Bears

Fantasy Football: Four guys whose stock is falling after NFL Draft

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Fantasy Football: Four guys whose stock is falling after NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is one of the most exciting times of the year for Fantasy Football owners, as they see what team and situation the top rookies will end up in. But there's also the other edge to that sword - how will the influx of rookies impact other guys around the league?

As usual, there were plenty of surprises during Draft Week, including the St. Louis Rams snatching Todd Gurley with the No. 10 pick. Add in free agency, and there are plenty of top fantasy options from 2014 that don't look so appealing heading into the 2015 season.

[RELATED - Fantasy Football: 4 guys whose stocks are rising after NFL Draft]

Trust us, we're just as upset as you. Krinch is the vice president of Joique Bell's fan club and Tre Mason is a favorite of the CSN Fantasy crew.



Joique Bell (RB), Detroit Lions

This one pains me. I've been a huge advocate of Joique Bell the last few years, but now I'm officially resigning as President of his fan club. Bell was given the opportunity to be the lead back in Detroit and fell flat on his face in 2014. He rushed for a career-high 860 yards, but was only able to muster up a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry. After catching 50-plus passes in 2012 and 2013, Bell only hauled in 34 receptions and wasn't much of a factor in the team's passing game, losing out on targets to rookie running back Theo Riddick. Bell also finished the season with a -2.0 rating (33rd among NFL RBs), according to ProFootballFocus.com. After jettisoning Reggie Bush earlier this offseason, the Lions used a second-round selection on Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah which spells bad news for Bell. It won't be surprising to see Abdullah eventually take over as the starter for the Lions, possibly as early as Week 1. While Bell was a sleeper in fantasy drafts last season, he has way too many negative factors going against him to be a relevant fantasy player in 2015. (Scott Krinch)

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Julius Thomas (TE), Jacksonville Jaguars

There's always one big free-agent signing that doesn't turn out the way the player's new contract says it would. That guy this year is Thomas. He leaves Peyton Manning for Blake Bortles and is suddenly no longer surrounded by not only a quality quarterback, but other impact receivers. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee don't exactly strike fear in any defense. Bortles' stats at the end of the year were painful. Over the last six games, Bortles did not throw for over 225 yards once and only threw three touchdowns over that span. Thomas doesn't have that "Gronk" type impact where he can manhandle a double-team. Let him slide in your drafts late this summer because he's not going to put up the same numbers he did in Denver. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

[ROTOWORLD: Veteran winners from the NFL Draft]

Tre Mason (RB), St. Louis Rams

You could argue that nobody's stock fell further than Mason's after the NFL Draft. A week ago, the 21-year-old was entering his second pro season as the presumed No. 1 back on a rising Rams team after showing some solid potential in his rookie year with 4.3 yards per carry and 5 TDs. But the Rams spent their first pick on Todd Gurley and just like that, Mason is a backup again. Gurley is a beast and while he's not exactly a fixture of health, he will get the heavy majority of carries in St. Louis when he is healthy, meaning Mason is nothing more than a handcuff in Fantasy. Sighhhhh. (Tony Andracki)

Philip Rivers (QB), San Diego Chargers

Rivers finished 12th among quarterbacks in standard fantasy leagues a year ago, bordering on QB1 status thanks to a hot start. But I didn't like how Rivers ended the year (11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his last eight games compared to 20 touchdowns and five picks in his first eight games) and now not only does he lose Eddie Royal to free agency (Chicago), but he gets himself what should be a featured RB1 in Melvin Gordon, who the Chargers traded up to grab in last month's NFL Draft. I love the situation Gordon finds himself in (and plan on targeting him in most of my leagues), but he only caught 22 passes in his four years (45 games) at Wisconsin. Granted, four of those receptions went for scores because he's really good at football (and probably life), but it doesn't give me lots of faith in him helping Rivers all that much. Yes, Rivers is in a contract year and will look to earn himself more money on a new deal this year, but don't overpay for him because of it. I'll take a guy like Ryan Tannehill or Matt Ryan before I think about Rivers. (Mark Strotman)

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday.