Our weekly look at the Ravens' matchup from a fantasy football perspective...
Torrey Smith snapped a four-game scoreless streak with a touchdown last week, finishing with five receptions for 46 yards. Now the burner faces a Bears defense without top corner Charles Tillman, but also potentially fierce winds in the Windy City. In Week 10 against the Lions, Chicago allowed three touchdowns to wide receivers (Calvin Johnson is good).
Considering the Bears secondary issues, Marlon Brown is a worthy WR3 flyer, the 6-foot-4 target has topped 65 receiving yards once since the season opener. Considering only two teams are on a bye this week, most owners should have better options. That certainly is the case for tight end Dallas Clark, who has five receptions for 24 yards over the last three games, though he's managed two touchdowns.
*Marlon Brown ruled inactive. Bump up Jacoby Jones, but we're still talking a deep league play especially with weather concerns.
Ray Rice hasn't topped 75 rushing yards all season. Ray Rice hasn't averaged better than 3.4 yards per carry in any game this season. Ray Rice has 47 yards on 29 carries over the last two games. Ray Rice hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5. Nothing just mentioned justifies starting Ray Rice.
Hauling in 22 receptions over the last five games does a little for those in PPR, but the yardage totals have been blah. The best note for Rice owners this week comes not from the Ravens lead back but the Bears defense. Over its last four games, Chicago has allowed 537 yards on the ground along with seven touchdowns. Rice may never find his way this season thanks to a nagging hip injury, but the matchup makes him a Flex worthy option and a RB2 for those without obvious top-20 plays.
As for Bernard Pierce, Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh gave indications this week that he'll use the hot hand approach. For all of Rice's issues, Pierce is averaging only 2.8 yards per carry. Perhaps a steady diet of touches boosts his average, but don't bet on that when setting Week 11 lineups.
For thoughts on Joe Flacco, we turn to Rotoworld's Evan Silva: "Already scraping the barrel at 26th in yards allowed and 25th in points, the Bears lost top CB Charles Tillman (triceps) this week to injured reserve. Chicago offers Joe Flacco an inviting matchup because it can't pressure the passer and is now shorthanded in the back end. With multiple touchdown throws in three of his last four outings, Flacco is worth a look as a desperation QB1 streamer.
The defense and the kicker
The Ravens defense are coming off their best fantasy effort since week 3 thanks to three interceptions and five sacks against Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. On the surface, such a performance seems unlikely against Chicago. Quarterback Josh McCown has played beyond the level of a mere fill-in. Jay Cutler's backup has four touchdowns on 70 attempts without throwing an interception. Meanwhile, the Bears offensive line has kept their quarterbacks upright most of the season, allowing 14 sacks in 10 games. As for kicker Justin Tucker, he's booted 16 consecutive field goals after making two against the Bengals. Better bet he produces starter numbers than any other fantasy option on the roster.
On the other side...
McCown's downfield passing has kept Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at their respective WR1 and WR2 levels. Tight end Martellus Bennett is a bit more suspect, especially against a Bears defense that has allowed the fourth fewest receptions (3.67 per game) to tight ends this season. After a strong start this season, Bennett posted 9-72-1 over the last three games. The tight end field is suspect outside the top 7-8 options, so start Bennett if needed, especially in non-PPR formats.
In addition to CSNwashington duties covering the Wizards, Hoyas and the college basketball scene, Ben writes about and ranks fantasy football players for FFToolbox.com, rated the most accurate site for the 2012 season.