Fantasy leagues are all about knowing where the money-makers are and then trusting ones instinct to find those hidden treasures that can break out to throw fuel on the fire. Every NFL team has them. Which ones stand out for the Chicago Bears in 2013?
Offense – Matt Forte
Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler may get the bulk of the headlines, but make no mistake. Anyone familiar with the system new head coach Marc Trestman likes to run means the running back gets involved in every way imaginable. That means Matt Forte will makes plays for the Chicago Bears in the running game and the passing game. No one should forget before last season he averaged at least 50 catches per year. The last Trestman offense of note in the NFL saw All-Pro Charlie Garner collect over 90 receptions. He ended up with over 1,800 total yards running and passing. Provided Forte stays healthy he is in for a huge year.
Defense – Julius Peppers
The old ace in the hole. Even at the age of 33 Julius Peppers looks no less imposing than he did ten years ago. He’s even said in interviews he feel healthier than he has in a long time. While the presence of Mel Tucker is a new wrinkle that leaves some questions, a pass rusher is a pass rusher in any defense. Peppers will have some quality line mates like Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton to help, meaning his opportunities to reach the quarterback go up. He had 11.5 sacks last season despite being hampered by a chronic foot problem. It might be safer to pick Lance Briggs with his tackling or Charles Tillman given how many turnovers he causes but at the end of the day nothing can substitute for sacks.
Rookie – Jon Bostic
Kyle Long is an offensive lineman so his fantasy impact is negligible by nature of his position. Regardless, Jon Bostic is the best choice not just by default but by value as well. The second round pick brings experience and talent with him from the strongest college football conference in the NCAA, the SEC. There isn’t an offense he has seen he should fear. What makes him such an intriguing pickup is how quickly the starting job is falling into his lap. Veteran free agent D.J. Williams whom the Bears signed in March bowed out of practice with a calf injury. In his absence Bostic has taken over at middle linebacker and according to coaches has looked comfortable and effective in the role. Unless he fouls up big time during the preseason many believe he is on the fast track to starting Week 1. That makes him a very cheap pickup for fantasy owners who has a chance to produce big.
Sleeper – Alshon Jeffery
Slowly but surely the buzz has been building around Alshon Jeffery. Experts knew he has the physical talent to become a force in the NFL. Their big sticking point was whether the Chicago Bears coaches could get him invested in working hard. Thanks to some guidance from All-Pro Brandon Marshall, the second-year man has looked like a totally different player from his rookie season. He is stronger, faster, more toned and more certain when running his routes. At 6’3″ he is already an imposing specimen on the field. Knowing guys like Forte and Marshall are on the field too, taking away extra defenders, his chances to get one-on-one coverage skyrocket. That means more catches, yards and touchdowns which create huge fantasy numbers. There are no guarantees, but a more obvious sleeper is hard to find.