Bears Fantasy News

Martz: Big season ahead for Jay Cutler

Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 2:08pm

Chicago Tribune - [Full Article]

John Fox is the first Bears coach who isn't serving up platitudes when it comes to Jay Cutler.

It's a results-based business and Fox would rather see how things play out for the quarterback. He might be new to town but Fox is just as aware as every Bears fan what has happened over the previous five seasons.

Cutler has to do a better job of protecting the football. He has to play with a greater degree of consistency. He needs to be more productive. If he accomplishes all that under his fourth offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, he ought to enjoy success. Otherwise, the Bears will have to take the plunge into a search for a replacement, what some argued they should have done after general manager Ryan Pace took over.

One voice that you wouldn't expect to be bullish on Cutler is one of his ex-coordinators, one of many assistants that have filtered through Halas Hall since 2009.

Mike Martz predicts Cutler is poised for a big season. Yes, the same Martz that Cutler delivered a choice profanity at during an NBC broadcast in 2011, Martz's final season with the organization and his last job in coaching.

"In Jay's defense, whether you like Jay or you don't like Jay, there just weren't any players here," Martz said. "He just didn't have that much of a supporting cast and he is in a position now where he has an offensive coordinator that can help him and he's got better players. I think this could be a great year for him."

Fantasy Impact:

Martz reasons that with the skill players surrounding Cutler, including wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Kevin White, tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Matt Forte, the quarterback is destined for a breakout year, the story said. However, that cast is similar to what Cutler had last year with terrible results. Either way, Cutler falls into QB2 range heading into drafts and is 19th on our list. The group around him at least gives him potential to put up solid fantasy numbers at a very cheap price for potential owners.

Monday, August 3, 2015, 3:52pm

CSN Chicago - [Full Article]

Here are some notes from Bears camp on Monday:

- He led the NFL in giveaways during the 2014 season, but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler finished his fifth day of two-plus-hour practices still without either an interception thrown or a fumble lost.

The results are precisely in line with goal No. 1 for Cutler, to reduce the turnovers that have been his undoing and unfortunately his hallmark through nine NFL seasons. Audibles have been minimized to reduce decision-making, long considered a weakness in Cutler’s overall game.

- That was the good news of the day, that the Bears No. 1 quarterback has not given the ball away. The bad news is that Bears backups were not quite so pristine in their execution. Jimmy Clausen threw his first pick of camp, overthrowing his receiver in coverage and landing the ball in the hands of cornerback Al Louis-Jean. No. 3 Shane Carden continued to struggle, missing several open receivers but also having a ball go off the hands of wideout Ify Umodu and picked off by safety Anthony Jefferson. That was followed shortly by an interception by veteran safety Sherrod Martin.

- The offense threw another creative surprise at the defense but if failed to connect when Marquess Wilson appeared to run the proper route, at least based on the look and hands on hips by Cutler. The two talked after the play with offensive coordinator Adam Gase in an effort to clarify the missed connection.

- Alshon Jeffery sat out practice after dinging his shoulder on Sunday, leaving the Bears without either of what was projected to be their 1-2 receiver tandem. Kevin White remains on the PUP list, doing some cardio work to maintain fitness, but his camp debut is uncertain.

No timetable for WR Kevin White

Monday, August 3, 2015, 2:00pm

Chicago Tribune - [Full Article]

Bears rookie wide receiver Kevin White took his familiar place on the sideline toward the end of the Chicago Bears practice Monday morning.

The seventh-overall pick has not participated in the team’s five practices so far because of what the Bears are describing as a shin injury. And as the Bears enter a day off Tuesday, White’s outlook for the rest of training camp remains cloudy.

The team is not making White available to media because he is injured.

“I think he’s making headway," Head coach John Fox said. "Like I said, he was on the shelf for six weeks, just his conditioning level and even soft tissue -- just building him back to get the chance to come and play football rather than just throwing him out there.”

Fantasy Impact:

The more time he misses the more it hurts his chances of hitting the ground running once the season starts. With Eddie Royal more of a slot WR option, Marquess Wilson stands a chance to get time in place of White opposite Alshon Jeffery should White continue to miss time. Perhaps one silver lining is how Giants WR Odell Beckham struggled to get on the field and missed significant time last year in camp and to start the season, and we all know how his situation turned out.

Monday, August 3, 2015, 9:26am

ESPN - [Full Article]

It’s refreshing to hear that Chicago Bears veteran tailback Matt Forte took time over the summer to train with rookie fourth-round pick Jeremy Langford; the player many believe could eventually replace Forte in Chicago’s starting lineup if the two-time Pro Bowler is unable to come to terms on a new contract after the season.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Langford said. “I had heard a lot of different things about veteran running backs. But Forte is a good guy and I think he never really thought about that aspect because he’s a hard worker so you’re not going to just push me off to the side because we’re all here to win. I feel like that’s the mindset we have right now, is we want to win and we need the whole team to do that.”

“We trained together and I showed him my routine and how I kind of do it, which is really smart of him to get behind and older, veteran guy and try to learn the routine of what he does in the offseason,” Forte said. “We worked out for a couple of weeks and he’s a down-to-earth, humble type of kid. All the running backs pretty much have that same kind of mentality too.”

Fantasy Impact:

Forte, 29, said he wanted to impart some wisdom on the rookie out of Michigan State. Forte is a good role model for Langford. In seven NFL seasons, Forte has missed only five games due to injury, despite carrying the football 1,817 times and catching 443 passes. Forte drops a bit this year with the loss of Marc Trestman, even in PPR leagues. Langford could have more of a role now that John Fox is running the show. Still, Forte is eighth on our list in both formats.

Alshon Jeffery suffers AC joint sprain; finishes practice

Sunday, August 2, 2015, 4:04pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Alshon Jeffery suffered a minor AC joint sprain on Sunday but managed to finish practice, Chicago Bears head coach John Fox announced.

Jeffery, who is only under contract through 2015, is the favorite to assume the No. 1 wide receiver role previously occupied by Brandon Marshall.

“I’ve liked what he’s done and like the way he competes,” Fox said. “He’s got a big wingspan and a big ball radius as far as plucking catches away from defenders. I’ve liked what I’ve seen.”

Fantasy Impact:

In three years with Chicago, Jeffery has 198 receptions for 2,921 yards and 20 touchdowns over 42 games (36 starts). He became only the fourth player in franchise history to record consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has eight career 100-yard receiving games. Jeffery was not entirely healthy for much of 2014, but ranked in the NFL's top-15 in receiving touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards.

Bears RB Matt Forte envisions more carries, fewer receptions

Thursday, July 30, 2015, 6:58pm

Chicago Tribune - [Full Article]

Coach John Fox has made it clear he wants the Bears’ offense to become a more run-centric attack and will guide new offensive coordinator Adam Gase accordingly. So that means Matt Forte should see a spike in his 16.3-carries per game average from last season. Forte also takes only so much pride in the 102 catches he had last season, a single-season NFL record for a running back, but also a milestone he understands he achieved because of how constipated the Bears offense was.

“Catching 100 balls,” Forte said, “is not my goal as a running back.”

Which is why Forte is happily taking Fox at his word that the Bears will dedicate themselves to the run as a way of adding balance to the offense and lessening the pressure on quarterback Jay Cutler.

Said Forte: “If you’re running the ball and you can run it effectively you get to control the clock and keep other offenses off the field. Which is what we want to do. If we can control the game, control the pace of the game, and grind out tough yards and score, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Fantasy Impact:

We currently project Forte for 16.2 carries per game, or 260 for the season. We're not so sure that the Bears will have the luxury of running the ball as much as they'd like. We do expect Forte's receptions to drop -- we currently project him for around 56-57 catches, which is much closer to his career average of 53.4 (in offenses run by someone other than Marc Trestman). New OC Adam Gase utilized C.J. Anderson at a 60-catch pace over the final eight games of last season.

Fox: Kevin White's shin injury 'is not a long-term thing'

Thursday, July 30, 2015, 6:39pm

Brad Biggs, Twitter - [Full Article]

Bears HC John Fox on WR Kevin White: "He is day to day. It is not a long-term thing. It's a shin. Something that shouldn't be long-term."

Fantasy Impact:

It’s hard to envision Eddie Royal starting over White this year, but given John Fox’s history of being anti-rookie and White’s absence from spring workouts due to a shin injury, it’s not unfathomable. He’s a player to monitor in August.

Bears WR Kevin White (shin) starts camp on PUP list

Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 5:53pm

NFL.com - [Full Article]

No. 7 overall pick Kevin White spent the final few days of offseason practice off the field because of an undisclosed injury. He'll start his first training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Bears coach John Fox announced Wednesday that White will start camp on the physically unable to perform list with a shin injury. They also want to improve his "cardio" before letting him on the field.

Fantasy Impact:

It’s hard to envision Eddie Royal starting over White this year, but given John Fox’s history of being anti-rookie and White’s absence from spring workouts due to a shin injury, it’s not unfathomable. He’s a player to monitor in August.

Under John Fox, Matt Forte's workload may be reduced

Sunday, July 26, 2015, 4:44pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

Bears RB Matt Forte, 29, played 90 percent of Chicago’s offensive snaps last year, when he broke the NFL single-season mark for receptions by a running back with 102.

Forte’s workload may decrease under head coach John Fox, who historically uses multiple backs on game day. But even if he’s given a slightly reduced role; Forte remains a dangerous all-purpose tailback, topping the NFL in yards from scrimmage since 2008. Forte will use his impending free agency as motivation. The veteran tailback wants a new contract, and the only way to achieve that goal is to have a productive and injury-free season.

The Bears raved about Jeremy Langford’s breakaway speed after drafting him in the fourth round. Langford is the future. He is expected to be active on game days and be part of Fox’s running back-by-committee approach.

Fantasy Impact:

Fox's history of using multiple RBs doesn't necessarily bode well for Forte owners, but we still rank him seventh in standard leagues and project him to be among the leaders in RBs with receptions, which will help owners in PPR leagues. As long as he stays healthy, Forte should at least get a majority of the work given his talent and experience. The way the author talked about Langford, though, it's possible he's going to have some kind of role that will utilize his speed.

Bears Beat: 'Don't be surprised' if Eddie Royal is 'more impactful' than Kevin White

Tuesday, July 21, 2015, 12:14pm

Chicago Tribune - [Full Article]

Although Bears WR Kevin White garners most of the attention because of his draft status, don't be surprised if Eddie Royal turns out to be the more impactful of the two offseason receiver acquisitions. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase can deploy Royal from a variety of alignments in order to maximize matchups. Royal, 29, can play outside and in the slot. Think of how Gase used Wes Welker with the Broncos the last two seasons — he was a quick, reliable outlet for quarterback Peyton Manning — but also factor in Royal's superior speed and ability to gain yards after the catch.

Fantasy Impact:

Royal has been a fantasy headache for years, and now he takes his act to Chicago. White needs to have a good camp to earn a starting job. Royal is likely to serve as the team's slot receiver, where he could siphon targets from the rookie.

Bears Beat: Team will 'expand' Matt Forte's receiving responsibilities

Monday, July 20, 2015, 12:24pm

Chicago Tribune - [Full Article]

Matt Forte averaged only 7.9 yards per reception last season because he was needed far too often as a check-down safety valve for quarterback Jay Cutler. New Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase likely will expand Forte's receiving responsibilities, using the running back's ability to spread out wide while also featuring his crisp route running and reliable hands.

On the ground, Forte will need more help from his offensive line to better the 3.9 yards-per-carry average he had in 2014. And while his desire for a contract extension has gone ungranted, Forte has handled that personal disappointment with perspective, not letting it diminish his focus or dedication. His professionalism and work ethic should remain terrific examples for the younger backs on the roster.

Fantasy Impact:

This won't lead to more receptions than the 102 balls he caught last season under departed OC Marc Trestman, but it should be noted that Gase isn't afraid to use his running backs in the passing game. Bronco running backs accounted for 160 receptions over the past two seasons, so a 60-catch season for Forte is certainly within reach.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco 'seemed to develop a real comfort' with TE Crockett Gillmore in OTAs

Friday, July 17, 2015, 2:44pm

Baltimore Ravens - [Full Article]

Ryan Mink of the Ravens' official website believes that TE Crockett Gillmore has a good chance to break out: Gillmore showed strong hands last year and they have only gotten better. He struggled with drops last training camp. So far this summer, he’s hardly let a ball touch the ground. He’s had another year in the offensive system, so he won’t be thinking as much on the field. Plus, Gillmore is massive. He was a big guy last year, but added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. He’s still got the ability to stretch the field, which he showed by catching numerous jump balls in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Flacco seemed to develop a real comfort with Gillmore during the practices.

Fantasy Impact:

Gillmore is more of a blocker than a receiver but as the article notes, Gillmore has improved in that facet of the game. There is opportunity at the position with Dennis Pitta still sidelined and Owen Daniels in Denver, but the team drafted Maxx Williams as the long-term answer, so it's not clear how big of a receiving role Gillmore will have in 2015. Martellus Bennett shined under then-HC Marc Trestman in Chicago, so there is some upside for whoever wins the starting job in Baltimore. Fantasy-wise, rookie tight ends are notoriously disappointing, so this may be a muddled situation this season.

Jay Cutler throwing with Bears receivers at Vanderbilt

Thursday, July 9, 2015, 11:22am

PFT - [Full Article]

Via Blair Sheade of the Chicago Sun-Times, Jay Cutler gathered several teammates at his alma mater of Vanderbilt this week for extra pre-training camp workouts.

Attending the sessions were receiver Kevin White, receiver Eddie Royal, and tight end Martellus Bennett.

Bennett’s presence is significant because he stayed away from all non-mandatory offseason activities in search of a new contract. Most significant is the fact that Cutler managed to get his teammates to join him in Tennessee for non-mandatory workouts that fall beyond the boundaries of the offseason program.

Fantasy Impact:

It's a good sign that Cutler is working with his receivers, especially White, who missed some time during OTAs with an undisclosed injury. Cutler’s #15 finish was his highest in the last four seasons. Marc Trestman is gone, and now new OC Adam Gase is running the offense. He had success in Denver in the past two seasons, but Cutler is no Peyton Manning. As long as the season is going relatively well, Cutler should post solid numbers, but if the wheels start to come off, watch out.

Sunday, July 5, 2015, 10:30am

Pro Football Talk - [Full Article]

In his first year as the head coach in Washington, Jay Gruden figured he could coach the quarterbacks himself. Gruden was a college and arena football quarterback, and he wanted to take a hands-on approach to the most important position.

But after franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled last season, Gruden decided he needed an assistant who could spend all his time coaching the quarterbacks. So Gruden hired a full-time quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh. Gruden says he can already see that Griffin is benefiting from Cavanaugh’s presence.

“Now we have a set of eyes strictly on the quarterback, and I think that’s important,” Gruden said, via Richmond.com. “Every snap, every handoff, every dropback is being critiqued to make sure we do it the right way, and I think that’s been a big benefit for Robert.”

Fantasy Impact:

Cavanaugh spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback for the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles and Giants, and has spent 23 seasons as a quarterbacks coach, first at his alma mater the University of Pittsburgh, and then for the Cardinals, 49ers, Bears, Ravens and Jets. Griffin agrees that he’s benefiting from Cavanaugh’s knowledge, the story went on to say. Despite that, we have Griffin ranked 20th among our QBs and he isn't getting a lot of draft attention in ten team leagues. The potential is there, and if you're looking to grab a second QB late in your draft, Griffin should be there.

Bears have 'big plans' for WR Eddie Royal

Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 12:21am

Albert Breer, Twitter - [Full Article]

Per Albert Breer, the Bears have 'big plans' for Eddie Royal.

From PFT:

Royal got off to a fast start in his first year, catching 91 passes for 980 yards and five touchdowns while Jay Cutler was throwing for a career-high 4,526 yards en route to the only Pro Bowl appearance of his career.

It was the only year that the two men worked together, but both remember it fondly and Royal says they’re putting in the same work now that they did then to build the same chemistry.

Fantasy Impact:

Royal could create headaches for Kevin White (and perhaps Alshon Jeffery) owners. He has a tendency to either explode or disappear, and that makes it difficult to predict the distribution of production in any passing offense in which he plays.

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