2013 Team Outlook: Chicago Bears
Chicago has been working to fill the gaps and protect Jay Cutler so that his offense can be as productive as possible. The number of sacks and injuries thereafter that have plagued Cutler were not acceptable and should now be well on their way to being fixed. Phil Emery has been methodically making solid moves to provide his QB with protection in the offensive line. Emery has also been busy with other initiatives - mainly some offensive signings and defensive additions. I really like the addition of Martellus Bennett at tight end as this should provide Cutler with another solid target. The defense is also looking up despite the retirement of Brian Urlacher. Chicago had a late season three game slide last year, but all in all they were solid. If they can keep it together this season and Emery's magic works, Chicago could find themselves deep in the playoffs.
Update: After the pre-season opener, you should have WR Marquess Wilson on your radar in deep leagues.
Update 8/23/13: Is Alshon Jeffery losing value?
Chicago has appeared to struggle through the pre-season as the team works to perfect Marc Trestman's offense. It appears that Alshon Jeffery is now down the list as Cutler's receiving options are deep. With Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Earl Bennett (when he returns from injury) as his top four targets, Cutler does not have many options to throw to Jeffery. We will see how the season prgresses, but Jeffery might get moved down your draft list at this stage.
Update 9/12/13 - The focus this week for Chicago will be stopping Adrian Peterson. AP was able to tear it up last week and if the Chicago run defense cannot keep him under wraps this week they will suffer the consequences. Martellus Bennett was productive in Week 1 and should be on most fantasy rosters at this point if he was not before the season opener. Bennett was viewed as a sleeper or underrated player in some circles, but has lived up to his solid-safe pick line. The team keeps trying to play up Jay Cutler's need to spread the ball around, but Cutler and Brandon Marshall single-handedly thrashed the Minnesota defense in two games last season. I think Cutler will try to spraed the ball around this week, but we could see Marshall and Cutler put on another show. This match-up will be tough.
QB Jay Cutler, CHI - Sleeper (undervalued)
I have to list Cutler as a solid-safe pick instead of a stud given his propensity to suffer sacks and ensuing injuries. If Emery's additions to the offensive line prove as they appear on paper, Cutler's sacks should decrease and his productivity should increase. He should also see full-season action. Personally, I do not think you can go wrong with Cutler throwing to Marshall (and now Martellus Bennett) with Forte in the running game. Look for a solid season.
QB Josh McCown, CLE - Not Draft Worthy
McCown could see some action if Cutler goes out with injury. Realistically, he will be available on waivers if that happens.
RB Matt Forte, CHI - Stud (low risk)
Forte had some down games last season just after the middle stretch, but finished strong. He is a stellar runner and his pass catching ability makes him quite worthy in your draft, especially in PPR formats. The one downside to Forte is his low yield for TDs. I would like to see him pick up the pace in this respect.
RB Michael Bush, --- - Gamble (high risk)
Bush is the guy for goal line carries and third down. His downhill running makes him appealing, but last season the TDs were not as expected and he was injured late in the season. I expect we will see Bush in his back-up role again this season, but he is a gamble if you are counting on TDs making him fantasy-worthy.
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI - Sleeper (undervalued)
Alshon has the talent, now he needs to show it. He had a few decent outings last season, but they entailed a few receptions for big yardage. Jeffery is a deep threat and could be a great sleeper pick-up at wideout this season. The addition of Bennett at TE might help or might hinder Jeffery's workload, we will have to wait and see. Any way about it, Cutler should have targets. I like Jeffery for a breakout season this year.
Update 8/23/13 - I still like Jeffery, but it appears his targets and touches might be limited given his slide down the passing priority list. Jeffery's trouble breaking from coverage makes him a greater risk than some other targets - Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte to be specific. Jeffery can still be considered a sleeper, but might fall to the next tier on your draft list.Injury Status: Out - Hamstring
WR Brandon Marshall, NYJ - Stud (low risk)
Marshall had a few low scoring affairs this past season, but when push comes to shove, he is a fantasy stud. The reinforcements on the O-line should provide Cutler with better protection and that means more time to get the ball to Marshall. The addition of Martellus Bennett should also provide a benefit to Marshall as he should be able to get open more often since Bennett can be a new threat in Chicago's offense that was lacking talent at TE.