2014 Team Outlook: Chicago Bears
QB Jay Cutler, CHI - Stud (low risk)
BELIEVE: Jay Cutler signed a seven-year, $127 million contract in January that should keep him in the Windy City for at least three more years (the Bears can cut him in 2017 without paying him the remainder of his contract). The 30-year-old Vanderbilt alum missed five games with an ankle injury, but finished 2013 with five-year highs in passer rating (89), yards per game (238) and completion percentage (63-percent). In head coach Marc Trestman's pass-happy offense, Cutler is a very good QB1 (especially with an elite set of weapons at his disposal). Staying healthy behind a mediocre offensive line will be the major question mark as he has missed 12 games over the last three seasons. Chicago retained all 11 starters from an offense that ranked fifth in passing, eighth in total yards and second in points per game (28) last season. Their offensive line leaves a bit to be desired as Pro Football Focus ranked the unit 19th overall (11th in run blocking and 29th in pass blocking).
Editor's note: Even if you do not like Cutler, there is a lot to like about this offense and his fantasy potential within it. The days of the Bears having a lights-out defense and an underwhelming offense are over. This team is looking to outscore their opponents and burn out the lights in the scoreboard.
UPDATE: Through two preseason games, Cutler's offensive line has been excellent and he has zero interceptions and two touchdowns while completing 16 of 22 passes.
QB David Fales, --- - Dynasty Only
The Bears selected quarterback David Fales (San Jose State) with the 183rd pick in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Last year, the senior completed 64-percent of his passes for 4,189 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Current backup Jordan Palmer was with the Bears last season, but has thrown only 15 career regular season passes. Fales will have a chance to catapult over him on the depth chart during training camp. Fales has adequate size (6-foot-2), but is more of an intermediate passer who currently lacks a big arm to fully utilize the Bears' play-making receiver group of downfield threats. He has solid scrambling ability and is probably a better fit in a West Coast offense. If Cutler goes down, the Bears' passing game is in major trouble with Josh McCown now in Tampa Bay.
QB Jordan Palmer, --- - Low Potential
Josh McCown parlayed an impressive 2013 into a two year deal with Tampa. Carson Palmer's brother hasn't appeared in a regular season game since 2010, but is familiar with Marc Trestman's system; giving him the likely leg up on backup duties over rookie David Fales and Jimmy Claussen. Cutler has missed 12 games over the last three seasons, so it is possible Palmer could play a game or two.
RB Matt Forte, NYJ - Stud (low risk)
TOP FIVE PICK ACROSS ALL FORMATS: Matt Forte remains a locked and loaded RB1 (especially in PPR leagues) as he topped 70 catches for the first time in his six-year career under first year head coach Marc Trestman. Forte averaged 23 touches per game and had a career-best 1,339 rushing yards on 289 carries (most since his rookie year). The 28-year-old amassed 12 touchdowns and averaged 121 total YPG, helping him finish as the fourth-ranked fantasy RB in standard leagues. Pick him with confidence during the first half of the first round in your league's draft.
RB Shaun Draughn, SF - Fantasy Handcuff
The 26-year-old University of North Carolina alum showed flashes while with Kansas City in 2012, finishing with 59 carries for 233 yards and 24 catches for 158 yards. He fell off in a big way as a complete non-factor in 2013 (carried the ball four times for two yards in three games with the Ravens). He enters training camp as the fourth-string running back on the Bears' roster and is highly unlikely to have much relevance barring multiple injuries.
UPDATE: The vet is the handcuff to target for Forte owners after two preseason games. Rookie Carey needs to improve to remain on the re-draft fantasy radar.
RB Ka'Deem Carey, CHI - Fantasy Handcuff
DYNASTY STASH: The Bears selected the University of Arizona alum in the fourth round. Over two collegiate seasons, he racked up 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns. There is some question whether he has the size (5'9, 207) to be a bell cow at the NFL level, but he did handle a heavy workload in college (averaged 26 carries per game in his last two seasons). Carey has upside potential as a fantasy handcuff, but since Forte has missed just five games over his first six seasons, Carey makes for a better target in dynasty leagues.
Editor's note: Carey did his dirty work with the Arizona Wildcats in a spread offense. He won't find the same running lanes at the next level. He possesses average speed and burst so he must continue to develop all aspects of his game.
UPDATE: His role as the #2 back is in jeopardy after a slow start to the preseason (just 59 yards on 23 carries (2.6 YPC) through two games).