Chicago Bears Fantasy Football Preview
The 2015 Bears ranked 21st in total yards and 23rd in points. So it might not be a bad thing that this offseason brought some significant changes.
Former OC Adam Gase took the HC job in Miami. Offensive staples Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett also departed.
But a stud WR remains, as well as intriguing youngsters Jeremy Langford and Kevin White.
What will happen: Alshon Jeffery will rank among the top 10 WRs in fantasy points per game
Injuries derailed Jeffery’s 2015 campaign, costing him 7 games and big chunks of 2 more. But in the other 7 outings, he averaged 7.1 catches, 110.6 yards and 0.4 TDs. That's a 16-game pace of 114-1,796-7 that would have made Jeffery the #1 WR in non-PPR and #3 in PPR.
Smack dab in his prime at 26, Jeffery is in line to post monster numbers again this year. He’ll be playing for a big contract after getting franchise-tagged this offseason (barring a deal before the July 15 deadline). And while WR Kevin White could take a small bite out of Jeffery’s target total, White will also help by drawing some defensive attention away.
Note, though, that we said Jeffery will finish top 10 in fantasy points per game. Durability is a concern after he dealt with calf, hamstring and groin injuries last year. He played all 16 games in both of the previous 2 seasons, but our friends at Sports Injury Predictor have him with an 83.3% chance of missing at least 1 game this year. Only 3 skill-position players are bigger injury risks.
What won’t happen: Jay Cutler will finish as a top 12 QB
He’s done that just 3 times in 9 seasons as a full-time starter. Only 1 of those came with the Bears, and that was back in 2009. Cutler has ranked better than 20th in just 2 of the last 6 seasons.
He’s struggled staying healthy, missing at least 1 game in 6 straight years. But volume figures to be his biggest problem in 2016. HC John Fox favors a run-leaning attack. His offenses have ranked higher in rush attempts than passes in 10 of his 14 seasons as HC. That includes last year, when the Bears finished 6th in rush attempts and just 25th in pass attempts.
Cutler has some explosive weapons in Jeffery, White and even Zach Miller, so there’s some spot-start appeal here. But you’re in trouble if you’re banking on him as your regular starter.
What might happen: Both Jeremy Langford and Jordan Howard are useful fantasy assets
There’s a clear divide in the fantasy community between Langford supporters and Langford detractors (and, by default, Howard supporters). But we should be open to both guys emerging as useful fantasy pieces this season.
HC John Fox has a long history of deploying committee backfields. Among 14 seasons as HC — 9 in Carolina, 4 in Denver and 1 in Chicago — he’s had 2 RBs reach 100 carries in 12 of
them. A pair of RBs have ranked among the top 36 in PPR points in half of those 14 seasons.
That includes last year, when Matt Forte finished 7th and Langford 30th. The 2015 Bears ranked 6th in rushing attempts and 8th in run rate. The 2016 version also figures to be run heavy, which will create enough volume to potentially make Langford and Howard fantasy assets.
The duo complement each other nicely, with Langford a slashing-type runner with pass-catching ability and Howard more of a 2-down, between-the-tackles pounder.