Bears

Fantasy Football: 4 guys whose stocks are rising after NFL Draft

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Fantasy Football: 4 guys whose stocks are rising after NFL Draft

With the NFL Draft come and gone, the entire Fantasy landscape has changed. There are plenty of new rookies who are in great situations (Kevin White included here in Chicago), but there are also some up-and-comers and veterans whose stock is on the rise. 

Carlos Hyde (RB), SF

No more Frank Gore means Carlos Hyde is the No. 1 dude in San Fran. Hyde impressed in his rookie season, averaging 4.0 yards per carry with 12 catches and four rushing TDs in 14 games. He's flashed potential and now is atop the depth chart. Somebody has to replace the 255 carries Gore had last season and Hyde is already a factor in the passing game. The only guy that is truly a threat to Hyde right now is Reggie Bush, who is suddenly 30 years old and put up career-lows in yardage (discluding the 2010 season in which he played just eight games), while only scoring two touchdowns in Detroit. Bush's arrow is trending down and Hyde's is on the way up. Look at Hyde as an upper-tier No. 2 running back, with the potential for more.

[ROTOWORLD: Veteran winners from the NFL Draft]

Eli Manning (QB), New York Giants

After a horrendous start to the 2014 season, Manning rebounded later in the year and posted some great numbers with the help of Odell Beckham Jr., showing the two have developed on-field chemistry. This offseason the front office decided to add to the talent around Manning by bringing in pass-catching running back Shane Vereen and using their first-round pick on Ereck Flowers to help keep the Giants' franchise QB standing up in the pocket. With the potential return of Victor Cruz, Manning is poised for a huge year in 2015. He could be this year's 2014 Big Ben and be that mid-to-late round selection that ends up being a huge steal. Oh, and did I mention he's in a contract year? - John

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Latavius Murray (RB), Oakland Raiders

After missing the entire 2013 season with an ankle injury, the second-year running back out of Central Florida had a semi-breakout season in 2014. He rushed for 424 yards with a sparkling 5.2 yards per carry. And there are plenty of reasons why Murray is on the verge of stardom. The front office cut ties with veterans Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden this offseason, while signing Roy Helu and Trent Richardson. At this stage in his career Helu is viewed as a third-down back, while Richardson doesn't pose as a threat to unseat Murray as Oakland's lead back. Murray will also benefit from new Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who already mentioned that he wants to "tailor" the running game to Murray. Musgrave used a high-volume running game in the past with Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Clinton Portis and Fred Taylor. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr now has weapons in his disposal after GM Reggie McKenzie added arguably the best wide receiver in the draft in Amari Cooper and selected Miami tight end Clive Walford in the second round. Teams won't be able to stack the box against Murray now that the Raiders have players that can stretch the field. While Murray isn't necessarily a Top 20 fantasy player as of now, I wouldn't be surprised to see him reach that mark by season's end. - Scott

Jay Cutler (QB), Chicago Bears

With all the holes the Bears needed to fill on either side of the football, general manager Ryan Pace didn't have the luxury of drafting for need last week. Instead, he went for a best-player-available approach, and that meant using three of his first four selections on offensive players. That's good news for Jay Cutler, who got what should be an upgrade at wide receiver in No. 7 overall pick Kevin White, potentially a new center in Hronnis Grasu and a chance-of-pace back in Jeremy Langford who, at the very least, won't be as bad as Michael Bush or Ka'Deem Cary. Cutler still isn't a QB1 guy, but he's a much safer QB2 bet now that he's got White AND Alshon Jeffery, free agent signee Eddie Royal, Forte and Langford as targets. The offensive line will have to hold up - which is didn't do a year ago - but maybe Cutler will flourish in Adam Gase's offense. He's a guy to keep an eye on after the Bears improved their offensive in the draft.

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below:

 

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

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USA TODAY

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.