For all of the flak he took for his performance last year, Cutler was actually a solid fantasy quarterback over the first six weeks of the season, averaging 24.2 PPG with 1,676 yards passing and 13 touchdown passes (including two or more in five games) to go along with six interceptions. After that, he regressed badly, averaging just 18.9 PPG while throwing for 2,136 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over his final nine games as the Bears collapsed, going 2-7 in those games. In 2015, there is plenty of chance in store for Cutler as he has a new head coach in John Fox, a new offensive coordinator in Adam Gase and a new starting wide receiver in rookie 1st round pick Kevin White with Brandon Marshall having been traded to the Jets. Overall, Cutler averaged 21.0 PPG last season, his highest average since the 2008 season. Balancing that out is that he averaged 17.5 PPG during the 2009-2013 seasons. What’s the takeaway? Cutler just might take to Gase’s offense but there really isn’t any point in reaching for him. He rates as a mid-tier QB2 with upside and risk. Enjoy the ride if you grab him.
For several years, Forte has been considered a solid upper tier RB1 with little risk for fantasy purposes. However, at 29 years of age and coming off a season in which he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, there is some concern that he will see a decline in his production in 2015. The Bears seem to agree since they have yet to sign him to a contract extension as he enters the final year of his contract. Not helping Forte’s prognosis is the departure of head coach Marc Trestman, who funneled Forte the ball in the passing game as he set an NFL record for running backs with 102 receptions. It was his usage as a receiver that allowed him to finish as the 4th ranked fantasy running back with 1,846 total yards and 10 touchdowns. On the plus side, the Bears have little depth at running back, almost guaranteeing that Forte will approach his career average of 21.1 touches per game. And it is that heavy workload that should allow Forte to remain a mid-tier RB1 in 2015 barring injury, not a major concern for a player that has missed just four games during his seven year career.
With Matt Forte scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season and Ka’Deem Carey looking more like a bust as a rookie than Forte’s eventual replacement , the Bears used a 4th round pick in this year’s NFL Draft to acquire Langford. The 6’1”, 208 pound Michigan State product possesses solid speed but his lack of agility and propensity for bouncing runs outside could hinder him in the pros. Although it is uncertain whether he is viewed as a potential long term replacement should Forte leave Chicago, Langford rates as a mid-tier dynasty prospect and a must-have handcuff for Forte owners should he win the backup job during the preseason.
We never understood why the Bears used a 4th round pick on Carey in last year’s draft and it appears that it took them a year to agree. The 5’9”, 207 pound Arizona product enjoyed a stellar collegiate career, scoring 71 touchdowns while nearly topping 4,500 rushing yards, but a low 40 time (4.7 seconds) rendered him a low quality prospect and a reach as a 4th round pick. Sure enough, he rarely played other than in three blowout losses when he totaled 118 yards on 22 carries. In the seven other games that he appeared him, he carried the ball 14 times for 40 yards. With little speed and not much shake and bake, Carey may not even be on the Bears roster come opening day.
After a breakout performance during his 2nd season in the league in 2013 when he caught 89 of his 150 targets for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns, Jeffery saw his production decrease somewhat in 2014 as defenses focused more of their attention on him as injuries hampered Brandon Marshall. By season’s end, Jeffery had tallied 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns, finishing the year as the 12th ranked fantasy wide receiver. He ascends to the lead role in 2015 courtesy of Marshall’s trade to the Jets and the expectation is that he will have another solid season with new offensive coordinator Adam Gase running the Bears offense. Look for an increase in his target count from a year ago (145) and plenty of red zone targets even with the presence of 1st round pick Kevin White. We rate Jeffery as a rock solid lower tier WR1 with upside.
Having traded Brandon Marshall to the Jets, the Bears used a 1st round pick in this year’s draft to find his replacement, Kevin White. The 6’3”, 215 West Virginia product possesses tantalizing potential and could emerge as the top wide receiver in this year’s draft. However, his college tape revealed that he didn’t gain separation as much as you would expect from a player with sub-4.4-40 speed. He figures to be a solid option in the red zone given his leaping ability and tenacity in fighting for jump balls and he is also a weapon in gaining yards after the catch. With just Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson as his competition, a starting spot on opening day is all but assured. An outstanding dynasty league prospect, we consider White a low end WR3 or upper tier WR4 during his rookie season.
In what ranks as an under the radar signing, the Bears acquired former Chargers and Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal this offseason. With tight end Martellus Bennett making noise about his contract, the acquisition of Royal rates as a solid addition as he has emerged as an underrated slot receiver over the past two years. Somewhat astonishingly, Royal has accumulated 15 touchdowns over the past two years in San Diego to go along with 109 receptions and 1,409 yards. While Royal wasn’t guaranteed to consistently be a big part of the game plan in San Diego (five or fewer targets in 18 of his last 31 games), it’s worth noting that he enjoyed the finest year of his career in 2008 when he played with current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in Denver, chalking up 91 receptions for 908 yards and five touchdowns. In standard scoring formats, Royal rates as waiver wire material other than in the deepest of leagues but he is worth taking a flier on in PPR formats.
Thought of as a decent if not outstanding dynasty prospect as a potential replacement for Brandon Marshall down the road, Wilson’s fantasy prospects were like a rollercoaster during the offseason. Early in the offseason, the Bears traded Marshall to the Jets. Then in the draft, they used their 1st round pick to acquire Kevin White, essentially torpedoing Wilson’s fantasy value. Clearly, the Bears weren’t impressed with his production in limited playing time last season (17 receptions for 140 yards and a score on 32 targets). With a pair of potential franchise type wide receivers on the depth chart in front of him and Eddie Royal locked in as the team’s top option out of the slot, Wilson has no fantasy value in either redraft or dynasty formats barring an injury to either Alshon Jeffery or White.
After four disappointing years in Dallas, Bennett’s career took a turn for the better in 2012 with the Giants and led to his signing with the Bears in 2013 where he enjoyed the finest success of his career. Why do we need to tell you this? Well, was his success in Chicago due to the presence of former head coach Marc Trestman or was it due to increased maturation as a player? Most likely, it was a combination of the two but it is hard to discount Trestman’s presence last season when Bennett caught 90 passes (the most in the league for a tight end) for 916 yards and six touchdowns, all career highs. Since Julius Thomas enjoyed solid production when healthy with Gase at the controls, we expect that Bennett should put together another solid season in 2015. If there is one thing that concerns us about Bennett it is that he starts hot and then slows down, scoring 10 touchdowns during the first four weeks of the season over the last three years but just six over the final 12 weeks of those seasons. He shakes out as the top tight end in the 2nd tier at the position, behind the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce.