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Fantasy Sports Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Preview: Chicago Bears Edition

In this fantasy football preview, we will explore and rank the Chicago Bears roster, and which players you can utilize on your fantasy football team. Last season, outside of Matt Forte or their defense, the Chicago Bears were a team you didn’t really look for to fill any of your fantasy football needs. Everyone else was mediocre at best, and really had no fantasy value. Key additions in the off-season, and a new offensive scheme, should have caught the attention of some.

QB Jay Cutler (Current ADP: 102.0)

How can you not be happy if Jay Cutler happens to land on your fantasy football team this season? Sure, the offensive line is questionable, but when hasn’t it been in Chicago? The addition of Brandon Marshall cannot be ignored. As Denver Broncos, these two Swiss cheesed every defense that came their way, and set records while doing it. If this combo can come anywhere near what they did five years ago, you have struck fantasy gold in Jay Cutler. Devin Hester is reportedly improving every day, Jay still has long-time teammate Earl Bennett to rely on, rookie Alshon Jeffery was drafted to be the deep ball specialist. Jay has two running backs that are very reliable receivers with good hands, and he’s running a new system under Mike Tice which should make him less of a punching bag to opposing ends. ESPN completely disrespects Jay Cutler this season with a projection 21 touchdowns on 3,000 passing yards giving him a total of 197 fantasy points. I will put my reputation on the line here and predict he will eclipse those lousy numbers. One of the better QB2 out there, that you can find 9th round or later. If you like to be patient when drafting you’re quarterback, look for a guy like Cutler. He will come cheap, and will be reliable.

RB Matt Forte (Current ADP: 15.8)

Matt got his money, which many believe he deserved. Last year, he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage through Week 11. A knee injury left Forte out of the Bears lineup the last 4 games in 2011, but has since fully healed. Under Mike Martz system, Forte was averaging 7 targets per game. Also, 14.3 percent of his carries went for 10 yards or more. All of this would lead you to believe Matt is a no-brainer 1st round selection. Let’s not forget the amount of touchdowns Matt scored last season. We can count them on one hand. Forte had three rushing and one receiving for a grand total of four touchdowns on the season. Forte struggles around the goal-line, and that’s why the front office has brought in Michael Bush. Throw in the fact that I hate to draft players that were in or are in contract disputes, and you can say Matt is off my radar this season. He won’t see seven targets a game this season, and if he couldn’t score more touchdowns than fingers I have on one hand, why should this year be any different with a touchdown vulture like Bush in town? Forte is being overvalued, seen him go as high as sixth pick in first round. I advise not to reach that early, late second round would be ideal.

RB Michael Bush (Current ADP: 88.8)

See above. The Chicago Bears made the move to acquire Michael Bush because of Forte’s lack of goal-line scoring, and lack of scoring in general. Bush brings a dual attack, being a steady runner with good hands. He has twelve touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line the past two seasons, and should see the majority of rushing attempts when the Bears reach the red zone. If you want to draft Forte, don’t hesitate to handcuff Michael because he will be finishing drives for the Chicago Bears this season. 8th round or later is advised.

RB Kahlil Bell (Current ADP: 170.0)

Kahlil Bell is at the bottom of the depth chart in a loaded backfield. Kid has flashed potential, but may never get the full opportunity in Chicago. If Bush or Forte go down with an injury, he may get his chance to prove himself. If not, it will be just another year of sitting on the waiver wire for Bell.

WR Brandon Marshall (Current ADP: 36.5)

Brandon Marshall is one of only five players in NFL HISTORY to catch at least 100 passes in three consecutive seasons. He also set an NFL record for receptions in a game with 21. The best part about all these records and caught balls 5 years ago? His quarterback was Jay Cutler. You can’t teach chemistry and it’s evident these two have it. Marshall is regarded as one of the toughest guys in the league to take down. Opposing corners praise him as a physical monster that is on a mission to bully and destroy them. When was the last time Chicago has seen a receiver of this caliber take the field in their colors? Never? Brandon Marshall is  a very solid WR2 on your fantasy team, and would be borderline WR1 in PPR leagues. He will be looked at early and often by Jay Cutler. If they re-connect anywhere near the old days, we will see 1,000+ receiving yards, and 8+ touchdowns easy.

WR Devin Hester (Current ADP: 170.0)

Devin Hester is once again being praised in training camp as a wide receiver. His coaches say he’s improved and is due for a breakout season. The addition of Brandon Marshall will without a doubt open things up for the punt return specialist turned receiver. Hester had a measly 26 receptions last year, down from 40 the previous season. Expect him to go back to a more respectable receptions amount, but still not too much to get excited about. He scored one touchdown in 2011, and it probably won’t be much higher in 2012. Last round type material, waiver wire warrior.

WR Alshon Jeffery (Current ADP: 164.6)

The rookie from South Carolina gives the Bears a true deep ball threat. How immediate his impact will be fantasy wise is not quite clear, but I wouldn’t tag to high of expectations for him in his rookie campaign. He might produce here and there, but not enough to warrant drafting him. Monitor him as the season progresses, possible spot pickup on bye weeks, but nothing more.

WR Earl Bennett (Current ADP: 170.0)

Steady and reliable is a good way to describe Earl Bennett. Jay Cutler is comfortable and trusts Earl. They have been teammates since their college days at the University of Vanderbilt. That doesn’t mean Earl has any fantasy value though. The Bears paid him nearly $20 million so they must have a plan to use him, but it will be hard for him to be anything more than a possession receiver. Again, another Chicago Bears wide receiver, who managed only ONE touchdown reception last season. Moving along….

WR Dane Sazenbacher (Current ADP: 170.0)

By week 3 of last season, the little guy from Ohio State managed to score as many touchdowns as Earl Bennett and Devin Hester combined for the whole season. However, Sazenbacher would only manage one more touchdown for the rest of the season, and basically disappeared from the offense. He’s an interesting receiver, who has shown flashes at times, but then again….just another mediocre, inconsistent Bears receiver.

WR Johnny Knox (Current ADP: 170.0)

Johnny Knox might never play again. Not even sure why I put him to the list, but let’s all hope Johnny has a speedy recovery and can play again in the near future.

TE Kellen Davis (Current ADP: 170.0)

Kellen Davis fits that new football era of freakish sized tight ends with great athleticism. At 6’7″ 265 pounds, Davis is certainly a big target. And he has openly voiced that he wants his size utilized. He told reporters he expects a massive increase in production this season, catching anywhere from forty to sixty balls. That’s quite a prediction for someone who only saw 35 targets last season. You can blame that on the Martz system though, and Mike Tice has vowed to use his tight ends more as receivers this season. Davis has deep sleeper status with potential to be #1 tight end option in Chicago.

TE Evan Rodriguez (Current ADP: 170.0)

University of Temple product Evan Rodriguez is an interesting rookie. He has been the talk of training camp, flashing athleticism and good hands. However, he finds himself at the bottom of the depth chart behind Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth. The Bears would most likely want to utilize Rodriguez as a receiving tight end, but Kellen Davis is currently in that role. Matt Spaeth is more of a blocking tight end and won’t be asked for much production. If Davis goes down with an injury, things could really open up for Rodriguez. Not worth drafting, but keep an eye on his development and playing time as the season progresses.

TE Matt Spaeth (Current ADP: N/A)

See above. Not really an offensive threat. Used more in blocking schemes, but may make the occasional big play. Shouldn’t be drafted in your league and with good reason.

Robbie Gould (Current ADP: 154.0)

Good as Gould. Robbie doesn’t miss often, but yet he seems to never be regarded as one of the top-tier kickers. Maybe it’s because he’s not known for his distance. People tend to think he’s a chip shot kicker, and fear the ferocious Chicago winds he has to kick in. Numbers never line though, and Robbie really is good as gold. Not only has he never missed a field goal from within 30 yards, he was also a perfect 6-6 from 50+ yards last season. Every season kickers like Sebastian Janikowski, Mason Crosby, John Kasay, and Neil Rackers are drafted ahead of Gould. Sometimes, rounds ahead of him. Nothing against any of those great kickers, but ending up with Gould is never a bad thing.

D/ST (Current ADP: 98.5)

The Chicago Bears are a top 3 defense to own in fantasy football this season. The defense scored six touchdowns in 2011, and the return game, led by Devin Hester, is downright scary. The Bears rush defense is stout, and despite criticism constantly, the secondary isn’t all that bad. Julius Peppers rushing the edge also helps pad the sack total. I advise against drafting defenses early, but the Bears should be one of the first taken off the board.

This will conclude my fantasy football preview on the Chicago Bears. Please don’t hesitate to comment or give input by clicking the RANT IT! button on the top right. Or you can contact me directly via twitter with any fantasy football questions that you might have on any team or player. I try to personally answer each and every one of my reader’s questions with my best ability.

Michael J. Igyarto is a featured columnist for Rant Sports

Follow Michael on twitter: @windycityiggy