The Breakdown: Bears/Redskins
This is a dangerous game. On the one hand, you have to believe Washington is thoroughly worn down by the Sean Taylor situation and coach Joe Gibbs' unfamiliarity with the rulebook that helped the team drop its fourth straight on Sunday. On the other hand, on an emotional national TV (sort of) night, you never know if the team will rise up. Plus there are injury questions, injury returns, sagging defenses and subfreezing temperatures to contend with. I think the Redskins will run well, and the Bears will throw well. I think. But what a mess for the first game of your fantasy playoffs.
Fantasy Up: I'm going way out on a limb here and saying that my favorite fantasy player in this game is Bernard Berrian. He's a way to buy into a suddenly surging Bears pass attack without actually having to start the mercurial quarterback (more on him in a minute). While Berrian has only half the touchdowns he amassed in 2006 (six in '06, three in '07), he's already eclipsed his targets, catches and yardage from his breakout 2006 season. Plus, Washington's secondary is understandably down right now. ... Despite his limited success rushing against the Giants, Adrian Peterson makes a pretty good No. 2 running back, primarily because he's so devastating catching the ball. He had seven receptions for 82 yards in Week 13. ... As of this writing, it is unclear whether Clinton Portis' ankle will allow him to play (he came out of the Buffalo game in the fourth quarter). Washington expects guard Randy Thomas back and will pound Chicago's suspect D. I thoroughly expect more than 100 yards rushing from the Redskins, but the problem is: Who gets them? Ladell Betts may partake if Portis isn't right.
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Fantasy Down: Need any more proof that the Bears' defense isn't very good? Up by 10 points against the Giants, Chicago allowed scoring drives of 75 and 77 yards in the fourth quarter. Chicago couldn't stop New York's run plays without putting eight men in the box, and without corner Nathan Vasher (he's out again in Week 14), that's a truly dangerous game. Adewale Ogunleye forced two fumbles in Week 13, but I'd still sit this unit if I could. Same with the 'Skins D. ... There's an argument to be made that Rex Grossman makes a sneaky fantasy start Thursday night, but I'm not going to make it. Listen, Grossman racked up racked up 296 passing yards and 15 fantasy points against the Giants after looking tremendous in the fourth quarter against Denver. But trusting Rex in the fantasy playoffs takes larger stones than I've got. ... I'd also be tempted by Jason Campbell, but he was disappointing (21-of-37 for 216 yards, no scores and a pick) against Buffalo, and again, he's too risky with everything on the line. ... Maybe the Desmond Clark/Greg Olsen split was for the best after all. By now, you're not relying heavily on either one, and the Bears just aren't using tight ends as much with Brian Griese on the bench.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.
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