Bears

Bears' Freeman, Massie, Trevathan arrive with some quirks

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Bears' Freeman, Massie, Trevathan arrive with some quirks

With their signings of linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan and tackle Bobby Massie, the Bears added three presumed starters to their 22 position spots. With those three, however, come a handful of…well, quirks.

Not necessarily bad at all, just…quirks. Consider:

Jay pickers

Both Freeman and Trevathan intercepted Jay Cutler the first and only times they faced their new Bears teammate, both in Soldier Field. (This of course does not necessarily put them in elite company; Cutler has gotten better with ball security but he's thrown picks to assorted defensive tackles, too.)

Freeman returned a Cutler interception for a TD in the first quarter of his first NFL game, a 2012 Bears win. Trevathan picked off Cutler last season in the Broncos’ 17-15 win. Notably perhaps with respect to Trevathan’s cover skills: The interception came on a throw toward Marquess Wilson – a wide receiver in the deep middle.

[MORE: Jerrell Freeman, Danny Trevathan impact multiple areas of Bears 3-4 'D']

Import LB’s

The current four projected starting linebackers in the Bears’ 3-4 all came to Chicago via free agency. It’s a situation that has to change organizationally, with GM Ryan Pace opening up a draft pipeline, but that’s for another discussion.

Right now, however, Freeman and Trevathan are starting inside-‘backers, and Lamarr Houston and Pernell McPhee are the OLB’s. Houston’s contract situation may be an issue at $6 million for 2016 but he also was the Bears’ sack leader last season, so… .

With Houston at $6 million, McPhee at $7.5 million, Trevathan at $6.1 million and Freeman at $4 million, the Bears need to score on draft picks like safety Adrian Amos and nose tackle Eddie Goldman for fiscal balance as well as a sound future.

Coaching upheavals

All three new Bears experienced coaching changes with their previous teams:

Massie: The Arizona Cardinals fired Ken Whisenhunt after 2012 and hired Bruce Arians.

Trevathan: The Denver Broncos went from John Fox to Gary Kubiak last season.

Freeman: Colts coach Chuck Pagano needed time away in 2012 to battle cancer, with Arians stepping in for Pagano.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Calendar-watching

Teams typically want to build with youth for obvious reasons. Freeman is something of an outlier, turning 30 this coming May 1, in large part due to his playing three seasons (2009-11) with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League after the Tennessee Titans cut him after training camp 2008.

Shoulder-chips

All three come to Chicago smarting from disrespect, some dating back to even before they got to the NFL. Besides the positive life lesson of not letting others’ opinions of you affect how you look at yourself, the residue from doubters is pure motivation.

Massie watched on draft day 2015 as the Arizona Cardinals used their first-round pick on a tackle – D.J. Humphries – to replace him. Humphries spent the year as an inactive but the Cardinals only offered Massie a one-year contract to remain with them.

Freeman gets to play this season against both Tennessee, which cut him before the 2008 season, and Indianapolis, which he said made no real effort to re-sign him this offseason despite his averaging 119 tackles for the past four seasons. That he came from a D-3 program still fuels him.

“That chip on my shoulder is never going to get knocked off,” Freeman said. “It's always going to be there. I carry it with me. It's shaped the kind of player I am. The aggressiveness, recklessness, just out there running around because I can really appreciate where I've come from. There was a lot of people counting me out in a lot of different situations, so I definitely carry that chip.”

Trevathan led the prestigious SEC in tackles in 2011 but was not a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award for college football’s top linebacker. At 240 pounds (generously) he has been type-cast as too small: “It’s an issue for everybody else, not for me. I believe it’s the fight. They same I’m undersized, but I’m not. Seriously. I like that people keep saying it’s something about me.”

Fantasy Football: 15 players to target on your waiver wire

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Fantasy Football: 15 players to target on your waiver wire

We've crossed the halfway mark in the regular season for most Fantasy Football leagues, so it's officially crunch time.

As we get ready to make a push for the stretch run and with Bye Weeks in full gear, the waiver wire has never been more important in 2018.

If Nick Chubb is available in your league still, change that immediately. But considering he should've been scooped up in every league after Carlos Hyde was traded away from Cleveland Friday, we're more focused on guys who should be available and worth spending your free agent budget on.

Here are 15 guys worth targeting on the waiver wire:

1. Kenjon Barner, RB, NE

It appears Sony Michel has avoided serious injury, but he still will probably miss at least Week 8 and possibly longer. James White will see a larger role without Michel, but Barner suddenly goes from a guy not even worth sniffing at in Fantasy to a must-own. As soon as Michel left the game, Barner entered and tallied 10 rushes against the Bears defense. If you're desperate for a running back in Week 8, Barner might be a good add as he has a fantastic matchup against a Bills defense that just allowed 219 rushing yards to the Colts.

2. Chris Ivory, RB, BUF

LeSean McCoy was forced to leave the Week 7 contest with a concussion, opening the door for a decent game for Ivory (126 total yards on 19 touches). If McCoy continues to miss time, Ivory is the clear beneficiary, though it's not a great matchup in Week 8 against the Pats.

3. Danny Amendola, WR, MIA

It's been a while since Amendola was anything more than a tease in Fantasy Football, but the soon-to-be-33-year-old has had back-to-back good games while building a good rapport with Brock Osweiler. Amendola has hauled in 143 yards and a tuddie on 14 catches (18 targets) the last two weeks and while he is banged up, he practiced in a limited capacity Monday. If he can suit up Thursday, he should be the Dolphins' top target as both Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson are expected to miss that contest with their own injuries.

4. Raheem Mostert, RB, SF

Matt Breida and Alfred Morris owners must hate this guy, but Mostert has emerged from complete irrelevance to lead the Niners backfield the last two weeks. The 26-year-old has 23 touches the last two games while Morris has tallied just 9 touches (all in Week 7) and Breida has racked up 19 touches as he works through a bunch of injuries, including an ankle issue. It will be tough to predict how this situation will play out this week, but Mostert has been the only Niners back worth starting recently and this group of RBs now has the best matchup of the week against the woeful Cardinals defense. Mostert at least deserves to be owned, even if you're not comfortable starting him at the moment.

5/6. Jalen Richard/Doug Martin, RB, OAK

With Marshawn Lynch on IR, Richard and Martin should be owned in all formats just for the sheer possibility of a heavy workload. However, both are questionable Fantasy starts for Week 8 — even coming off a Bye. Richard should be the call in PPR leagues while Martin figures to eat up most of Lynch's carries. 

7. Tyrell Williams, WR, LAC

Williams is owned in hardly any league, but he's racked up 236 receiving yards and 3 TDs the last two weeks. He's not getting a heavy workload (only 8 targets in that span), but the Chargers love throwing deep to this guy and it's paid off in back-to-back weeks. Williams isn't close to being a safe bet as his value is completely contigent upon whether he catchs a deep bomb or not, but you could do a lot worse in your Fantasy lineups.

8. Martavis Bryant, WR, OAK

With Amari Cooper now in Dallas, somebody's gotta catch balls for Jon Gruden's Raiders. There's no guarantee that's Bryant, but he's slated to start Week 8 and he has the talent and resume to be at least a servicable Fantasy player the rest of the season.

9. Donte Moncrief, WR, JAC

The good: In 3 of the last 4 weeks, Moncrief has tallied at least 5 catches and 76 yards. The bad: In the other week during that stretch, he did not record a single catch on 3 targets. So there's clearly some risk here, especially considering the state of the Jags passing offense and QB situation. But Moncrief may be worth a pickup and start in Week 8 if you're desperate, as the Eagles have given up some of the most Fantasy points to opposing WRs. 

10. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, BUF

Benjamin was drafted in most leagues but was unable to post as many as 10 Fantasy points in even full-point PPR leagues until Week 7, and that was a modest 11-point total. Nobody blames you if you've given up on Benjamin, but he finally topped 3 catches and 50 yards in Week 7 and has a rapport with Derek Anderson from their time in Carolina. 

11. Trenton Cannon, RB, NYJ

Who? Cannon is owned in 0.0 percent of Fantasy leagues, which makes sense given he had a grand total of 2 Fantasy points entering Week 7. But when Bilal Powell left the game with a neck injury, it was Cannon that stepped up with 69 receiving yards on 4 catches while Isaiah Crowell still handled rushing duties. If Powell misses time in Week 8 or beyond (neck issues are no joke), Cannon is the main beneficiary in the passing game and should be rostered in all PPR leagues.

12. Chris Herndon, TE, NYJ

The Jets' fourth-round pick from this spring is another no-name in the Fantasy world, but that's quickly changing after back-to-back weeks with a TD. Herndon has clearly become the top tight end for fellow rookie Sam Darnold, seeing 7 targets last week and hauling in 4 of those catches for 42 yards. If you're desperate for a TE or you're in a dynasty league, target Herndon now. 

13. DeVante Parker, WR, MIA

Parker has been worth absolutely nothing in Fantasy this year, finding his way out of the lineup on a weekly basis. But he's worth a speculative add in case he's traded by next week — like he wants — and he also receives a boost for Week 8 by default, as the other Dolphins wideouts are all banged up and Parker essentially has to play.

14. Jakeem Grant, WR, MIA

Notice a trend here? We're all-in on South Beach receivers this week. Same logic applies because of injuries to Stills and Wilson, but obviously all of Parker, Grant and Amendola will not be worth a Fantasy start in Week 8. This is still Osweiler and the Dolphins we're talking about. But Grant is fun with his gamechanging speed and has at least contributed in every single week of the season so far even before he's become an increased part of the gameplan, so his floor isn't "0" like Parker's or some of the other WR options on the market.

15. Colts D/ST

We can't end this without a defense/special teams unit, right? The Colts gave up at least 31 points for 3 straight games from Week 4 through 6, but they absolutely dominated the Bills last week and now draw a Raiders team that just lost its two best offensive playmakers over the last 10 days. There is no better D/ST to stream out there than the Colts, and they're available in more than half of leagues.

Bonus: Rishard Matthews, WR, NYJ

Matthews is reportedly signing with the Jets, who need some WR help. Matthews quit on the Titans earlier this season after they completely went away from him in the gameplan, but this is a guy that racked up 1,740 yards and 13 TDs from 2016-17. He's worth an add in all leagues just for the potential.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.