With it being fantasy football draft season, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly discuss how fantasy owners should view key Chicago Bears skill players in their drafts:
Fishbain: Patrick, last time we met in this forum, we discussed the common summer question asking us what the Bears’ record will be this season. Now, it’s August, and that question remains, but so do are the, “When should I take Jeremy Langford in my fantasy draft?” And, “Will Kevin White be a good fantasy football player?” In past years, fantasy owners could feel pretty comfortable drafting Matt Forte or Martellus Bennett or (a healthy) Alshon Jeffery.
This year, the questions all surround Langford, White and Zach Miller. Do you have any sage advice for these recreational fantasy football players?
Finley: I’m glad you said recreational, Kevin. Playing for money is both morally wrong and fiscally irresponsible. (Looks around nervously. The coast is clear?) OK, here’s the deal: Kevin White will be the one of those three to own. He’ll benefit from having Alshon Jeffery on the other side of the formation, and is certainly more explosive than either Langford or Miller.
The Bears’ starting tight end will get his targets – I mean, they have no one else – so I’m fine putting him in the second tier, league-wide. I don’t like Langford as a fantasy play; the Bears drafted Jordan Howard to eventually take over a goal line role, and Ka’Deem Carey could do that in the meantime. Which Bears running back is worth a flyer, Kevin? Also, got any sleeper ideas?
Fishbain: I’m excited to see fantasy owners groan the first time the Bears send Carey or Howard onto the field in a goal-line situation, or put Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield for third down. I still think Langford is the best bet of the group at least to get the most touches, but his fantasy expectations are lower now than they were the day we knew Forte wasn’t returning. Carey or Howard would be the “sleeper” in the Bears’ backfield, but I think there’s more value trying to find the extra pass catcher outside the big three.
At this time last year, fantasy owners were ready to pounce on Eddie Royal, and he disappointed. If healthy, he’s completely under the radar. If not, do you take a chance on one of the reserve wideouts in a deeper league? (Fans race to draft Daniel Braverman).
Finley: Braverman’s probably the best high-reward sleeper, followed by Marc Mariani, who wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson said he loved during camp. Let’s not forget either Josh Bellamy or Cam Meredith: in the likely (inevitable?) case that Jeffery or White get hurt, they’re the ones who will play outside. Got any general rules of thumb this year, Kevin? Or fantasy plays you want to stick your name to?
Fishbain: One important rule of thumb – fantasy football can be a crapshoot. Maybe you lose a championship because Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a meaningless Hail Mary against the Bears in Week 16 … not that I’m bitter or anything … This seems to be the year of the wide receivers, though. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. can carry a fantasy team, but I always feel good if I get one of the top three quarterbacks to get some consistent points. What’s your secret?
Finley: You’re a quarterbacks guy? I’m not, actually – I don’t think No. 12 is any different than No. 8 in most years, so I usually end up playing a game I like to call Andy Dalton Roulette. And this isn’t a secret, but a strategy nonetheless: as the league has become more pass-friendly in the last decade, I find wide receivers to be more of a sure thing than running backs. I’ll take them high and fill my bench with running back gambles that I hope will pay off. It’s amazing: after years of Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett being close to fantasy sure things, I have a feeling I’ll find more and more Bears in my “gamble” pile.