Bears

Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 2

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Fantasy Football: 11 waiver wire targets for Week 2

The year of the tight end is upon us, you guys.

Tight ends exploded onto the scene in Week 1, with 22 total touchdowns as a position group.

It was so ridiculous that John "The Professor" Paschall (a lover of tight ends since the dawn of time) doesn't even want to talk about them anymore because TEs are "too mainstream."

Of the Top 20 fantasy scorers in Week 1, five (FIVE!!) were tight ends, including: Rob Gronkowski (No. 3), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (5), Tyler Eifert (13), Travis Kelce (14) and Jason Witten (20).

Thirteen different tight ends posted double-digit fantasy outputs and that total jumps to 18 if you look at PPR leagues.

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Heath Miller went for eight catches and 84 yards while Jordan Cameron posted four receptions for 73 yards and yet neither guy were in the Top 12 of TEs. If you told us before each week that our tight end would put up that kind of production, we'd be stoked.

As such, tight ends are dominating our Week 1 waiver pick ups.

Let's let Kelce take it away from here:

1. James Jones, WR, GB

Well that didn't take long, did it? One of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets returned to Green Bay less than a week before the season opener. Six days later he had caught two touchdown passes to go with 51 receiving yards. I don't think Jones' lightning-quick emergence dims the outlook on Randall Cobb (5/38/1) or Davante Adams (4/59/0) but it's apparent Jones is for real. Remember, he led the NFL in TD receptions (14) in 2012. He and Rodgers have chemistry, and the opportunity is clearly there. He should be this week's top waiver claim if you didn't grab him in the final rounds of your draft. - Mark Strotman

2. Terrance Williams, WR, DAL 

Jason Witten can't catch all of Tony Romo's passes. Williams flew under the radar during draft season but now he's in the spotlight with Dez Bryant's injury (which could be more severe than everyone initially believed). Williams will be a big time target machine with Tony Romo and should see a major increase in production. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

3. Tyler Eifert, TE, CIN

How is this guy only owned in 43 percent of leagues?? That's insane. We've been talking up Eifert all preseason and he's ready for his breakout. Talent has never been the question with the former Notre Dame star - it's always been about health and opportunity. Neither of those are an issue this season, as a monster Week 1 proves. He has the potential to be a Top 5 TE in 2015. (Tony Andracki)

4. Carson Palmer, QB, ARI

The Cardinals were so lost without Palmer last year when he went down with a knee injury. It was even worse for fantasy owners with Cardinals wide receivers because guys like Drew Stanton weren't able to take advantage of the talent Arizona had at skill positions. But now with Palmer back and healthy, those receivers should see a bump in production and more importantly so should Palmer. His great game against the Saints in Week 1 was no fluke. He's a solid veteran quarterback with a lot of good weapons around him and a head coach that loves big plays. Get him on your roster as your QB2 now. (Paschall)

5. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, TB

ASJ found his name on several "breakout" lists last season, but it looks like everybody was just year early on this raw, but uber-talented tight end. He was dominant against the Titans in Week 1, serving as really the only Bucs player worth a damn in fantasy. Just check out what he can do. A tight end is a rookie QB's best friend and it certainly looks like ASJ is here to stay. Get him on your rosters and in your lineups. He can easily finish as a Top 10-12 tight end this season. (Andracki)

6. Dion Lewis, RB, NE

It's hard to predict how Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will align his backfield each week, but if Week 1 was any indication then Lewis needs to be on your roster. Lewis gained 69 yards on 15 carries to go along with four receptions for 51 yards. He out-snapped every New England back by a large margin, which plays well into his favor with LeGarrette Blount returning from his one-game suspension in Week 2. Lewis won't get the volume of carries that Blount will receive going forward this season, but all signs point to him playing a similar passing down role that Shane Vereen excelled at during his time with the Patriots. (Scott Krinch)

7. Donte Moncrief, WR, IND

What a nice debut for the Colts' No. 3 wide receiver, who went for 6/46/1 on 11 targets in Indianapolis' loss to the Bills. With TY Hilton banged up Moncrief is in an excellent spot to post start-able numbers against the Jets next week. And even if Hilton weren't injured, Moncrief's Week 1 performance was another sign that first-rounder Phillip Dorsett won't be stealing many snaps from him going forward. He's a nice add, especially if Hilton misses any time the next few weeks. (Strotman)

8. Stevie Johnson, WR, SD

After three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2010-2012, Johnson sort of fell off the map the last two years. Looking to revive his career, Johnson signed with a pass-happy offense in San Diego this past offseason, and his addition is paying off immediate dividends for the Chargers. Johnson caught six passes (six targets) for 82 yards and a touchdown in San Diego's Week 1 victory. Firmly entrenched as the No. 2 wideout on an offense led by a Top 10 quarterback in Philip Rivers, Johnson is a must-add in all leagues this week. (Krinch)

9. Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA

Lockett displayed a knack for finding the end zone with three touchdowns during the preseason, and proved that he's no fluke by returning a punt 57 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's season opener. And it's not just the return game that Lockett provides value. He also hauled in all four passes thrown his way for 34 yards against the Rams. Lockett is already the No. 3 wideout on the Seahawks as he played in 70 percent of the team's offensive snaps against St. Louis, and with mediocre players like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse in front of him, it won't be too long before the rookie speedster becomes Russell Wilson's go-to-receiver in Seattle. (Krinch)

10. Jordan Reed, TE, WSH

Targets, targets and more targets. Reed was getting a lot of looks from Kirk Cousins already and now he'll only get more with DeSean Jackson out. He's not a traditional tight end in that he's smaller but has some speed. Somebody has to catch passes from Kirk Cousins and Reed will be that guy. Go get him on the waiver wire. (Paschall)

11. Chris Johnson, RB, ARI

What a country we live in. Left for dead last year and this offseason, Chris Johnson signed with the Cardinals and less than a month later is the lead back. With Andre Ellington sidelined and David Johnson not ready to take on full-time responsibilities, Bruce Arians is ready to go with CJ2K as the lead back in Week 2 against the Bears and a defense still trying to find its identity under Vic Fangio. The Packers offense didn't post gaudy numbers in Chicago, but that was more a product of the Bears controlling time of possession than anything. Johnson will have a chance to run free in what should be another high-scoring game. Feel confident in using him as a flex with RB2 upside. (Strotman)

Three reasons why the Bears' offense should have success against the Patriots' defense

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Three reasons why the Bears' offense should have success against the Patriots' defense

Every team will try to scheme against what its opponent does best. Not every team does it as well as Bill Belichick consistently has in his Hall of Fame tenure as the coach of the New England Patriots. 
 
This is what Belichick is famous for, beyond the five Super Bowl trophies and historic partnership with Tom Brady. That thing your team’s offense does best? He’s going to take it away. 
 
That can create a mental challenge for an opposing coach during the week. Do you focus on doing something other than what your offense does best because Belichick is going to identify and scheme against it, or do you try to accentuate what you do best so it can’t be taken away? 
 
“That’s that whole chasing the cat’s tail thing,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “All of the sudden you start out-thinking to yourself, ‘What the heck?’ That’s the mystique, and that’s what they do. They’ve earned that over time because of the success they’ve had. 
 
“When you don’t go too crazy with that and balance it and control what you can control. Then in the end, win, lose or draw, no matter what, you at least feel good you approached it the right way, and you weren’t, ‘Oh shoot, I should have done this. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.’”
 
When Taylor Gabriel and the Atlanta Falcons faced the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, everybody on that team knew Belichick would do what he could to take Julio Jones out of the game. But that didn’t make preparations any easier. 
 
“We knew he was going to take away Julio, but we didn’t know how he was going to do it,” Gabriel said. “So it’s just just something you kind of have to adjust to when you get in the game.”
 
Jones only had four catches in that game, and the Falcons were able to quickly adjust to how he was taken away — though it wasn’t enough to keep them from a historic collapse and ultimate overtime loss. 
 
Tight end Dion Sims played New England eight times during his four years with the Miami Dolphins, and came away with a healthy respect for the scheme and the players on that defense. 
 
“They’re fundamentally sound, they got good coaching over there, a good staff,” Sims said. “You gotta be prepared because they come out and they play their ass off.” 
 
But what should give the Bears confidence they can mentally and physically beat New England’s defense?
 
1. The Patriots’ defense isn’t what it once was
 
The way Bears coaches and players have talked about New England’s defense this week has been with reverence and respect. But lately, the Patriots’ defense production hasn’t quite equalled its reputation. 
 
Maybe it started with Nagy’s Kansas City Chiefs launching 42 points and over 500 yards of offense against New England in 2017’s nationally-televised season opener. Maybe Super Bowl LII, in which the Philadelphia Eagles ripped off 41 points with a backup quarterback, was another turning point. Or maybe the Patriots’ 43-40 win over the Chiefs on Sunday night, which looked more like a Big 12 game than an NFL game, further chipped away at that mystique. 
 
New England’s defense heads to Chicago ranked 18th in points allowed (24.7) and has allowed 400 or more yards of offense in four of six games this year. They’re 19th in defensive DVOA, though Pro Football Focus’ grades do peg this group fourth, behind only the Bears, Rams and Eagles. 
 
What this defense does well is take the ball away, with eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries critical in propping up a defense that isn’t good on third down (44 percent conversion rate, 25th) or in the red zone (68 percent, 26th). But as long as the Bears' ball security is better than its two-turnovers-inside-the-five-yard-line showing in Miami on Sunday, an offense that scored 48 and 28 points in its last two games should be in good shape. 
 
2. Multiple weapons
 
How Belichick schemes against a Bears offense that’s been explosive and productive in its last two weeks will be fascinating to see on Sunday. Maybe it’ll be Tarik Cohen, who Belichick said is “a special player that you gotta know where he is at all times.” Maybe it’ll be making sure Taylor Gabriel doesn’t beat them deep (“The execution on that was like 99 out of 100,” Belichick said of Mitch Trubisky’s 54-yard deep ball to Gabriel against Miami). Or maybe it’ll be dropping seven or eight guys into coverage, spying Trubisky and forcing the second-year Bears quarterback to make good decisions and fit passes into tight windows. Or maybe it’ll be something else entirely. 
 
This goes back to the guessing game, though, and it’s one the Bears can’t allow themselves to play. 
 
“I think you can spend too much time on that,” Nagy said. “I look at that and I think I've said it before, it can be kind of like chasing the cat's tail. You've got to be careful of that and when you just start worrying about what you do — and of course here or there you might so something a little bit different — but if you just start doing things different because of one coach, now you've stopped worrying about just controlling what you can control and I haven't found too much success with that.”
 
The good news for the Bears, though, is they seem to have the multitude of weapons necessary to have success against a Belichick defense. Kansas City showed it on Sunday — when the Patriots took away Kelce, Kareem Hunt racked up 185 yards from scrimmage, while Tyreek Hill gouged New England for 142 yards on seven catches with three touchdowns.
 
So if the plan is to take away Cohen, that could lead to opportunities for Gabriel, or vice versa. Or if the plan is to drop seven or eight into coverage, that would give Jordan Howard an opportunity to carve out yards on the ground.  
 
“They utilize all their players, the backs, the tight ends, the receivers, the quarterback, they all have production, so if you take one away, they just go to the next guy, and that’s hard to defend,” Belichick said. “There are a lot of options on some of those plays, which guy is going to end up with the ball based on a quarterback’s decision, if it’s a check-with me type of play, bubbles and look passes and RPOs and things like that, it’s up to the quarterback to make the right decision and Trubisky’s done a good job of that. I think all those things, they keep getting better and they’re hard to defend.”
 
3. History repeating itself
 
In Nagy’s only meeting with New England as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, his offense scored 42 points — and that’s a number that has resonated in the Bears’ locker room and practice fields this week.  
 
“You have to go into this game with confidence and know that we’re playing against a great group of guys who’ve been there, been to the Super Bowl and then they also have Tom Brady on the other side,” Sims said. “It’s important that we capitalize on everything and try to be mistake-free.” 
 
“What the defense is giving you is what the offense will take — what good offenses will do,” Gabriel said. “I feel like we have those type of minds up there in the booth and on the field with us to figure out what those guys are doing and how we want to attack it.”
 
The Bears’ offense is young, from the coach to offensive coordinator to most of the players that populate it. Beating New England, even if its defense isn’t what it used to be, would send a message around the league that the Bears are for real. Until the Patriots are dethroned in consecutive years, or even finish a season with fewer than, say, 12 wins, they’re still the Patriots.  
 
But while this team is young, it does have a handful of guys who’ve competed against New England on some of the NFL’s biggest stages. So expect guys like Gabriel, Burton and even Nagy to not allow this team to let facing the Patriots become daunting on Sunday. 
 
“It’s not difficult at all,” Gabriel said of avoiding thinking about that mystique. “Just like this team, we have the weapons to take advantage of those one-on-one matchups. I don’t care what defense you are, you’re going to have a one-on-one matchup somewhere unless you’re dropping everybody. So as long as you’re staying the pace and being confident in what you’re doing, I feel like we’ll be okay.” 

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

The Bears were getting used to life in the big chair. Chicago was favored in each of their last four games, but it all came crashing down at the hands of Brock Osweiler in overtime last week.

The Miami Dolphins pulled off the upset, and now the Bears return home to take on one of the best teams in the league.

Even if they had won in Miami, Chicago likely still would have been underdogs to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but as it stands, Bill Belichick and company are favored by three on most major sportsbooks, according to Vegas Insider.

The line initially opened at Patriots by 2.5, but it would seem that money placed on New England pushed the spread a little more in the Bears’ favor.

Vegas is expecting another higher-scoring game for both teams, with the over/under sitting at 49. Given that the Patriots have scored at least 38 points in each of their last three games, the Bears’ defense may have some trouble keeping this game low on the scoreboard.

In Week 6, home underdogs went 4-1 against the spread and 3-2 straight up. According to Bet America, home underdogs have covered in 20 of their 30 games this season, which bodes well for a Bears team facing a tough task at Soldier Field.