Justin Fields named starter for Chicago Bears ahead of Week 3 matchup with Cleveland Browns | NFL and NCAA Betting Picks | PFF

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Justin Fields named starter for Chicago Bears ahead of Week 3 matchup with Cleveland Browns

Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs off the field after their 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The timeline for rookie quarterback Justin Fields to start for the Chicago Bears has been accelerated.

Fields will start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, head coach Matt Nagy announced Wednesday.

Quarterback Andy Dalton, who started Chicago’s first two games of the season, is “still battling through” the bone bruise in his knee suffered Week 2 in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Nagy said Wednesday.

The Bears traded up to take Fields No. 8 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s 8-of-15 for 70 yards with one interception and has carried the ball 11 times for 34 yards with a rushing touchdown in two games.

Nagy reiterated Wednesday that Dalton will continue to start when healthy. Dalton is “week to week” with the injury. Veteran Nick Foles will serve as Fields’ backup in Week 3.

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BETTING IMPACT

Bettors warming to Bears: Justin Fields' elevation to the starting role dropped the hook on Chicago's Week 3 matchup, moving the spread down to a touchdown. PFF Greenline showed value on the old spread but finds consensus with the current number. The total dropped 1.5 points despite cash and ticket percentages heavily on the over.  Fields starting adds a variance element that most likely favors targeting the over. Click here for PFF Greenline’s cover probabilities for side, total and moneyline.

Boost to pass-catchers: Fields was the most accurate college quarterback of the PFF College era and projects as an upgrade to everyone but David Montgomery. Target Allen Robinson II or Darnell Mooney to go over their player prop numbers, as they look to keep up with the Browns' third-ranked offense on Sunday. 

 PFF Greenline uses exclusive game and player data to make projections on NFL game spreads, moneyline, and over/under.

FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPACT

Fields is a Top-12 option for Week 3: The first-year quarterback accounted for 21% of the Bears' designed-rush plays and scrambled on 19% of his pass dropbacks in Week 2. Even if he is a complete dud in the passing game, his rushing floor is insanely high. If does uncork a few touchdown throws, he could push towards the top eight. Think Jalen Hurts. Click here for PFF's Week 3 fantasy football rankings.

Upgrade for David Montgomery but downgrade for Damien Williams: Montgomery hasn't been that involved in the passing game, so Fields' legs won't hurt his value. However, they could create more space off different designed rushing looks, similar to what the Ravens running backs experience. Williams wasn't holding much stand-alone value except in deeper formats, but his work in the passing game takes a hit with a scrambler now calling the shots. Click here for PFF's Week 3 fantasy football projections.

Slight upgrade for the receiving corps: Allen Robinson II has been a dud thus far — WR56 in PPR — with Andy Dalton, so the change can't hurt. We could see more deep shots to Darnell Mooney as Fields is willing to hold the ball longer than most. PFF's WR/CB Matchup Chart is a fantasy football tool that you can use to help you set the best lineups. You can toggle between showing the Matchup Advantage column against all projected coverage or the individual defenders. Click here for access.

NFL IMPACT

The Bears' passing offense lacked any semblance of explosiveness with Andy Dalton behind center. Only 3.9% of their pass plays have resulted in a gain of 15 or more yards through the first two weeks of this season — last in the NFL. It's reasonable to expect growing pains with Fields as the starter behind a makeshift offensive line.

Justin Fields' performance during preseason and weeks 1 and 2
Week Snaps PFF Grade
PFF Grade Rank
Preseason Wk. 1 33 64.0 44th of 84
Preseason Wk. 2 38 64.8 36th of 80
Preseason Wk. 3 21 69.5 21st of 69
Week 1 5 68.0 20th of 37
Week 2 42 51.6 32nd of 37

That showed at times in the preseason, as Fields was under pressure on nearly half of his dropbacks (47%) with the highest time to throw of any quarterback (3.5 seconds). But his ability to create with his legs and his downfield accuracy gives Chicago a better chance to pick up chunk plays in the passing game.

The only two FBS quarterbacks with a lower uncatchable pass rate on throws past the first-down marker than Fields across his final two seasons at Ohio State were Mac Jones and Joe Burrow. That likely means more opportunities to make plays downfield for Allen Robinson, among others.

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