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.
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)
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.
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)