September 8, 2023, 2:16 am
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears Best Lines Available
Packers (+100) @ Bears (-110): O/U 42.0
Bears -0.5 (-110), Packers +1.5 (-118)
A storied rivalry for the first game of the season for both of these teams. The Packers have been superior to the Bears for years now, but will that be different with Aaron Rodgers out of town and an up-and-coming QB in Justin Fields for the Bears? Either way, eyes will be all over this game for fans of teams in the NFC North as both of these teams have a chance to take the division with a strong start.
Main Storylines to Watch
Can Jordan Love play? Jordan Love had a bit of a delayed welcome to the NFL as he sat on the bench behind Aaron Rodgers for two years. He looked competent in the preseason and he has some real weapons on the offensive side in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, with a pair of unproven guys in rookies Jayden Reed and tight end Luke Musgrave. Watson and Doubs are both dealing with hamstring injuries, so keeping an eye on their health will be important. They both seem on the likely side of suiting up, and the Bears secondary is shaky at best. There’s still talent on that side of the ball, so this will be a great barometer to see if Jordan Love is indeed ready to step into the limelight and sling the rock.
Can Justin Fields actually throw the ball? On the other side of the ball is a similar situation, interestingly enough. Fields has plenty of options himself in DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. Fields finished as the QB6 last season in PPR and half-PPR formats despite throwing for just 2,242 yards, but we all know he can’t simply rely on his athleticism forever. He needs to prove he can get through his progressions and hit the open target downfield. He has real QB1 upside, but the injury risk will always be there if he can’t stick in the pocket and hit his targets with accuracy.
Who gets the RB carries? The preseason seemed to solve this for most people, but I remain unconvinced. Khalil Herbert should get the early down work with no issues, but will D’Onta Foreman steal goal-line carries? Can Roschon Johnson push his way onto the field in certain formations? We very much key in on what has happened lately, but I haven’t forgotten the confusion most fantasy football players had when the Bears went out and signed Foreman and drafted Johnson. I think we still need to see this committee in action before making any final judgments. Herbert should be the favorite RB early though, so if you drafted him deploy him at will. Just make sure you’re shopping him around after big games.
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love: Not much more to add here. He’ll be locked in as the starter unless something drastic happens, and he should be decent. He’s a nice QB2 to have if you aren’t super confident in your QB1, and a nice low-cost QB2 for Superflex leagues.
Aaron Jones & AJ Dillon: These two have been doing this for three years now, and not much has changed. There’s a worse quarterback behind center, but honestly, Aaron Rodgers wasn’t exactly great last season. Jones is the one to own here with a top-10 finish last season regardless of format, with Dillon being one of my favorite handcuffs/stashes in case Jones gets traded or injured. It’s important to note that the Packers were supposedly in on attempting to trade for disgruntled star back Jonathan Taylor. It would seem one of these two may be out of town if that happened, but we wouldn’t read too much into this situation as the allure of adding Taylor was probably enough for them to at least make an offer. Nothing wrong with kicking the tires on a trade.
Christian Watson & Romeo Doubs: I am not as high on Christian Watson as most of the fantasy community. I think the talent is there, but I don’t know if I trust Jordan Love to give him big plays consistently. I’m actually more interested in Doubs here. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb aren’t there anymore, but more importantly neither is Aaron Rodgers. The rapport between Love and Doubs in the preseason seemed great, and Love was hitting him in a variety of situations. I think Doubs could emerge as the top target earner in Green Bay. Rookie Jayden Reed is also a guy to keep an eye on as the season progresses. The Packers spent a second-round pick on him and should be invested in seeing what they have as they build their team post-Rodgers. Update: After I wrote this, Christian Watson was ruled OUT for the game, making Doubs an even more attractive fantasy option.
Luke Musgrave: Another rookie tight end I’m probably too high on. I have only one statistic for you, and that is that Musgrave had 84% route participation in the 37 dropbacks for Jordan Love in the preseason. Does that mean that he’s guaranteed to do that in the season? No, of course not, but it is also something we should be buying into as that puts Musgrave in elite TE1 territory if it holds. His ADP was low enough to snag him in the final rounds of your draft, so taking the plunge on him was almost unavoidable if you didn’t snag a top 5-6 tight end. If you need a streamer because you had Travis Kelce, he’s likely available in your league. Go get him.
Justin Fields: Not much more to say here either, but we need to see if Fields can throw with accuracy. The Bears threw the ball significantly less than other teams last season and they’re going to look to change that early. It could be detrimental to Fields’s skill set and value in fantasy, even though it’s good for his real life impact on the game. He’s a risky QB1, but if you drafted him then stay the course and weather the bumps along the way.
Khalil Herbert: He’s the only running back worth rostering at the moment, and we’re all expecting a big workload, but I’m not sure that sticks the entire season. The Bears signalled they weren’t sold on him as a bellcow by signing D’Onta Foreman and drafting Roschon Johnson, so don’t lose sight of that. Good to go for Week 1 though.
DJ Moore & Darnell Mooney: I think this Packers defense is underrated right now, so playing Moore this week actually scares me a little. I think you can roll him out there, but I’d temper expectations. He’ll be the top target earner for Justin Fields, but I am also skeptical that Fields has that side of quarterbacking figured out. He’s made some real head-scratching decisions in his short career so far. Mooney is the deep ball threat on the team and with his speed he can burn defenders deep any game. He’s a high risk-high reward play in a game that projects to be close throughout. He could put up a 0 or he could give you two touchdowns. It all depends on if he can break free.
Cole Kmet: He’s one of my favorite “post-hype” sleepers out there, but for most people he’s probably operating as a TE2. If you have a better option, there’s no reason to go out of your way to play Kmet, but he was everyone’s darling at the position last season on his way to a TE7 finish in half-PPR and TE8 in full PPR. The only thing that has really changed is the addition of DJ Moore, which should open up the middle for the big tight end to operate. The downside is that he’ll theoretically see fewer targets with Moore eating more of them up. Ultimately it’s a wait-and-see situation, but he has top-5 upside at the position and no real competition on the roster.
Look, I’m a Bears fan but I also am pretty realistic and this Bears team (though improved) still has some major red flags to me. On the other side, the Packers seem to be going undervalued everywhere because everyone thinks their loss of Aaron Rodgers is going to drop them to the bottom of the league. They’re easy to dismiss in a “rebuild” of sorts, but there’s real talent there. If anything, Justin Fields is going to take some time to adjust as he’s being asked to throw the ball and beat teams that way. Teams will gameplan for him now, and they know the Bears are better than last season, so they will elevate their game. This line opened at about -2.5 in favor of the Bears and has climbed all the way to -0.5 in some places, meaning that everyone else seems to be seeing the things I’m seeing. I wouldn’t bet it now, but I would lean towards taking the Packers ML if you want to play this game. I AM willing to bet that Justin Fields throws a pick though. He threw an INT in 9 of 15 games last season, he has a new wide receiver, and he’s going to be asked to throw the ball more by his own coaching staff and opposing defenses. It probably won’t decide the game in this one, but I’m almost certain he’ll have a miscue of some kind, or a mix up with one of his receivers.
Lean: Packers ML (+100) – BetMGM
BET: Justin Fields O0.5 Interceptions (-125) – DraftKings (also available on BetMGM)