Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Commanders vs Bears: How To Handle Darnell Mooney, Brian Robinson, More
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Darnell Mooney.
Commanders -1 | Bears +1
This week’s matchup features two subpar offenses and has the lowest point total of the week of 38. The 2-3 Bears rank fifth-worst in points per game, fifth-worst in sacks allowed and have tallied the second-fewest offensive yards behind the hapless Panthers. The 1-4 Commanders have had their own struggles this season behind new quarterback Carson Wentz and sit in last place in the NFC East. Washington has allowed the third-most sacks through five games and is averaging just 0.8 points more per game than Chicago.
The number of easy lineup decisions in this game are few and far between. Bears running back David Montgomery may be the only player I would feel confident starting on either team. Below are some fringe players at each position you may be on the fence about starting in the Commanders vs. Bears Thursday Night Football game based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Commanders Week 6 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
QB Carson Wentz
To say that Wentz has been up and down this season would be an understatement. The new Commanders’ QB apparently lives by the Ricky Bobby paradigm of, “first or last,” and has finished as QB3, QB5, QB30, QB27 and QB6. His two bad weeks for fantasy came against the Eagles and Cowboys, whose defenses both rank top four in pass DVOA according to Football Outsiders, while two of his three good games came against teams who rank bottom five in pass DVOA (Lions and Titans).
The Bears seem to be about middle-of-the-road against the pass, so it’s unclear which version of Wentz we’ll see this Thursday. He will be without standout rookie Jahan Dotson and tight end Logan Thomas once again, though he seemed to make do with Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown last week against the Titans.
Verdict: Sit if you have better options. This game is projected to be low-scoring and Wentz’s wide range of outcomes makes him very risky, especially with this bicep injury which could be limiting tonight. He is an acceptable streaming option if you have been rolling with Jared Goff or Derek Carr and missed out on Geno Smith during waivers.
WR Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin
Samuel has cooled off since his hot start to the season. He found the end zone in back-to-back games to kickoff the year, but has been quieter of late. He caught six of eight targets for 62 yards last week against the Titans and was the WR34 in half PPR. Samuel was eclipsed by Year 2 wideout Dyami Brown, who caught two passes for two touchdowns in the game. Samuel has commanded a 22% target share through five games and is a relatively safe play in PPR formats.
McLaurin hasn’t looked as explosive as years past, though he has been fairly consistent for fantasy, save one dud of a game against the Cowboys. He has 10+ half-PPR fantasy points and at least six targets in four of five games this year. He caught five of six targets for 76 yards in Week 5 and was the WR28.
Verdict: Start as WR3/flexes. The Bears are slightly above average against the pass, though both Samuel and McLaurin will see another week of increased targets with Thomas and Dotson sidelined.
RB Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and J.D. McKissic
This backfield is a headache.
Going into the season, it appeared that Robinson was trending towards becoming the feature back for Washington over Gibson, who has been struggling with ball security since last season. Gibson was the incumbent starter after Robinson was shot during the preseason, though his production and workload have been on the decline. He saw 64% of snaps in Week 1, 54% in Week 2, 44% in Week 3, 41% in Week 4 and 32% in Week 5. His best game fantasy-wise came in Week 1 where he rushed 14 times for 58 yards and caught seven passes for 72 yards.
Last week, Gibson rushed three times for six yards and caught three passes for 33 yards for a season-low four points in half-PPR scoring.
Robinson made his NFL debut in Week 5. He was on a pitch count and rushed nine times for 22 yards. It’s encouraging that Robinson saw just two fewer snaps than Gibson, though both were out-snapped by McKissic in the game.
Verdict: Sit all three if you can afford to. This has all the makings of a three-man committee, which was head coach Ron Rivera’s original vision prior to Robinson’s accident. I suspect that Robinson — who will probably be used liberally in goal-line packages — will eventually end up being the most valuable for fantasy of this group, though that may take some time. All three fall into the risky, low-end RB3 territory based on their shared workload in a game that will likely be low-scoring.
If I had to start one, it would be Robinson, as I suspect he will see work on early downs and at the goal line.
Bears Week 6 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
WR Darnell Mooney
Mooney has at least shown a pulse fantasy-wise in the last two weeks (which is more than we could say after Weeks 1 through 3). He caught four of five targets for 94 yards in Week 4 against the Giants (his lone double-digit fantasy performance this year) and caught two of five targets for 52 yards in Week 5 against the Vikings.
Mooney’s success is closely correlated to Justin Fields’ performance, which has ranged from lackluster to unwatchable this year. In fairness, last week was Fields’ best game of the year from an accuracy standpoint. He completed 15 of 21 attempts for 208 yards and a touchdown and could be on the upswing, though the lack of attempts will continue to limit Mooney’s upside. The Bears passing game still leaves a lot to the imagination and ranks dead last in both pass play percentage (39.85%) and passing yards per game (116.6).
Verdict: Sit this week. I have the suspicion that Mooney may end up becoming a flex option once again if Fields continues to improve, so I would continue to hang onto him if you have the roster space. The matchup is decent against the Commanders, whose defense ranks 29th in pass DVOA and has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers this year, but Mooney is just too risky to start in fantasy lineups except in the deepest of leagues.
RB Khalil Herbert
Herbert turned back into a pumpkin in Week 5 with David Montgomery returning from an ankle injury. He saw just four carries for 11 yards against the Vikings and has clearly been relegated back to his backup status. I had a moment of brief optimism that Herbert could carve out a standalone role in this offense. It turns out that Montgomery, when healthy, is the only trustworthy fantasy starter on this team. Herbert is merely a bench stash/insurance policy should Montgomery get hurt again.