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Should You Draft Him?: Chicago Bears


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It must be nice to play for the Chicago Bears offense. I don’t mean any offense to Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod because they are solid, or, in Marshall’s case, great players. That being said, it’s hard to imagine those players getting the kind of rapturous excitement Bears fans gave them had they landed on other teams. But that’s the benefit of stepping into the shoes of predecessors who represented the absolute worst that their respective positions have to offer.

Seriously, if Bennett ends up being only the 31st-best tight end in the NFL this year, he will still be a massive upgrade over Kellen Davis. When Marshall was first traded to the Bears, local Chicago media immediately declared him the greatest receiver to ever wear a Bears uniform. The reason why this wasn’t ridiculed in the blogosphere as over-the-top local media homerism is because the claim was 100-percent correct.

The reason I point this out is so that you don’t fall into the trap of believing excitement over a player, even when it’s justified, translates to fantasy gold. Bears fans were right to get excited over Bushrod, but don’t think for a second that Chicago’s offensive line is good or even mediocre. Bennett over Davis was possibly the single biggest positional upgrade this offseason, but don’t mistake him for a top 10 fantasy stud. This is the exact same sort of excitement that led people to draft Cutler in the middle rounds in 2009, because of how not Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman he was. Now let’s look at the individuals:

(Draft positions are based on a composite of the results of standard scoring 12-team drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Players with added or decreased points per reception appeal will be noted. Kickers and defenses will always be ignored because they are kickers and defenses.)

(ADP = Average Draft Position)

Jay Cutler (ADP: Late Round 11): Oh, Cutler. I always defended you when sports writers sneeringly called you Jeff George, but I can’t do it anymore. “Guys, it’s not his fault! The offensive line is terrible! The receiving corps is the worst in the league! Mike Martz is an idiot!” I would always say. But after last season, I can’t defend him anymore. True the line was still bad and he only had one legitimate receiver, but he had a quality running back tandem, a top-5 receiver, and a defense and special teams that led the league in touchdowns (10) and destroyed the league in takeaways (44, with the next closest team getting 35). I can’t shift the blame anymore. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or a Manning brother would take that to 12 wins without breaking a sweat.

In fantasy he’s going as a mid-range backup, but I don’t want him in that role because I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would feel comfortable starting him. A horrid performance from a quarterback can single-handedly kill your fantasy week, and even if Cutler was coming off four straight baller performances, I still wouldn’t be able to entrust him as my starter. If I never intend to start him, why should I draft him?

Should you draft him? NO

Matt Forte (ADP: 13th Overall): Dude, Forte is so boring to write about. I don’t even know what to say. He’s had a little bit more in the way of injuries over the last two seasons, but he still only missed one game last year, and I can’t say that the four missed games in 2011 point to any sort of decreased durability. Any player who takes a helmet directly to the knee while his cleat is stuck in the turf is missing some time. He’ll be turning 28 this season, so a decline is coming in two or three years, but we’re not there yet. Pencil him in for 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 6-9 touchdowns. He’s a worthy safety pick at the beginning of Round 2, but I wouldn’t blame you for gambling on the higher upside of an A.J. Green or Stevan Ridley.

Should you draft him? YES

Michael Bush (ADP: Mid-Round 12): Last season we were expecting Bush to vulture lots of touchdowns and push Forte for carries. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice spoke of expecting both Bush and Forte to rush for 1,000 yards. What we got instead was a measly 411 yards on 114 carries and five touchdowns before missing the last three games with an injury. As long as Forte is healthy, Bush shouldn’t go anywhere near a starting lineup. But in the one game that Forte missed, Bush had 20 touches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Due to volume of work, Bush makes for a solid No. 2 running back if Forte misses any time, making him an ideal fantasy handcuff worth grabbing late.

Should you draft him? YES

Brandon Marshall (ADP: 20th Overall): What I love about Marshall’s game is his versatility. You need someone to go deep and outjump the defense for a long score? He can do it. You need a big red zone target? He’s your man. You want somebody to haul in tons of receptions on short, high-percentage routes? Look no further. In 16 games last year he had less than five receptions in only two of them, and he failed to hit double-digit standard league points in only six. That’s outstanding consistency. Deep threats can get taken out of a game with safety help and possession guys can disappear when they get superglued by a top corner. Marshall’s skill set is too complete to be completely taken out of a game. Plus, those other three NFC North pass defenses are terrible. Him at 20th overall is a steal.

Should you draft him? YES

Alshon Jeffery (ADP: Mid-Round 11 ): My initial reaction was that this was too early for him, but then I started looking at the receivers who come later, such as Sidney Rice, Brian Hartline, Julian Edelman and Cordarrelle Patterson. Bleh. He has the talent to have a breakout season and may have one sometime soon, but I’m not sure if this is the year. I just don’t think there’s going to be enough offense through the air for Forte, Marshall, Bennett and Jeffery to all be big factors in the passing game. If there has to be an odd man out, I’m betting on Jeffery. He’s only in his second year and he’s already at a disadvantage as a deep threat whose quarterback won’t have much time to throw. If I’m looking for high-upside receivers in the mid-to-late rounds I’d rather grab Michael Floyd or Justin Blackmon.

Should you draft him? NO

Earl Bennett/Devin Hester (ADP: Undrafted): Unless you’re in a 20-team league with 18 rounds, you’re obviously not going to draft either of these players because you aren’t a moron. I would instead like to take this opportunity to lament the demise of Hester. Why did the Bears take the best return man in the history of the sport and ruin him by making him a bad receiver? I know they paid him a lot of money, but the touchdowns and monumental field position influence he had on every possession were more than worth it. It’s like working at McDonalds when the best fry cook gets promoted to assistant manager and he’s the worst manager ever because the skills that entail good fry cooking are largely irrelevant to business management and everyone who works there hates their lives a little more. That’s what watching Hester play wide receiver is like: working a minimum wage job and hating yourself.

Should you draft him? NO

Martellus Bennett (ADP: Mid-Round 12): It’s becoming an incredibly overused cliche to refer to modern tight ends as athletic freaks, but how else am I supposed to describe a 6-foot-6 man who weighs 265 pounds and has a 4.68 40 time? A movie monster come to life? A genetic abomination? A mutant super race designed to kill the slow and weak? Whatever you want to call him, you’ve got a guy with all the physical tools to succeed, a new pass-happy offense in Chicago, and an offensive line that won’t give Cutler a lot of time, meaning lots of short range throws. Bennett is being drafted as a high-end backup, which is about right. There are a dozen tight ends I would rather draft to be my starter, but Bennett looks to be a good injury and bye week fill-in with stud potential. That’s everything you could possibly want out of a backup tight end.

Should you draft him? YES