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Offseason Primers: Chicago Bears

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Lovie Smith era ended with another whiff at a postseason berth. The Bears cleaned house as a result and went on the offensive with their next head coach, choosing Montreal Alouettes head coach and long-time NFL offensive assistant Marc Trestman. The theory behind the hire is that the Bears will finally have some stability on offense after having two offenses and three playcallers over the last four years.

Those last four years have been a nightmare for Jay Cutler as he's navigated through those scheme changes while playing behind a clumsy, unimproved offensive line. Many people will characterize Cutler as a malcontent through his actions and body language but the reality is that he's been stuck on a roster bereft of talent.

Not until last season did he have a legit No. 1 receiver in Chicago and he made the most out of throwing 193 passes to Brandon Marshall, affording the receiver to have a career year. Having Matt Forte in the backfield has been a perk for Cutler too, as the rusher recorded another year with over 1,400 total yards. The Bears' run game tallied 11 touchdowns but Forte only had five on the ground. In order for Forte's touchdown numbers to get better, Cutler will need to find him.

2012 Touches Leaders
757 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Matt Forte 292 (248 car., 44 rec.) 38.6%
Michael Bush 123 (114 car., 9 rec.) 16.2%
Brandon Marshall 119 (118 rec., 1 car.) 15.7%
Jay Cutler 41 car. 5.4%
Earl Bennett 29 rec. 3.8%
Alshon Jeffery 24 rec. 3.2%
All Others 129 17.1%

The rest of the Bears offense, for lack of a better term, stunk out loud. The offensive line struggled to protect Cutler, the receivers behind Marshall were either banged up or overmatched and the tight ends couldn't contribute much, be it as blockers or pass catchers. Trestman has his work cut out for him, but fortunately he has a modest track record going back to his days with George Seifert and the San Francisco 49ers. Though only twice in his NFL coaching career has Trestman fielded a quarterback that has thrown for over 4,000 yards, he has a solid history of being unafraid to throw often while developing versatile running backs.

While handing the defensive duties over to veteran coordinator Mel Tucker, who probably won't change much, Trestman should be able to breathe life into the Bears offense. In turn, Cutler should be able to perform to levels he hasn't had since joining Chicago. For a playoff-hungry team like the Bears, the plan better work out as good as it sounds.

Jay Cutler -- Late-round flier

2012 Target Leaders
485 pass attempts
Brandon Marshall 194 40.0%
Matt Forte 60 12.4%
Earl Bennett 49 10.1%
Alshon Jeffery 48 9.9%
Kellen Davis 44 9.1%
All Others 90 18.5%

It seems like every year we're labeling Cutler as a quarterback worth a late-round gamble. Well, this might be the last. Cutler is entering a contract year and the Bears could opt to go in a different direction, or at least not sign him to a long-term deal, if he doesn't perform to the expectations they had for him when the traded for him in 2009. To Cutler's credit, he's balanced so many schematic changes while dancing behind a brutal offensive line since he's started in Chicago, yet he's still led the Bears to one NFC title game, two 10-plus-win seasons and three non-losing campaigns. Many quarterbacks swear by Trestman's knowledge and play-calling abilities and there's little doubt he will lean on Cutler this season, so it should afford him the chance to put up 4,000 passing yards, a number he has yet to reach while in Chicago. Cutler sees Joe Flacco go from pumpkin to hero and could do the exact same thing in 2013. That's why he should be a late round consideration after the likes of Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger are off the board.

Alshon Jeffery -- Bust

It took the Bears an eternity to land a legitimate receiving threat, and now you think they're good enough to have two?! Marshall is going to get his targets, which means he'll get his numbers. The only way that doesn't happen is if he misses playing time, in which case Jeffery could step in and be a factor. Last year, Jeffery scored in three of 10 games and posted seven or more Fantasy points in four of eight games where he played at least 40 snaps. Those are decent jumping off points for a young receiver but they don't necessarily translate well to Fantasy. What's more, Trestman's track record suggests his offenses will tilt toward one receiver rather than aim for balance. In the last 22 years he's coached in the pros, college and in Canada, Trestman has had two or more highly productive receivers seven times (four in the pass-happy CFL).

Michael Bush -- Bust

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Jay Cutler Late-round pick
Matt Forte 13-22 overall
Michael Bush Late-round handcuff
Brandon Marshall 20-30 overall
Alshon Jeffery Undrafted
Kellen Davis Undrafted
Robbie Gould Late-round pick
Bears DST 125-135 overall

The only Fantasy owners who should spend time staring at Bush's name on Draft Day are those who spend a second-round pick on Matt Forte (or those looking for running back depth in Round 15). A year ago we were frustrated that Bush "settled" for a part-time gig in Chicago but it looks like NFL decision makers knew what they were doing. Over 114 carries Bush averaged a career-worst 3.6 yards per and paired it with a three-year low in receiving average (a still-good 9.2 but on just nine catches). About the only positive to Bush's game is his touchdown production and Trestman has shown a willingness in the past to use a fresh back at the goal line. All you have to do is figure out when Bush will score and you'll have yourself a Fantasy stud -- but that's obviously hard to do. Steer clear of him in drafts this summer.

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

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Player News
Rams RB Todd Gurley to begin camp on active roster
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) Rams running back Todd Gurley was able to pass his conditioning test and will start training camp on the active roster, reports the team's official website.

Gurley was recovering from an ACL injury in his left knee, but he will be able to participate in training camp practices. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft.


Jaguars move Nordly Capi to Active/non-football injury
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(2:16 pm ET) The Jaguars placed defensive end Nordly Capi on the Active/non-football injury list on Tuesday, the team announced. Capi went undrafted out of Akron. 

Jaguars place Sen'Derrick Marks, James Sample on PUP list
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(2:12 pm ET) The Jaguars placed safety James Sample and offensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Tuesday, reports the Florida Times-Union.

Sample is dealing with a broken right arm, while Marks is recovering from a torn ACL.


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To make room for Hill on the roster, the Jets parted ways with kicker Andrew Furney.


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(12:57 pm ET) The Buccaneers placed safety Derrick Wells on the reserve/non-football injury list Tuesday, the team announced.

Wells is an undrafted rookie. The non-football injury is for players that sustained an injury away from the football field.


Lions sign DB R.J. Stanford
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) The Lions signed defensive back R.J. Stanford on Tuesday, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Stanford was one of five cornerbacks that worked out for the Lions on Tuesday. He has two interceptions during his five-year career.


Vikings WR DaVaris Daniels begins practicing Tuesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:57 am ET) Vikings wide receiver DaVaris Daniels was able to participate in practice Tuesday, which means he has been removed from the Active/Non-Football Injury list, reports the StarTribune.

Bills WR Sammy Watkins says he'll be 'full go' for training camp
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:44 am ET) Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins said he will not be limited when training camp practice starts Friday, reports ESPN.com.

"I'll definitely be ready to practice," Watkins said Tuesday. "I'll be full go. I'll be prepared to go out there and make plays."

Watkins underwent hip surgery during the offseason, which limited his participation in the team's offseason program.


Report: Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson will report to camp
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:35 am ET) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has no intention of holding out of training camp, a source told the New York Post.

Wilkerson has expressed his desire to work out a long-term contract before reporting to training camp, which begins Wednesday. Wilkerson did not attend the team's voluntary offseason program while waiting for a new deal, but he did report to mandatory minicamp in June.


Dolphins re-sign quarterback Josh Freeman
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:29 am ET) Less than a week after releasing him, the Dolphins re-signed quarterback Josh Freeman on Tuesday, reports the Palm Beach Post.

Freeman is competing for a backup role on the team. He is a former first-round pick of the Buccaneers.


 
 
 
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