Bears

Fantasy Football: 7 rookies primed for a huge second half

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Fantasy Football: 7 rookies primed for a huge second half

Rookies have been known to hit the proverbial “Rookie Wall” in a NFL season, usually between November and early December. It’s a phrase used to describe how physically and mentally worn down first-year players may be from the rigors of a lengthy professional schedule.

Last season, Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was victimized by said “Rookie Wall” when his stats dipped significantly in November (zero TDs & 100 yd games from scrimmage).

Conversely, eventual OROY (offensive rookie of the year) Alvin Kamara was used sparingly in September and exploded statistically October thru December. He registered seven 100-plus yards from scrimmage and 12 TDs from Week 4 until the end of the regular season. Speculatively, he was fresher late in the year due to limited use in September and a shared workload with starting RB Mark Ingram. 
 
A fresher Alvin Kamara certainly helped fantasy owners during their playoff runs last season. So, which under-utilized rookie is waiting to scale that late, seasonal “Rookie Wall” for owners? Trust me, you’ll WANT that rookie on your wall, you’ll NEED him on top that wall!

Below is a list of a “few good men” that’ll help your team down the stretch:
 
Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
 
Chubb greatly benefits from having RB1 status since the trade of former Browns starting RB, Carlos Hyde. To his credit, Chubb has taken his opportunity and run with it. His ​6.1 yds​​ per carry average sits atop NFL RBs with at least 50+ rush attempts. He has as many rushing TDs as Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard and Joe Mixon - each Week 1 starters for their team. 
 
Several factors increase Chubb’s use down the stretch for fantasy owners fortunate to have his services. Limited use early in the season means he has fresh legs. Secondly, his 5-foot-11, 227-pound frame is built for rugged running and goal line opportunities. Lastly, he has a quality rookie QB that spreads the ball to competent receivers, keeping safeties from crowding the line of scrimmage which provides better running lanes. Chubb is invisible in the passing game, but his goal line chances and rushing touches should compensate for his lack of receptions. 
 
Christian Kirk, WR, ARI 
 
The Cardinals' top two picks of 2018 - QB Josh Rosen and Kirk - are starters and statistical leaders for their team. Kirk’s emerging rapport with Rosen has him leading Arizona in receiving yards ( ​410 ​​) and second in receptions (​31​​). In fact, Kirk’s 31 receptions leads all rookie wideouts and his 410 yards are second only to RB Saquon Barkley’s 497 yards. In 4 starts with Rosen at the helm, Kirk has amassed 261 rec/yds and been targeted 24 times. Kirk is catching ​67.4%​ percent of the passes coming his way. More importantly for fantasy owners, four of his last six games were double digit point totals in most PPR leagues. 
 
Looking ahead, Kirk and the Cardinals will face only two Top 10 passing defenses in their final seven games. Four of those teams are ranked 20th, 23rd, 31st and 32nd! If Kirk is available, stash him now for your stretch run. 
 
D.J. Moore, WR, CAR 

 
Carolina’s first round pick and 24th overall selection, Moore is beginning to assert himself on the gridiron. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound slot receiver with 4.42 speed is ​3rd ​​on the team with 281 receiving yards.

Over the last 4 games, Moore was targeted 20 times catching 80 percent of the passes thrown his way. Secure Moore now because Weeks 13 thru 16 the Panthers face these ranked defenses vs the pass: Bucs (30th), Browns (28th), Saints (23rd), Falcons (26th).
 
Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN 
 
Even before Demaryius Thomas’ trade to the Texans, Sutton was averaging a little over ​4​​ targets a game. Guess who’s in line to receive Thomas’ 7 targets per game…Sutton! 
 
Already a Red Zone target at 6-foot-3, 218 lbs, Sutton’s role will increase as evidenced by his season high ​78 receiving yards ​​vs the Chiefs. The Broncos believe in their youth movement, so should you and he’s available in more than 50 percent of leagues. 
 
Marquez Valdez-Scantling, WR, GB 
 
What happens when a 6-foot-4, 206-pound athlete with large hands and 4.3 speed is paired with future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers? How about a yards per reception average of ​19.5 ​​over the last 4 games? Scantling has been targeted ​24​​ times during this 4-game stretch, accumulating ​2 TD​​ in the process. 
 
While teammates Cobb and Allison were sidelined with injuries, Scantling maximized opportunities with Rodgers developing a growing rapport and trust. Trust that this athletically, freakish athlete will grow statistically for your fantasy team. 
 
Anthony Miller, WR, CHI 
 
If QB Mitch Trubisky could actually hit his intended target, Miller would be one of 2018’s top rookie receivers. During the last 3 games, Miller averaged 6 targets but only totaled 6 receptions. Normally a​ 37.5  percent ​​catch rate might indicate a receiver isn’t very reliable and possesses poor hand/eye coordination. Nothing could be further from the truth. 
 
Miller is a solid route runner with abnormally large hands for his size (10 ⅝ inches). He gets open, as evidenced by his 18 targets the last 3 games. More importantly Miller, despite Trubisky’s inaccuracies still managed to haul in​ 2 TDs​​ the past 3 contests. A slow burgeoning connection is growing in Chicago between these two emerging players. It's almost Miller time! 
 
Josh Adams, RB, PHI
 
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Eagles are desperate for a lead running back. If you’re desperate too, you might want to do what they did and acquire Adams. In the last two weeks, Adams has rushed for a combined 78 yards on just 13 carries, for a ​6.0 ​​yard per attempt average.
 
Remember last year when the Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi mid season and how it improved their ground attack. Ajayi finished the regular season with ​408​​ rushing yards on ​70​​ attempts, for a ​5.8 per rush average. Time to get ahead of history repeating itself, grab Adams now if it’s not too late. 

Khalil Mack pays off holiday debts at Walmart in his hometown

Khalil Mack pays off holiday debts at Walmart in his hometown

Khalil Mack is doing good in his hometown during the holiday season.

Mack paid off more than 300 layaway accounts at a Walmart in his hometown of Fort Pierce, Fla. Mack paid through the Khalil Mack Foundation.

The Fort Pierce Walmart announced his good deed on their Facebook page:

“We have some wonderful news! If you have an active Holiday Layaway account at your local Ft. Pierce Wal-Mart, you account has been paid off!

“We here at Walmart would like to thank the Khalil Mack Foundation for your generosity, and for making so many families happy for the holidays!”

Mack has been a big play player for the Bears defense since joining the team last year. Here is an example of a big play off the field from Mack.

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

The 2019 NFL season is in its final quarter, and with the Bears essentially needing to win out while also getting some help around the league to make the playoffs, it's important to keep track of the trending NFL Draft narrative building around this team.

The funny thing, however, is that that narrative continues to change.

Just a few weeks ago, the Bears were considered a team that would potentially dip into the pool of quarterback prospects in the early second round, but with the emergence of Mitch Trubisky (he's thrown for 582 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games alone), it appears less likely that GM Ryan Pace will use one of his few draft assets on one.

Tight end was also considered a target for the Bears in the second round, and that could remain the case as the season marches on. But Jesper Horsted is beginning to look like a legitimate sleeper to emerge as part of the answer at such a critical position in coach Matt Nagy's offense.

So where does that leave this team's hierarchy of draft needs as the offseason inches closer? 

According to CBS Sports' new seven-round mock draft, the first two positions the Bears will address with their two second-round picks are cornerback and offensive tackle. In this mock, Chicago grabs TCU corner Jeff Gladney (No. 49 overall) and Iowa offensive tackle Alaris Jackson (No. 50 overall).

Gladney will participate in this year's Senior Bowl at the end of January after a standout career with the Horned Frogs. He was rated the No. 1 cornerback in the Big 12 by Pro Football Focus in 2018 and has been solid once again this season, although he's managed just one interception on the year. 

At 6-foot, 183 pounds, Gladney has an NFL frame and the kind of high-end coverage skills the Bears should be looking to add to the roster. Prince Amukamara's contract expires at the end of next season, and drafting a player like Gladney, combined with 2019 sixth-round pick Dukey Shelley, would strengthen the team's pipeline of young cornerbacks who will eventually be called upon to play.

Jackson, who the Bears take with their second second-rounder in this scenario, suffered an early-season knee injury but returned to earn Third Team All-Big 10 honors this year.

Jackson combined with Tristan Wirfs to give Iowa one of the best offensive tackle duos in college football, but Jackson offers a little less upside on the edge moving forward. Still, the Bears have suffered from underwhelming offensive line play all season and won't hesitate to add a player with Jackson's pedigree early in this year's draft.

As for the rest of the Bears' draft haul, here are some highlights:

Round 4 (projected compensatory pick): Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford

Parkinson began the 2019 season with some chatter that suggested he'd end the year as the top tight end in the class. And while he ended the season with 48 catches for 589 yards and a touchdown, it wasn't quite the production expected from a player who was supposed to be the next in the long line of promising Stanford tight ends. 

Parkinson's underwhelming season could be the Bears' gain, however. The best part of his game is his ability as a receiver, which is what Chicago is missing most from its offense right now. If he slides into Day 3 and the Bears end up with a compensatory pick in this range, he'd certainly be a viable target.

Round 5 (from Eagles): K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

Why not tap into the Stanford program twice on Day 3? This time, the Bears go with the guy who was throwing passes to Parkinson. Costello is a solid Day-3 quarterback prospect who has some physical limitations and an awkward throwing motion, but it's critical that Pace adds a developmental passer to the roster even if it's just to become a long-term backup for Trubisky (assuming Trubisky keeps the job).

Costello's been injured all season and was limited to just five games in what was supposed to be a senior year that put him in the first-round conversation. Instead, he'll slide into the third day (at least, he should). He'd make a lot of sense for the Bears, especially from a public relations standpoint. He isn't quite good enough to legitimately challenge Trubisky in 2020, but he has enough talent to potentially develop into a respectable starter down the road.

Round 7: Tucker McCann (K, Missouri)

Kicker alert! Would the Bears dare using a draft pick on a kicker? It seems highly unlikely, especially since Eddy Pineiro is beginning to play better. He's made all of his field-goal attempts during Chicago's three-game winning streak.

That said, Pineiro is connecting on just 76% of his kicks this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Not good.

Pace is a pretty loyal guy, and with Pineiro kicking under some of the most intense pressure of any kicking situation in the NFL, one could argue he's weathered the storm pretty well.

The next three games will determine whether Pineiro's roster spot is safe in 2020. If he remains hot, he'll be back. It's as simple as that.

Here is the total Bears' mock draft:

Round 2: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Round 2: Alaric Jackson, OL, Iowa
Round 4: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford
Round 5: K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford
Round 5: Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
Round 5: Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt
Round 6: Tyler Higby, G, Michigan State
Round 7: Tucker McCann, K, Missouri

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