Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 4

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 4

Bye weeks are here!

OK, so they aren't that exciting. And they aren't fun for fantasy owners, either. What it means for owners of Tom Brady, Gronk, Marcus Mariota and Julius Edelman, is that decisions on who to start and sit became that much more difficult and time-consuming.

Luckily we're here to help. So let's jump into it with 12 players worth starting and 12 worth putting on or keeping on your bench.

START

Martellus Bennett, TE, CHI (vs. OAK) - The Bears will not get shut out again this week. That's not a bold prediction, just a simple fact. Bennett will be a big part of the offense and the Raiders are the NFL's worst at limiting fantasy production from TEs. They've allowed an average of 7 catches, 102 yards and 1.67 TDs to TEs each week over the first three games of the season, making stars out of Crockett Gillmore and Gary Barnidge. If you're asking who those guys are, don't worry, you're not alone. Bennett was drafted as a Top 5 tight end. If Crockett Gillmore can put up ridiculous numbers on this Raiders defense, don't you think Bennett can, too? Even if Jimmy Clausen is his quarterback... (Tony Andracki)

Derek Carr, QB, OAK (@ CHI) - I was admittedly nervous when I proclaimed at the start of the year that the Raiders would make the playoffs, but a pair of victories over the Ravens and Browns have me feeling a little better about it. While I still may get laughed at it by season's end, it won't be because of how Derek Carr has played. The second-year signal caller has been lights out the last two weeks, topping 300 yards in each and throwing for five touchdowns. Now he gets the Bears' semblance of a defense, which hasn't stopped anything this year. With Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree (see below) playing well and Latavius Murray keeping defenses honest, Carr is quickly looking like a breakout candidate. He's a QB1 for me this week, and I'm starting him in a league in which I have Tom Brady (bye). (Mark Strotman)

Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK (at CHI) - Targets, targets and more targets. Through three games, Crabtree has 33 (!) targets and 18 catches to go along with it. While the Carr-Cooper connection looks to be something special, Crabtree is getting his share of love too and shouldn't be ignored in a matchup against a bad Bears secondary. Crabtree is a great FLEX play this week. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

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Andy Dalton, QB, CIN (vs. KC) - This is another matchup play, as the Chiefs are the worst in the league at limiting fantasy production to opposing QBs. They've allowed multiple passing TDs in each of their first three games (10 overall) to go with 923 yards. Dalton has surprisingly been a Top 5 quarterback this season and I fully expect that production to continue this week. (Andracki)

Melvin Gordon, RB, SD (vs. CLE) - The wait is over. This is finally Gordon's breakout week as he goes up against a Browns defense that can't stop a nosebleed. The Chargers should wear down the Browns defense by handing Gordon the rock early and often. He's tied for second with most 20+ yard runs and the Browns' defense has the second worst YPC average. It's a perfect storm for Gordon to post some big numbers. (Paschall)

Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (@ MIA) - So the 91-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 1 was probably a bit of fool's gold, but after missing last week's game against the Eagles, Ivory is ready to roll. He'll face a Dolphins defense that just hasn't lived up to its preseason hype, and with a pair of fresh legs I'm betting on Ivory getting back to solid FLEX status. Plus, something odd always seems to happen in those London games. Get up early to watch him find the end zone across the pond. (Strotman)

Duke Johnson, RB, CLE (@ SD) - Johnson has a total of 10 standard fantasy league points in three games this season so this is a bold move for me in Week 4. The former Miami Hurricane finally played more snaps than incumbent starter Isaiah Crowell in a Week 3 loss. And finally, Browns OC John DeFilippo played to the rookie's strengths by getting him involved in the passing game as Johnson hauled in six receptions for a respectable 32 yards. Eventually, Johnson will be handed the keys to Cleveland's backfield and not look back. Week 4 against a bad Chargers run defense (377 yards and four touchdowns allowed) should be a good starting point. (Scott Krinch)

Donte Moncrief, WR, IND (vs. JAC) - See ya later, Andre Johnson. It was fun while it lasted, but your time in the spotlight is over. Taking your place? Moncrief, who in three games has caught 17 passes for 200 yards and three scores (one in each game). Even with Andrew Luck banged up, he's bound to get back on track against the Jaguars defense, meaning Moncrief is in store for plenty more targets and a score. If you swiped up Moncrief when TY Hilton had his injury scare, congrats. Andre Johnson owners? Time to move on. (Strotman)

Allen Robinson, WR, JAC (@ IND) - Yo, Gus Bradley. Would you please tell Blake Bortles to get Robinson involved in the offense? Fantasy owners and lovers of good old fashioned wide receiver play would really appreciate it. We saw why Robinson was so highly coveted in fantasy drafts after his six catch, 155 yard, two touchdown performance in Week 2. But that was sandwiched between one catch and four catch performances. We need more. Look, we know you're going to be out of it by halftime against Indy. So why not just loft 'em up to Robinson in garbage time. Pretty please? (Krinch)

CJ Spiller, RB, NO (vs. DAL) - Is this the week he breaks out? I'm betting the answer is yes. It's more of a gut call than anything, but he has been looking more and more healthy every week and now draws a nice matchup with a Dallas team that just let Devonta Freeman run absolutely wild all over them. With so many running backs either on bye or drawing bad matchups this week (seriously, I could have listed 10 RBs I would sit this week), Spiller is a guy to take a chance on. (Andracki)

Tyrod Taylor, QB, BUF (vs. NYG) - Eight touchdowns in three games and two straight double-digit fantasy performances. Taylor isn't just a blip on the radar anymore, he's a quarterback who is a must-own fantasy player at the moment. With weapons abound in Buffalo, Taylor is fully capable of posting Top 12 QB totals on a weekly basis. Taylor draws another nice matchup this week in the New York Giants, who have allowed a 300-yard passer in each game this season. (Krinch)

Karlos Williams, RB, BUF (vs. NYG) - Hopefully you were able to snatch up Williams this week off the waiver wire because he's in store for a big week. In limited action, he's averaging 7.8 YPC. Running the football a lot is in Rex Ryan's DNA so with Shady out, Williams should get a full workload. The Giants defense is stingier than most believe but Williams' usage is hard to ignore this week. (Paschall)

SIT

Ameer Abdullah, RB, DET (@ SEA) - Things simply aren't going right for the Lions, which means the rookie from Nebraska needs to stay on the bench in a road matchup against the Seahawks. He's shown plenty of promise through three weeks, scoring in two of his first three games, but this Seahawks defense turns into something else at home. I wouldn't trust Abdullah, as fun as it is having guys on Monday Night Football. Find a better FLEX play and wait for the Lions offense to (hopefully) hit its stride sooner than later. (Strotman)

John Brown, WR, ARI (vs. STL) - The Rams defense has allowed just two passing TDs all year. They generate a pretty insane pass rush led by Robert Quinn and the Cardinals are going to have their hands full this week. Beyond that, Brown is dealing with a shoulder injury and he just has not fulfilled all the preseason sleeper tags place on him. I was super high on Brown and I still think he will be a very good fantasy player this season, but right now, it's been all Larry Fitzgerald. I'm not betting that will change this week. (Andracki)

Owen Daniels, TE, DEN (vs. MIN) - Hey! He's got a pulse! Last week's touchdown got Daniels owners jumping for joy but he may go back to being irrelevant this week. The Vikings have the safeties and coverage linebackers to take away tight ends and Daniels just doesn't have the athleticism at his age to separate from those guys. I don't think Daniels can keep the momentum rolling this week. (Paschall)

Eagles RBs (@ WSH) - The matchup stinks: The Redskins have allowed only 163 rushing yards on 53 carries (a 3.08 ypc) and one rushing TD to RBs. Plus, the Eagles backfield is a mess right now. Who do you have confidence in starting? DeMarco Murray? He's been hurt and horribly, ridiculously ineffective even when he does play. Ryan Mathews? He looked great last week, but if Murray plays again, will Mathews get enough touches to be fantasy relevant? Darren Sproles? He contributes on special teams, but if he doesn't find the endzone (either via pass, rush or punt return), he won't get enough touches to have enough yards to be a good fantasy option. This whole thing is scary. Stay away. (Andracki)

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Mike Evans, WR, TB (vs. CAR) - Mike Evans' owners must be really grumpy to see his name here. After having a monster 17-target, seven-catch performance in his first productive week, I don't feel great about his performance this week against the Panthers defense. Not only does Carolina now have a really good corner in Josh Norman, but they magically find ways to take a team's top receiving target out of games. Ask DeAndre Hopkins, who struggled earlier in the year against them. Evans also did not perform well against the Panthers last year (7 catches, 50 yards, TD between two games). If you have a better option on your bench, you might want to look for it. (Paschall)

Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL (vs. HOU) C'mon. Nearly 200 total yards and 39.3 fantasy points for a guy who hasn't flashed much in his brief career with the Falcons. Week 3 was an aberration. Freeman is what he is. A guy who is going to catch balls out of the backfield as a decent passing-game specialist. Once Tevin Coleman returns, which could be as early as this weekend, Freeman will be relegated to second-string duties. Plus, Houston hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher nor a rushing touchdown in 2015. He's Fool's Fold. Stay far away. (Krinch)

Todd Gurley, RB, STL (at ARI) - I'm all on the Gurley Train this year. It just won't get going this week. The Cardinals defense is fantastic against the run and with Arizona's high scoring offense, the Rams may be playing from behind a lot. Be patient, Gurley owners, he will breakout soon. (Paschall)

Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (vs. KC) - Everything about Hill scares me right now - his situation (the Bengals have already said they're going to go with Gio Bernard when they're behind or the game is close), his production (2 fantasy points the last two weeks combined) and his matchup (the Chiefs are the best at limiting fantasy production from RBs). Hill will rebound; I still like him and he's my RB in Madden (not that that matters to you...), but this will not be his redemption game. (Andracki)

Matt Jones, RB, WSH (vs. PHI) -  I Still don't know what to make of the Redskins rookie running back. He looked like a draft steal after his 123-yard, two touchdown performance in Week 2. Then everyone put him in their lineups and he carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards in his encore. As a rookie, he's going to have his ups and downs, and Alfred Morris still being in Washington is only going to complicate things in 2015. Keep Jones rostered, but play him at your own risk. And Sunday isn't the time to get risky as he goes up against an Eagles defense which hasn't allowed a rushing score this year. (Krinch)

Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA (vs. NYJ) - I don't trust these London games for fantasy purposes, and with a broken Dolphins offense squaring off against a scary Jets secondary it's tough for me to start Landry. In PPR formats he's been great, catching eight passes in each of the first three games. He hasn't found the end zone yet, but soon will. Just don't expect it to happen this Sunday morning against a Revis/Cromartie duo. Ryan Tannehill (see below) has some things to figure out, and hopefully the bye week in Week 5 helps him. Facing this Jets defense won't. You may not have many better options than Landry, so you may have to start him. Just don't expect another eight-catch performance. (Strotman)

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (@ TB) - I haven't given up hope on Stewart turning around this nightmare start to a season, but even against a porous Tampa Bay defense I can't trust him. He hasn't found the end zone and hasn't topped 65 yards on the ground in three games this year, and with a banged up knee there's simply better options with higher upside. You won't regret having Stewart on your bench, and even if he does manage to find the end zone this week you'll feel good about him getting out of his slump. Consider it a win-win, but keep him out of your lineup. (Strotman)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (vs. NYJ)I was super high on Tannehill, like the majority of people, going into the 2015 season. But right now this Dolphins team is a total mess. Tannehill is currently the 11th ranked fantasy quarterback, but that's mainly because of his 25-point Week 2 outing. Last weekend against a good Bills defense, Tannehill turned the ball over three times. Now, he draws a swarming Jets defense which likes to feast on opponent's mistakes. I can't start him with any confidence on Sunday. (Krinch)

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).

 

2017 Bears position grades: Management

2017 Bears position grades: Management

2017 grade: D+

For these purposes, “management” encompasses the coaching staff and front office. We don’t need a lengthy re-litigation of the failures of the John Fox era, so briefly: The offense was unimaginative, predictable and unsuccessful; there were too many head-scratching coaching decisions, punctuated by that backfiring challenge flag against Green Bay; the defense was solid but not spectacular; special teams had plenty of highs (three touchdowns) and lows (Marcus Cooper’s gaffe against Pittsburgh, Connor Barth’s missed field goal against Detroit). Fox didn’t win enough games to justify a fourth year, even if he left the Bears in a better place than he found them back in 2015. But that 5-11 record drags the management grade down. 

But the larger thing we’re going to focus on here is the hits and misses for Ryan Pace in the 2017 league year. The hits: 

-- Drafting Mitchell Trubisky. Will this be a long-term success? That’s another question. But Pace hitched his future in Chicago to a quarterback last April. For a franchise that hasn’t had a “franchise” quarterback in ages, what more can you ask for? If Trubisky pans out, nobody should care that Pace traded up one spot -- effectively losing a third-round pick for his conviction in his guy -- to make the move. 

-- Moving quickly to hire Matt Nagy. As with Trubisky, Pace identified his guy and made sure he got him. The Bears hired Nagy just two days after the Kansas City Chiefs’ season ended with that playoff collapse against the Tennessee Titans, and with the Indianapolis Colts -- who eventually got burned by Josh McDaniels -- sniffing around Nagy, Pace made his move to hire a young, energetic, offensive-minded coach to pair with Trubisky. It’s tough to argue with any of the coaching hires made by Nagy, who had a head start on the competition: He retained defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and that entire defensive staff, kept Dave Ragone to be Trubisky’s quarterbacks coach and hired Mark Helfrich to bring some different concepts as offensive coordinator, and hired a special teams coach in Chris Tabor who must’ve been doing something right to survive seven years and a bunch of coaching changes in Cleveland. Like with Trubisky, it’s too early to say if Nagy will or won’t work out long-term, but it stands out that Pace had conviction in getting a franchise quarterback and a head coach who will make or break his tenure in Chicago. 

-- Drafting Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson in the fourth round. In Cohen, the Bears found an offensive spark (who was nonetheless under-utilized) who also was a key contributor on special teams. In Jackson, the Bears added a plug-and-play 16-game starter at safety who looks to have some upside after a solid rookie year. Both picks here were a triumph for the Bears’ amateur scouting department: Cohen wasn’t on everyone’s radar (special teams coach Chris Tabor, who previously was with the Browns, said Cohen’s name never came across his desk in Cleveland), while Jackson was coming off a broken leg that prematurely ended a solid career at Alabama. These were assuredly two hits. 

-- Signing Akiem Hicks to a four-year contract extension. The Bears rewarded Hicks a day before the season began; Hicks rewarded them with a Pro Bowl-caliber season (despite him only being a fourth alternate) and was the best player on the team in 2017. 

-- Signing Charles Leno to a four-year contract extension. Leno may not be an elite tackle, and still has some things to clean up in his game, but he’s 26 and his four-year, $37 million contract is the 14th-largest among left tackles (for what it’s worth, Bleacher Report ranked Leno as the 20th best left tackle in the NFL). The Bears believe Leno is still improving, and could turn that contract into a bargain in the future. But this is important to note, too: Players notice when a team rewards one of its own, especially when that guy is a well-respected former seventh-round draft pick. 

-- Signing Mark Sanchez to a one-year deal. This wasn’t a miss, certainly, and while it’s not much of a “hit,” Sanchez was exactly what the Bears wanted: A veteran mentor to Trubisky. While Sanchez was inactive for all 16 games, he and the No. 2 overall pick struck up a good relationship that makes him a candidate to return in 2018 as a true backup. 

-- Releasing Josh Sitton when he did. Whether or not the Bears offensive line is better off in 2018 is a different question, but file cutting Sitton on Feb. 20 -- when the team had until mid-March to make a decision on him -- as one of those things that gets noticed by players around the league. 

-- Announcing the expansion to Halas Hall. The plan has Pace’s fingerprints on it, and should help make the Bears a more attractive destination to free agents in 2018 and beyond. 

And now, for the misses:

-- Signing Mike Glennon. That completely bombed out. While the Bears weren’t hurting for cap space a year ago, and Glennon’s contract essentially was a one-year prove-it deal, his play was so poor that he was benched after only four games -- when the initial plan was for him to start the entire season to give Trubisky time to develop. The wheels came off for Glennon on his seventh pass in Week 2, when after completing his first six he threw the ball right to Tampa Bay’s Kwon Alexander for an interception from which he never seemed to recover. He’ll be cut sometime soon. 

-- Signing Markus Wheaton. After signing a two-year, $11 million deal in the spring, Wheaton struggled to stay healthy, with an appendectomy and finger injury limiting him in training camp and the early part of the season, and then a groin injury knocking out a few weeks in the middle of the season. When Wheaton was healthy, he was ineffective, catching only three of his 17 targets. That places him with eight other players since 1992 who’ve been targeted at least 15 times and and caught fewer than 20 percent of their targets. He’s another one of Pace’s 2017 free agent signings who’s likely to be cut. 

-- Signing Marcus Cooper. The Bears thought they were signing an ascending player who picked off four passes in 2016 and would be a better scheme fit in Chicago than he was in Arizona. Instead, Cooper was a liability when he was on the field and didn’t live up to his three-year, $16 million contract (with $8 million guaranteed). Dropping the ball before he got in the end zone Week 3 against Pittsburgh was a lowlight. The Bears can net $4.5 million in cap savings if he’s cut, per Spotrac. 

-- Signing Dion Sims. Sims isn’t as likely to be cut as Glennon and Wheaton, and even Cooper, but his poor production in the passing game (15 catches, 29 targets, 180 yards, one touchdown) puts a spotlight on how the Bears evaluate how he was as a run blocker in 2017. If that grade was high, the Bears could justify keeping him and not garnering a little more than $5.5 million in cap savings. If it was low, and the Bears are confident in Adam Shaheen’s ability to improve, then Sims could be cut as well. 

-- Signing Quintin Demps. The loss here was mitigated by the strong play of Adrian Amos, but Demps didn’t make much of an impact on the field before his Week 3 injury besides getting plowed over by Falcons tight end Austin Hooper in Week 1. He’d be a decent guy to have back as a reserve given his veteran leadership -- he was a captain in 2017 -- but given how well Amos and Eddie Jackson worked together last year, he’s unlikely to get his starting spot back in 2018. 

-- The wide receiver position as a whole. Kendall Wright led the Bears in receptions and yards, but his numbers would’ve looked a lot better had he been surrounded by better players. The cupboard was bare at this position, and after the worst-case scenario happened -- Cameron Meredith tearing his ACL in August, and Kevin White breaking his collarbone in Week 1 -- the Bears were left with an overmatched and underperforming group of receivers. For Trubisky’s sake, Pace has to work to make sure 2018 isn’t a repeat of 2017. 

-- The kicker position as a whole. Since we’re focusing solely on Pace’s 2017 moves, the decision to release Robbie Gould and replace him with Connor Barth doesn’t fall into this grade. But Barth had struggled with consistency prior to this season, and Roberto Aguayo didn’t provide much competition in his short-lived stint in training camp. The Bears eventually released Barth after he missed a game-tying kick against Detroit in November, then replaced him with a guy in Cairo Santos who was coming off an injury and, as it turned out, wasn’t completely healthy yet. So the Bears then had to move on from Santos and sign Mike Nugent to get them through the rest of the season. Better consistency from this position will be important to find in 2018. 

A couple moves fall into the neither hits nor misses category:

-- Drafting Adam Shaheen. Tight ends rarely make a significant impact as rookies, but Shaheen was only targeted 14 times last year. He did catch three touchdowns and flash some good chemistry with Trubisky before suffering an injury against Cincinnati that wound up ending his season. The gains he makes with a year of experience under his belt and during his first full offseason as a pro will be critical in determining his success in Year 2, and whether or not taking him 45th overall was a hit or a miss. 

-- Signing Prince Amukamara. This was neither good nor bad, with Amukamara playing solidly in coverage but not making enough plays on the ball and committing a few too many penalties. 

Pace still has decisions to make on a few other potential cuts, including right tackle Bobby Massie ($5.584 million cap savings per Spotrac) and linebackers Willie Young ($4.5 million cap savings) and Pernell McPhee ($7.075 million cap savings). Whether or not to place the franchise tag on Kyle Fuller and potentially pay him $15 million in 2018 is another call Pace has to make before the official end of the 2017 league year. 

But for Pace, did the hits out-weigh the misses in 2017? The Glennon signing imploded, but Trubisky showed signs of promise during an average season for a rookie quarterback. Cooper was a bust, but Fuller emerged as a potential long-term option to cover for that. The most glaring misses, then, were at wide receiver and tight end where, after injuries sapped those units of Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller, there weren’t reliable targets for Trubisky. 

We’ll probably need more time to determine if Pace’s “hits” on Trubisky and Nagy truly are “hits.” But if they are, the misses of 2017 -- Glennon, Wheaton, Cooper, etc. -- will be nothing more than amusing footnotes to a successful era of Bears football.