Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 13

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 13

Entering a crucial Week 13 matchup - the final week of the regular season in many leagues - we can't offer you guarantees.

Sorry, it just doesn't work that way.

But we can guarantee that we gave more thought to our picks than the Raiders did to this play:

And we can guarantee we will have better execution than this Carson Palmer Gronk Spike: 

Sound good?

START

Javorius Allen, RB, BAL (@ MIA) - Look, Allen isn't all that enticing as a real-life or fantasy option just based on talent alone. He's just not that good of a back. But his sheer number of touches is a huge reason why he's a must-start right now, especially against a Miami defense that has surrendered an average of 30.6 fantasy points per game (in PPR leagues) to teams not named the Tennessee Titans since Week 2. (Tony Andracki)

Bears D/ST (vs. SF) - This isn't a joke. If you don't have a D/ST on your roster such as the Broncos or Panthers, the Bears are a reliable streamer option. Going up against his former team and the one that spurned him in their head-coaching search last offseason, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is going to have his unit amped up. The 49ers don't pose as much of a threat on a blustery December afternoon at Soldier Field. Start this unit with confidence. (Scott Krinch)

Brandin Cooks, WR, NO (vs. CAR) - I'm not sure which movie character Josh Norman will depict this week, and I don't think the Saints have any prayer of hanging with the undefeated Panthers. But what I do know is once the Panthers take a big lead, Drew Brees is going to be throwing and throwing and throwing. If there was ever a great "garbage time" start this week, it's Cooks at home in a game in which the Saints will be trailing. They won't be pretty points, but Cooks is worth starting in a FLEX spot. (Mark Strotman)

Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (@ SD) - Sure, CJ Anderson looked fantastic against the Patriots Sunday night and Hillman really struggled in his first few carries. But Hillman still received 15 touches, broke free for a touchdown and the Broncos have proved there are enough touches to go around for both backs in the Brock Osweiler-led offense. Facing the league's worst rush defense in the Chargers is just icing on the cake this week. (Andracki)

DeSean Jackson, WR, WAS (vs. DAL) - Jackson's infamous hamstring is finally healed. It took forever to get him back on the field but Jackson is showing again why he's one of the best deep threats in the game (63-yard TD last week). Kirk Cousins is clicking (I can't believe I just wrote that) and Jackson and Jordan Reed are his favorite targets. This matchup against the Cowboys secondary in a Monday night showdown has me excited. The Cowboys have pretty much closed the books on this season with Tony Romo out for the rest of the year while the Redskins have a lot to play for. Expect Jackson to put on a show on Monday. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

David Johnson, RB, ARI (@ STL) - Johnson finally gets his chance to run the Cardinals' backfield and he's got a not-so bad matchup. Normally, you'd think a stout Rams DL would slow down running games but that hasn't really been the case that much this year (Rams have given up 100 yard games to opposing RBs in three of the last four games). Johnson has also shown he can get into the end zone in many different ways (rushing, receiving or returning). He's a great play in your FLEX spot this week (although with the way RBs are these days you probably need him in that spot). (Paschall)

Brandon LaFell, WR, NE (vs. PHI) - Look. All you need to know is that the Patriots host the Eagles in Week 13. Yeah, those same Eagles that have allowed opposing wide receivers to catch seven total touchdowns the last two weeks. Their injury-ridden secondary can't stop anybody right now and Tom Brady is running low on targets. He trusts LaFell and will likely target him in the double-digits on Sunday. I'm buying what LaFell is putting down. (Krinch)

DeVante Parker, WR, MIA (vs. BAL) - The rookie wideout flashed his potential with a four reception, 80-yard and one touchdown game in Week 12. Parker has been rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup as the Dolphins' "X" receiver and gets to go up against a terrible Ravens secondary. He's the ultimate boom or bust play this week, and I'm leaning towards a major boom out of him. (Krinch)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (vs. BAL) - If you watched the final few minutes of last week's Monday Night game, you saw exactly why it's so easy to feel comfortable about starting a QB against this Ravens defense. Austin Davis came into the game ice-cold and promptly marched down field, finishing off a TD drive to a WIDE-OPEN Travis Benjamin. The Ravens defense is brutal right now and while Tannehill has been disappoining overall this season, he's been good lately and he still has Jarvis Landry and solid options. (Andracki)

Julius Thomas, TE, JAC (@ TEN) - Chances are if you own Thomas it's because you picked him up after his monster performance against the Chargers (9/116/1). That likely means you're going to start him anyway, so I'm here to confirm that you should. He faces a Titans team that two weeks ago he also scored on, and his 14 targets the last two weeks are one fewer than he had in his first five games of the year. The tight end position has been a real crapshoot, but if you're scrambling to find a replacement for a guy like Tyler Eifert or Martellus Bennett, you could do a lot worse than Thomas. If Allen Hurns (concussion) sits, this is a no-brainer. (Strotman)

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (vs. NYJ) - The Jets have quietly been pretty bad at covering running backs out of the backfield and one of the best in the game at carving up defenses from the backfield is Vereen. He's haunted the Jets before when he was in New England and he should do the same again on Sunday. The Giants RB situation really is a mess but I expect them to abandon the run early and attack the Jets through the air where Vereen thrives. He's a nice play in DFS and for desperate owners looking to fill up their roster. (Paschall)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (@ OAK) - Owners probably aren't feeling great after the Chiefs announced that West and Spencer Ware will be a committee this week against the Raiders. But that doesn't mean West won't be valuable in a divisional game. Ware was good, but West was downright awesome in the three weeks before he was injured. The Raiders are far from anything to write home to against the run, meaning West will have his opportunities. I still feel comfortable starting him as an RB2 with some serious upside. Ware may get some carries; West will get the ones that count. (Strotman)

SIT

Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. CIN) - The Bengals got Benjamin's number earlier in the year (2 catches, 22 yards) and there's no reason to think they won't again. Austin Davis isn't the answer and should come crashing back down to Earth after his clutch TD pass in the loss to the Ravens. I'm not comfortable with putting Benjamin in my lineup at this critical point in the season with this matchup in front of him so I'm going to be looking for better options. (Paschall)

Martellus Bennett, TE, CHI (vs. SF) - We've seen this in Chicago before: A disgruntled receiver who throws off an entire offense (See: Marshall, Brandon). The difference this time around is that John Fox isn't going to deal with it, and with Zach Miller emerging as a threat in the Bears' offense there's not a lot of confidence that Bennett can turn things around in his return to the lineup. He's got one double-digit scoring game in his last six, and with this being the final week of the fantasy regular season there's too much riding on a player who isn't buying in to an offense that also touts a healthy Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford. I'm avoiding Marty this week. (Strotman)

Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (@ SEA) - Diggs has faded the last few weeks after his late touchdown against the Bears and it hasn't been good for fantasy owners. What also hurts Diggs this week is his matchup against the Seahawks. While Richard Sherman likely won't be covering Diggs the entire game, the Seahawks known Diggs is the biggest threat in the passing game and will try to slow him down wherever he's lined up. With the playoffs nearing and every spot in your lineup crucial, Diggs isn't worth the play. (Paschall)

Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL (@ TB)I've questioned Freeman all season, and I've been proven wrong before. But after a scorching-hot start, the second-year back is trending in the wrong direction. Freeman has totaled 143 rushing yards in his last three games and is coming off a concussion, suffered against the Colts in Week 11. The Falcons will try to run their offense through Freeman, but the Buccaneers will likely stack the box and force the struggling Matt Ryan to beat them. Lovie's squad hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 3 so it will be tough-sledding for Freeman. (Krinch)

Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (vs. CLE) - Sticking with this theme of not risking it in the final regular season week, Hill still hasn't done enough for me to feel comfortable starting him. I like that he's tallied double-digit scoring games in two straight (for the first time all year) but Gio Bernard is still lingering, receiving 26 touches the last two games to Hill's 30. The latter still doesn't do anything in the passing game and this is still very much a committee situation, which means Hill goes to my bench. If he can rack up another 10-point week or better, we'll talk about a starting nod. (Strotman)

Vincent Jackson, WR, TB (vs. ATL) - VJax has actually been pretty good the last two weeks after coming back from a knee issue, but he suddenly missed practice Wednesday due to a knee problem and he actually has a terrible matchup. The Falcons have allowed just three (THREE!) TDs to opposing WRs all year, and none since Week 7. The last time these two teams faced off, Bucs receivers totaled just 7 receptions for 66 yards. (Andracki)

DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI (@ NE) - I know the Patriots got somewhat gashed by the Broncos in the ground game but I really don't see the Eagles doing the same thing at Gillette Stadium. Outside of Week 1, the Patriots have not given up 100 rushing yards or more to opposing running backs at home this season. I'm also expecting the Patriots to jump out to a big early lead and that may lead to Murray not seeing the field quite as much. If you MUST start Murray because of desperate times, go for it. But if you got options, look elsewhere. (Paschall)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (vs. KC) - Murray and I used to go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Now, we're more like lamb and tuna fish (bonus points if you get the movie reference). The bruising Murray has been consistently average in 2015, and doesn't appear as if he will break out of his mediocre play anytime soon. The carries are there, but the touchdowns are far and few between. Don't expect much in his matchup against the Chiefs, who have allowed a single rushing touchdown since Week 4, at the O.co Coliseum. (Krinch) 

Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF (vs. HOU) - Will the real Watkins please stand up? Are we more likely to see the Week 9 (24.8 fantasy points) and Week 12 (29.8 fantasy points) Watkins, or the guy who totaled 5.3 points sandwiched in the two games in between. Watkins is far too inconsistent for my liking, especially against a Texans secondary which has been very impressive as of late. (Krinch)

Jameis Winston, QB, TB (vs. ATL) - You already see that I don't like the Bucs pass offense this week against the Falcons, but it's not even just that. It's a big factor (Falcons are a Top 5 D against QBs), sure. But this is more about WHERE the game is being played. On the road, Winston has thrown for 11 TDs, 2 INTs and a 100.5 rating. But at home, he's thrown just 5 TDs compared to 8 INTs and a 69.2 rating. (Andracki)

Danny Woodhead, RB, SD (vs. DEN) - In a PPR league you're probably going to be forced to use Woodhead, but even then he's alternated good and bad receiving weeks (11, 2, 6, 1, 6 receptions his last five games). And against a Broncos defense showing no signs of slowing down, this could be an ugly matchup all around for Woodhead and the Bolts. If you've gotten this far with him he's an acceptable FLEX play, but there's a chance Denver shuts him (and everyone else) down in a quiet afternoon. (Strotman)

TJ Yeldon, RB, JAC (@ TEN) - I'm going to keep hammering this point home: The Titans are fantastic against fantasy RBs. They currently rank 1st in most scoring formats, having allowed just 375 yards and 1 TD to opposing RBs in the last five games. Even with three catches, Yeldon still tallied just 10 fantasy points against the Titans in Week 11. Sit him at all costs this week. (Andracki)

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

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USA TODAY

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

About this time a year ago the Bears were setting up for the annual NFL beauty pageant in Indianapolis, sitting with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft and with myriad roster decisions to address with both that draft and free agency. Because of the Bears’ lofty draft position, even more scrutiny and attention swirled around the college prospects (Deshaun Watson, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, not enough on Mitch Trubisky as it turned out, a testimonial to GM Ryan Pace’s ability to keep a secret).

But what was developing in free agency was arguably of even greater significance in what was then the short term, at least for John Fox, as it turned out. And the changed landscape this year bodes considerably better for Pace and the Bears. At least in one important respect.

First, a perspective from last year’s pre-Combine period...

Because of the unsettled quarterback situation – the Bears were working toward Mike Glennon and cutting Jay Cutler two weeks later – and concerns about a possible lame-duck situation for Fox, free agents and their agents were willing to look at the Bears but only if the Bears would pony up excessive guaranteed dollars. The worry any time a coach is heading into a tipping-point year is that if things go badly, the coach and staff are gone, and the resulting changes will alter the job situation of that particular veteran player.

So the likes of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore opted for less total money from Jacksonville and New England, respectively, because the Bears weren’t offering higher guarantees to compensate for the uncertainty.

(One of the reasons then-President/CEO Michael McCaskey stated to this reporter for firing Mike Ditka after the 1992 season was a concern over the negative pall Ditka cast over playing for the Bears as the NFL prepared for the 1993 start of free agency. A quarter-century later, Pace didn’t fire Fox because of free agents’ aversion to Fox, but the overall wasn’t making Pace’s job any easier.)

Would Alshon Jeffery have stayed if...

On a slightly different tack: Would Alshon Jeffery have given the Bears a more receptive look had the quarterback position been addressed sooner in the Fox/Pace tenure? Jeffery took less from the Eagles in a one-year prove-it deal, not because Philadelphia was so much warmer than Chicago, but in large part because of where the offensive arrow was pointing in Chicago with Fox, Dowell Loggains and an unsettled quarterback situation.

Not insignificantly in the Jeffery case: Jeffery had four choices – Bears, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia. The Colts weren’t sure about Andrew Luck, coming off shoulder surgery and ultimately missing all of ’17. The Vikings were resting then on brittle Sam Bradford, whose knee broke down early, and Case Keenum wasn’t CASE KEENUM at that point. The Bears with Loggains and Glennon? Jeffery didn’t go with Philadelphia, Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz only for the money, which did come anyway.

The Bears have “fixed” all of those issues in the year that’s played out since Jeffery signed with the Eagles almost concurrent with the Bears moving on from Cutler. None of that matters now in the least with Jeffery, Bouye, Gilmore or any other options that demanded too much guaranteed money or spurned the Bears back then, but it does matter going into the run-up to free agency over the next couple weeks.

Why this in fact matters more than the draft is that, while sound organizations are grounded in quality drafting, the reality is that in virtually every offseason, more starters for that season are acquired via free agency than the draft. Last year’s draft centerpiece was Trubisky, though he wasn’t supposed to start last season. But free agents Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright were.

The money pit

Longtime Bears and NFL personnel chief Bill Tobin once remarked back in the beginning of free agency, “Just because you pay a guy $2 million doesn’t make him a $2-million player.” That still applies, adjusted for inflation. And that could make this free agency dicey for the Bears.

Because price isn’t always determined solely on quality; it’s a matter of supply and demand. And while the Bears are among those with the greatest estimated space under the projected cap of $178 million, the others way up on the list include Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Jets, Houston and Tampa Bay – all teams with five or fewer wins in ’17 and expected to be the most aggressive in using free agency to fix gaping holes. The Bears have a lot of money to spend, but so do a whole lot of others.

Meaning: A lot of dollars will be chasing a select few players, which will make some of them overpaid, not unlike Glennon was last offseason (how many apparently better options were there?) or a couple of others, who will be paid like $2 million players even if they aren’t, adjusted for inflation.

The result is another offseason of brinksmanship for Pace, this time in need of better results than his first three free agencies if the outcome for his second head coach is to be better than it was for his first.

Report: Bears could be a potential landing spot for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry

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USA TODAY

Report: Bears could be a potential landing spot for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry

The Bears are looking for an upgrade at wide receiver this offseason, and there may be one available.

The Dolphins used the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry on Tuesday, in a move that many believe signals the team's desire to deal him instead of losing him in free agency for nothing.

Landry put up excellent numbers last season, catching 112 passes for 987 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the league in catches and was fourth in touchdown receptions but was just 17th in yards. His yards per reception ranked 108th of 139 qualifying players.

Still, it's no secret he'd be an upgrade for the Bears at wide receiver. Though they'll get Cam Meredith and Kevin White back from injury, the corps largely struggled and didn't give rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky much help.

Luckily, they may be interested in Landry, per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

"There are a couple teams that we should keep an eye on as far as a potential Jarvis Landry landing spot......the Chicago Bears are looking for receviers," he said.

Rapoport also mentioned the Titans, Panthers and Saints as options for Landry. The franchise tag will pay Landry about $16 million before he becomes a free agent in 2019 (or has the franchise tag used on him again).