Bears

Fantasy Football: Breaking down Bears' 2015 roster

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Fantasy Football: Breaking down Bears' 2015 roster

Heading into 2014, the Bears looked like a Fantasy gold mine.

They had Jay Cutler coming off a solid season (when he was on the field in 2013) and going into his second year in Marc Trestman's system. Alshon Jeffery had broken out and become a reliable receiver, as had Martellus Bennett at tight end. And then there was the always-reliable Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall.

But we all know how that ended up - The Bears had a dismal season and only Forte was a must-start every week (though Jeffery and Bennett had solid seasons).

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And that's kind of been the theme with the Bears when it comes to Fantasy. They've been typically unreliable as a franchise and now there are more question marks with how John Fox and Adam Gase will run the offense.

So let's take a (way too) early look at how the Bears roster may affect the Fantasy landscape: 

Quarterbacks (Jay Cutler)

It might go against conventional wisdom, but I actually think the Bears' moves this offseason will benefit Jay Cutler. Of course, nobody will draft him as their No. 1 QB (and they shouldn't), but Cutler could be a great Fantasy value as a guy who is selected in the later rounds and becomes at least a nice matchup play and potentially a surefire starter from week-to-week. Cutler puts up solid numbers in the first year with a new coordinator and it's apparent now that he is playing for his football future this season. 2015 may be his last year with the Bears and that can create a sort of "contract year" mindset as he tries to audition for other teams and other situations.

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Around him, the Bears have built up the offensive roster. Brandon Marshall is gone, but he's been replaced with a younger, faster Kevin White. Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte are still here (and so is Martellus Bennett for the time being) while rookie running back Jeremy Langford can be an option in the passing game and the Bears finally have an actual slot receiver in Eddie Royal (a former Cutler target in Denver). On top of that, the Bears bolstered the offensive line with two draft picks, including third-round center Hroniss Grasu.

Cutler will always be a turnover machine, but that "go big or go home" mindset can also be a boost to Fantasy lineups. And hey, he and the Bears can't be much worse than they were in 2014. (Tony Andracki)

Running Backs (Matt Forte)

On the surface Bears running back Matt Forte appears to be a surefire Top 10 fantasy selection in 2015, but drafting Forte this fall comes with plenty of risks. The veteran back had his best year as a pro under Marc Trestman in 2014, but Forte will be 30 in December, and if past running back history is any indication a decline is coming. Another negative for Forte is that new Bears head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Adam Gase and GM Ryan Pace all come from teams that have a history of using a running back-by-committee approach. The past two seasons in Denver, the Broncos started four different running backs (C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno).

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As the head coach of the Panthers, Fox employed one of the NFL's best rushing attacks with the tandem of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, and the last two years in New Orleans (Pace in the front office), the Saints used a combination of Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson and Darren Sproles. While Forte is the unquestioned starter in Chicago in 2015, he will be pushed by fourth-round selection Jeremy Langford, third-down specialist Jacquizz Rodgers and last year's fourth-round pick Ka'Deem Carey. If you're drafting Forte for Top 5 production, you'll likely be second-guessing yourself by the end of September. (Scott Krinch)

Receivers

It didn't take long, but first-round pick Kevin White is already receiving rave reviews at rookie minicamp. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, however, because everyone knew he had the physical ability to dominate, it just would come down to the mental aspect of the game and whether he could pick up the Bears' system quickly. White's route-running was also one of the reasons why teams were higher on Amari Cooper than the former Mountaineer in the draft.

White has the potential to be a star in Adam Gase's offense but it may not happen right away for the reasons mentioned above but also because of a difficult schedule early on. White is worth a flier as your WR3 because of his upside but don't expect immediate results. He needs to develop the chemistry with Cutler.

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Speaking of chemistry with Cutler, I'm not buying that is a reason why Eddie Royal will thrive in Chicago this year. The two played together in 2008 in Denver and had tremendous success. But that was also seven years ago and the two were only together for one full season.

Royal could become Gase's Wes Welker in Chicago (hopefully the good one in 2013). But it's hard to see the Bears slot receiver on the fantasy radar since he also has trouble staying healthy. He could be worth a flier in one of the final rounds of the draft and maybe a sneaky FLEX play for some matchups during the season but until we see this new offense in full force, there's no need to reserve a spot on your fantasy team for Royal. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

It's early (extremely early) in the 2020 NFL Draft process, and the Bears' team needs between now and when their first pick (No. 43 overall) is on the clock are certain to change. The general consensus right now is that offensive line, tight end and quarterback will be early draft targets, but edge rusher can't be overlooked.

Leonard Floyd's failure to emerge as the pass rusher the Bears need to complement Khalil Mack is a bigger problem than GM Ryan Pace or coach Matt Nagy want to admit. In fact, Floyd's ineffective style of play could cost Chicago a chance at becoming a truly elite defense and potentially limit the astronomical upside Mack has as a generational talent.

If the Bears decide to pull the fifth-year option from Floyd, they'll have no choice but to attack the position early in the 2020 draft. It appears like they're doing their homework for that scenario, too.

Bears scouts met with Tulsa edge rusher Trevis Gipson at length following Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice, an indication that the position is at least high enough on their wish list that extensive homework on pass rushers is being done.

Gipson helped his draft stock at the Senior Bowl and was an early winner among edge rushers at the game. His practice reps confirmed his tape; the dude knows how to get to the quarterback. He had eight sacks in 2019 and plays with a high-energy style that's certain to entice Chicago's coaching staff. He isn't an elite athlete, but he has an appealing frame (34-inch arms) and powerful hands.

Gipson began the week as a late-Day-3 prospect. He helped his stock and may have jumped a round or two along the way.

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

The Bears didn't have much of a rookie class in 2019. Last April's draft produced just five picks, two of which didn't appear in a regular-season game for the Bears.

But the production of running back David Montgomery was enough to carry the rookie class to a top-10 ranking, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Bears checked-in at eighth.

The Bears have a strange class. They had only five picks, none before Round 3, with three of those five selections coming after Round 6. As a result, their expected return was low. Running back David Montgomery was really the only Bears' rookie to play significant snaps, and he managed to provide enough return from his third-round selection to land them at No. 8.

It's pretty remarkable that Chicago's 2019 rookie class — essentially, Montgomery — garnered this much respect from PFF. Wide receiver Riley Ridley showed signs of life late in the season and cornerback Duke Shelley will be given an opportunity to carve out a role on defense next season, but with running back Kerrith Whyte, Jr. and cornerback Stephen Denmark making no impact whatsoever (Whyte is no longer with the team), the 2019 class won't be remembered as one that laid a championship foundation in Chicago.

Sure, Montgomery has a chance to become one of the NFL's more talented starting running backs (he ended his rookie season with 889 yards and six touchdowns), but if Ridley and Shelley don't turn into legitimate contributors in 2020 or 2021, the class will go down as an epic failure for GM Ryan Pace.

Remember: The Bears didn't have a first-round pick because of the trade for outside linebacker Khalil Mack. That's a win for Pace, but it doesn't change the fact that he had five selections at his disposal and ended up with what appears to be just one impact player after their rookie seasons.