Bears

Fantasy Football: The most disappointing players of the first half

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Fantasy Football: The most disappointing players of the first half

Nobody can predict the future.

We've said that plenty of times before on this site and it's an important fact to keep in mind as you read through or listen to any fantasy football preseason advice. Whoever is doling out the info is just guessing at best, because that's all it is: An educated guess.

Every fantasy season, plenty of surprises - both good and bad - come out of nowhere that not a soul on Earth could have predicted.

[MORE - Fantasy Football: The five best surprises of the first half]

As we enter Week 8, we sit at roughly the halfway mark between most fantasy regular seasons in leagues, so the CSN Fantasy crew is taking a look at the most disappointing players at each position:

QB - Peyton Manning, DEN

We all saw some ominous signs in Peyton Manning's second half of 2014. The 14-time Pro Bowler finished with three touchdowns and six interceptions in his last four games last season. With all the warning signs there and at the age of 39 going into the 2015 season, Manning still had an ADP of 50.

If you took him at or before his ADP, you're probably kicking yourself in the behind right about now. Manning is currently ranked as the No. 29 fantasy quarterback through six games, behind guys like Brian Hoyer, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Kirk Cousins. Manning has thrown an interception in each game this season, with 10 total on the year.

Now, we all know the future Hall of Famer could string together a marvelous fantasy stretch in the second half of the season so he shouldn't be dropped under any circumstance quite yet. Keep a close eye on him and only play him when the matchup dictates it. (Scott Krinch)

RB - Eddie Lacy, GB

It's certainly not time to write the obituary for Eddie Lacy's 2015 fantasy campaign, but when the season is seven weeks deep and he's sandwiched between Dexter McCluster and Thomas Rawls, something's gone awry. It's laughable at this point that Lacy was a debatable top overall pick; Adrian Peterson and Le'Veon Bell are the Nos. 7 and 8 running backs in points per game, and that should only improve.

Lacy's season has been marred by a nagging ankle injury suffered early in Week 2 against the Seahawks. This coming after a 17-point performance against the Bears in Week 1; Lacy missed the rest of that game and hasn't topped 18 carries or 90 rushing yards since. It also hasn't helped Lacy's fantasy prospects that James Starks is on a career-best pace through six games and has allowed the Packers to work Lacy back slowly.

[ROTOWORLD - Week 8 touches and targets]

There's good news, though. Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Lacy's ankle injury is no longer a concern, which also means it HAD been a concern for more than a month. The Packers' passing attack has been better than expected after Jordy Nelson went down, and Davante Adams will return in Week 8 to give Aaron Rodgers another target.

But a healthy Lacy is going to get his, as witnessed by his 13-touchdown campaign a year ago despite Rodgers earning MVP honors under center. It's bad news that Lacy has been a first-round bust thus far, averaging fewer points per game than guys like Isaiah Crowell and Marcel Reese. The good news, though, is that it came because of injury and not because Lacy is slipping in Year 3. He'll face tough defenses in Denver and Carolina the next two weeks, but then the schedule really opens up for him to have a stellar second half, so long as he's healthy. (Mark Strotman)

WR - Andre Johnson, IND

Johnson was the 23rd receiver off the board in ESPN drafts, ahead of guys like Jeremy Maclin, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Martavis Bryant, James Jones and Steve Smith. Everybody thought this was Johnson's chance to truly break into the double-digit TD club with a true QB throwing to him for the first time in his career.

Of course it hasn't worked out that way at all. Johnson is now ranked as the No. 62 receiver in standard leagues and apart from one game (in which he put up 19 standard fantasy points), he's been downright awful. He failed to record a catch in two straight games in Weeks 3 and 4 and has just 11 fantasy points in six games apart from that 19-point outing.

[Complete CSN fantasy football coverage]

Johnson looks way more like a 34-year-old wide receiver than the guy many expected to find the fountain of youth. If you own him, give up on him. He's probably not worth owning at all, and certainly not worth starting right now. His only hope is if Andrew Luck puts his shoulder woes behind him and can regain his 2014 form ... and even then Johnson is way down on the totem pole for targets in Indy. (Tony Andracki)

TE - Jimmy Graham, SEA

What? You really thought the Seahawks were going to change their offense for Graham? It didn't happen when Percy Harvin came along (granted he was hurt a lot). The Seahawks have NEVER focused on one guy in the passing game. It's always been about spreading it around and that's driven fantasy owners nuts over the years.

But even though it's been bad for Graham this year, he's still leading the team in catches and yards and is tied for first in touchdown receptions. The tight end class this year has been somewhat underwhelming outside of Rob Gronkowski, Gary Barnidge (seriously, who saw this guy coming) and Tyler Eifert. Travis Kelce and Martellus Bennett haven't lived up to big expectations just yet.

It doesn't look like Graham will live up to his draft position but he's not worth cutting at all. He's still capable of having a vintage Jimmy Graham game at any point so be ready. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Kevin White, Bears focusing on the present and not his unlucky past or uncertain future

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USA Today Sports Images

Kevin White, Bears focusing on the present and not his unlucky past or uncertain future

Kevin White had little interest in engaging with reporters on Wednesday, the first time he was made available to the media since suffering a season-ending broken scapula in Week 1 of the 2017 season. His answers weren’t combative, but they were short and terse. 

Then again, how was he supposed to handle yet another round of questions — none of which were unfair — about his star-crossed past or his uncertain future? He did offer up this quote-worthy line when asked what he’s learned about himself after all the adversity he’s faced since being drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 Draft:

“Built Ford Tough.”

If White would rather live in the present than in the past or future, that’s fine. It’s actually ideal if the Bears want to get something out of him in the final year of his rookie contract. And it’s also the mindset preached to him by wide receivers coach Mike Furrey, his fourth position coach in four years in the NFL. 

“We sat down from Day 1 and I said listen, I don’t know anything about your past, I don’t want to know anything about your past,” Furrey said. “From here on out it’s just going forward and just doing everything that we can control day in and day out and that’s it. I won’t talk to you anything about tomorrow, I’ll only talk to you about what we’re doing today and how we’re building today.”

If the Bears hope to get anything out of White in 2018 — and if White hopes to revive his career without job security beyond this season — that narrow mindset is a good starting point. It’s even more important during OTAs here in late May, with there still being about two months until the Bears’ first padded practice and two and a half months before preseason play begins. 

The Bears insulated themselves from needing White to produce this year by adding targets for Mitch Trubisky in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and Anthony Miller over the last two months. The spotlight is off White, in a sense, and he’s okay with that — “I don’t need attention,” White said, “I just come here and do my job.”

But in another sense, there’s an immense amount of pressure on White to prove himself worthy of a roster spot not in 2018, but in 2019. Not many receivers with White’s numbers — 21 catches on 40 targets, 193 yards, no touchdowns in five games — are able to hang around the league for long without being a special teams ace (like Josh Bellamy, for instance). Neither the past nor future for White is particularly rosy. 

So that’s why White said he doesn’t have any specific goals for the season: “Doesn’t matter,” he said, “As long as I’m out here.” 

All White can do is show up to Halas Hall and, eventually, Olivet Nazarene University ready to practice with a narrow mindset on that day, and that day only. If he sticks with that approach — and doesn’t suffer another horribly-unlucky injury — eventually, he’ll arrive at Lambeau Field in September for the season opener, finally given the opportunity to prove himself. 

But that’s a long ways away. For now, White’s well within his rights to not want to entertain any thoughts about what happened in the last three years or what lies ahead. 

“I don’t know the past and I don’t want to know the past,” Furrey said. “Everything from here on out is going to be everything in the future. We’ve kind of established that and that kind of allows him to relax a little bit and not be judged and to have all these things said about him — because I don’t know. I don’t want to read it, I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t even want to know. 

“All I want (is for) him to be comfortable and be able to learn a new system and be able to learn it as fast as he can so he can go out there — and everybody sees it, he’s very gifted. He’s very powerful, lower body powerful. He can run, he’s got a great catch radius. He has all those intangibles and that’s exciting, but it’s really what you do with those every day. So we’ll just continue to have the daily routine and hopefully get better every day and then be able to put it together when we gotta go.” 

NFL Anthem policy won’t keep Sam Acho, others from standing up for what they believe in

NFL Anthem policy won’t keep Sam Acho, others from standing up for what they believe in

By a 31-0 vote, NFL owners on Wednesday approved a policy addressing player protests of the National Anthem that became a political flashpoint last fall. The rule removes the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem, but any team and league personnel who are on the field “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

If a player is on the field and does not “stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” his team will be fined by the NFL. Teams will be allowed to develop their own rules regarding their personnel who “do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” as well.

The NFLPA was not consulted in creating this policy, and collectively sent a strongly-worded statement about the “policy” on Wednesday afternoon.

Sam Acho is the Bears’ union representative and spoke Wednesday about the policy change.

“Obviously, from the beginning, no one’s intent and I think that no one’s purpose was to disrespect the flag,” Acho said. “Everyone’s purpose, starting with Colin Kaepernick, Michael Thomas, Eric Reid — who still doesn’t have a job — was to protest police brutality against people of color. I think that still stands, right? You’re going to find a way to stand up for people who are being unjustly treated, find a way to stick up for justice in whatever way, shape or form you can possibly do it.”

The Bears did not have any player kneel for the National Anthem last year, and as a team decided to lock arms a day after President Donald Trump tweeted, among other things, that teams who have players who knelt should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now.” But just because the Bears didn’t have a member openly protesting during the National Anthem didn’t mean no one was working to raise awareness of injustice and police brutality against people of color, Acho said.

So that players, effectively, will not be allowed to kneel for the National Anthem anymore won’t prevent anyone from continuing their activism for causes in which they believe.

“Was I okay with the ruling? Well I don't know, I guess people make decisions and it's up to you to either stick with them or find a different way to stand up for what you believe in,” Acho said. “So to ask if I'm okay with the ruling I don't know if that's the right question to ask. I think the right question would be well what do you do now? And I think about me and I think about what guys on this team are doing. Like we're already in the community, we're already finding a way to protest police brutality against people of color.

“We're working with the police, we're working with people of color and we're doing it. I think protesting is a great avenue to do that, to bring awareness. Obviously protest has brought a ton of awareness to the abuses of power that are going on in our country and I think that was a great method to start a conversation. Now what we're seeing is we're seeing action.”

Acho added that he and some of his teammates, during a bible study Wednesday morning, focused on a passage from James 2: “Faith without works is dead,” which underscores the importance of players continuing to use their platform to stand up for what they believe in however they can.

“It's one thing to have faith and say you believe in something and it's a total different thing to actually do something about it,” Acho said. “That's why I salute Kaep, I salute Eric Reid, Michael Thomas, all these guys who have from the beginning stood up for injustice. And some of them don't have jobs right now right? Colin Kaepernick right now is not in the NFL. Eric Reid is not in the NFL, they're paying the price, right?

“But I think that their, martyrdom is a strong word but, I just use that term now, their martyrdom is actually paying huge dividends for people with no voice. They're speaking up for the voiceless and as a Chicago Bear, as an NFL player I'm going to continue to do that in any way, shape or form.

“As you all know last year we didn't have guys taking a knee. We locked arms, we stayed together, we were unified as a team. That's what we are, we're a team but just because you're not protesting the National Anthem doesn't mean somebody can keep you from standing up for those that are being treated unfairly.”

Whatever the Bears do in 2018, they’ll do as a team — Mitch Trubisky said he believes he and his teammates will all be on the field for the National Anthem — but, despite today’s policy change, that won’t keep players like Acho from continuing to further their message.

“I don't think anything really changes at this point, right?” Acho said. “Obviously, the NFLPA goes back and says, 'OK, what do we do now? As a union, what do we do? How will we respond?' But, to be honest, I think a lot of players are happy about the conversations that are happening. So the protest served their purpose.

“If guys still want to protest, obviously the ruling is if that if you don't want to stand for the anthem, according to the owners, you can stay inside. You may see a whole team stay inside like Pittsburgh did in Week 3. I'm not Nostradamus, so I don't know what happens next, but I will say we continue to do what we're doing, speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves.”