Bears

Kap & Haugh: Bucs QB Jameis Winston's fantasy outlook

newjameisslide072415.png

Kap & Haugh: Bucs QB Jameis Winston's fantasy outlook

Jameis Winston will enter his rookie season with the most fantasy upside of any first-year quarterback since Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin in 2012.

In that year, Griffin became a top-five fantasy signal caller after rushing for 815 yards and seven scores while adding 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air. Luck was nearly as good, throwing for nearly 4,400 yards and 23 touchdown passes for the 11-5 Colts.

Winston undoubtedly has the tools to become an elite pocket passer. Former NFL running back Eddie George, who joined Kap & Haugh on Friday, believes Winston will prove as much in his rookie season:

"I think Jameis Winston (will be better than No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota), because I think he's more NFL-ready. He comes from a pro system, he understands the nuances of the system," George said. "There were times when you watched him last year bringing his team back from several touchdowns down. You're going to find yourself in that position in the NFL, so he can play from behind, he can play from ahead,  he can make every throw there is to make, he's a great leader on the field, he can manipulate a secondary."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

It will also help Winston that he's surrounded by talent. In Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, the Bucs tout one of the best 1-2 wide receiver combinations in the NFL. The pair combined for 138 receptions, 2,053 yards and 14 touchdown receptions last year despite having Josh McCown and Mike Glennon under center. Talented rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins has reportedly looked great in summer camp, while Tampa Bay spent two second-round picks on offensive linemen (Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet).

Running back is an issue, and the defense still needs work, but that could mean more airing it out for Winston in his first season.

It's still too risky to gamble on Winston being your No. 1 quarterback heading into your fantasy Week 1, but with the talent around him to succeed, all the tangible tools and memories of Luck and Griffin dominating as rookies, don't let Winston fall too far on draft day. Scoop him up as a high upside QB2 in the mid-to-late rounds.

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Before Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey met with the media on Wednesday, Allen Robinson was curious what his position coach would say about him in public. 

“I just told him, I don’t know you,” Furrey quipped. “Who’s Allen Robinson?”

Furrey, of course, knows who Robinson is. But the point behind that joke is that Furrey, the Bears’ court wide receivers coach in four years, is still getting to know all of his receivers — let alone the one who hasn’t participated in a practice yet. For all the positivity that's easy to find around Halas Hall these days, the Bears' biggest offseason acquisition hasn't taken a rep yet. 

The good news for the Bears, of course, is that Robinson’s past play speaks for itself. He combined for 153 catches, 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, and has been adamant he’ll return to that high level of play when he’s cleared to practice. The Bears were confident enough in Robinson’s medicals to guarantee him a little over $25 million in March, per Spotrac, about a month before they let Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints largely over medical concerns (Meredith’s torn ACL was viewed as more serious than Robinson’s, in short). 

So the getting-to-know-you phase for Furrey and Robinson is largely taking place off the field in the meeting rooms of Halas Hall. 

“What a great young man,” Furrey said. “He’s come in here, obviously, rehabbing and doing all those things. But he’s alert, he comes to meetings, he’s ready to go. Really, really smart, you can tell that from the beginning and he’s a professional.”

What Furrey, in particular, likes about Robinson is that he’s an “alpha,” but is far more than all talk and no action. 

“And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don’t really put it out there,” Furrey said. “He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what’s going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level. Obviously he’s been highly successful for a couple years with some big numbers, but he doesn’t act like that. He’s still hungry, he wants to learn, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is a good trait to have too. So we’re excited about that.”

The expectation all along has been for Robinson to be cleared to fully participate in training camp practices. So while coach Matt Nagy said last week Robinson is “ahead of the game,” that may not mean he takes part in the final round of OTAs next week or veteran minicamp the first week of June. 

But while Robinson can’t prove himself to his new coaches on the field yet, he’s doing the right things off the field to make a positive first impression. 

“He knows you gotta come in early, he knows you gotta be the last one to leave, he knows you gotta study,” Furrey said. “It doesn’t matter five years in, six years in, you gotta take notes. It doesn’t matter if you hear it 10 times, you just gotta keep taking notes. He’s been really good at that, and I’ve been really impressed with that. I’ve been able to get on the field with him a little bit, just kind of throwing some balls to him, and I didn’t know he was that big. But obviously we’re excited for it to happen out there.” 

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.

None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job. 

According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.

Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.

The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.

If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.

The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.

The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.