Chicago Bears

The one NFL team no playoff contender wants to play

With the ninth week of regular season play already started, separation is starting to take place  in the NFL when it comes to who will be fighting for a playoff spot late in the season and who will just be playing for pride. There is one team out there that no playoff contender should want to deal with.

While stranger things have certainly happened, the playoffs are probably out of reach for the Chicago Bears who sit at 3-5 as they enjoy their bye week. However, this team is among the most improved since the start of the season. Here is why they are poised to at the very least play spoiler as we roll towards this season’s stretch run.

They finally have an identity on offense:

Are the Bears limited on offense with rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback? Of course. The second overall pick has not completed more than 14 passes in any of his four starts. Despite that, knowing your limitations and playing to your strengths can count for a lot in this league. Bears head coach John Fox knows this better than most coaches. He won a playoff game with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

The best thing about the Bears offense was always the Jordan Howard led ground game. Turning to a rookie quarterback, forced Chicago to become more reliant on that. For some reason, the Bears were intent on throwing the ball all over the place with Mike Glennon under center to start the season. Granted, the Bears were trailing a lot, but averaging 35 pass attempts per game with a quarterback like Glennon is not a formula for consistent winning. A quarterback change caused a light bulb to come on for the entire organization,

Howard has had fewer than 20 carries just once in Trubisky’s four starts. Rookie Tarik Cohen has come from nowhere to give the Bears one of the best backfield combos in football. Chicago now has the fourth ranked rushing offense in the NFL.

It is also important to remember that the modern NFL is a pass happy league where even average quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins throw for 4,000 yards. Thus, when a run based team like the Bears comes along, it is a difficult style for defenses to adapt to. Jacksonville is having some success this year with a similar formula. This style is not flashy, some may even call it boring, but it has given opponents fits for the last month.

Another thing a run heavy offense has allowed the Bears to do is limit turnovers. Looking at just the quarterback position, Glennon was responsible for six turnovers in the first four games of the year. In the last four, Trubisky has accounted for just two.

Turnovers are not the only negative plays Trubisky is helping to avoid, he is far more mobile than the much older and taller Glennon. He has been able to create something out of nothing and scamper to avoid sacks. Sometimes, an incomplete pass is not so bad. Apart from a terrible throw at the end of the game in his first start, the added element of Trubisky’s mobility has served him and the team well.

Having played only a handful of games in college, Trubisky is still prone to rookie mistakes, but there are things like bootlegs in the clip below from the NFL YouTube channel. Those were not in the playbook with Glennon.

 

The defense is playing well:

When healthy, the Bears defense has played well the last three years under Fox, but that has been rare. So far so good for the Bears defense in 2017. They rank 12th in rush defense. Over the last two games, Drew Brees and Cam Newton led offenses have been held to 23 combined points. In fact, Chicago defeated the Panthers on the strength of two defensive touchdowns by rookie Eddie Jackson.

Eddie Jackson

Photo: Chicago Tribune

There are very few things that are always true when it comes to NFL football. However, if you run the football, stop the run on defense, and limit turnovers, you will always have a chance to win. The Bears have a .500 record in Trubisky’s four starts. The two losses are by one possession. All but two of Chicago’s remaining games feature opponents that are realistically in the playoff hunt. As long as the Bears keep doing the three things mentioned in this paragraph well, contending teams should be very worried about playing them.

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Allen Robinson's Injury

Allen Robinson’s injury

Allen Robinson left the game against the Houston Texans in Week 1 after landing awkwardly after a 17-yard catch and was forced out of bounds. It was confirmed by the Jaguars that he did tear his ACL.

He was the main target back in 2015 with 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. He struggled in 2016 with 73 receptions, 883 yards and six touchdowns. However, it’s hard to fault Robinson for the struggles because of bad quarterback play.

With Robinson out for the season, we look to other Jaguar receivers to pick up the slack after the Robinson injury and for some fillers to replace him on your fantasy team.

The role for other Jaguar receivers

Even though the significance of Robinson’s injury is high, the Jaguars have depth behind him. If there is one place they might have an excess of talent, it’s at wide receiver. This will open the door for Allen Hurns, who broke out in 2015 with Robinson having 1,031 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Allen Robinson injury

Robinson, Hurns, Lee (Photo by: firstcoastnews.com)

In 2016, he struggled as did most players for the Jaguars and also dealt with injuries. He was demoted for the 2017 season to the slot with the emergence of Marqise Lee, but will now likely be back to the outside.

After the injury, Hurns led the way in receiving against the Texans with three catches for 42 yards. Hurns is worth the look to replace Robinson on your team if Lee is already owned.

Lee showed some promise after 2016. He finally played all 16 games after three seasons and got 105 targets, 63 receptions, 851 yards and three touchdowns. In an article from Bleacher Report, writer Adam Wells had a quote from Bob Sylvester of Fantasypros about Lee’s progression.

“Lee started just six games last season but arguably outperformed Allen Robinson. It is possible that he sees an extra 30 targets this season now that they know what they have in Lee. He is due for significant positive TD regression too.”

Now this doesn’t mean start Lee week to week. However, he does become a more dependable option at the flex position.

Players to Replace Robinson on your team

Although a disappointing 2016 season, Robinson was still the number one target in Jacksonville. That’s not easy to replace, especially in fantasy.

The first option to look to is the backup on the Jaguars, which is Hurns. Lee is also available in many leagues. Though this option could be risky because they don’t throw the ball like they used to. Now they just hand it off to rookie Leonard Fournette, who had 26 carries on Sunday.

Allen Robinson injury

Allen Robinson (Photo by: jaguars.com)

One receiver that could help in the long run is Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor. He has trouble since entering the NFL, but last Sunday looked like an improvement with six catches for 86 yards and a 58-yard touchdown. He still has other receivers in front of him, but if this is the breakout we’ve waited for, then this might be the time to pick him up.

Another receiver is preseason sensation Kenny Golladay of the Detroit Lions. Golladay just caught four passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He is a big red zone threat thanks to his 6-foot-4 height.

But Detroit has a lot of options such as Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron. However, he does have a hot hand and has proven himself in preseason.

If Robinson was a WR3/flex, then you could look at trending running backs. Kerwynn Williams is now the starter in Arizona after David Johnson’s injury. Javorius Allen could slide to fill the role in Baltimore now with Danny Woodhead out four to six weeks. Rookie Tarik Cohen could also be an interesting pickup. The Human Joystick led the Bears in both rushing and receiving in his NFL regular season debut, finishing with 113 scrimmage yards on 13 touches. He will continue to be a key contributor in the offense.

 

Featured image from si.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

Three waiver wire pickups after week one.

Fantasy football waiver wire: Three pickups after week one

Now that the first week of the football season is over, fantasy teams saw key players go down like David Johnson and Allen Robinson. Now people must be wondering who the key pickups are after week one is concluded and I have three for you.

Allen Hurns

Allen Hurns hasn’t looked like himself since his magical 2015 season with over 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. He dipped off dramatically last season and is looking for a bounceback year in 2017. Now he has an even better opportunity to do so with Allen Robinson going down with a season-ending torn ACL.

Fantasy football waiver wire: Three pickups after week one

(Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

In 2015 Allen Hurns was not only a productive receiver but he was one of the league’s most efficient receivers. In terms of red zone receptions and touchdowns, Hurns ranked 16th and seventh respectively. A big red zone threat, and now without Robinson in the mix, Hurns may see the bulk of the red zone targets.

In the win against a stout Houston Texans defense week one, Hurns had three receptions for 42 yards. You never know what to expect with Blake Bortles but when he was at his best in 2015, Hurns benefitted in a big way. If Blake Bortles can produce like we all expected him to, then big things can happen for Allen Hurns.

Kerwynn Williams

Fantasy football waiver wire: Three pickups after week one

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The toughest blow that happened in week one and maybe the toughest blow that could’ve happened all year was the injury to David Johnson. The Cardinals offense may struggle mightly with the loss of DJ. Next man up is Kerwynn Williams, and he has been with Arizona since 2014 but hasn’t seen too much of the field and there’s nothing to back up his production.

The good sign is how the Cardinals turned David Johnson into an every down, MVP caliber player. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Kerwynn Williams is as good as David Johnson, but he is in a position to succeed with Johnson sidelined for a extended amount of time.

Now the Cardinals aren’t particularly known for running the ball as they ranked 18th in rushing last season, but they beauty of Williams is how he can be utilized in both the rushing and passing game. David Johnson was a gifted pass catcher and rusher and if Kerwynn Williams can step up and take advantage of his opportunity, he’ll succeed.

Tarik Cohen

Fantasy football waiver wire: Three pickups after week one

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com

The best performance from week one might’ve came from the Chicago Bears running back. No I don’t mean Jordan Howard, I’m talking about Tarik Cohen.

With a combined 113 yards and a touchdown in his debut, Cohen looks like he’s here to stay in the NFL. I don’t think that he will take over Howard’s starting job right now, and if Jordan Howard keeps producing then there’s no reason why he should.

The North Carolina A&T product is in an unlucky situation behind the running back with the second highest rushing total from the 2016 season. With the Bears receiving corps getting thinner and thinner it looks like the Bears may use two running backs more often. T

arik Cohen made some noise against the Falcons week one and he should be on everyone’s fantasy radar from here on out.

 

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