While the rankings are subject to change, I wanted to pass along how the fantasy community views key members of the Chicago Bears under new head coach John Fox.
Jay Cutler: Ranked 19th among quarterbacks
Cutler is the lowest ranked NFC North quarterback, behind even the Minnesota Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater (No. 18). Interestingly, the ESPN fantasy crew placed Cutler ahead of former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco (No. 20) and perennial playoff qualifier Andy Dalton (No. 20) of the Cincinnati Bengals. Having covered Cutler for six years in Chicago, I can honestly say Cutler is a complete wildcard from week to week. There will be some weeks where Cutler can score a lot of fantasy points, and other weeks where owners are tempted to drop him from their rosters. The arrival of offensive coordinator Adam Gase should help (I think), but proceed with caution when it comes to Cutler.
Matt Forte: Ranked 8th among running backs
The only negative working against Forte is that he turns 30-years old in December. From a production standpoint -- Forte ranked third in yards from scrimmage (1,846), and fourth in receptions (102) in 2014 -- there has been little to no drop off over the course of Forte’s entire seven-year NFL career. Forte’s contract is set to expire following the 2015 season, so his motivation should be at an all-time high, although I should note that Forte’s effort has been exceptional since the moment he walked in the door in 2008. Will Forte play almost every snap like in past years? That’s a good question. Fox is known to prefer a 1-2 punch in backfield. But even if Chicago slightly scales back Forte’s role, the running back is still expected to play a major role in the offense, health permitting.
Alshon Jeffery: Ranked 9th among wide receivers
It’s also a contract year for Jeffery, who has eight 100-yard receiving games and is 5th in the NFL in receiving yards (2,554) since 2013. Additionally, Jeffery has 17 touchdowns in that same time span and 20 over his first three years in the league. Some question if Jeffery is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, but fantasy is all about the numbers. Jeffery has the necessary stats to be considered a top fantasy wide receiver. He is a safe play for fantasy owners.
Kevin White: Ranked 27th among wide receivers
Sleeper alert. White is tall (6-foot-3), strong and fast (4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine). There is no such thing as a can’t miss NFL prospect, but if White fails, I will be surprised.
Martellus Bennett: Ranked 5th among tight ends
I am not sure how I feel about Bennett’s ranking. To be fair, he did lead all NFL tight ends in receptions (90) last year, but Bennett’s role in the new offense is undetermined. The first step is for Bennett to participate in the club’s voluntary offseason program -- which has not happened yet because Bennett wants a new deal. With Fox and Gase expected to run the football more in 2015, will Bennett once again be such a highly utilized target in the passing game? I have my doubts.