A lot of people were probably looking ahead at this matchup and looking forward to seeing Darren McFadden go rush for rush with Matt Forte; unfortunately neither one is liable to do as well as they did earlier in the year going forward. McFadden is still suffering from his sprained foot, and word out of Oakland is that he’s not nearly as close to returning as people would like. Forte on the other hand has been mostly money in yardage even of late, but now that QB Jay Cutler is going to be out for the rest of the fantasy season (at least), Forte might not find as much running room with teams most likely not offering Caleb Hanie the same amount of respect.
Luckily for Oakland, they have Michael Bush toting the rock with McFadden out. While Bush doesn’t have the game breaking speed, he also doesn’t break himself nearly as much as McFadden seems to. Given a choice between giving 25 carries to Bush and 25 carries to McFadden, I think I would honestly go with Bush. Sure McFadden’s electric with the ball, but Bush has simply been an ultra-reliable hammer; he’s a punishing downhill runner that you can hitch your wagon to at the end of a game to run the clock out and preserve the victory. I would still love to have a McFadden; but maybe for 10-15 carries where he’d still be very effective, with a Bush taking 25 carries, mostly in the second half against a tired defense. Ahhh… perfection.
The passing game for the Raiders isn’t in as nearly good of shape as the running game is currently. Darrius Heyward-Bey went out with a scary looking neck injury in Week 11, Denarius Moore suffered a foot injury and was in a walking boot in practice this week. Jacoby Ford is also still out injured, so now Carson Palmer is left to throw passes to Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens, which doesn’t really bode too well for his fantasy chances, especially against a Bears team that is tied for second in interceptions with 15 on the year. Likely the Raiders will lean heavily on their running game and only throw enough passes to keep the Bears honest.
On Chicago’s side of the ball, things were looking up; that is until Cutler’s thumb got snapped like a “Macho Man” Randy Savage Slim Jim. Now the Bears are left with Hanie, who didn’t look terrible in the 2ndhalf of the NFC Championship a year ago, but still doesn’t garner the respect from a defense the way Cutler does. This also doesn’t help Forte’s cause, even though the Bears are likely to lean on him as much as possible. While you can’t really downgrade Forte until he proves he won’t be as good as ever even with Hanie under center, you can downgrade Earl Bennett at least a little due to Hanie not having the same kind of relationship Bennett had with Cutler.
Good Start: RB Michael Bush, RB Matt Forte
Middle of the Road: QB Carson Palmer, WR Chaz Schilens, TE Kevin Boss, RB Marion Barber, WR Earl Bennett
Bad Start: WR Louis Murphy, QB Caleb Hanie, WR Roy Williams, WR Johnny Knox, WR Devin Hester