witnessed on Sunday, perhaps this one surprises us, too? On paper, this is expected to be a low-scoring contest at a mere 39.5-point over/under, and the hometown Steelers are favored by seven points.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy. It's worth checking out before you make your lineups.
Chicago is a heavy underdog here, as their struggling offense figures to have a difficult time moving the ball against one of the league's top defensive units.
According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted rankings, the Bears rank 31st in total offense and 32nd in passing offense. They've had some success running the ball, though, slotting in at eighth in adjusted rushing offense.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's defense is fourth in adjusted total defense, ranking ninth versus the pass and seventh versus the run. They also rank second in pressure rate, according to Pro Football Reference. It's a rough matchup all around for the Bears' offense.
On the other hand, the Steelers' offense is middle-of-the-pack at best, and the same can be said of the Bears' defense. However, Chicago does rank 29th in adjusted rush defense, so Pittsburgh could have an easier time in the run game.
In terms of adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets), Harris is virtually unmatched this season, with his 32.3 per game just a smidge behind league-leader Derrick Henry (32.4). No one else cracks the 30 mark.
Following a quiet debut in Week 1, Harris has since scored 16-plus FanDuel points in six straight games, exceeding 20 three times. He'll be a popular MVP, but everything points to another strong outing. At the very least, he should be rostered as a flex in most lineups.
Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger ($15,000) and Justin Fields ($14,000) are second and third in numberFire's model -- no surprises there. Harris, Roethlisberger, and Fields are the only players projected for 15-plus points.
Roethlisberger has the easier matchup, and as the home favorite, he figures to be the more popular MVP of the two signal-callers. However, he hasn't demonstrated much of a ceiling this year, with a season-high of just 16.02 FanDuel points. He's thrown for more than one touchdown in a game just once all year.
Therefore, slotting in the volatile Fields as an MVP might be the better way to go. Fields finally flashed the fantasy upside people have been waiting for in Week 8, rushing 10 times for 103 yards and a score, leading to a robust 26.3 points.
That being said, he still only produced 175 yards through the air, and he's cleared 200 just once in six starts. Entering the week, Fields was one of just five quarterbacks (minimum 100 drop backs) to average negative Passing Net Expected Points per drop back this year, and he and Zach Wilson rank dead last by a wide mark.
So, yes, Fields could absolutely flop as he's done in most of his outings. But like we saw last week, his running ability still gives him a path to an MVP ceiling that few on this slate can match.
Outside of casting a wide net in large-field GPPs, Diontae Johnson ($13,500) and Chase Claypool ($11,500) are probably the only other guys worth seriously considering at MVP, and they round out the top five in our projections.
In the two games since JuJu Smith-Schuster was injured, Johnson has averaged 13 targets while soaking up a 35.6% target share and 50.1% air yards share. Being tied to Big Ben hasn't resulted in much in the way of spike weeks, but he's projected for far and away the most targets on both teams.
Claypool hasn't seen anywhere near that level of volume, with a more modest 16.4% target share and 24.2% air yards share the past two games. That makes him a riskier bet, but among Pittsburgh skill position players, he's second behind Johnson in snap rate (89.9%) and route rate (90.9%) over that span, so we shouldn't rule out the possibility of a big game from him.
In terms of value plays on the Steelers, Pat Freiermuth ($8,000) is the clear standout. The tight end has emerged to see exactly seven targets in each of the last two games (19.2% share), which is usage we'll happily take at this salary.
Moving over to Chicago, running back Khalil Herbert ($12,000) would normally be one more potential MVP candidate, but David Montgomery ($13,000) will reportedly return tonight, leaving us with an uncertain backfield.
Herbert performed admirably while Montgomery was out, averaging 26.7 adjusted opportunities over the past three weeks, so you could always take a chance that he maintains a heavy workload in the event Montgomery is eased in. Alternatively, it's possible Montgomery immediately takes over as the lead back again.
But ultimately, the most likely scenario is that they split things down the middle versus a tough run defense, leaving both more suitable as flex plays.
Mooney's seeing the biggest share of targets in Fields' starts (27.1%), though, and for what it's worth, he's projected for the second-most targets on the slate behind Diontae Johnson.
Robinson and Kmet have both seen roughly 20% target shares with Fields. Kmet's low salary frees up cap space at least.
Finally, since we're lacking in too many enticing value plays, turning to the kickers might be the way to go, particularly in a game where touchdowns could be harder to come by. Chris Boswell ($9,000) is on the favored side, so he gets the slight edge over Cairo Santos ($8,500), but both are viable.