StrategyAugust 9, 2009

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Daily Preview: Chicago Bears

By Joseph Malizia

After the Bears landed Jay Cutler in an offseason trade, the talk in Chicago turned from the possibility of making the playoffs to deciding which route to use for the championship parade. This hype which surrounds the Bears’ Super Bowl aspirations demands a closer look at their skill players and their ability to help you win your fantasy football title.

QB: Jay Cutler
RBs: Matt Forte, Kevin Jones
WRs: Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis, Juaquin Iglesias
TE: Greg Olsen
PK: Robbie Gould

Quarterback: Although Jay Cutler still sports a howitzer on his right arm, the caliber of the other weapons in his armory has greatly decreased. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett aren’t nearly as good as Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal; therefore, it’s likely that Cutler’s fantasy stats will suffer. Look for Cutler to perform as a low-end second-tier QB and look to draft him in the seventh or eighth round.

Running Back: Matt Forte is typically being selected in the top three in most redraft leagues and deservedly so. Last year, Forte burst on the scene and amassed 1,238 rushing yards, 63 catches, 477 receiving yards, and 12 total TDs while accounting for an astonishingly high percentage of the Bears total offense. The addition of Cutler now gives Chicago a legitimate passing threat, which should keep defenses honest and allow Forte to improve on his production while decreasing his workload. One caveat: Forte had 379 touches last year which is an indicator that his body may break down at some point this season.

Wide Receiver: Devin Hester is being drafted in the eighth round of many mock drafts. That is way too late for a starting WR, in my opinion. Considering that Hester finished strong last year and he has an upgrade at quarterback, I fully expect him to be a top-20 WR with the possibility for a greater upside. It is slim pickings after that, though. Keep an eye on the competition between Earl Bennett and Rashied Davis during the preseason. The winner will start opposite Hester and may warrant WR3 consideration by the middle of the season. The Bears also may look to Juaquin Iglesias, but don’t expect him to help your fantasy team this year.

Tight End: Greg Olsen was great last year with 54 catches, 574 yards receiving and five TDs. The former Hurricane will be better this year. After the elite TEs are selected, grab Olsen and expect top-five TE fantasy numbers.

IDP: None of the Bears defenders are guaranteed to star in an IDP format, but Charles Tillman has perhaps the greatest opportunity to shine. Tillman recorded 93 tackles and three interceptions last year with a bum shoulder. After having surgery to repair his shoulder in January, Tillman could be poised to improve on his INTs.

Overall, the Bears have some good value this year. Hester, Olsen, and Gould will all perform higher than their average draft position. Barring injury, Forte will meet expectations. Only Cutler, an NFL superstar last year, is expected to have decreased production in 2009. Those are my predictions and I hope they help!

Joey Litz has been playing fantasy sports since the late 80s - back when it was all referred to as rotisserie and as commissioner, kept track of the leagues with a USA Today and a pencil. It's a passion of his during the NFL season. Thanks to the Fantasy Cafe for providing a forum for enthusiasts like us to get together. You can find Litz posting in the Cafe forums as joejlitz.
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