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Fantasy playoffs hinge on Saints-Bears: MNF preview

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Stop me if you've heard this before...Your entire fantasy season comes down to one Monday Night Football game. The New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears will duke it out under the lights at Soldier Field to wrap up Week 15. To make things interesting there's rain in the forecast for this one which could have more of an impact on the Saints since they're used to playing in the Superdome. Neither team boasts a solid defense which bodes well for the offenses and in turn, the fantasy potential here. So buckle up and get ready to start biting your nails!

As usual, the #MondayNightmare submissions will be flowing so make sure you tweet all of your woes to @adamrank, he'll be there to console you along the way and you might see your tweet in his recap on Tuesday morning.

Let's get to the player breakdown.

Saints:


Drew Brees, QB

Brees had his lowest scoring fantasy game last week with just 12.00 points when his owners needed him the most. But in his two games prior he threw for a combined 677 yards and eight touchdowns in two great matchups against the Steelers and Ravens. On the season the Bears have allowed 19.95 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks so it's safe to say that Brees has a favorable matchup on Monday night. He should be able to bounce back in a big way under the lights at Soldier Field.

Mark Ingram, RB

Ingram tied a season low for rush attempts last week with just 10 in a game where the Saints fell behind early, so it's not a surprise that they didn't take a run-heavy approach. And although he hasn't scored in his last five games, he's been able to collect at least 100 rushing yards in four of his last seven. A matchup against the Bears bodes well for Ingram's fantasy potential on Monday night as Chicago has allowed four rushing touchdowns and over 400 total yards to running backs in their last two games.

Jimmy Graham, TE

Graham has not been performing the way his fantasy owners need him to in the fantasy playoffs. It's an extremely frustrating situation as he has caught just three balls in the last two games. Last week, he was targeted 11 times but only totaled 25 yards. There have been some reports saying that the shoulder injury that affected Graham earlier in the season is still keeping him from performing at his highest level. Still, with the tight end position an absolute mess in fantasy, there's no way you bench Graham. A matchup against the Bears couldn't get any more appealing as heading into Week 15 no team in the NFL had allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than Chicago.

Marques Colston, WR

Colston led the Saints in receiving last week with five catches for 72 yards which says a lot about how badly New Orleans struggled on offense. In standard scoring leagues, Colston has only posted two double-digit fantasy games the entire season, but has scored touchdowns in two of his last three. The Bears have allowed 411 receiving yards and four touchdowns to wide receivers in the last two weeks so the matchup is a favorable one if you need something to hang your hat on when it comes to starting Colston on Monday night.

Kenny Stills, WR

After a string of three games with good fantasy production, Stills stalled in Week 14 with just three catches for 23 yards. He has a favorable matchup on Monday night against a Bears defense that has allowed 32.55 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts over the last two weeks and should see enough work to warrant a fantasy start at the flex position in Week 15.

Pierre Thomas, RB

Thomas hasn't been very valuable in fantasy since he returned from a shoulder injury in Week 12. But not all of that is on him. The Saints have been pass-heavy in two of their last three games and there just hasn't been enough running back work for Thomas to take advantage of. But in a game against a soft Bears defense, there could be more to go around. Still, Thomas should only be used in the deepest of PPR leagues until we see him getting more involved.

Bears:


Jay Cutler, QB

Cutler posted a solid fantasy outing in Week 14 against Dallas with three total touchdowns (one rushing) and 341 passing yards. His game log since Week 7 shows extreme inconsistency and he lost one of his most talented pass-catchers in Brandon Marshall last week. But he still has Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Marquess Wilson and Matt Forte to sling the rock to. The Bears have had some extra time to prepare for this game since they last played two Thursday nights ago. Plus, heading into Week 15 no team has allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than the Saints in the last four weeks. Fantasy owners shouldn't be worried about Cutler on Monday night.

Matt Forte, RB

Forte salvaged his Week 14 fantasy total with a late touchdown but a lost fumble and a mere 26 rushing yards were not what his owners were looking for in the fantasy playoffs. Still he managed 16.00 points in standard leagues which was acceptable. Forte has been oddly underused with just 18 carries combined in his last two games. The Bears would be smart to lean on him on Monday night against a Saints defense that has allowed 970 total yards and four total touchdowns to running backs over the last four weeks. It could be a huge Monday night for Forte.

Alshon Jeffery, WR

With Brandon Marshall out for the season, Jeffery's value gets a boost as the clear-cut No. 1 option in the Bears' passing game. Jeffery has scored at least one touchdown in four straight games now and has six touchdowns in his last six contests. He'll be a no-brainer WR1 on Monday night against a Saints defense that has allowed 25.49 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts this season.

Martellus Bennett, TE

Bennett has gotten hot just when fantasy owners needed him the most. In his last two games he has totaled 195 yards and a touchdown and has seen a ridiculous 26 targets. With Marshall out he could get even more volume in the passing game especially against a Saints defense that has allowed three touchdowns to the tight end position in the last four weeks. Bennett is locked in as a TE1 on Monday night.

Marquess Wilson, WR

Wilson is expected to be started in place of Brandon Marshall which gives him immediate value for the fantasy playoffs. Cutler wasn't afraid to go to the rookie in Week 14 targeting him on a couple of deep balls and some short passes over the middle. With over a week to prepare for this Monday night bout, Wilson has had ample time to get the timing down on some routes that might otherwise be run by Marshall. This might just be the rookie's coming out party against a Saints' defense that has played poorly against receivers all season.


Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_franciscovich.

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