The Chicago Bears have transformed from a defensive powerhouse to a scary offensive team. With Jay Cutler leading the passing game and Matt Forte finally getting the opportunity to be an every-down back, the Bears have a great offense with many fantasy weapons.
The most surprising weapon came out of nowhere last season. Alshon Jeffery finished with 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. In standard ESPN.com leagues, Jeffery ended as the ninth-best wide receiver, four spots behind his teammate, Brandon Marshall. With the Bears, Jeffery plays in a great offensive with a veteran quarterback and offensive-minded head coach that only helps his fantasy value.
The Bears offense made a big improvement from the previous year. Whether it’s the change in head coach or in Cutler’s mentality, the offense was a top-tier offense. They ran 1,013 plays from scrimmage, 22nd in the league, 579 of them were pass attempts. The team averaged 267.6 passing yards per game, fifth in the league. According to NFL.com, the Bears averaged 187.4 passing yards per game in 2012. Playing opposite of Marshall will open up the field for Jeffery and allow him to reach 100 yards in multiple games.
On the flip side, playing opposite of Marshall will have its disadvantages. Marshall commands the ball every time he’s on the field. He caught 100 passes for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had 118 receptions 1,508 yards and 11 scores last season. Cutler was on pace to eclipse his pass attempts from last season, but injury halted his numbers. This brings up the big question – Can Cutler stay healthy for a full season?
The other big factor is the Bears superstar running back. Forte increased his carries from 248 in 2012 to 289 in 2013. Forte is too good for the Bears to take away some of his carries. With this kind of balanced offense, there may not be enough ball to go around to all of the Bears weapons.
Coming into 2014, Jeffery may be a little overrated. Some of his 2013 success came with Josh McCown taking over for Cutler. On the depth chart, Jeffery is the No. 2 guy, but his fantasy numbers say otherwise. He could be a WR1 for any owner in a 10-team league. Jeffery will post over 1,000 yards again, but he may not reach the 1,400 he had last year.
Bye Week: 9
Projected Round: 5
Auction Value: $32 (via ESPN)