Bears

Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 13

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Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 13

Injuries suck.

There's no way around it. You can have a fantastic draft, make all the right moves on the waiver wire and in trades and yet still wind up with a terrible team just based on injuries alone.

You can't predict who is going to get hurt or when. All you can do is curl up in a ball and cry...and of course, stay active on the waiver wire.

Lose Le'Veon Bell? That sucks, but go pick up DeAngelo Williams. Lose Andrew Luck? We're sorry, but go out and get Blake Bortles. Pick your head up and move on.

No matter the injuries you've been hit with, take solace in one fact: At least you're not a Browns fan. (And if you are a Browns fan, we're so, so sorry. Seriously. We feel bad for you.)

 

While we're at it, be grateful you're not a ref right now, either:

Alright, on to this week's top waiver targets:

1. David Johnson, RB, ARI

Finally. He's been teasing us all year with somewhat low yardage totals but showing ways to find the end zone. Now, he has the backfield all to himself. Chris Johnson is likely out for some time with a broken tibia while Andre Ellington is battling some turf toe. It's not a pretty matchup this week against the Rams defense but Johnson has shown he's a major threat in the passing game. With Johnson likely to see a lot of playing time the rest of the year, he's a must-add this week. (Paschall)

2. Scott Chandler, TE, NE

Chandler had just 23 targets in 10 games played before Sunday night's loss to the Broncos, but he is suddenly shooting up wavier claims list. Rob Gronkowski is slated to miss at least one game with a knee injury, which means Chandler is suddenly a must-start in that Patriots offense, even with a bad matchup against an Eagles team that defends TEs well. Chandler caught five of his 11 targets Sunday for 58 yards and a TD against the top pass defense in the NFL and even though he's far less talented than Gronk, he's still one of the only reliable options left for Tom Brady on a depleted offense. (Tony Andracki)

[Check out CSN's complete Fantasy Football coverage]

3. Julius Thomas, TE, JAC

Somehow, Thomas is only owned in 60 percent of ESPN leagues. Thomas has recorded 5+ catches and a TD in each of his last two games and has finally overcome his slow start to emerge as a solid option in a rising offense led by Blake Bortles. (Andracki)

4. Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA

This might be the start of a beautiful relationship between fantasy owners and Baldwin. While Jimmy Graham's injury may have some impact on guys like Luke Willson, it's now clear Baldwin is the best option in the Seahawks passing attack, and it's not really close. As much as we all love Thomas Rawls, he doesn't do much out of the backfield, leaving Fred Jackson as the best option there. Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse will do some battling for targets, but neither has gone over 100 yards receiving in a game yet this year. Baldwin has 19 catches in the last three games and four touchdowns. He's a quality waiver get this week if he's still available. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

5. Spencer Ware, RB, KC

Ware posted back-to-back huge games in relief of Charcandrick West and has become a must-own. Regardless of who the starting Chiefs back is this year, they've proved to be a valuable fantasy commodity, so even the unknown Ware has become a top start option at RB each week. If West is healthy, he's the starter and Ware is not worth putting in your lineup, but hamstrings are notoriously finicky, so there's no guarantee West will be good to go this week. (Andracki)

6. Shaun Draughn, RB, SF

Like Ware, Draughn has gone from unknown to lead back and fantasy option. The journeyman back - who was in camp with the Bears last year - had never been even worth owning in fantasy until four weeks ago. But with Reggie Bush out for the year and Carlos Hyde still haunted by a foot injury, Darughn has received 60 touches over the last three games. He hasn't scored and is averaged less than 3.5 yards per carry, but Draughn is helpful in PPR leagues (he has at least four catches in each of the last three games) until Hyde gets back. (Andracki)

7. Dontrelle Inman, WR, SD

When Keenan Allen went down for the season, everybody assumed Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd would be the two Chargers receivers to own. While Johnson has been as good as advertised, Floyd has one catch his last three games while Inman has racked up 19 targets, 11 catches, 144 yards and a TD in that span. He's not a must-start (especially against Denver this week), but Inman's arrow is clearly pointing up and he could become a solid contributor in the fantasy playoffs on one of the most pass-happy offenses in the league. (Andracki)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

8. Luke Willson, TE, SEA

Jimmy Graham is done for the year, which means Luke Willson is suddenly the No. 1 tight end. He's not a great receiver and certainly not worth starting, but if you're desperate at TE, he's an option. Willson is capable of a big game (as Week 16 proved last season when he went for 3 rec, 139 yds and 2 TDs). Gamble on him at your own risk. (Andracki)

9-11. J.J. Nelson (ARI), Seth Roberts (OAK), DeVante Parker (MIA), WR

These rookie wide receivers are probably not worth starting right away, but they're perfect stash guys for this season (or next year if you're in a keeper league). All three have come on lately. Nelson has earned 15 targets over his last three games, emerging as a deep threat in the NFL's top offense. Roberts had a huge Week 12 (6 rec, 113 yds, 2 TD) and now has as many TDs as his fellow Raiders rookie Amari Cooper (4). Parker took advantage of garbage time with four catches for 80 yards and a tuddie and he figures to get a lot more snaps and looks with Rishard Matthews now injured. Pick these guys up if you have the roster space and if you don't, at least keep an eye on these rookies as the season moves on. (Andracki)

For Bears drafting at No. 8, the 'problem' with Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson is...

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USA TODAY

For Bears drafting at No. 8, the 'problem' with Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson is...

In the aptly-named mock drafts to this point, this reporter has posited the Bears selecting Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. That’s not the complete story, however. There’s a “problem.”

The landscape: The Bears currently sit at No. 8 overall; Nelson is rated among the best prospects, regardless of position, in the 2018; Nelson is the consensus top offensive lineman in this draft; the Bears have an immediate need on the interior of their offensive line (at guard or center, depending upon where where the new coaching staff slots Cody Whitehair); and among the prime directives for GM Ryan Pace is the protection of franchise quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

And full disclosure: This reporter does see Nelson to the Bears, just not at No. 8, and presumably if the Bears do not address the post-Josh Sitton situation in free agency.

But there’s a problem. A couple, actually, and having nothing to do specifically with Nelson.

The “problem” centers (no pun intended) around his position: Guard.

Guards do not typically come off the board within the first 10 picks of drafts. Worse for guards, when they do, they don’t work out well. In the last five drafts, only two guards were selected within the first 10 picks, both in the 2013 draft, both (Jonathan Cooper, No. 7; Chance Warmack, No. 10) already undistinguished and both already on their second teams.

Great guards are indeed to be found in first rounds. But relevant NFL history says that they do not come early. Selectively, to wit:

Player Drafted Year
David DeCastro 24 2012
Alan Faneca* 26 1998
Steve Hutchinson* 17 2001
Kyle Long 20 2013
Zack Martin 16 2014

* 2017 Hall of Fame semifinalist

Meaning: Assuming the Bears do not spend starter money in free agency on the like of Andrew Norwell, Justin Pugh, Zach Fulton or (insert UFA name here). Parenthetically on the draft-value aspect of good guards, Norwell was undrafted, Pugh was the 2013 pick just ahead Long, as a tackle, and Fulton was a sixth-rounder.

Pace predilections: “stat” players

Pace is in desperate need of impact players in both the draft and free agency. A guard is simply not in the “impact” vein as Pace’s first three No. 1 draft picks, all top-10’ers and all with something in common that a guard does not bring: stats.

Stats themselves aren’t the point, and an elite offensive lineman contributes to the stats of everyone else on his unit. But 2015 No. 1 Kevin White is a wide receiver; they catch passes and score touchdowns. Pace’s 2016 No. 1 was a rush-linebacker who generates sacks; Leonard Floyd. And 2017 No. 1 was Mitch Trubisky. All players with the potential for producing major-impact, game-changing stat plays.

Conversely, Pace’s New Orleans touchstone was an offensive line that protected Drew Brees with mid-rounders Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks at guard, and no offensive lineman drafted higher than the second round (Jon Stinchcomb).

Best guess, too, is that new head coach Matt Nagy, who’ll obviously be an intimate part of the draft process, will not be pounding the table for a guard, or perhaps for any offensive lineman with that first first-round pick of his tenure. The Kansas City Chiefs got just a so-so starting tackle (Eric Fisher) with the No. 1-overall pick of the 2013 draft while Nagy was there. And the very good Philadelphia Eagles teams took exactly one offensive lineman higher than the fourth round during Nagy’s years there (2008-12) with Andy Reid – and that pick was a guard (Danny Watkins) picked at No. 23, and who was a bust.

Conclusion: If Nelson is far, far and away the highest-graded player on the Bears’ draft board, Pace will make that move – if, and only if, Pace cannot trade down and add the picks that every GM craves as part of franchise-building, which is where the Pace-Nagy administration stands.

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive backs

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive backs

2017 grade: B-

Level of need: High

Decisions to be made on: Kyle Fuller (free agent), Prince Amukamara (free agent), Marcus Cooper (contract), Sherrick McManis (free agent), Bryce Callahan (restricted free agent), Quintin Demps (contract)

Possible free agent targets: Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Gaines, Rashaad Melvin, Robert McClain, Darrelle Revis

There’s a wide spectrum of scenarios for the Bears at cornerback, ranging from keeping the status quo to blowing the whole thing up, and everything in between. Safety is far more stable, with Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson proving to be a reliable pairing, so that’s set for 2018.

Let’s start with one end of that cornerback spectrum: The Bears keep the top of this unit intact. That means, No. 1, retaining Kyle Fuller via the franchise tag and/or a long-term contract. No. 2, it means bringing back Prince Amukamara, who didn’t record an interception and committed a few too many penalties, but otherwise was a fine enough cover corner. No. 3, it means keeping restricted free agent Bryce Callahan as the team’s No. 1 slot corner.

On paper, this doesn’t seem like an altogether bad option. The Bears weren’t spectacular at cornerback in 2017, but the position was a little better than average, which isn’t the worst place to be for a single unit. Couple with solid play from the safeties and the Bears’ defensive backs were overall a decent enough group. Outside of Marcus Cooper -- who is a candidate to be cut for cap savings -- the Bears may not need to make wholesale changes to this group.

That, though, is a rosier look at this unit. The Bears can certainly improve the personnel in it with a healthy amount of cap space and a strong crop of free agent cornerbacks about to hit the market. Keeping Fuller and then signing a top-tier player like Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler would upgrade this group, as would bringing back Fuller and Amukamara but then using a high draft pick on a player like Ohio State’s Denzel Ward.

Unless the Bears sign two big-time cornerbacks -- i.e. Fuller and Johnson, or even a guy like Brashaud Breeland or E.J. Gaines -- it would seem reasonable for them to use a first or second-round pick on a cornerback in an effort to find a longer-term solution at the position. That doesn’t mean the Bears would absolutely have to go that route, especially with other needs at wide receiver, guard and outside linebacker.

But here’s another thought: It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bears are able to sign a combination of two top cornerbacks in free agency. With plenty of cap space top-end free agents lacking at wide receiver and outside linebacker/edge rusher, could Pace allocate a good chunk of that money to, say, tagging Fuller and making runs at Johnson, Butler and/or Breeland? 2018 looks to be a good year to be aggressive in the free agent cornerback market, and that could play into the Bears’ strategy well.

Before we finish, we should carve out some space for Amos and Jackson. Pro Football Focus isn’t the only outlet that’s given Amos high marks -- Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 ranked him as the No. 1 free safety in the league, too. Jackson came in at No. 19 in B/R’s strong safety rankings, which is pretty solid for a fourth-round rookie.

But the larger point here isn’t exactly where Amos and Jackson are in outside evaluations -- it’s that, tangibly, the pair played well off each other on a consistent basis last year. Seeing as Amos didn’t enter the Bears’ starting lineup until Week 4 -- after Quintin Demps suffered a season-ending broken forearm against Pittsburgh -- how quickly and successfully he and Jackson meshed was one of the more impressive developments for the Bears’ 2017 defense. Amos needs to make more plays on the ball and Jackson has some things to clean up, but the Bears enter the 2018 league year not needing to address their safety position. That’s a good place to be for a team with other significant needs.