Bears

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 7

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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 7

Can you believe it? We're nearly halfway through the fantasy football season.

Sitting 6-0 in your league and think you're in the clear?

That's probably how Michigan punter Blake O’Neill felt before he took the field on Saturday.

Ouch. The hard work never stops if you want to be a champion. That's why we're here to help you for Week 7.

[MORE: Get all your Fantasy Sports coverage for the week here]

If you've got specific questions, drop us a question on Twitter @CSNFantasy or use #CSNFantasy and we'll give you our take.

Without further adieu, let's get into it:

START

Blake Bortles, QB, JAX (vs. BUF) - Don't let the early start fool you; the Jaguars offense has already woken up in a big way. Leading the charge has been Bortles, quietly fantasy's No. 4 quarterback. That seemingly has him in must-start territory, but this is simply to confirm it. The Bills' 25th-ranked pass defense won't be any match for Bortles and his pair of Allens (Robinson and Hurns), meaning you should roll the signal caller out once again. Don't expect him to be a top-5 QB the rest of the way, but he'll keep his QB1 tag for now. (Mark Strotman)

John Brown, WR, ARI (vs. BAL) - So I may have been a little early to his coming out party (better than being fashionably late) but now every one of his fantasy owners is popping bottles. He's exploded the last few weeks (especially last week with his 10 catch 196-yard effort) and it's just getting easier for him this week against a bad Ravens secondary at home. Carson Palmer should have another big game and Brown's big play ability will shine in the brightest of lights. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Jamison Crowder, WR, WSH (vs. TB) - Crowder has quietly become a big part of the Redskins offense. He has 29 targets in the past three weeks, five more than Pierre Garcon over that same time span. DeSean Jackson doesn't look like he's going to play and the Bucs defense isn't anything special. If you're looking at a lot of guys on byes, Crowder is a nice FLEX play, especially in PPR leagues. (Paschall)

Eric Decker, WR, NYJ (@ NE) - Decker has been remarkably consistent, scoring a touchdown in every game he's played this season. The only reason he's outside the Top 25 among receivers is because he missed Week 3 and has already had his Bye. He's got a good matchup going up against the Patriots, who are 25th in the league at limiting opposing WRs. The Jets will have to throw and Decker should be on the receiving end of that, pun intended. (Tony Andracki)

Michael Floyd, WR, ARI (vs BAL) - Welcome, Mr. Floyd. A terribly quiet start to the year was erased with his 5/50/1 line last week against the Steelers last week. He still has to contend with the run game, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, but against an ugly Ravens defense there will be enough to go around for Floyd to be started in your lineups. He's a solid FLEX play this week with plenty of upside. (Strotman)

Rashad Jennings, RB, NYG (vs. DAL) - I know the Cowboys have had a week to prepare for this always-tough NFC East showdown with the Giants, but the extra time ain't gonna fix the Cowboys' porous run defense. Dallas heads into Week 7 allowing the third-most points to opposing fantasy running backs. Jennings has been shaky this season, but I think he's going to have an extra early Thanksgiving feast on Sunday. 20 carries, 100 yards with a few receptions should be in order. (Scott Krinch)

Travis Kelce, TE, KC (vs. PIT) - I love when I can pick a tight end in Start/Sit and it's especially sweet when it's my boy Kelce. He's been solid, but unspectacular this season after a gigantic Week 1 (6 catches, 106 yards, 2 tuddies). I'm betting he breaks out again this week with a fantastic matchup at home against the Steelers, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. (Andracki)

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (@ SD) - Murray has had a pretty pedestrian year, especially of late. But the Chargers are very bad against the run, as evidenced by James Starks running wild on them last week. (I'm still butthurt that Eddie Lacy was the one that went off, but whatever.) Murray is primed to once again state his case as a Top 20 fantasy back this week. (Andracki)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Joseph Randle, RB, DAL (@ NYG) - The running back by committee taking place in Dallas still doesn't have me down on Randle this week. He had 15 carries and even caught four passes last week. He's still found the end zone two of the last three weeks and hasn't lost a fumble. He's still the Cowboys' most trusted running back, and with no Tony Romo or Dez Bryant for another week they'll need to rely on their run game. Start Randle coming off his bye as an RB2 with touchdown-upside against the Giants. (Strotman)

Willie Snead, WR, NO (@ IND) - The Willie Snead hype train has left the station and hopefully you hopped aboard. If not, limited tickets will be on sale in Indy on Sunday. The second-year receiver out of Ball State has become Drew Brees' favorite target in the Big Easy. The sure-handed Snead has an ideal matchup against a brutal Colts secondary — Pro Bowler Vontae Davis will likely be matched up with Brandin Cooks — and should victimize Greg Toler with ease. (Krinch)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (vs. HOU) - See what happens when you don't over-coach the talent? Dan Campbell simplified things and would ya look at the outcome? Just look at it. The Dolphins destroyed the Titans and looked like the playoff team which everybody thought they would be in doing so. Yes, Tannehill had two turnovers but he threw for nearly 300 yards in the win. Sunday's matchup against the Texans (five passing touchdowns allowed the last two games) should further boost Tannehill's value for the stretch fantasy run. (Krinch) 

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (vs. DAL) - He's a PPR stud and should continue his ways against the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys pass rush should be pretty active and aggressive so expect Eli Manning to have a lot of short, dump off passes to Vereen. Dallas also isn't great covering backs out of the backfield (anyone remember C.J. Spiller's game-winning TD?). Vereen should be a bright spot this week for the Giants. (Paschall)

SIT

Sam Bradford, QB, PHI (vs. CAR) - The Panthers defense has been playing well all year and they're especially stingy through the air, allowing just five touchdown passes in five games. Bradford really only has two good games this season and has thrown multiple INTs in four of his six contests, so I'm gonna stay far away from him this week. (Andracki)

Michael Crabtree, WR, OAK (@ SD) - I think Crabtree will always be one of those players who's a better real life wide receiver than an NFL wide receiver. Crabtree has posted respectable numbers in his first year in Oakland, but nothing really stands out from a fantasy perspective, especially if you take away his Week 2 stat line against the Ravens. The Chargers are stingy against opposing wideouts, having allowed just four total touchdowns all season. Staring Crabtree is a pure gamble that likely won't pay off. (Krinch) 

Melvin Gordon, RB, SD (vs. OAK) - I feel like I'm watching the Titanic sink. I'm trying to hold on to hope that Gordon is going to be okay this season but it almost seems like every week is getting worse. From fumbling issues to just being ineffective, it's clear the guy to own with the Chargers is Danny Woodhead. The Raiders defense is also sneaky good against the run. It's not a great lookin' Sunday for Gordon. (Paschall)

Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE (vs. NYJ) - Of course you're not going to sit Gronkowski. If he's on your roster, you HAVE to start him. It'd be silly not to. But if ever there was a matchup to be scared of, it's this one. The Jets are awesome against tight ends, allowing just one touchdown to TEs this season and never allowing an opposing TE to go above 65 yards. In fact, over the last four games, the Jets have permitted TEs to accumulate just 10 catches for 109 yards and a TD. Over FOUR games! Of course, Gronk is not your average tight end, but temper your expectations. This could spell a very pedestrian week for the Gronk. (Andracki)

Chris Johnson, RB, ARI (vs. BAL) - The Ravens defense is very susceptible through the air, but they're pretty stingy on the ground. They've allowed just one game of more than 75 rushing yards by opposing RBs and only two TDs on the ground. Chris Johnson is far from a stable fantasy option and given the presence of David Johnson and Andre Ellington in the backfield and a passing offense that is firing on all cylinders, expect plenty of fantasy production from Carson Palmer and the WRs, but not from any of the RBs. (Andracki)

Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI (@ CAR) - As I mentioned earlier in the year, the Panthers are really good at taking away team's top receiving options. So it may not be pretty for Matthews. Sam Bradford also hasn't inspired any hope in me that he can get this Eagles offense moving. A team on a short week that hasn't looked good on offense against one of the top defenses in the league? Not a good recipe. (Paschall)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Alfred Morris, RB, WSH (vs. TB) - There can't be a bigger disappointment at the position following his 121-yard outing in Week 1. Since his 14.1-point outing in Week 1, he's combined for 22.8 points since then. Even with Matt Jones out, Morris hasn't been able to grasp the reins and put things together. And even against an average Bucs defense, I can't trust him just yet. Consider me happy if he puts together a solid game on my bench this week; at least I'll know he's improving some. (Strotman)

Matthew Stafford, QB, DET (vs. MIN) - Maybe I'm bitter having predicted a Bears win last week or maybe I'm just in denial. Having said that, I'm still not buying into Stafford's performance against the Bears secondary. I still see a guy with bad mechanics and poor decision making. Those two areas will exploited by a Minnesota Vikings defense which keeps getting better and better each week. (Krinch) 

Jonathan Stewart, RB, CAR (vs. PHI) - I'm still on board the Eagles run defense hype train. They're good and Stewart is the definition of "meh." The Eagles haven't given up a rushing touchdown to a running back this year and I think it continues in Week 7. Look elsewhere if you can. (Paschall)

Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. MIN) - The volume game has allowed Tate two double-digit scoring weeks, and he found the end zone (kind of) for the first time against the Bears. Still, I can't keep running him out there when the Lions look so atrocious on offense and the Vikings' pass defense has been so good. I promise this will be the last week I put Tate here, but it's worth noting every week: Keep him out of your lineup. (Strotman)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (vs. PIT) - A poor man's Jamaal Charles, huh? More like fantasy irrelevant, amirte? Alright I won't compound on West's struggles against the Vikings too much, it was his first career NFL start. I think he'll get better in time. But his time won't come against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, and I'm guessing that won't change this weekend. (Krinch)

T.J. Yeldon, RB, JAX (vs. BUF) - Yeldon certainly is getting better (double-digit points in his last two games) but he is listed as questionable and is facing a stingy Bills run defense ranked 13th against the run. If you need to play him in a running back spot that'll do, but there's probably better FLEX options out there, assuming he even plays Sunday. Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson would be sits as well, should Yeldon miss Sunday's game. (Strotman)

2017 Bears position grades: Offensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Offensive Line

2017 grade: C+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Josh Sitton (contract), Eric Kush (contract), Hroniss Grasu (contract), Bobby Massie (contract), Tom Compton (free agent), Bradley Sowell (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Andrew Norwell, D.J. Fluker, Justin Pugh, Josh Kline, Jonathan Cooper

How the Bears’ offensive line will shape up in 2018 begins with a decision on which the Bears are already on the clock. The team has until March 9 to pick up Josh Sitton’s 2018 option -- or, to put it another way, they have until March 9 to determine if Sitton was/is/will be good enough to justify keeping him and not netting about $8 million in cap savings, per Spotrac. 

For what it’s worth, Bleacher Report ranked Sitton as the league’s sixth-best guard in 2017. If the Bears’ grades of Sitton match those outside ones, then the team probably won’t cut him -- not destabilizing Mitchell Trubisky’s offensive line would be well worth the money in that case. While Sitton turns 32 in June, cutting him would put a lot of pressure on Kyle Long, who hasn’t been fully healthy since 2016. The Bears are hopeful that Long will be back to full strength after multiple offseason surgeries, but releasing Sitton and then signing/drafting his replacement would be a gamble on Long’s health. 

Sitton’s status is the first part of the Bears’ 2018 offensive line equation. There’s also a decision to be made on Bobby Massie, who Bleacher Report ranked as the NFL’s 14th-best right tackle last year but could be cut for about $5.5 million in cap savings, according to Spotrac. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Bears cut or kept both Sitton and Massie for now, then drafted an offensive lineman in the first round (like Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or Texas tackle Connor Williams) and released one of them. Or they could keep both through the end of the 2018 season. All those options would make sense on some level.

What wouldn’t seem to make sense is the Bears cutting Sitton or Massie and replacing them with a free agent. This year’s offensive line free agent class, without adding any potential cap casualties to it, isn’t particularly strong. By Bleacher Report’s rankings, the best free agent right tackle is Houston’s Breno Giancomi, who’s 27th in that list -- 13 spots behind Massie. At left tackle, New England’s Nate Solder (No. 22) isn’t rated as highly as Charles Leno (No. 20), who we'll talk about in a bit here. 

The only potential upgrade available via free agency would be Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell (No. 2 in B/R’s rankings), who’s 26 and is in line for a big payday this spring -- but that would seemingly be counter-intuitive to releasing Sitton and then potentially paying more money to a different guard, even if he’s younger and has more long-term upside. The Bears could opt for a cheaper guard in free agency who could have some potential working with respected O-line coach Harry Hiestand -- the Giants’ D.J. Fluker (57th in B/R’s rankings) or Justin Pugh (42nd) fit that mold, as would the Titans’ Josh Kline (37th) or Cowboys’ Jonathan Cooper (38th). Or the Bears could keep Sitton and still sign one of those guys as insurance in case Long and/or Eric Kush, who tore his ACL last training camp, isn’t ready to start the season. 

Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell proved to be serviceable backups last year and could be an option to return, even with a new coaching staff in place. The health of Kush, who was missed as a reliable backup in 2017, will be important in figuring out what the Bears' O-line depth looks like. Hroniss Grasu struggled when he was on the field and missed time due to a hand injury, and despite playing for offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon could be on the chopping block before/during training camp. 

We’ll finish here with some thoughts on Leno and Cody Whitehair. Could the Bears upgrade at left tackle and displace Leno to the right side of the offensive line? Possibly, especially if Hiestand believes he can make that move work. But it’d be odd if the Bears shifted Leno off left tackle and then signed someone who’s older and, depending on the evaluator, not even as good as him. 

This is all probably a moot point, since the Bears’ internal evaluation of Leno is what matters here. Leno is 26 and the Bears believe he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, so more than likely, he’s sticking where he is. At the very least, he’ll enter 2018 with a starting job on the Bears’ offensive line. 

One other offseason objective for Hiestand and the new coaching staff: Keeping Whitehair at the same position. Whitehair’s versatility felt like it worked against him at times last year, with the former regime opting to shift him between guard and center quite a bit from the start of training camp through the early part of the season. That instability seemed to affect Whitehair’s play, as he went through a bizarre patch of snapping issues after moving back to center and struggled to be as consistent as he was in 2016. But Whitehair finished 2017 strong, and keeping him at center for the entirety of 2018 could get him back on track to make his first Pro Bowl. 

2017 Bears position grades: Wide receivers

2017 Bears position grades: Wide receivers

2017 grade: D-

Level of need: High

Decisions to be made on: Markus Wheaton (contract), Dontrelle Inman (free agent), Kendall Wright (free agent), Josh Bellamy (free agent), Kevin White (fifth-year option)

Possible free agent targets: All of them? (But more specifically Jarvis Landry, Mike Wallace, Paul Richardson, Marqise Lee, Ryan Grant, Eric Decker, Albert Wilson, Donte Moncrief, Jaron Brown, Taylor Garbriel, Terrelle Pryor, John Brown, Allen Robinson)

The Bears cannot go into 2018 with a wide receiver core as weak as the one with which Mitchell Trubisky had to work in 2017. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have to go out and sign Jarvis Landry for huge money and then draft, say, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, but adding multiple reliable wide receivers is a massive need for the offseason. A blend of free agents and draft picks seems like the most likely route.

Before we look at this year’s free agent class, a word on Cameron Meredith, who said this on locker cleanout day Jan. 1: “Training camp for sure I’ll be back. Right now it’s staying on pace so that I can do that. Yes, full recovery.”

The Bears shouldn’t count on Meredith to improve off his 66-catch, 888-yard 2016 season by virtue of him coming back from a torn ACL suffered last August. But it’s also not like any production from Meredith will be a bonus; if he’s even close to the player he was two years ago, he’ll be a significant part of the Bears’ offense.

So if the Bears are counting on Meredith to play in 2018, do they absolutely need to go out and splurge for the best receiver on the market in Jarvis Landry? Not necessarily. Landry reportedly wants Davante Adams money (four years, $58 million, with $32 million guaranteed) and might get more than that if a bidding war develops on the open market.

Would Landry be worth it? He followed consecutive 1,100-yard seasons in 2015 and 2016 with a league-leading 112 receptions in 2017, and won’t turn 26 until next November, so yeah, he very well could be. The Bears should have enough cap space to chase Landry, too.

But for a few reasons, Ryan Pace has either never landed nor pursued the priciest free agents in his three cycles as general manager. He splashed $38.75 million for Pernell McPhee in 2015; that was the 10th-largest free agent contract signed that year and has the 13th-highest amount of guaranteed money, per Spotrac. Danny Trevathan got $28 million in 2016 (22nd among free agents), and Mike Glennon’s ill-fated $45 million contract ranked 11th last year (with significantly less guaranteed money).

The other part of Pace’s free agency strategy hasn’t been under his control: The Bears just haven’t been an enticing destination lately. Cornerback A.J. Bouye -- 2017’s highest-paid free agent -- turned down more money from the Bears to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars, for example.

The Bears hope that’s changing, with a promising franchise quarterback, a young and affable head coach and a major renovation to Halas Hall. For all the losing, and for all the gripes outside Lake Forest about John Fox, the Bears did have a good culture in their locker room. Selling the future of this franchise should be a lot easier in 2018 than it was in 2017.

Will that all add up to the Bears signing Landry to a huge contract? Not necessarily. The Bears could make a strong pitch and sizable offer, but he could be lured by another team that’s had more recent success (like the Oakland Raiders). Or Pace could continue to look for bargains in free agency, which hasn’t particularly worked out for him in the past, but then take a receiver with the Bears’ first-round pick.

But perhaps Pace will see his long-term vision coming together, and will see a big-ticket free agent like Landry being the guy who puts the Bears over the hump from winning to losing. He could be the franchise’s Jon Lester, or if you’re a hopeful White Sox fan, Manny Machado.

But here’s a counter to the argument for signing Landry: Kansas City’s offense last year didn’t have a big-time outside target. Tyreek Hill’s versatility and explosive playmaking ability made him the Chiefs’ best wide receiver, but he was able to line up at almost any position on the field. Albert Wilson (who’s a free agent) had the second-most targets of among Chiefs receivers with 62; tight end Travis Kelce was targeted a team-high 122 times.

The Bears don’t have a Hill or a Kelce on their roster. Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen could be the “light” versions of both, which may necessitate a need for better “traditional” wide receivers. That doesn’t necessarily mean Landry, to be fair.

Mike Wallace is 31 but showed he still has something in the tank, missing only one game the last two years while racking up 1,765 yards and eight touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens. Paul Richardson had a breakout 2017 with the Seattle Seahawks, catching 44 passes for 703 yards with six touchdowns as an effective deep threat. Marqise Lee had 119 catches for 1,553 yards in the vertically-challenged Jaguars offense the last two years. Ryan Grant has never missed a game in his four-year career and is coming off a career best 45-catch, 573-yard season with Washington. The aforementioned Wilson caught 42 passes for 554 yards with the Chiefs last year, both career highs.

Perhaps no free agent receivers have as much to prove than Terrelle Pryor and Donte Moncrief. Pryor, like Alshon Jeffery, found the free agent market weak in 2017 and took a one-year prove-it deal, but instead turning it into an extension and Super Bowl ring, he bombed with only 20 catches for 240 yards with Washington. It’d be a risk, but if he can get the stink of 2017 off him and flash the talent that got him 77 receptions and over 1,000 yards with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, he’d be worth it.

Moncrief is another interesting name out there. He was targeted over 100 times in 2015 and caught 64 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns as the big-bodied complement to T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, but struggled to stay healthy the last two years, only playing 21 games and totaling 56 receptions for 698 yards.

One other guy to highlight: Allen Robinson. The Jaguars probably won’t let him get away, but even if they do, would the Bears really want to sign him and then have three wide receivers coming off season-ending injuries (Meredith and Kevin White being the other two; Robinson tore his ACL in Week 1 last year). The Rams’ Sammy Watkins is also an impending free agent, but it’d be a huge surprise if Los Angeles let him hit the open market, so he’s not worth considering for the Bears right now.

We’ll see what direction Pace takes next month with free agency. But expect the Bears to return no more than one receiver from their Week 2 lineup -- Kendall Wright (59 receptions, 614 yards) is probably the only guy who could be back, if the two parties want to re-unite. Wright, as it stands for my grade, was the only guy keeping this unit from an “F,” as in a total failure.

Markus Wheaton, who became only one of nine players since 1992 to be targeted at least 15 times and catch fewer than 20 percent of those targets (he caught two passes), is likely to be cut. It’s unlikely Josh Bellamy or Dontrelle Inman will be re-signed (slight chance for Inman, but he disappeared in December). And the Bears probably will decline Kevin White’s fifth-year option, making 2018 a prove-it year for the former first-round pick.