Bears

Fantasy Football: Four rookies who could make an impact in 2015

maxx-williams-fantasy-0511.png

Fantasy Football: Four rookies who could make an impact in 2015

2014 saw an absurd number of rookies make an early impact in the NFL. 

From Odell Beckham Jr. to Mike Evans to Teddy Bridgewater, fantasy owners who took risks on rookies were mostly rewarded for their gamble (except for you, Bishop Sankey owners). 

Could we see another outburst of impact rookies in 2015? And could the success of the 2014 class cause fantasy owners to reach for some of the highly-rated rookies in the 2015 class?

We may not know some of those answers until training camp but looking at the some of the teams and situations the top playmakers in the 2015 NFL Draft ended up in got us excited for the fall.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

So here's a list of some rookies that should make an impact this fall if healthy:

1. Amari Cooper, WR, OAK

Of course Cooper is a rookie to watch in Fantasy Football this year. He was the fourth pick, after all. But there are plenty of reasons to believe Cooper will be a Fantasy stud in his rookie season. He's one of the most polished receivers we've seen in a long while and his game is pro-ready from Day 1. Cooper enters a great situation in Oakland where he should be the No. 1 option in the passing game immediately with up-and-comer Derek Carr at quarterback. Rookie wide receivers were a vital part of the 2014 Fantasy season and Cooper should lead the way for first-year wideouts in 2015. - Tony Andracki

[MORE: Four guys whose stock is falling after free agency, NFL Draft]

2. Maxx Williams, TE, BAL

There may not have been a more perfect match than Maxx Williams and the Baltimore Ravens in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the fact that the Ravens were able to grab the former Gopher at No. 55 and steal him from their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers was just further icing on the cake. Williams, the No. 1 tight end in this year's draft, instantly adds a dynamic to the Ravens roster that they were previously missing. With Dennis Pitta's future in doubt, it's likely that Williams will be the starter in Baltimore this season. Williams possesses tremendous straight-line speed and has the ability to beat linebackers and safeties down the middle of the field. We saw what Joe Flacco could do with an aging Owen Daniels in 2014, just imagine the production he will get out of a player as talented as Williams. Another added bonus for Williams is new Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. During Trestman's two years in Chicago, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett hauled in 155 passes on 225 targets, making Bennett one of the league's top fantasy options at the tight end position. I know Williams is a rookie, but he's a must-target in the later rounds this year. A player with his upside should not be sitting on the wire in Week 1. - Scott Krinch

[RELATED: Four guys whose stock is on the rise after free agency, NFL Draft]

3. Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL

With most rookies, their first year success depends on two conditions: talent and depth chart. Coleman can check both of those boxes in Atlanta. The Falcons don't have a workhorse in the backfield with only Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith slated on the roster, immediately pushing Coleman towards the top of the depth chart. Third-down snaps may be harder to come by for Coleman because Freeman and Smith thrive catching balls out of the backfield but the former Hoosier is a strong enough back that he could be the Falcons' goal line runner and pick up major fantasy points that way. He's also in a division that lacks stout defenses (outside of the Panthers). With talent on the outside such as Julio Jones and Roddy White, Coleman is exactly the kind of offensive weapon the Falcons need to take their team to the next level and the kind of FLEX option that could put your fantasy team over the top. - John "The Professor" Paschall

4. Jameis Winston, QB, TB

Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers felt comfortable enough about Jameis Winston off the field, he became a no-brainer choice for the No. 1 overall pick. That’s because he’s the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, a savvy quarterback mind and a gritty competitor. Pardon the John Gruden-isms there at the end, but Famous Jameis is that good. If he keeps his head on straight (I think he will) I see no reason why he can’t be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this season. He’s got two 1,000-yard wide receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, some talent in the backfield – expect a bounce-back year from Doug Martin, while one of Bobby Rainey, Mike James or Charles Sims should hold value. Tampa Bay allowed the third most sacks last season, but they invested in some protection by spending second-round picks on OT Donovan Smith and C Ali Marpet. The Bucs are invested in keeping Winston upright, and with a pair of 6-foot-5 targets to throw to I expect him to have a monster rookie year. I’m not sure it’ll result in Tampa Bay victories but the front office has put him in position to succeed from the jump. It’s too risky to bank on him being your No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues, but I’d absolutely use a mid-round pick on Winston. You’ll reap the rewards later. - Mark Strotman

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

hicks_pff.jpg
USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

trubisky_tumbnail.jpg
USA TODAY

Vegas sets Mitchell Trubisky’s pass TD total at 26.5

If Mitchell Trubisky has the kind of break out year in his second season under Matt Nagy that Bears fans are hoping for, he should have no problem cashing an OVER 26.5 passing TDs ticket for bettors who want to back him.

Per Bet Chicago, Caesars is rolling out division props and they set Trubisky’s touchdown pass total for 2019 at 26.5 and his pass yard total at 3,744.5.

While both those marks would be career highs for Trubisky, this number will surely be seen as a slight by the hometown fans and continue to add to the polarizing nature of the quarterback formerly known as the Pretty Boy Assassin.

In Chicago, and if you’re team Mitch, this number is ridiculously low and you’re probably already pounding the over.

Outside of Chicago, and with some analytical support, there’s a lot of doubt about Trubisky’s future as a viable option as an NFL starter, so I’d guess the Pro Football Focus crowd is probably gonna take the under.

We rolled out some props of our own on the Under Center podcast last week including:

Will Mitch Trubisky pass for 10 or more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (Including playoffs for both)

26.5 regular season passing touchdowns probably gives Kimbrel the edge, but it’s right in range. 

And that Trubisky – Kimbrel prop prompted this bold response from our own Bears insider JJ Stankevitz:

I don’t think I’m in the 40 club with my guy JJ, but the OVER certainly feels like the move here. At least it better be if the Bears are gonna make any sort of NFC North title defense.