My tour around the NFC North from a fantasy football angle continues, with a 2016 preview of the Chicago Bears.
Jay Cutler had a career-best 92.3 passer rating in 2015, but that did not translate to huge numbers (3,659 yards, 21 touchdowns. Adam Gase‘s departure as offensive coordinator is not good news, but it also should not be overblown with quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains being elevated to the role. I’ve always been optimistic about Cutler from a fantasy perspective, and that isn’t changing in 2016 as an under-appreciated sleeper.
Matt Forte‘s departure opens up an opportunity for Jeremy Langford, who showed some promise down the stretch of his 2015 rookie season. John Fox‘s history of favoring committee backfields tempers that optimism though, with Ka’Deem Carey, rookie Jordan Howard and Jacquizz Rodgers all possibly in the mix for touches.
Langford is worth targeting as a RB2, but there’s not a ton of upside. The other Bears’ backs are waiver wire fodder, outside of Howard possibly carrying value as a dynasty league stash.
In nine games last season, Alshon Jeffery had 54 receptions (on 94 targets) for 807 yards and four touchdowns. But he of course missed a lot of time with hamstring, calf and groin issues. If you’re willing to embrace some risk, and draft another wide receiver fairly soon after taking him, Jeffery is a legit WR1 for 2016.
Kevin White missed his entire rookie season with a fractured shin, and all indications are he’s fully healthy now. There’s good breakout potential here, but I wouldn’t draft White with the intent of starting him every week right off the bat.
Marquess Wilson may start the season on the PUP with a foot injury. Eddie Royal (37 catches in 2015), Josh Bellamy and rookie Daniel Braverman will need injuries to land on the fantasy radar at all.
Zach Miller set career-highs across the board in 2015 (34 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns), and now Martellus Bennett is completely out of the picture after an offseason trade. I’m a long-standing advocate for waiting to draft a tight end, and Miller is a late-round/final auction dollar choice that could pay off in low-end TE1 production.
Rob Housler once looked like a promising fantasy commodity, with 84 catches for the Arizona Cardinals during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He will need a significant injury to Miller to become someone fantasy owners should pay any attention to.
Especially considering the home field conditions he kicks in, Robbie Gould is reliable as it gets among NFL kickers. He rebounded in 2015, with 127 points (tied for eight in the league) that included going 7-for-9 on 50-plus yard field goals. Gould is sure to be an overlooked fantasy kicker, and there’s comfort in knowing what you’ll get with the Bears’ offense possibly improving in 2016.
The Bears added talent this offseason to a poor defense that was a bad fantasy option in 2015. I only see the unit as a possible matchup play this year until further notice, but linebackers Danny Trevathan (110 total tackles and two interceptions in 2015) and Jerrell Freeman (112 total tackles and three sacks in 2015) stand out as IDP options of note.