The MLB All-Star break is always a good time to start your fantasy football preparations. We’ll have plenty of coverage here at FantasyCPR leading up to preseason and the highly-anticipated kickoff to the regular season.
Today we’re joined by Boomer from Bear Goggles On who helps us preview what we can expect from “da Bears” as they head into a tough season in the ultra-competetive NFC North.
Zach Thompson, FantasyCPR: Thanks again, Mike, for helping us with our season previews. We’ll start with the obvious one… The Bears looked good last year and appeared to be on their way to the playoffs before injuries completely derailed their season. Should we expect any lingering effects of either Matt Forte or Jay Cutler’s injury? And will the Bears O-line be able to keep Cutler upright
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: I don’t expect any lingering effects from the injuries to Forte and Cutler. By all accounts, Jay has been zipping the ball around during OTA’s, showing no signs of damage from the broken thumb that ended his 2011 campaign. Even though Forte has not been in camp with his contract status up in the air, he is always in top shape and I expect this season to be no different.
The offensive line question is another story. The Bears didn’t make any significant moves this offseason, either in free agency or through the draft, to address one of their most glaring weaknesses. This one still scares me a bit.
Z: Will Jay Cutler be a top 10 QB statistically this year?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: There’s no reason to believe Cutler can’t get to that upper echelon of quarterbacks now that the Bears finally put some weapons around him and scrapped Mike Martz’s offensive playbook filled with 7-step drops that the Bears offensive line couldn’t block.
Z: I’ve been surprised at the lack of love given to the newly-acquired Brandon Marshall. Do you think he’ll be a top-10 receiver this year?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: No question. Marshall and Cutler were an elite duo in Denver and I expect them to pick up where they left off. The Bears added Jeremy Bates and quarterbacks coach and de facto passing coordinator, so hopes are high for Marshall in the Bears offense. He’ll get a ton of targets and should catch 90+ balls if things go according to plan.
Z: Would you rather have Brandon Marshall on your fantasy team or Hakeem Nicks?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: I’d take Marshall since I think he’s a better receiver and since there are fewer weapons around Marshall compared to Nicks, who has to compete with Victor Cruz for touches.
Z: Brandon Marshall or Jordy Nelson?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: Marshall. Nelson is 2nd or 3rd option in Green Bay.
Z: Brandon Marshall or Steve Smith
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: Marshall. I think the Panthers and Cam Newton come back down to earth this season.
Z: Just one more, Brandon Marshall or A.J. Green.
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: Marshall since he’s got a stronger track record than Green, who might suffer a sophomore slump in 2012.
Z: I agree with you on all of those. I might consider Smith over him, but I want to see what the Panthers are doing during camp, but other than that I’m liking Marshall over all those guys. Who do you think will be the #2 wide receiver in Chicago?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: That’s a great question. Everyone in Bears camp has been pumping up Devin Hester now that he’ll be moved into the slot. I think that Earl Bennett will emerge as the #2 in terms of targets. Look for Alshon Jeffery to be a red zone threat as the season progresses.
Z: Will the Bears use the TE much as a receiver and if so who do you think will emerge as Cutler’s favorite target in that role?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: Kellen Davis has been getting some preseason hype as a super sleeper TE for the Bears. He’s 6’7”, so he should be able to get some red zone TD’s.
Z: Matt Forte seemed to wear down a little at the end of the year even before the injury. Who will serve as the Bears backup RB and will they use him in any kind of a rotation?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: I expect Forte and Bush to be sort of a lightening and thunder attack. For all his success that Forte has had, he hasn’t been good in short yardage and red zone. That’s where Bush will excel.
Z: The Bears D/ST is always one of the top units in all of fantasy football. Do you think they’ll take a step forward or backward this year?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: Their defense is definitely on the decline with their top stars on the wrong side of 30, but with a Lovie Smith defense, it’s always about takeaways. The Bears will continue to be opportunistic and should still be a top fantasy producer. When you add Devin Hester and special teams to the mix, I think they’ll still be a top fantasy option.
Z: Last one, give me your realistic expectation for the Bears this season, and then your perfect scenario. How far can Lovie Smith and Da Bears go?
Mike Burzawa, Bear Goggles On: Realistically, I have the Bears at 10 or 11 wins this season and making a strong run in the playoffs. In a perfect scenario, Cutler stays healthy and he and Marshall live up to the hype while the defense gets another year out of Urlacher, Briggs, Peppers and Tillman and the Bears return to Super Bowl glory.