With an offensive minded head coach on the Bears sideline for the first time in a long time, there are fantasy options worth considering in Chicago. The excitement is somewhat tempered; even talented players will take time to learn a new system and gel as a team. But, unlike past seasons where fantasy points were more often earned by the defense, offensive Bear players will take center stage in drafts across America.
No doubt, Brandon Marshall is a fantasy beast. There are other viable targets for Jay Cutler this year; B-Marsh won’t top the 118 receptions of last season. But he’ll thrive in a modern, West Coast offense run by a professional offensive coach. He hasn’t lost a step and will suit up consistently on Sundays despite being a seven season veteran. Expect Chicago to score more often in the red zone and Marshall to match or surpass last season’s 11 touchdown receptions. He’s still a top 5 receiver and, rightfully so, won’t last long on draft boards.
Pre-Draft Rankings: Yahoo! (4), ESPN (4), CBS (5), NFL (4)
It’s a new season and yet another new offensive coordinator for Jay Cutler. With quarterback guru Marc Trestman in place, more is expected of the soon-to-be free agent. Most quarterbacks with seven season behind them are what they are so don’t expect a whole new Jay. The veteran QB is learning another new offense and will make mistakes, as he always does. While his numbers should improve from a year ago, he remains only a fantasy backup option. Bears fans hope that isn’t the case but there are too many other good options at the position to rest your fantasy hopes on Cutler this season.
Pre-Draft Rankings: Yahoo! (23), ESPN (19), CBS (14), NFL (23)
Veteran tight end Martellus Bennett is quite a character. The quotable pass catcher has made steady improvement from year-to-year and will be a featured part of Chicago’s revamped offense in 2013. Jay Cutler hasn’t had a reliable tight end on the roster since Greg Olsen was sent to the Panthers. Bennett is a worthy tight end option on fantasy rosters and the tall target should rake in plenty of yards and, more importantly, touchdown receptions this season.
Pre-Draft Rankings: Yahoo! (11), ESPN (13), CBS (11), NFL (13)
Running back Matt Forte is set to re-emerge as a number one fantasy back this season. Trestman’s West Coast offense, that once made Charlie Garner a star, is everything Forte could hope for. It’s running attack is heavily supplemented by short passes with plenty of run-after-the-catch possibilities. Well executed swing passes and screen passes will mean more yards for Forte and more wins for your fantasy team. He is healthy, financially secure and motivated to become an elite NFL running back. Forte slots in right behind elite backs like Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy, and should impress his skeptics this season.
Pre-Draft Rankings: Yahoo! (11), ESPN (12), CBS (12), NFL (11)
The offense has potential but the Bears Defense has been a staple on fantasy teams for years. With Lovie Smith out of Chicago and a veteran roster roaming Soldier Field, team owners are nervous, anticipating a major drop off. New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is doing his darndest to avoid that performance dip. He is utilizing the same scheme and terminology as Smith did to ensure veterans are comfortable during a defensive transition period in Chicago. The Bears aged veterans – Peppers, Tillman, Briggs, Jennings – are surrounded by an infusion of talented youth – Melton, Wootton, Bostic, Paea – which keeps the unit fantasy relevant, at least for one more season.
Pre-Draft Rankings: Yahoo! (3), ESPN (4), CBS (4), NFL (5)