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Bears vs. Commanders Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice (Week 5)

Bears vs. Commanders Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice (Week 5)

Every week, I’ll be writing a comprehensive primer on every NFL matchup and all of the relevant players, matchups, pace and playcalling notes, and injuries. It covers everything you need to know when setting your lineups. But since that article is massive and requires a full pot of coffee, we’re also going to offer these more focused matchup overviews to help you prepare for Thursday Night Football: Bears vs. Commanders.

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Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice

Chicago Bears vs. Washington Commanders

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Chicago remains slow and run heavy. The Bears have the fourth-slowest neutral pace and the fifth-highest neutral rushing rate.
  • Sam Howell leads the Commanders’ slow-and-throw attack. They have the fifth-slowest neutral pace while rocking the 11th-highest neutral passing rate.


Justin Fields: Fields had an immaculate game last week. He ranked third in passing grade, sixth in yards per attempt, and eighth in adjusted completion rate. Yes, I’m well aware, boo birds, that it was against the Denver Broncos. Everyone loves to trash on Fields and refuses to give him his flowers when he was surgical last week. The turnaround was massive, but it’s up in the air whether he can keep it up. We shall see this week. Fields had zero designed runs last week, so that has not changed. Luke Getsy still refuses to feature Fields’ rushing ability in 2023. How are Fields haters going to feel if he puts up back-to-back superb performances? The Commanders have not been a shutdown pass defense. They have allowed the 11th-highest yards per attempt and 13th-highest passer rating to passers while getting gashed by deep passing. Against deep throws, Washington has the sixth-highest passer rating, most deep passing yards, and the eighth-highest deep adjusted completion rate allowed. Fields has been money this year when chucking it deep. He has the third-highest deep passing grade, the most deep passing touchdowns (tied), and the fifth-highest deep adjusted completion rate. Week 5 Positional Value: QB1 with top-five upside this week

Sam Howell: The Sam Howell experience has been a rollercoaster, and that’s reflected in his metrics. Howell has the 13th-highest big-time throw rate and ranks eighth in adjusted completion rate while also having the 12th-lowest passing grade and the tenth-highest time to throw. Howell has struggled against zone coverage, which could loom large this week. The Bears have deployed their corners in zone on 62-73% of their snaps. Among 36 qualifying quarterbacks against zone coverage, Howell ranks 20th in yards per attempt, 30th in fantasy points per dropback, and he has a 1:5 passing touchdown to interception ratio. I don’t want to underrate just how bad the Chicago secondary has been, though. The Bears have allowed the second-highest yards per attempt, second-most passing touchdowns, and the fifth-highest adjusted completion rate. Howell is a dicey play this week, but the upside is there. Week 5 Positional Value: QB2 with upside

Running Backs

Khalil Herbert: The Bears shelved their two-back committee last week. We’ll see if that continues, but Herbert responded with a big game. He played a season-high 78% of the snaps with 22 touches and 122 total yards. Among 57 qualifying backs, Herbert ranks 12th in missed tackles forced per attempt and 23rd in explosive run rate. The Washington run defense can be exploited. While they have allowed the lowest missed tackles per attempt and have the seventh-lowest yards after contact per attempt, they also have given up the eighth-highest explosive run rate coupled with having the eighth-lowest stuff rate. Herbert should have a solid day in Week 5. Week 5 Positional Value: RB2 with RB1 upside

Roschon Johnson: Johnson has been downgraded to a handcuff or stash only. His snaps dropped to 22% last week as he handled only six touches, producing 15 total yards. I don’t know if Herbert continues to see a 70% or higher snap share weekly, but it could hold for at least a few games, as Chicago’s offense finally showed signs of life last week, and Herbert played well. Week 5 Positional Value: Handcuff only

Brian Robinson: Robinson has been Washington’s lead back with at least 52% of the snaps played in three of four games. He has averaged 16.6 touches and 79.1 total yards. Robinson’s pass-game involvement has been minimal, with a 24.9% route run per team dropback rate and a 5.0% target share. Among 57 qualifying running backs, Robinson ranks 14th in explosive run rate and 17th in yards after contact per attempt. I won’t lie. I didn’t think Robinson had that type of juice. The Chicago run defense is not a pushover like their secondary. The Bears have held rushers to the 12th-lowest explosive run rate while bolstering the eighth-highest stuff rate. They have also zone runs to the 13th-lowest yards per carry (Robinson 65.6% zone per Fantasy Points Data). Week 5 Positional Value: RB2/3

Antonio Gibson: Gibson has played less than 40% of the snaps in half of the games this season. He is averaging only 5.3 touches and 30.5 total yards. We could see Gibson’s workload ramped up some in this matchup. Gibson has a 7.1% target share and a 50.3% route run per team dropback rate. The Bears have been bottom of the barrel against receiving backs, allowing the most receiving yards and the most receiving touchdowns (tied). Week 5 Positional Value: RB3/4 with PPR upside

Wide Receivers

D.J. Moore: Moore has seen a 19.5% target share and a 42% air yard share while producing 2.17 yards per route run (YPRR). He has a 33.8% first-read share while leading the team in deep targets (third-most among wide receivers). Moore also leads the team with a 34% first-read share against zone coverage. Moore will run about 52% of routes against Emmanuel Forbes (72% catch rate and 124.2 passer rating). This is another ceiling spot for Moore this year. Week 5 Positional Value: WR2

Darnell Mooney: Mooney has a 9.8% target share with a 13.4% air yard share. With Chase Claypool out of the lineup last week, Mooney saw an 11.4% target share. He is second on the team in deep targets, with a distant three to Moore’s nine. Mooney will run about 62% of his routes against Benjamin St. Juste (80% catch rate and 97.8 passer rating). Week 5 Positional Value: WR5

Terry McLaurin: McLaurin has an 18.6% target share and a 27.3% air yard share as the WR39 in fantasy. He leads the team’s starters with a 26.4% first read share and 1.51 YPRR (tied). McLaurin has yet to see a red zone target, which is eye-opening. Against zone coverage, McLaurin’s target share climbs to a team-leading 20.7% with 1.92 YPRR and a 27.9% first-read share. McLaurin will run about 80% of his routes against Terell Smith (41.7% catch rate and 67.0 passer rating) and Tyrique Stevenson (76.5% catch rate and 149.8 passer rating). Week 5 Positional Value: WR3

Jahan Dotson: Dotson has commanded a 17.1% target share and a 20.0% air yard share. Overall, he has a 19.8% first read share while tying for the team lead with four red zone targets. Against zone coverage, his target share has increased to 19.6% with a 24.8% air yard share. Dotson has been a ghost this season. He hasn’t had more than 40 receiving yards in any game this year. It’s difficult to trust him in lineups at this point, but the matchup this week is pretty juicy. Doston will run about 50% of his routes against Greg Stroman (career: 74.6% catch rate and 108.9 passer rating). Week 5 Positional Value: WR4

Curtis Samuel: Samuel has a disappointing 14.3% target share with 1.51 YPRR and a meh-level 6.3 aDOT. Against zone, his target share has seen a small uptick to 15.2%, but his YPRR has dipped to 1.32. Samuel is tied for third on the team in red zone targets. He will run about 68% of his routes against Stroman. Week 5 Positional Value: WR5

Tight Ends

Cole Kmet: After a monster Week 4, Kmet is now the TE5 in fantasy points per game. This is a reflection upon the sad state of the tight end position this season. Kmet is second on the team with an 18.7% target share and an 18.3% first-read share. Last week without Claypool, Kmet stepped up as the clear number two option in the passing game with a 25.0% target share and a 25% first-read share (both second on the team). Kmet leads the team in red zone targets. Washington has been a brutal matchup for tight ends, allowing the third-fewest receiving yards and the lowest fantasy points per game for tight ends. Week 5 Positional Value: Borderline TE1

Logan Thomas: Thomas returned from a concussion to play 79% of Washington’s offensive snaps while posting a 74% route run per team dropback rate. Thomas only had a 7.3% target share, but he drew a 22.6% target share and a 24.5% air yard share in Week 1. Among 33 qualifying tight ends, Thomas ranks 19th in receiving grade and YPRR. Chicago has allowed the ninth-most receptions and the 14th-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Thomas could flirt with TE1 production this week. Week 5 Positional Value: TE2 with TE1 upside

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*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and unless otherwise specified.*

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