Bears Fantasy News
'No surprise' if LeSean McCoy matches '13 workload
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:15am
Philly Mag's Sheil Kapadia...
The pressing question: Will Chip Kelly lighten LeSean McCoy’s workload?
On his way to setting the franchise record for rushing yards, McCoy led the NFL in carries (314) and touches (366). Only Chicago's Matt Forte played more snaps. The Eagles added Darren Sproles in the offseason. Does that mean they want to give McCoy more of a breather in 2014?
The answer, as I see it, is no. McCoy often mentions how his running style lends itself to fewer big hits, and the numbers suggest there could be something to that. In the Eagles' final four regular season games, he piled up 519 yards and averaged 6.3 YPC. In the fourth quarters of games, he led the NFL with 441 yards and averaged 6.0 YPC, according to STATS, Inc. In other words, there were no signs that his production took a hit because of the heavy workload.
McCoy is only 26 years old and the focal point of the Eagles' offense. Matching last year's number of touches would be no surprise. Assuming health, he's as close to a lock as there is to finish as one of the top three rushers in the NFL.
Due to the arrival of Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews, and the expected emergence of Zach Ertz, we would be surprised if the Eagles didn't lighten McCoy's workload a bit. We currently have him projected for 337 touches, which represents an 8 percent drop in touches. He's still a top 3 RB in both PPR and standard formats.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 5:38pm
Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia was asked to come up with a couple possible surprises in the team's starting lineup:
"It's difficult to come up with a second one, but I'll go with Zach Ertz. I know that won't "shock" anybody, but the TE situation is a fascinating one to monitor. We won't know until the season starts how much the offense misses DeSean Jackson. But if teams continue to play man coverage against the Eagles, and guys don't get open, Kelly will have to feature Ertz more. He's a superior option to Brent Celek in the passing game at this point.
"If I'm putting money down, I still say Celek starts and plays more snaps - primarily because he's a much better run blocker. But the TE situation is one to keep an eye on."
For Ertz, snaps may be the only thing standing in the way of a breakout season. Ertz averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there.
Monday, July 14, 2014, 8:29pm
Bears RB Michael Ford must pass protect well and flash on special teams in order to keep his roster spot. He's a candidate to return kickoffs, and he had five special teams tackles last season as an undrafted rookie. On offense, he averaged 3.8 yards on 39 carries last preseason.
"He has shown his speed," HC Marc Trestman said. "He has shown his ability to catch the ball. He has shown his ability to run in practices. I think we'll see a lot more as we move on, how he has adapted to our protections."
Monday, July 14, 2014, 8:26pm
Bears RB Matt Forte had 363 touches last season, the second most of his career. It was the first season since 2009 in which he had more than 300. As he approaches his 29th birthday in December, let's see whether the increased contact affects his power, explosiveness and endurance. In training camp and exhibition games, at least, it seems logical for the Bears to get Forte the work he needs but not a touch more.
Besides, the backs behind Forte need repetitions to answer many questions. As is the norm with backups, those center on pass protection.
RB KaDeem Carey commands the brightest spotlight. GM Phile Emery evaluates two criteria: toughness and reactive instincts for finding the correct defensive rusher. Carey "has shown that repetitively," Emery said after the Bears drafted him.
The Bears RB1 job still belongs to Forte, but it's a good sign Carey is gaining at least a little praise for his pass protection early on. With Michael Bush gone, Carey appears next in line for work if something were to happen to Forte. According to this story, he's considered a roster lock. Tony Fiammetta is considered a good bet while Michael Ford, Shaun Draughn, Jordan Lynch and Senorise Perry are competing for one spot.
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:14pm
Buccaneers HC Lovie Smith has compared RB Charles Sims – as a type of player – to the Bears' Matt Forte, and draft analyst Rob Rang makes the same link. The author praises Sims' "impressive burst," "hand-eye coordination," "body control" and "soft mitts" and says those traits fit in well with the system new Offensive Coordination Jeff Tedford is installing in Tampa. The reason that Rang believes Sims could contribute significantly early on isn't necessarily positive, but it's a fair point: Josh McCown will need good protection up front to allow his crew of huge pass-catchers to get downfield, and it's not yet known how strong the Bucs' offensive line will be.
Rang would not be surprised if Sims, who was seen as something of a head-scratcher of a pick in early May, looks like a steal instead a month or two into the season.
The arrival of Sims has taken a good amount of wind out of Doug Martin's sails, causing his ADP to slip into the 2nd/3rd rounds. This is a new regime, so Martin's role is far from safe, though we still see him as the lead back in Tampa.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 10:29am
At some points early in his career, though, it looked like there might be off-field issues that would stand in the way of prolonged success. Those have mostly faded into memory since Marshall arrived in Chicago and he told Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com that they won’t be popping up again in the future even though he knows that nothing will ever be perfect.
“I found that interesting that there is a thought about me reverting back. But I always tell people that’s just part of the journey, especially for a young man given so much freedom, so much fame, so much fortune,” Marshall said. “That’s part of the journey, to make mistakes. But the problem is you make your mistakes in the public’s eye. People look at me like, ‘Is this an act?’ I know you believe in me, but some people will say, ‘Is it an act?’ or ‘It’s only going to last for so long.’ But I’m actually growing, every single day. This is the new me. This is who I am. So there isn’t any reverting back. But I do make mistakes. I’m pretty much still in the same exact situation. I just look at life differently and my approach is different. There’s some things out there I still need to work on.”
The story goes on to say Marshall has been an advocate for mental health issues in recent years and he’s trying to help former Dolphins teammate Davone Bess after Bess had a series of troubling incidents last year that have derailed his career. Marshall also talked about helping younger members of the Bears make their way into the professional ranks, something that didn’t seem like it would be part of Marshall’s portfolio a few years ago. From a fantasy angle, he's as safe a bet as they come at the position. He's currently ranked fourth among our WRs with an ADP of the early second round. We project him for 100 catches, 1,200-plus yards and 12 TDs.
Bucs WR Mike Evans (hamstring): "I feel 100 percent."
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:39am
WR Mike Evans now has just three weeks until the Buccaneers report for preseason training camp, even less until rookies are due back in town, but the first-round pick from Texas A&M is hard at work at getting himself in shape for the 2014 season.
"Physically, I'm not in tip-top shape. I'm getting back into my game shape," said Evans, who is training in Miami with a group of players that includes Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. "As far as injury-wise, I feel good. I've been running, and I feel 100 percent."
Evans missed much of his first month of practice with the Bucs with a hamstring injury suffered on the first day of voluntary minicamp on May 20. He was able to return in a limited capacity for the team's mandatory minicamp last month, and he expects to be fine when camp starts July 25 at One Buc Place.
Evans is training for two weeks in Miami at Fit Speed Athletic Performance, and he said his focus is dropping "7 to 10 pounds" with a goal of playing at about 230 pounds this fall.
Evans looks likely to start opposite Vincent Jackson and could very well turn into a fantasy starter as a rookie, though we are generally less bullish on rookies than other fantasy sites. Still, Evans certainly has the opportunity necessary to make an impact. If he has a healthy and productive training camp, he'll move up our rankings.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 6:01pm
Before the draft, Mike Evans got compared to two current NFL wide receivers more than any others.
Buccaneers teammate Vincent Jackson and the other was Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall have the same imposing size and impressive athletic ability that Evans showed while he was at Texas A&M, leading many to point to the duo as a sign of what Evans could become once he hit the NFL. Evans got to spend the spring working with Jackson and he’s spending the early part of his summer working with Marshall.
Both men are training with Fit Speed Athletic Performance in Florida.
Monday, June 30, 2014, 8:34pm
Q: I thought running back KaDeem Carey was a steal in the fourth round of the draft. How many carries do you see him getting this year?
A: That’s difficult to say, primarily because starter Matt Forte is such a versatile three-down back who’s capable of running inside and outside as well as catching passes. I know the coaching staff has a hard time taking Forte off the field, and who can blame them? Interestingly, the Bears’ backup running back got 112, 114 and 114 carries in Lovie Smith’s final three seasons as coach, but only 63 last year in Marc Trestman’s first season.
With that being said, I think that Carey has the potential to be more productive than predecessors Chester Taylor (267 yards and three touchdowns in 2010), Marion Barber (422 yards and 6 TDs on 2011) and Michael Bush (411 yards and 5 TDs in 2012 and 197 yards and 3 TDs in 2013).
But Carey must first prove that he can learn and execute pass-blocking assignments because protecting the quarterback is vital in Trestman’s offense. If you want me to guess, I’ll say that Carey will get 80 carries this season barring a serious injury to Forte, which breaks down to five per game.
It sounds like Mayer thinks Carey has the chance to play more of a role than Bush did last season. Carey seems like a guy to grab later in drafts as a potential handcuff to Forte, especially when you consider Forte will likely be one of the top-five RBs off the board later this summer. Of course there is some risk with drafting handcuffs and Carey may not get all of Forte's workload should Forte get hurt, but it's a situation worth monitoring if you plan to protect or draft Forte.
Beat: Two-TE sets will be Eagles' 'bread and butter' early in season
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 6:36pm
It makes sense for Eagles HC Chip Kelly right now to get as many snaps for his receivers as he can. But when the season starts Sept. 7 against the Jags, Kelly’s most experienced (and therefore most reliable) offense will feature Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. I would anticipate that two tight-end offensive packages will be the bread and butter of the Eagles’ attack earlier in the season until Jordan Matthews is ready to see an uptick in playing time.
Last year, Kelly went with experience over upside when he designed his offense around three-wide formations featuring DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant, with Celek at tight end. Even though he used the 34th overall pick on Ertz, Kelly gradually eased the rookie tight end into the offense and didn’t feature more two tight-end formations until later in the season.
The same thinking can be applied be applied to the start of this season, with Kelly using Celek and Ertz more at the start of the year until Matthews and Josh Huff are ready.
Ertz averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there. If he can take a step forward in the blocking department, it will help his overall fantasy outlook.
Bears have seen 'incredible progress' by Jay Cutler
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 1:58pm
While Bears HC Marc Trestman and OC Aaron Kromer have a greater oversight of the offense, the assistant in the trenches every moment of every day, cleaning up Jay Cutler's fundamentals, is Matt Cavanaugh.
"I've seen incredible progress," the quarterbacks coach said last week during minicamp in Lake Forest. "When we got in here last year & evaluated him we had a real good conversation with him about certain things that every quarterback should do. We said, 'Jay it might not be natural, but we want you to try it.' And he did
"To his credit, he’s taken every suggestion we’ve given and he’s embraced it. From how he holds the ball to how he lines up in the`Gun’ pre-snap to how he drops back, to his throwing base to his follow-through. Every little fundamental we’ve talked to him about, he’s embraced, and it’s like night & day."
Cutler was the #6 QB through the first six weeks, but finished with the #22 PPG on the year. His early season play is more representative of his potential in Marc Trestman’s offense, assuming he can stay injury-free. He has a ton of talent around him and Trestman loves to throw.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 8:18am
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss was asked to compare WR Aaron Dobson to other NFL receivers: "...two players who come to mind a little bit from an athletic and outside-receiver perspective are San Diego's Malcom Floyd and Chicago's Alshon Jeffery. There's a gap there between the two -- Jeffery is the better player -- and that's the range in which I peg Dobson's potential."
As a rookie, Dobson caught a respectable 37 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns, but he flashed some big play ability in his 5-130-2 outing against the Steelers in early November. His FP/T (1.05) was average, but if he can beat out Brandon LaFell and Kenbrell Thompkins for a starting job, he should produce with Tom Brady throwing the ball. He only played 63% of the snaps as a rookie.
Aaron Rodgers will 'always' run the ball
Monday, June 23, 2014, 3:07pm
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is coming off a season in which he turned 30 and suffered an injury that cost him half his season. But Rodgers says neither age nor health will keep him from running the ball.
Rodgers told the Journal Sentinel that he will “always” want to use his legs as well as his arm.
There are concerns that Rodgers won't run as much since he spent so much time on the shelf after breaking his collarbone against the Bears. But it sounds as if he intends to continue to use his legs to move the chains when necessary. He has been very adept at this throughout his career.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 11:29pm
The incoming Bears coaches evaluated Jay Cutler last year, then had a sit-down with him in which they outlined the basics of what they saw every good quarterback doing. Some weren’t the way he was used to operating but he embraced them, including OC Aaron Kromer’s directive to get the ball away on time, which is part of why Peyton Manning’s offensive lines are mysteriously good at pass protection every single season.
“Where in the past [Cutler] may have been willing to hold onto the ball for an extra hitch, wait for someone to come open, we now tell him, ‘get off of it, go to the next guy,’” QB coach Matt Cavanaugh said. “If you are waiting on a guy that may come open if he doesn’t, you’re late to the next guy.
“We just taught a real rhythmic passing game that I think Jay saw the benefit in: ‘I can get more completions. I’m not waiting on someone that might come open and I get the ball out of my hand and I get hit less.”
Buccaneers see Alshon Jeffery in Mike Evans
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 11:11am
As Buccaneers QB Josh McCown said, WR Mike Evans has to learn the playbook before he’ll be truly effective. And he’s been bothered by a hamstring injury, which has limited his time in OTAs. But watch him go up and effortlessly pluck the ball with a one-handed grab in OTAs and the comparisons to Alshon Jeffery become even more apparent.
“Oh yeah, he’s missed a lot [of offseason work], there’s no other way to sugarcoat it,” HC Lovie Smith recently said. “We wanted Mike taking every rep — as a rookie you need to take every rep. Around the league, it happens, especially with a lot of new guys that those last couple of weeks they’re doing a lot of traveling, don’t work out exactly how they should, but we saw enough and we know who Mike is. He’s going to help us win a lot of games, [and] he’s gotten better. We need him, we can’t let him re-injure that hamstring, so we’ll be cautious with him.”
The article does a nice job of breaking down how the Bears use Jeffery, and how the Bucs might use Evans. As a rookie, Jeffery struggled to a 24-367-3 season in 10 games, missing time due to a broken hand and an injured knee. Jeffery is now a top 10 wideout after an excellent second season, but the struggles in his first year are a reminder that rookie wideouts rarely live up to expectations.