Fantasy Stud — Brandon Marshall, WR
It was a hard choice, but I had to put Brandon Marshall in this spot over RB Matt Forte. Forte is one of the better backs in the NFL when healthy, but his injury problems have forced him to play less than 16 games since 2010.
Forte also rushed for just under 1,100 yards last year, and only had five touchdowns. He had just three rushing touchdowns the year prior.
Marshall, on the other hand, is a PPR monster who racks up yardage and touchdowns. He set a career high last year with seven games over 100 yards receiving, and also had career highs in receptions (118), yards (1,508) and touchdowns (11).
As a full-time starter with Jay Cutler throwing him passes, Marshall has never caught fewer than 100 passes. He has also never had fewer than 1,000 yards when Cutler is getting him the ball. In fact, Marshall hasn’t gone under 1,000 receiving yards since his rookie year in the league with the Broncos.
Simply put, as long as Cutler is throwing the ball, there’s a great chance it’s going to Marshall and he’s going to be one of the top receivers in the league yet again this season barring injury. Marshall averaged over 94 yards per game last season, and he could put up similar numbers in 2013.
Fantasy Risk — Jay Cutler, QB
Jay Cutler is capable of being one of the best, most electric QBs in the NFL when he wants to be. I’m shocked that in his four years with the Chicago Bears, he’s never completed more than 60.5 percent of his passes. In fact, 60.5 percent is the highest completion percentage he’s had in Chicago, a number that has regressed to 58.8 percent.
The most shocking statistic Cutler boasts is something I don’t know that any other QB in the NFL over the last four years can claim. Since coming over from the Broncos, where they ranked #1 in the league in sacks allowed, he has taken 148 sacks with the Bears. Although the Chicago offensive line has been horrendous, I refuse to believe that it’s all their fault.
Cutler has one of the quickest releases and strongest arms in the NFL, he just needs to be more consistent in getting rid of the ball quicker.
I typically have pretty high fantasy expectations for Cutler, and again this season, I think his line and targets are better than ever. Alshon Jeffery should grow into a good #2 receiver, and the team used it’s biggest offseason assets to sign OT Jermon Bushrod and draft Kyle Long to upgrade the big nasties up front.
I would take a shot on Cutler as a later-round backup QB.
Fantasy Sleeper — Alshon Jeffery, WR
I really like the Bears’ top WR duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and I think Jay Cutler needs to figure out a way to get Jeffery 70-80 catches this season. Jeffery is another big bodied receiver who can make plays down the field, and I think he has a chance to break out this season.
Jeffery battled injuries his rookie season, but wound up catching 24 passes, three of which went for touchdowns.
This offseason, Jeffery has worked on getting into better shape, and is down to having just eight percent body fat. That’s significant, because that was a legitimate concern surrounding Jeffery as he entered the NFL. Now in probably the best shape of his life, I think Jeffery can return to the form that made him such an incredible college phenom in his first couple of years at South Carolina. This is a guy capable of making big plays, and he should be one of the bigger breakout candidates in the NFL.