QB Jay Cutler (Chicago)
In 3 years with the Broncos, Jay Cutler completed 62.5% of his passes for an average of 7.4 YPA, 54 touchdowns, and 37 interceptions, a quarterback rating of 87.1. However, going to the Bears stunted his statistical growth, as he’s completed 59.6% of his passes for an average of 7.1 YPA, 82 touchdowns, and 63 interceptions, a quarterback rating of 81.8. However, I don’t think he’s become a worse quarterback. In fact, he might have become a better quarterback as he’s matured. We just haven’t noticed because of his lack of supporting cast.
He should be noticeably better statistically this season with an offensive minded Head Coach and a better offensively supporting cast. The Bears should also throw more frequently this season because they’ll have more drives (with the defense scoring on their own less often) and with Marc Trestman coming in as Head Coach. He also has underrated athleticism, rushing for 1116 yards and 6 touchdowns on 262 carries in 93 games thus far in his career. He also ran a 4.77 40 at The Combine, which isn’t bad. Trestman could utilize that athleticism more than any Head Coach ever has.
Projection: 3900 passing yards 24 passing touchdowns 16 interceptions 250 rushing yards 2 rushing touchdowns (257 pts standard, 305 pts 6 pt td leagues)
RB Matt Forte (Chicago)
Forte has missed just 7 games in 5 seasons (though they’ve all been in the last 2 seasons) and totaled 1529 touches (1262 carries, 267 receptions) in 75 games, 20.4 per game. He’s averaged 4.2 yards per carry and with more complementary offensive talent around him, he could see that number increase this season. As long as he doesn’t get hurt (always the caveat for running backs) or prematurely age going into his age 28 season, he should have another solid season.
Projection: 250 carries for 1100 rushing yards 9 total touchdowns 50 catches for 400 yards (204 pts standard, 254 pts PPR)
WR Brandon Marshall (Chicago)
8/28/13: Brandon Marshall is upset that the Bears are not taking his hip problem, as he recovers from surgery, seriously. While the hip could be a problem that limits him this season, the bigger concern is Marshall, a notorious headache for coaches, being at odds with his coaching staff and speaking out publicly unprompted about the issue. It’s not a serious issue either way, but it’s enough to give me pause with Marshall in the first 2 rounds of a draft.
After Brandon Marshall, who caught 118 passes for 1508 yards and 11 touchdowns on 181 attempts, no one else on the Bears had more than 44 catches (Matt Forte), 375 yards (Earl Bennett), 3 touchdowns (Alshon Jeffery), or 59 targets (Forte). Marshall was targeted on an absurd 181 on 462 aimed passes, 39.2%. That makes your passing game so predictable and one dimensional and is a big part of reason why 7 of the team’s 16 interceptions came on throws to Marshall. This year, there’s more talent around Marshall, which could hurt his production (though not too much as the Bears will pass more and he’ll see fewer triple teams), but it’ll definitely help their offense as a whole.
Projection: 91 catches for 1250 receiving yards 9 touchdowns (179 pts standard, 270 pts PPR)
WR Alshon Jeffery (Chicago)
8/28/13: With Marshall moving down, I’m moving Alshon Jeffery up, though Jeffery’s dominant pre-season alone might have been enough to move him up. He’s worth a flier in the later mid rounds and has WR3 upside.
As a rookie, Jeffery didn’t do much, catching just 24 passes for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns, but rookie receivers don’t usually do much. He also missed 6 games with injury and played a total of 445 snaps. Reports have been very positive going into his 2nd season in the league and he could, at least, be an average starter opposite Marshall and get open with Marshall drawing the coverage his way.
Projection: 60 catches for 750 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns (111 pts standard, 171 pts PPR)
TE Martellus Bennett (Chicago)
Bennett was a 2nd round pick in 2008 by the Cowboys, but he was stuck as a pure blocker behind Jason Witten in 4 years in Dallas. However, he excelled as a blocker and then in his first year as a starter with the Giants, he caught 55 passes for 626 yards and 5 touchdowns. He’s not a great pass catcher, but he’s one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL. He should have similar receiving numbers this season.
Projection: 50 catches for 600 receiving yards 6 touchdowns (96 pts standard, 146 pts PPR)