QB Mitchell Trubisky – With one year of starting experience at North Carolina, Mitch threw for 3,748 yards with 30 TDs and six Ints. He also rushed for 303 yards on 93 carries with five TDs. Trubisky comes with a high pedigree from high school, but he failed to win a starting job until 2016. He looks to be a very good game manager with the ability to extend drives with his legs if needed. Mitchell will need to do a better job getting the ball out quickly on his dropbacks plus show he can handle the show from behind center. In his rookie season over 12 starts, Trubisky went 4-8 with 2,193 passing yards with seven TDs and seven Ints while rushing for 248 yards and two TDs on 41 rushes. Mitchell had limited upside in his receiving options while working as a game manager for a team that showed improvement on defense. He passed for fewer than 200 yards in nine games with his best two games coming in Week 14 (276 combined yards with two TDs) and Week 15 (317 combined yards with one TD). On the year, Trubisky averaged only 27.5 pass attempts per game while taking 31 sacks. Chicago has strength at running back, but they did add more exciting playmaking talent at the receiving positions. Mitchell looked the part of an NFL QB in 2017, and the new coaching staff will let him attack the field in the deep passing game. Possible 4,000 combined yards with league average TDs thanks to his upgrades at WR.
RB Jordan Howard – The addition of Tarik Cohen and a shoulder issue deemed Howard a failed Fantasy investment in 2017 as a second-round pick. He finished with 299 touches for 1,247 combined yards with nine TDs and 23 catches. Jordan flashed his explosiveness in four games (23/140/2, 36/167, 15/125/1, and 23/147/2) with two other games of value (121 combined yards with three catches on 26 touches and 44 yards and two TDs. Unfortunately, Howard had short production in seven games (9/7, 21/65, 15/54, 7/6, 13/38, 10/37, and 9/9). When on his game, Jordan has beast upside. He won’t be a huge factor in the passing games, which forces Howard to earn his keep with TDs and rushing yards. Possible 1,500 combined yards with double-digit TDs and about 25 catches. Last season the Bears’ RB rushed for 1,534 yards and 11 TDs on 377 rushes plus 97 catches for 718 yards and three TDs on 130 targets while having one of the worst offenses in the NFL. I expect him to be an excellent value on draft day as an RB2 while expecting many peaks and valleys over the last season.
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RB Tarik Cohen – The Bears took a scat back Tarik Cohen in the fourth round in last year’s draft. He has elite speed (4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine) while lacking size (5’6’ and 179 lbs.). His running style has a Barry Sanders type feel while projecting to be a terrific player in the passing game, which may have limited upside due to his ability to handle his responsibilities in pass blocking. Home run type player who need needs space to be a factor at the next level. In his four seasons at North Carolina A&T, Cohen rushed for 5,619 yards with 59 combined TDs plus 98 catches for another 945 yards. He proved to be a value in Fantasy drafts last season leading to 723 combined yards with three TDs and 53 catches. His best opportunity in the passing game in Week 1 (8/47/1 on 12 targets) and Week 2 (8/55 on nine targets). Defenses seemed to catch up with his skill set over the last 14 games leading to only 37 catches for 251 yards and no TDs on 50 targets. Over this stretch, he gained on 3.9 yards per rush on 75 carriers and 6.8 yards per catch. In the offseason, Cohen worked hard to get stronger and add more bulk. An excellent chance at 175+ combined touches with a run at 1,000 combined yards with 65+ catches and a handful of TDs. The added strength to the WR and TE position should create more space at the second level of the defense.
WR Allen Robinson – Based on targets (151), Robinson had the same opportunity in 2016 as his 2015 season. Unfortunately, he lost value in catches (73 – 80 in 2015), yards per catch (12.1 – 17.5 in 2015), TDs (6 – 14 in 2015), catches over 20 yards (11 – 31 in 2015) and catches over 40 yards (1 – 6 in 2015). His catch rate (48.3) was the lowest of his career while never being into a favorable area. Allen only had four games with over 20 Fantasy points in 2016 (7/57/2, 7/76/1, 9/107/1, and 9/147). Last season Allen was only on the field for three plays due to a torn ACL in his left knee. The Bears thought enough of him to sign Robinson to a three-year contract worth $42 million. He should have plenty of time to get healthy for the 2018 season. The new offensive coordinator will be more aggressive throwing the ball deep, which is a plus for Allen. Last season the Bears’ WR caught only 133 passes for 1,684 yards and three TDs on 231 targets. I don’t expect a huge spike in passing yards even with the coach-speak in Chicago. I’m going to draft Robinson with the idea of a 65/1000/7 type of season while hoping for upside if he’s discounted on draft day.
WR Anthony Miller – Over the last two seasons at Memphis, Miller caught 191 passes for 2,896 yards and 32 TDs while chipping in for another 94 yards and one TD rushing the ball. Anthony offers a unique combination of strength, route running, and open field ability. I love his moments with the ball and his adjustments to the ball in the deep passing game. Better CBs will test Miller in the NFL, but he looks to have the skill set to develop into a top WR in the game. He’s expected to move into the starting line while being an instant factor in the deep passing game. His presence gives Mitchell Trubisky a chance at pushing his TDs and passing yards to a much higher level. I like his overall package better than Allen Robinson, but I can’t trust his opportunity in the short passing game to set a higher floor while expecting a learning curve at the next level. Call me an intrigued with a starting point of 60 catches for 900+ yards and five TDs. I’d love to steal him as WR5 in the 2018 Fantasy draft season.
WR Kevin White – Over his first three years in the NFL, White only had 21 catches for 193 yards on 40 targets after being drafted in the first round in 2015. In 2016, he broke his left leg in early October while also suffering an ankle injury, which came a year after having surgery to repair shin splints. Last year Kevin broke a bone in his shoulder leading to another missed 15 games. He had an exceptional showing at the 2015 NFL combine when he ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash plus he showed plenty of strength when he benched 225 lbs. 23 times to lead all WRs. After being a non-factor for West Virginia in 2013 (35/507/5 in 11 games), Kevin made a huge step forward in 2014 when he caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and ten TDs. Over the last few years, we’ve seen WRs from the Mountaineers with huge catch totals (Tavon Austin – 225 in 2011 and 2012) and Stedman Bailey – 114 in 2012) struggle to make an impact in the NFL. I like the combination of speed and strength, but it takes plus route running ability to make an impact at the next level. Fading prospect with a lot lower opportunity while owning plenty of injury risk. Over three seasons in the NFL, White has only played in five games.
WR Taylor Gabriel – After playing well in 2016 for the Falcons (35/579/6 on 50 targets, Gabriel struggled to make big plays in 2017. He finished with similar catches (33) and targets (51) with a decline in his yards per catch (11.5) and TDs (1). A low-level player who can make a long play on a short catch or beat a defense deep if overlooked in coverage.
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TE Trey Burton – Over the last two season with the Eagles, Burton caught 60 combined passes for 565 yards and six TDs on 91 targets. Last year he played well in two starts (2/41/1 and 5/71/2) with Zach Ertz out of the lineup, which will be his attraction to Fantasy owner in 2018. His catch rate (66.3) is high in his career, but he did only gain 8.8 yards per catch in 2016 with minimal growth last year (10.8). In college, Burton played QB, RB, and WR, which shows he has talent and athletic ability. Last year TEs in Chicago caught 61 passes for 680 yards and five TDs on 98 targets. I expect the best season of his career, but he has a talented young TE behind him on the roster, and I sense he’ll be over drafted in 2018. Only a 50/500 guy with minimal upside in TDs.
TE Adam Shaheen – In his second season at Ashland University, Adam caught 70 passes for 803 yards and 10 TDs. His resume is short while playing against a lower level of talent. Shaheen will win many jump balls while showing plus hands. He doesn’t need a big window for success, but his route running still needs some work. His size (6’6” and 278 lbs.) and blocking ability gives him three-down ability. Adam is an upside TE who caught ten passes for 124 yards and three TDs on 11 targets in his best three games with a bump in playing time. His season ended after Week 14 with a chest injury. Probably a year away from being Fantasy relevant while adding some value in games in 2018.
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