Bears

Rotoworld: 2015 Bears Fantasy Preview

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Rotoworld: 2015 Bears Fantasy Preview

By Evan Silva

For the next 32 days, Rotoworld.com Senior Football Editor Evan Silva is breaking down every NFL team from a fantasy perspective heading into the 2015 season. Next up is the Bears.

Bears Year in Review

2014 Pass Attempts Rank: 7th (609)
2014 Rush Attempts Rank: 30th (355)
2014 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 23rd (1,005)
2014 Yards Per Play Rank: 22nd (5.2)

Check out the team-by-team fantasy preview schedule.

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Jay Cutler
RB: Matt Forte
WR: Alshon Jeffery
WR: Kevin White
WR: Eddie Royal
TE: Martellus Bennett
LT: Jermon Bushrod
LG: Matt Slauson
C: Hroniss Grasu
RG: Kyle Long
RT: Jordan Mills

Passing Game Outlook

Under the direction of rookie GM Ryan Pace and new coach John Fox, the Bears spent the offseason trying to send Jay Cutler a message. Cutler was never going anywhere because of his contract, but Pace and Fox were publicly noncommittal on Cutler's 2015 whereabouts at their introductory press conference, before a draft-day story was leaked to ESPN's Bob Holtzman that the Bears had suddenly entered trade talks with the Titans involving Cutler. (Again, never happening.) At OTAs, new OC Adam Gase insinuated the offense could run just as smoothly with Jimmy Clausen under center. Cutler has never lacked for talent, and his weapons are as strong as ever following the additions of No. 7 overall pick Kevin White and trusty slot receiver Eddie Royal. Even with only Clausen and David Fales behind him, however, it's fair to question Cutler's 2015 job security under a regime that did not make the move to invest in him. Cutler will have QB1 fantasy upside whenever he's in the lineup this season, which could very well be for all 16 games, but might only last a month or so if Cutler's "rogue" tendencies reappear. Historically, Cutler has refused to play within offensive structure, resulting in major offensive breakdowns, turnovers, and overall team discord.

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Alshon Jeffery has posted consecutive top-12 fantasy receiver seasons, showing the ability to handle heavy volume efficiently, excel in a legitimate No. 1-receiver role, dominate at all three sections of the field, and stay effective even when his health isn't at 100 percent. He recorded 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 13 of the 15 fantasy-relevant weeks last year, showing remarkable consistency amid quarterback woes and team turmoil while battling a nagging hamstring injury. Still only 25, Jeffery enters his contract year as the Bears' X receiver, the position at which Demaryius Thomas ranked first and twelfth among NFL wideouts in targets under new OC Adam Gase in Denver the past two seasons. Jeffery is in the first-round discussion in Dynasty start-ups and a locked-and-loaded WR1 for 2015.

I'm pretty sold on Kevin White as a Terrell Owensian long-term talent, but there are concerns to consider when evaluating him from a re-draft standpoint. Although there have been exceptions, new coach John Fox has a history of limiting the playing time of his rookies. White himself was slow to transition from junior college to Division I at West Virginia, essentially operating as a rotational receiver his first year as a Mountaineer. He's now jumping from the Big 12 into the NFL. The Bears have a lot of passing-game mouths to feed in an offense Fox hopes to make more committed to the run. Jay Cutler recently told reporters he believes White is competing to be Chicago's "No. 4 receiver," behind Jeffery, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson. It's entirely possible that many of those factors are rendered irrelevant by the start of the season, but I think they are worth noting at this stage of the process. At his late-sixth-round Average Draft Position, White is currently going ahead of Roddy WhiteMike WallaceCharles JohnsonSteve Smith Sr.Allen Robinson, and Larry Fitzgerald.

Is Eddie Royal a better value pick than White this season? Royal's ceiling is obviously lower than Chicago's first-round rookie, but Royal also has an ADP of undrafted, and his role in the passing game may be more stable. Cutler was Royal's quarterback when the ex-Bronco established career highs in targets (129), receptions (91), and yards (980) as a rookie in 2008. Gase was Royal's position coach in 2009 and 2010. The Bears were the only team to host Royal in 2015 free agency, eventually signing him to a three-year, $15 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. Royal was efficient with his 2014 targets, ranking top 16 among 110 qualifiers in PFF's catch-rate metric, top 20 in yards-after-catch per reception, and 30th in fantasy points among receivers despite ranking 55th in targets. I tend to doubt Royal will be a strong week-to-week WR3 play in re-draft leagues, but he's an excellent WR7 or WR8 in best balls.

Cutler talked up Marquess Wilson recently, but I'm not buying the third-year receiver as a legitimate 2015 fantasy contributor. Wilson wasn't very effective when he got late-season chances to play in 2014 -- no matter what Drew Dinkmeyer tells you -- and ultimately Wilson is a former seventh-round pick who's been inherited by a new regime. Wilson is 6-foot-3 with plus athleticism, and is not yet 23. He's worth an end-of-roster stash in Dynasty leagues. Wilson simply faces long odds of making re-draft noise as the Bears' likely fourth receiver.

Martellus Bennett's contract dispute was short lived. After sitting out OTAs, Bennett reported to minicamp in timely fashion and confirmed he'll attend training camp on time, as well. Last year, Bennett parlayed Brandon Marshal linjuries into career highs in receptions (90) and yards (916), finishing as the overall fantasy TE5. The additions of Royal and White, as well as Fox's plan to reduce team pass attempts indicate Bennett won't match last year's raw stats. Still only 28 years old, Bennett could compensate for a usage dip with more touchdowns. Julius Thomas was a scoring machine in Gase's system with the Broncos, hitting pay dirt 24 times in 27 games. "Black Unicorn" obviously won't reach those heights with Cutler rather than Peyton Manning at quarterback, but Bennett is just as good an athlete as Thomas and considerably bigger. I think he's priced fairly at his current mid-seventh-round Average Draft Position. I'd only rank Rob GronkowskiJimmy GrahamTravis Kelce, and perhaps Greg Olsen over him.

Running Game Outlook

Outgoing Bears coach Marc Trestman's track record of feeding tailbacks in the passing game extends too far back and with too many beneficiaries for it to be chalked up as a fluke. The loss of Trestman is a concern for Matt Forte's receiving outlook, though the bigger worries are age, fast-declining efficiency, and past workloads. Forte turns 30 late this season. His yards-per-carry average dipped from 4.63 in 2013 to 3.90 last year. Forte has been a true NFL workhorse, piling up 1,817 carries across seven seasons following an 833-carry college career. Volume should keep Forte on the RB1 cusp, but he is overvalued at his 1.09 overall ADP.

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No. 2-back duties will be decided by a camp battle between ineffective retreads Daniel Thomas (career 3.62 YPC) and Jacquizz Rodgers (career 3.66 YPC), old-regime holdover Ka'Deem Carey, and fourth-round rookie Jeremy Langford. Langford arguably has the most talent of the group, but Fox historically defers critical jobs to veterans. Either way, the Bears would likely resort to a multi-back committee in the event of a Forte injury. Langford holds the most Dynasty value as a player drafted by the current front office with 4.42 speed at 6-foot and 208 pounds. One of Carey, Thomas, and Rodgers probably won't make the team.

Vegas Win Total

Coming off a five-win disaster, the Bears' 2015 Win Total is seven games. Chicago has serious theoretical firepower on offense, but big question marks on the line and a defense that may be coached more effectively by Vic Fangio than outgoing DC Mel Tucker, but remains badly starved for talent. The Bears are essentially a rebuilding team married against their will to a quarterback they essentially must embrace. They also have a brutal schedule and play in one of the NFL's toughest divisions. While I don't doubt the Bears' potential to surprise, my sense is this will be a tough year in Chicago. I would take the under on seven wins.

Check out Silva's complete 2015 Bears Fantasy Preview at Rotoworld.com.

Fantasy Football: 15 players to target on your waiver wire

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Fantasy Football: 15 players to target on your waiver wire

We've crossed the halfway mark in the regular season for most Fantasy Football leagues, so it's officially crunch time.

As we get ready to make a push for the stretch run and with Bye Weeks in full gear, the waiver wire has never been more important in 2018.

If Nick Chubb is available in your league still, change that immediately. But considering he should've been scooped up in every league after Carlos Hyde was traded away from Cleveland Friday, we're more focused on guys who should be available and worth spending your free agent budget on.

Here are 15 guys worth targeting on the waiver wire:

1. Kenjon Barner, RB, NE

It appears Sony Michel has avoided serious injury, but he still will probably miss at least Week 8 and possibly longer. James White will see a larger role without Michel, but Barner suddenly goes from a guy not even worth sniffing at in Fantasy to a must-own. As soon as Michel left the game, Barner entered and tallied 10 rushes against the Bears defense. If you're desperate for a running back in Week 8, Barner might be a good add as he has a fantastic matchup against a Bills defense that just allowed 219 rushing yards to the Colts.

2. Chris Ivory, RB, BUF

LeSean McCoy was forced to leave the Week 7 contest with a concussion, opening the door for a decent game for Ivory (126 total yards on 19 touches). If McCoy continues to miss time, Ivory is the clear beneficiary, though it's not a great matchup in Week 8 against the Pats.

3. Danny Amendola, WR, MIA

It's been a while since Amendola was anything more than a tease in Fantasy Football, but the soon-to-be-33-year-old has had back-to-back good games while building a good rapport with Brock Osweiler. Amendola has hauled in 143 yards and a tuddie on 14 catches (18 targets) the last two weeks and while he is banged up, he practiced in a limited capacity Monday. If he can suit up Thursday, he should be the Dolphins' top target as both Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson are expected to miss that contest with their own injuries.

4. Raheem Mostert, RB, SF

Matt Breida and Alfred Morris owners must hate this guy, but Mostert has emerged from complete irrelevance to lead the Niners backfield the last two weeks. The 26-year-old has 23 touches the last two games while Morris has tallied just 9 touches (all in Week 7) and Breida has racked up 19 touches as he works through a bunch of injuries, including an ankle issue. It will be tough to predict how this situation will play out this week, but Mostert has been the only Niners back worth starting recently and this group of RBs now has the best matchup of the week against the woeful Cardinals defense. Mostert at least deserves to be owned, even if you're not comfortable starting him at the moment.

5/6. Jalen Richard/Doug Martin, RB, OAK

With Marshawn Lynch on IR, Richard and Martin should be owned in all formats just for the sheer possibility of a heavy workload. However, both are questionable Fantasy starts for Week 8 — even coming off a Bye. Richard should be the call in PPR leagues while Martin figures to eat up most of Lynch's carries. 

7. Tyrell Williams, WR, LAC

Williams is owned in hardly any league, but he's racked up 236 receiving yards and 3 TDs the last two weeks. He's not getting a heavy workload (only 8 targets in that span), but the Chargers love throwing deep to this guy and it's paid off in back-to-back weeks. Williams isn't close to being a safe bet as his value is completely contigent upon whether he catchs a deep bomb or not, but you could do a lot worse in your Fantasy lineups.

8. Martavis Bryant, WR, OAK

With Amari Cooper now in Dallas, somebody's gotta catch balls for Jon Gruden's Raiders. There's no guarantee that's Bryant, but he's slated to start Week 8 and he has the talent and resume to be at least a servicable Fantasy player the rest of the season.

9. Donte Moncrief, WR, JAC

The good: In 3 of the last 4 weeks, Moncrief has tallied at least 5 catches and 76 yards. The bad: In the other week during that stretch, he did not record a single catch on 3 targets. So there's clearly some risk here, especially considering the state of the Jags passing offense and QB situation. But Moncrief may be worth a pickup and start in Week 8 if you're desperate, as the Eagles have given up some of the most Fantasy points to opposing WRs. 

10. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, BUF

Benjamin was drafted in most leagues but was unable to post as many as 10 Fantasy points in even full-point PPR leagues until Week 7, and that was a modest 11-point total. Nobody blames you if you've given up on Benjamin, but he finally topped 3 catches and 50 yards in Week 7 and has a rapport with Derek Anderson from their time in Carolina. 

11. Trenton Cannon, RB, NYJ

Who? Cannon is owned in 0.0 percent of Fantasy leagues, which makes sense given he had a grand total of 2 Fantasy points entering Week 7. But when Bilal Powell left the game with a neck injury, it was Cannon that stepped up with 69 receiving yards on 4 catches while Isaiah Crowell still handled rushing duties. If Powell misses time in Week 8 or beyond (neck issues are no joke), Cannon is the main beneficiary in the passing game and should be rostered in all PPR leagues.

12. Chris Herndon, TE, NYJ

The Jets' fourth-round pick from this spring is another no-name in the Fantasy world, but that's quickly changing after back-to-back weeks with a TD. Herndon has clearly become the top tight end for fellow rookie Sam Darnold, seeing 7 targets last week and hauling in 4 of those catches for 42 yards. If you're desperate for a TE or you're in a dynasty league, target Herndon now. 

13. DeVante Parker, WR, MIA

Parker has been worth absolutely nothing in Fantasy this year, finding his way out of the lineup on a weekly basis. But he's worth a speculative add in case he's traded by next week — like he wants — and he also receives a boost for Week 8 by default, as the other Dolphins wideouts are all banged up and Parker essentially has to play.

14. Jakeem Grant, WR, MIA

Notice a trend here? We're all-in on South Beach receivers this week. Same logic applies because of injuries to Stills and Wilson, but obviously all of Parker, Grant and Amendola will not be worth a Fantasy start in Week 8. This is still Osweiler and the Dolphins we're talking about. But Grant is fun with his gamechanging speed and has at least contributed in every single week of the season so far even before he's become an increased part of the gameplan, so his floor isn't "0" like Parker's or some of the other WR options on the market.

15. Colts D/ST

We can't end this without a defense/special teams unit, right? The Colts gave up at least 31 points for 3 straight games from Week 4 through 6, but they absolutely dominated the Bills last week and now draw a Raiders team that just lost its two best offensive playmakers over the last 10 days. There is no better D/ST to stream out there than the Colts, and they're available in more than half of leagues.

Bonus: Rishard Matthews, WR, NYJ

Matthews is reportedly signing with the Jets, who need some WR help. Matthews quit on the Titans earlier this season after they completely went away from him in the gameplan, but this is a guy that racked up 1,740 yards and 13 TDs from 2016-17. He's worth an add in all leagues just for the potential.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.