Packers vs. Bears Fantasy Advice: Start Jay Cutler, Bench Jarrett Boykin

Dilip Vishwanat

In the NFC North Championship game, most of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears playing will help you quite a bit in your Week 17 fantasy match-ups (not that you should be playing them).

I have not played in a fantasy league that played a Week 17 title game in nearly decade until last year. It was one that a friend of mine asked me to be in at the last second, and I actually drafted it while acting as commissioner for six other online Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) drafts at the same time.

It didn't matter. I flat-out crushed that league. I only lost one game all year (when I was missing six starters to bye weeks), and cruised to the championship game...in Week 17. You can guess what happened next. Many of my studs were benched because their NFL teams weren't playing for anything. And the guy I am playing happened to draft guys on average teams who were still playing for something. The result? I got destroyed 174-89.

The commissioner sheepishly gave me my second place winnings and even apologized to me because he said I obviously had the best team all season. I smiled, shrugged and just said, "Hey--that's fantasy." What could I say? When you let playoff seedings poison your Week 17 match-up, you're tempting fate.

Think of all the owners of Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs defense that have barnstormed their way to their league championship game. Now with the Chiefs expected to sit starters after a couple series, those owners can't afford to play Charles and the Chiefs D. Imagine enjoying the spoils of getting Charles on your squad all season and now having to decide between him and Matt Asiata for all the marbles this week.

It stinks. It's no way to decide a fantasy season. And despite stuff like this happening every year, people still have Week 17 fantasy championships. Make the change for 2014 now people--your league will love you for it. Now it's onto my love for virtually every skill player in this week's Packers-Bears game.

QUARTERBACKS

I don't want to write a lot of what you've read already about Aaron Rodgers, but I am VERY concerned with his long-term health if he takes another hit on that collarbone. I don't think Green Bay has a good enough defense to win on the road in Carolina, New Orleans or Seattle, so what's the point? If this sets the franchise back the better part of the decade, it might be the defining mark of Ted Thompson's, Mike McCarthy's and Rodgers' enduring legacies. I hope I'm wrong, believe me. That said, neither of these defenses will stop either quarterback this week. If you have Rodgers or Jay Cutler, play them with confidence.

Rodgers: 330 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, 15 rushing yards
Verdict: Start in every league

Cutler: 300 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 10 rushing yards
Verdict: Start in every league

RUNNING BACKS

Everyone knows my crazy Eddie Lacy love, but I actually like Matt Forte more than him this week. Forte is going to catch more passes, and Cutler always seems to hit him in open space where he can take it the rest of the way. Lacy will have a big day, too, but James Starks is great when he doesn't have to find the hole himself. There will be truck-sized holes for the Green Bay backs to run through Sunday, so I expect Starks to be worked in a couple of extra series than he normally would to keep a banged-up Lacy fresh in the fourth quarter.

Lacy: 120 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 3 catches, 25 yards
Verdict: Start in every league

Starks: 45 rushing yards, 1 catch, 10 yards
Verdict: Start only as a desperation flex (I'd play him over Charles, for instance.)

Forte: 95 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 6 catches, 35 yards
Verdict: Start in every league

Michael Bush: 20 rushing yards
Verdict: Bench in every league

WIDE RECEIVERS

Randall Cobb is the monkey wrench being thrown into my projections here. For the basis of my article, I am actually going to assume Green Bay brings him back off of short-term IR Saturday, and he plays limited snaps Sunday. But they won't be so limited that they won't have an impact on Jarrett Boykin's performance. There won't be enough balls to go around--even in this juicy match-up--for four start-able Packers wideouts. So be wary of trotting out Cobb and Boykin. As far as the Bears go, you're playing Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The fact that Earl Bennett is expected to miss this game due to personal reasons just cements those two in your lineup all the more.

Jordy Nelson: 7 catches, 110 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in every league

James Jones: 6 catches, 80 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Boykin: 4 catches, 45 yards
Verdict: Start only as a desperation flex in 12-team PPR leagues

Cobb: 2 catches, 25 yards
Verdict: Bench in nearly every league

Marshall: 8 catches, 110 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in every league

Jeffery: 7 catches, 85 yards, 1 touchdown
Verdict: Start in every league

TIGHT ENDS

I honestly have a tough time projecting this position for Green Bay. I think Rodgers is going to trust his wideouts more than his tight ends. Maybe Andrew Quarless gets a couple of red zone looks because he's been better than average there with Flynn. But my feeling is that Rodgers is going to ignore the tight end position by and large (similar to how he did with Jermichael Finley for several stretches). So you probably won't win your fantasy title starting a Packers tight end. You might however come out on top with a Bears tight end. Martellus Bennett has disappointed me a lot the second half of the season, but with no Earl Bennett running those short routes, it leaves more targets for the Black Unicorn. I like him this week.

Quarless: 3 catches, 30 yards
Verdict: Start as a TE2 otherwise bench in all leagues

Bennett: 6 catches, 55 yards
Verdict: Start in all PPR leagues

KICKERS

Fresh off of his extension, you know that Robbie Gould will be out to prove that he deserves it. (You deserve it, Robbie.) I think he has a good game here and should be in all lineups for the shootout potential. Same goes for Mason Crosby. He has redeemed himself this year and should be started until further notice.

Crosby: 1 field goal, 4 extra points
Verdict: Start in all leagues

Gould: 2 field goals, 3 extra points
Verdict: Start in all leagues

DEFENSES

I am only writing this section of the article because I am contractually obligated. Don't go near either of these units this week. Both of them are lacking playmakers and are dinged-up as is. The offenses will rule the roost this game, and if you play either of these squads, well, you deserve whatever you get.

Packers: 1 interception, 2 sacks, 425 yards allowed, 27 points allowed
Verdict: Bench in every league

Bears: 1 interception, 3 sacks, 505 yards allowed, 31 points allowed
Verdict: Bench in every league

On a personal note, I had fun writing this column, reading your comments and interacting with you all season long. Thanks for beating me up when I was wrong so I kept it real. And for my mom--thanks for giving me the one compliment I received all season when you said you were proud of the Internet hiring me. I'll catch the rest of you on Twitter.

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