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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Chicago Bears

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a team getting rid of Mike Martz is not that they would become more offensive. But that's where we are with the Bears.

Martz is gone as the offensive coordinator, taking with him his deep-drop passing system that nearly got Jay Cutler killed, and he will be replaced by Mike Tice. Cutler is not going to take many seven-step drops this year behind a porous offensive line, and the Bears gave him some new weapons in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Michael Bush.

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Cutler has the chance for a solid year, especially being reunited with Marshall, and we like him as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with upside. Marshall also projects as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver with the chance to be a No. 1 option even though former Bears receiver Muhsin Muhammed once said that "Chicago is where receivers go to die." Marshall is worth drafting in Round 4 in most formats.

A big key for the Bears on offense will be what happens with Matt Forte and his contract. He was designated as the franchise player this offseason, but he wants a long-term extension. The Bears covered themselves by signing Bush, but Forte is the best player on Chicago's offense and a Fantasy star when healthy.

If Forte has a long holdout then his Fantasy value will plummet and the Bears could struggle. But if he signs a new deal prior to training camp then he can again shine, and the Bears could be tough to stop.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Jay Cutler 10
Running Backs
Matt Forte 2
Michael Bush 6
Kahlil Bell ND
Wide Receivers
Brandon Marshall 4
Alshon Jeffery 12
Earl Bennett ND
Devin Hester ND
Johnny Knox ND
Tight Ends
Kellen Davis ND
Kickers/Defense
Robbie Gould 14
Bears DST 13
ND - not expected to get drafted

Bust ... Matt Forte, running back
Forte's Fantasy value would be in trouble even if he wasn't dealing with a contract situation. The addition of Bush, who had 1,395 total yards and eight touchdowns last year for the Raiders, would already hinder his production. Bush is expected to share carries with Forte, and he will likely work at the goal line. Forte only has one year with double digits in touchdowns, which was as a rookie in 2008 with 12 (he has two seasons with only four), so scoring would be limited. Factor in less rushing yards, and we're talking about his receiving skills having to carry him. On top of that, factor in a potential holdout, and Forte is not looking too attractive as an elite Fantasy option. We saw what happened to Chris Johnson last year with his holdout, but Johnson didn't share carries. If you want to draft Forte in standard leagues then you should probably select him in Round 2, but it's better to wait until Round 3 if possible. His value is higher in PPR formats because he does have at least 51 catches in every year of his career, but I would avoid drafting Forte with an early-round pick because he seems to have more cons than pros this year.

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Impact rookie ... Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver
The Bears plan to start Devin Hester opposite Marshall, but we expect Jeffery to be the No. 2 receiver for the Bears, especially with Johnny Knox (back) possibly out for the season. Jeffery has plenty of upside thanks to his size, hands and opportunity. With the Bears likely to lean on Marshall, Jeffery should have plenty of single coverage. The 6-foot-3, 220 pound former standout at South Carolina totaled 179 career receptions for 2,894 yards (16.2 yards per catch) and 22 touchdowns in college. He'll probably take a while to be that productive in the pros, but expectations are growing for him. He's worth a late pick in deeper seasonal drafts, a mid- to late-round pick in dynasty/keeper leagues and a second-round choice in rookie-only formats.

Sleeper ... Kellen Davis, tight end
If you were to guess who led the Bears in receiving touchdowns in 2011 you likely wouldn't have thought of Davis. But he had five touchdowns while playing in an offense that didn't utilize tight ends as receivers on a regular basis, and he finished with just 18 catches for 206 yards. This year, the Bears have a new offense, and Davis should be much more involved. Davis has tremendous size at 6-foot-7, 267 pounds, and he's a big target for Cutler in the red zone. He could emerge as a Marcedes Lewis-type receiver with minimal catches and yards but a decent amount of touchdowns. Davis isn't worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but he is someone to put on your radar. If he starts off the season playing well then he is someone to add off the waiver wire.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
IND @GB STL @DAL @JAC bye DET CAR @TEN HOU @SF MIN SEA @MIN GB @ARI @DET
The Bears shouldn't be any worse than 3-2 going into their bye (they might even be 4-1). It's a great early first-half schedule for their offense. Things will get worse starting in Week 10, but they should still be productive. Some quirks: They play the Vikings twice in three weeks, with their second meeting the first of three road dome games they'll play over the final four weeks. Getting their Thursday game out of the way early helps.

Training camp topics

The last time Cutler played with Marshall was 2008 in Denver, which was the best season of his career. He passed for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Likewise, Marshall had 206 catches for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns during the two years Cutler was his starter. It also helps that joining them will be former Denver coordinator Jeremy Bates, who is an assistant now with the Bears.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Matt Forte 203 carries, 52 catches
Marion Barber 114 carries, 5 catches
Kahlil Bell 79 carries, 19 catches
Johnny Knox 37 catches
Roy Williams 37 catches

We hope they pick up where they left off, and this passing game has the chance to shine. It should be fun to watch the different wrinkles in the offense with the change from Martz to Tice.

Of course, having Forte in camp will be huge, and Fantasy owners will continue to monitor what develops with his contract. The longer he stays out the worse his value will be and the more owners will start to focus on Bush. If Forte is not a holdout then plan on drafting Bush with a mid-round pick as a No. 3 Fantasy running back.

Injury update

Cutler (thumb; probable for the start of training camp) ... Jeffery (leg; probable for the start of training camp) ... Johnny Knox (back; doubtful for the start of training camp) ... Brian Urlacher (knee; questionable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Panthers LB Thomas Davis says he's not close to retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who turns 32 in March, is not contemplating retirement any time soon, reports ESPN.com.

“I lost two and a half years to injuries, but I also feel I gained two and a half years," said Davis, who underwent two reconstructive ACL surgeries on the same knee. "This was my 10th year and I’m going on year 11, and I still feel I have a lot of football left in me.’’

Davis has one year left on his contract, and he hopes to sign one more contract after that. Davis made 100 tackles this season after recording a team-high 123 in 2013.


Union challenges Goodell on Adrian Peterson's counseling requirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) The NFL Players Association filed a legal brief saying Commissioner Roger Goodell's requirement that Adrian Peterson attend counseling was unlawful, reports ESPN.com. The union claims Goodell's disciplinary powers don't extend past suspensions, fines and contract terminations to counseling, the report said.

In November, Goodell suspended Peterson without pay for the rest of the season and said the Vikings running back cannot be reinstated until at least April 15. The move came after Peterson pleaded no contest to recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son last May.

In his letter to Peterson, Goodell set several requirements for reinstatement, including counseling.

"In order to assess your progress going forward, I will establish periodic reviews, the first of which will be on or about April 15, 2015," the commisssioner wrote. "At that time, I will meet with you and your representatives and the NFLPA to review the extent to which you have complied with your program of counseling and therapy and both made and lived up to an affirmative commitment to change such that this conduct will not occur again. A failure to cooperate and follow your plan will result in a lengthier suspension without pay."


Bucs QB Mike Glennon on the move?
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:03 am ET) With the Buccaneers holding the No. 1 overall draft pick, the team has its choice of quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The Tampa Tribune says "some around the league" believe other teams will try to trade for quarterback Mike Glennon, and that Glennon could net the Bucs a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

Glennon played in six games this season, throwing for 1,417 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions. The team's refusal to play Glennon "even after their slim playoff hopes faded" has many observers believing the Bucs are ready to move on from him, the paper said.


Lions see plenty of upside in WR Corey Fuller
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:38 am ET) The Lions are looking for a solid No. 3 receiver to supplement Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and converted track star Corey Fuller could be the guy, reports the team's website. Fuller was Johnson's backup in 2014 and played in some multi-receiver sets, catching 14 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown.

“I think I had a big improvement coming in from last year to this year,” said Fuller, a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft. “If I just keep on progressing, who knows where I can go.”

Fuller, who brings a unique combination of speed and strength, said his main focus this offseason is improving his route running.

“The whole (route) tree,” he said. “Being able to expand the routes they throw me.”


Steelers not expected to re-sign Ike Taylor
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:55 am ET) The Steelers likely won't re-sign impending free agent cornerback Ike Taylor, reports ESPN.com. Taylor, 34, dealt with multiple injuries this season and finished with 16 tackles in five games.

Taylor has spent his entire 12-year career with Pittsburgh. He said this month he's OK with 2014 being his last season.


Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart looking to build off strong finish
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Over the last five weeks of the regular season, Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 486 yards, second only to Dallas' DeMarco Murray. Stewart followed that up with 123 yards and a touchdown in the playoff win over Arizona.

"I'm really excited for next year," Stewart told the team's website. "You have to find your zone throughout the offseason. It starts now."

Stewart got the chance to be a workhorse when DeAngelo Williams fractured his hand Week 13. ESPN.com reports there's a "strong possibility" the Panthers will release the 31-year-old Williams this offseason, leaving Stewart, 27, as the unquestioned starter.

"It's just part of the journey," Stewart said of the individual success he had toward season's end. "The moment you start focusing on that, you miss out on other things along the journey."


Report: Patriots hoping to sign Darrelle Revis to long-term extension
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Patriots are reportedly looking to sign cornerback Darrelle Revis to a long-term extension, according Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

However, New England has not ruled out paying Revis the $20 million team option in 2015, Rapoport reports. The decision needs to be made by April 1, when a $12 million roster bonus kicks in for Revis.

Revis totaled 47 tackles in 16 games for the Patriots, grabbing two interceptions and forcing one fumble.


C.J. Spiller expecting 'March Madness' style free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Bills running back C.J. Spiller is getting healthy again. Spiller, who has fully recovered from a shoulder injury, just ended the final season of his contract and is looking at his options for next season.

"Physically, I’m back to 100 percent, back to doing normal activities," Spiller told The Post and Courier on Friday. "As far as football, free agency will start in March, and I’ll get with my people next week and get a game plan together."

Spiller has played five seasons for the Bills, only playing two full years. He ran for 1,244 yards in 2012 with six touchdowns.

"I guess you could say it’ll be March Madness," Spiller said with a smile. "It’ll be a fun March."


Report: Rams among teams interested in trade for Eagles' Foles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Teams are beginning to show interest in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, as reports are surfacing Philadelphia is unsure of what to do with the third-year quarterback, per NJ.com. A source said the Rams have interest in Foles should the Eagles choose to trade him this offseason. 

The Titans and Texans have also been mentioned as teams that would have interest in Foles, if he hits the trade market.

It's still unclear if the Eagles would be willing to move Foles. NJ.com reported last week the Eagles, who have the 20th pick in the NFL Draft, are considering making a run at Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. 

"From No. 20, it's certainly not going to be easy,'' a source said. "It's probably going to take moving up twice to do it. There's going to be some wheeling and dealing involved.

"Can it happen? I don't know. But they're going to try."

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and coached him for two years.

"Obviously, [with] my relationship with coach Kelly, it'd be a lot of fun to be a part of that offense and be a part of that team," Mariota said when asked about a potential reunion with Kelly.

Foles is 15-9 as a starter in the NFL, but he has yet to play a full season. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 6,753 yards, 46 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.


Colts' Luck on new contract: 'There's nothing there right now'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) An ESPN report surfaced last week stating the Colts were working on making quarterback Andrew Luck the highest-paid player in the NFL. When asked about the subject at the Pro Bowl, Luck seemed surprise when he heard the news.

"There's nothing there right now," Luck said, per The Indianapolis Star. "I didn't think about it all during the season and it's only been a few days since it ended. I haven't thought about it. I will have conversations with my agent just because you have to prepare, but I'm not sure where that report came from."

Luck has two years remaining on the $22 million deal he signed as a rookie in 2012. It includes a team option for 2016, which must be exercised later this year.

Luck just completed his third season in the NFL. He has been to the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the NFL. He's gone 11-5 in every season as an NFL starter. He threw for a career-best 40 touchdowns in 2014 and led Indianapolis to the AFC title game this season.


 
 
 
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