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Bears vs. Steelers Week 9 Monday Night Football Showdown Game Breakdown and NFL DFS Picks

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Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Week 9 Monday Night Football. Here we will provide a quick overview of the game’s key storylines and highlight some of the key insights from Awesemo’s world-class suite of tools to find the best NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS picks today for the Week 9 Bears vs. Steelers Monday Night Football matchup.

For more NFL DFS Showdown picks, check out EMac’s Week 9 Monday Night Football Showdown Spotlight for Bears vs. Steelers tonight.

Week 9 Monday Night Football NFL DFS Showdown Picks

The 3-5 Bears travel to Pittsburgh for an inter-conference clash between two of the oldest franchises in football. The Bears have had a disappointing start to their season. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields is struggling to find his rhythm, while the backfield and defensive units have dealt with myriad injuries over the season’s first eight weeks. The Steelers are far less potent offensively than in previous seasons and have a negative-10 point differential. However, they are quietly clinging to the sixth seed in their conference and can pull within one game of the Ravens in the tumultuous AFC North with a victory tonight. With a 39-point Vegas total, one of the lowest over/unders of the NFL this season, it may be a defensive-minded, run-oriented, mistake-prone slog. At initial glance, it seems like a good slate to be over the field on both defenses.

Najee Harris’ Slate-High Salary Is Worth Paying

Harris is by far the safest play on the slate, ranking first in the NFL in opportunity share and second in weighted opportunities. Harris 3.14 red-zone touches per game rank 12th in the NFL. Harris has proven to be an effective checkdown option for Ben Roethlisberger, ranking first among running backs in route participation rate (75.5%), resulting in the second-most routes run by any back in the NFL. Though the Bears allow the eighth-fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to the running back position, Harris is a near-lock for 20 touches, and it is not at all unreasonable to project him for more than 25 opportunities. With that guaranteed workload in mind, Harris is a lock for cash games and has the highest probability of being the optimal captain play on DraftKings and the optimal MVP on FanDuel.

Bet on Pittsburgh Passing Game in Tournaments

Through the first eight weeks, Steelers wide receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool have combined to earn 50.5% of the team’s targets and a staggeringly high 75.4% of the team’s air yards. Both have already seen five-plus targets inside the red zone this year and are the only two Steelers skill players (besides Harris) to play on more than 60% of the team’s offensive snaps. Johnson has a solid 11.1% chance of being the optimal Captain play on DraftKings and a whopping 13% chance of being the top MVP play on FanDuel, which ranks second among all players. However, his expected ownership is creeping up, pushing his leverage score in the Top Plays Tool into the negative. With a fantastic ceiling projection, he is still an excellent tournament play on both sites, though playing him requires getting contrarian elsewhere. Johnson almost certainly will see more targets than Claypool, but Claypool’s leverage score is slightly positive, indicating his chance of being in the optimal lineup outpaces his projected ownership. With Chicago allowing the seventh-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing receivers, both Johnson and Claypool have double-digit-target upside in this spot.

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Justin Fields Is the Only Solid Bet on the Bears

Justin Fields has undoubtedly struggled as a passer since taking over the starting quarterback job from Andy Dalton earlier this season. Fields has yet to throw for more than 209 yards in a game this season and has logged four straight games between 110 and 175 yards through the air, which gives the Bears passing attack an abysmal outlook against the Steelers’ top-tier defense. At the very least, Fields showed off his speed last weekend, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown and propelling him to his first top-five quarterback finish in fantasy scoring. Fields will likely need to run a lot and score multiple times to be the optimal Captain play, but that is a possibility in a one-game sample. Fields is one of just four players on FanDuel with double-digit probability of being the optimal MVP, making him a solid play in both cash games and tournaments on that platform. On DraftKings Fields’ $10,400 salary is too high to justify tacking on the 1.5x multiplier considering his low floor, making him a much stronger Flex play than Captain option.


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Every Bears Skill Position Player Falls Is a Punt Play

On the Pittsburgh side, there are two clear top options and two clear auxiliary options worth rostering: Pat Freiermuth and James Washington. On the Chicago side, every single player has proverbial warts on their profile. With the Bears activating David Montgomery from injured reserve, it is anyone’s guess how the backfield will be split between Montgomery and rookie Khalil Herbert. Herbert thoroughly outplayed Damien Williams, but he comes into this game with lower-leg injuries. Montgomery’s $13,000 salary on FanDuel is impossible to justify, but on DraftKings Montgomery’s $8,400 salary is $600 less than Claypool’s and is at least an interesting tournament pivot with a better floor and ceiling projection than any of the Bears receiving weapons. Allen Robinson has been reduced to a supporting role, earning five targets or fewer in five of his last seven games and never topping 63 yards receiving. Darnell Mooney flashed earlier this year and has a somewhat tantalizing $6,400 salary on DraftKings. He has seen much more opportunity, earning five-plus targets in five straight games and seven-plus in three of those five. Mooney has the highest leverage score of any skill player on the slate but still has just a 36.3% probability of being in the optimal lineup.

The Bottom Line

This would be a disastrous loss for Pittsburgh, who has the talent to dominate this matchup from start to finish. But Roethlisberger’s uninspiring play continues to put much of the burden of winning on the defensive unit, which remains one of the strongest in the league, though not quite as dominant as in 2020. The Bears offense ranks among the weakest units in the league, bottom 10 in PFF team grade and bottom three in EPA per play, so unless there is a significant boost in play from Fields, it is hard to imagine Chicago topping 20 points. Even the 2021 Steelers should be able to outpace Chicago, though they likely will get there in spurts and sputters. It might not be a pretty win, but the Steelers will ultimately take this one, moving to 5-3 on the season.

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Week 9 Monday Night Football Prediction: Steelers 26, Bears 19


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Take a look at our NFL lineups, inactives list and depth charts. View our FanDuel NFL DFS rankings and our DraftKings NFL DFS rankings. We also have FanDuel Single-Game slate tools and single-game ownership projections. If you’re interested in other DFS NFL advice for multiple game slates, head over to NFL ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, DFS NFL rankings, and DFS NFL stacking.

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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