Fantasy Mailbag 2016: Week 11

A common question I have received this week has been, “Prosise or Rawls?” My question to those asking is, “Do you need wins now, or later?”

CJ Prosise provides a skill-set that is similar to Tevin Coleman. He runs very well in open space and is terrific pass catcher. As Thomas Rawls re-acclimates himself to being an early down running back, the confidence should be there for Prosise to take over on 3rd downs and passing situations. When Rawls is right, he’s an absolute beast and we saw that last season. But how sure are you that he is going to stay healthy, especially with an offensive line as bad as Seattle’s.

I would wait and see on Rawls and feel better about Prosise in the short term. If Rawls shows you something this weekend, by all means ride him down the playoff stretch.

Mail Time! 

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I don’t think either of your running back options are great, but you’ll want to go with Duke Johnson¬†for the likelihood that the Browns will be playing from behind against Ben Roethlisberger, who has more wins against the Browns than any Cleveland starter has had since 1999. Wow, they suck…

As for Miller, it’s not a bad idea to keep Alfred Blue hand-cuffed. Running the ball and defense are the only things keeping the Texans ahead of their competition, because it sure isn’t their quarterback.

 

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I can’t pick against¬†Tyler Eifert¬†right now, as he is averaging 6 catches, 99 yards and a touchdown in each of his last 2 games.

 

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Flex: Against the dreadful Packers secondary, go with Jamison Crowder. He has also topped 100 in his last 4 games. This is where we are. Jamison Crowder is a viable Top-20 option now.

 

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Flex:¬†Martysaurus Rex.¬†Dislike him as a person, love him as a football player. He went over 100 yards in the 2 starts that Gronk missed early on and he is second among TEs in touchdowns. Without Gronk, he’ll be a target machine this weekend.

Pick 3: Kelley, Prosise, Riddick – it’s the Magic Number.

 

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Go with Kenneth Dixon. He seems to have finally separated himself as the #1 back in Baltimore. The competition going forward will be tough and his o-line sucks, but he’ll get better volume than most of the other options.

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Gio. Ryan Matthews is going to continue getting back most of the opportunities to score, and overall work for that matter.

 

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Rough doesn’t even begin to describe it…The heat check makes me really like Rishard Matthews¬†(6 TDs in his last 6 games) and Mark Ingram¬†simply for the fact he’s out-touching Hightower again.

 

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Houston defense makes me a little weary, but you have to go with the potential MVP candidate Derek Carr. Both QBs are going against strong defenses, which makes me lean toward the one with more firepower.

 

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I go with Michael Crabtree¬†in Mexico City this weekend. He’s averaging 2 more targets than Amari Cooper per his last 3 games and topped 90 yards twice more than Cooper in that span as well.

 

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Cam Newton plays Tight End? – I’m just going to say¬†Martysaurus Rex this weekend, unless you meant Greg, Son of Olsen. Which in that case, go with Greg, Son of Olsen.

 

Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter. 

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NFL Week 11 Fantasy Mailbag

When you hear the phrase “down the stretch”, this is officially it. We’re all just a few weeks away from the Fantasy playoffs and every win really counts. Your lineup probably looks very different than it did to start the season, much like those of actual NFL rosters by Week 11.¬†For instance, Peyton Manning…

It seems like yesterday when Peyton’s receivers were playing keep away with his record setting touchdown pass.

Peyton keepaway

Fast forward to last Sunday when Peyton threw more interceptions (4) than the number of yards he needed to break the all-time passing yards record (3). Next thing you know, he’s on the bench for Brock Osweiler, and Gary Kubiak says it only has to do with a plantar fascia issue and not based on merit. Politics and bad Broncos storylines aside, I’m glad I traded Peyton after Week 1 and picked up Cam Newton and Jay Cutler off waivers.

Cam Dance

 

Quick Hits

 

  • As one aforementioned AFC West quarterback seems to be riding off into the distance, a new one seems to have arrived in a big way. Derek Carr is coming off a streak of 3 straight 300+ yard performances and 10 touchdowns over that stretch. Not only is Carr a surefire Top 10 QB now, his Top 2 WRs become easy starts every week as well because of his maturation. Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree get a plum matchup at Detroit against a defense that has given up big numbers against solid¬†receiver duos like Keenan Allen/Stevie Johnson (21-248-1), Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders (15-179-1), and Larry Fitzgerald/John Brown (9-131-2).

Carr to Crabtree

  • Helping Kirk Cousins achieve his perfect 158.3 passer rating last week against the Saints was his tight end, Jordan Reed. Reed’s health has always been a hinderance for his production, but he’s currently as hot as anyone in the end zone. Over his last 3 games, Reed has scored 5 touchdowns. He’s also the 2nd highest targeted tight end in the end zone and is getting plenty more opportunities than any of the other Washington WRs. Reed takes on a Panthers defense this weekend that has allowed 3 touchdowns in their last 3 games.

 

  • I’ve learned my lesson on Lamar Miller. No matter how juicy the matchup looks for other running backs on my team, I can’t leave Miller on my bench. Even if he’s being limited in the run game (only 103 yards rushing in his last 3 games), he’s racking up the points receiving with 7 touchdowns through the air over his last 5 games.

 

Mail Time!

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Danny Amendola should not be left available in any league at this point. Before his injury, Julian Edelman was getting 10 targets per game from Tom Brady. Amendola had 11 just on Sunday. He’s filling in the Edelman role and has returner duties as well for more potential points.

Between Danny Woodhead or John Brown to drop, I would feel better letting go of¬†Brown for the time being. You’ve had at least 3 weeks of no production in a row out of the guy. Jaron Brown was confusing viewers the other night getting more looks than John actually. I’m sure he’ll get back on track with Michael Floyd dealing with a hamstring injury, but Woodhead is much more valuable to the Chargers’ depleted offense than Brown is to the Cardinals.

 

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I know the bad version of Andy Dalton showed up again Monday night, but the guy was and probably still is an MVP candidate this season. With that said, Russell Wilson’s¬†matchup against the 49ers at home is too good to ignore. The Niners are allowing 327 pass yards per game on the road. If Wilson doesn’t show up for you this week, you can drop his ass. Quote me on that one.

 

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Flex:¬†At this point, I can’t sit either Cooper or Crabtree with the way Carr is throwing. And he’s going to light up the Lions secondary this weekend too. While the running back hipster in me wants you go with Danny Woodhead, the upside for Michael Crabtree¬†is too great this weekend to pass up. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers start running Melvin Gordon more to see what they have while they are out of the playoff race.

WR:¬†Simply because Kamar Aiken is Joe Flacco’s only pass option, I like his chances for production over Donte Moncrief. TY Hilton will be closer to 100% this weekend and will garner more attention from Matt Hasselbeck. Moncrief also falls behind the tight ends for targets as they are Rob Chudzinski’s bread and butter for play calling.

 

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At least you’re in first place with a few weeks left in the regular season. If there are guys on your roster who are out for the season, you should already be working the waiver wire for the best available pickups. Let me know on Facebook or Twitter who’s in Free Agency for your league and we’ll patch up your lineup.

 

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The Broncos wide receivers probably got an upgrade with Manning going down. I anticipate Emmanuel Sanders’s possession game will be more helpful to Osweiler, especially this week against the Bears. Quietly, Kyle Fuller has played like one of the best cornerbacks in football recently and he’ll likely draw Demaryius Thomas. Go with old reliable Sanders¬†over Jeremy Maclin, who hasn’t done much since Week 5.

 

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Flex:¬†For the same reason I listed earlier, go with Aiken. While the Broncos will run more this weekend, the Bears are stout against the run. They’ve only allowed 3 touchdowns to running backs all season as well.

TE:¬†If one person is doing well for the Packers during their current 3 game slide, it’s Richard Rodgers. He has 3 touchdowns in his last 2 games, 14 targets, 10 catches, and likely all of Aaron Rodgers’s attention in the red zone against a Vikings D that keeps WRs and RBs in check regularly.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.54.50 AMDude…Marshawn. And if Thomas Rawls is available, go handcuff him in case something absurd happens. But seriously…Marshawn.

Marshawn racoon

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 10 Fantasy Mailbag

Last week was quite the 4-touchdown party for quarterbacks and their fantasy owners. Marcus Mariota did his best “Breesus” impression with 4 touchdown passes against the awful New Orleans pass defense. Derek Carr went Air-Oakland, with the help of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, with 4 TDs and 301 yards in a losing effort to Pittsburgh. Then the tables were turned for Aaron Rodgers, as he had to throw 4 TDs to keep pace with Cam Newton and his 4 total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing).

A week ago, Cam Newton was being compared to Colin Kaepernik by their stats and win loss record.

As we all know, the big difference between the two is the record. For fantasy owners, it’s also the touchdowns and rush yards. Before the season started, people avoided Newton in their drafts like the plague after his #1 receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, was ruled out for the year with an ACL injury. If you were like me (perhaps drafted Peyton Manning and traded him for Tony Romo after Week 1), you are so glad Newton was available on waivers even after Week 2.

Despite throwing interceptions in 6 of his 8 games, Newton has thrown multiple touchdowns in 5 of them and has added 5 rushing touchdowns as well. This week, Newton can keep things rolling against a Titans defense missing their top 2 corners.

Quick Hits

  • #BORTLEKOMBAT!¬†(Blake Bortles) is currently rolling. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in 6 of his last 7 games and goes up against the a Baltimore defense that has coincidentally given up multiple pass touchdowns in 6 of its last 7 games. After throwing 381 yards and 2 touchdowns against the vaunted Jets secondary, you should feel a lot better starting Bortles for the rest of his schedule.

BortleKombat

  • Every week we like to bring up how bad the Browns run defense is. Last week they seemed to hold the combo Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard in check, although it just set up a killer 3 touchdown performance from Tyler Eifert. Alas, they have still allowed 1,700+ yards rushing and DeAngelo Williams is next in line to eat. In 3 starts this season, Williams has at least 25 touches in each. There seems to have been an overreaction to an ache in his foot, because he appears set to go Sunday. That’ll happen when you go from 3 carries per game to 27 for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams is also dishing the pain too.

DeAngelo block

  • The biggest benefactor to the “Tom Brady Revenge Tour” (besides his fantasy owners) is probably Julian Edelman. Edelman has caught exactly 1/3 of his career touchdown total this season (7). He also leads the league in red zone targets. This week Edelman faces a Giants defense that has allowed 8 touchdowns to opposing receivers over the last 5 weeks.

Mail Time!

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I feel this deserves some public attention, since Craig has tried to pull this a few times now. What are your thoughts on someone asking their opponent for Fantasy advice the same week they play them?

Anywho…

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Nice save. TJ Yeldon is an easy pick for me. He has a touchdown or 100+ rushing yards in 4 straight games and Baltimore’s defense is a tire fire right now.

Patriots running backs not named “LeGarrette Blount” are too much of a gamble for me at this point. You’re left wondering who will get Dion Lewis’s touchdowns, especially in the red zone. James White had the opportunity in this situation before and squandered it. Brandon Bolden did get a receiving touchdown a week ago, and has more experience with Bill Belichick. Brandon LaFell finally had a nice game a week ago with 102 yards, but I still feel better about Edelman, Gronk and Danny Amendola before him.

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Sure, you’ve got back-to-back weeks of 300 yard games from Ryan Tannehill…but he hasn’t thrown a single touchdown pass in either of those games. Derek Carr is also coming off of back-to-back 300 yard games, but has 8 touchdowns to show for it.¬†The Vikings are the best pass defense on the road, but matchups don’t really worry me after Carr lit up the Jets too weeks ago for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns.

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The return yards makes Ted Ginn Jr.¬†a start for me in this group. Ameer Abdullah is swiftly fading away with the rest of the Lions backfield. Then I’m left with a choice between Martavis Bryant and Danny Amendola…Ben Roethlisberger or not, Bryant’s chances to score are a lot better than Amendola’s based on the receiving groups alone. If Antonio Brown isn’t getting the ball thrown up to him, Bryant is. Amendola has to share balls with Edelman, Gronk, LaFell, a second no-name tight end (probably, and whoever fills in for Lewis. Bryant is better bet.

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You’re right about Sammy Watkins, and I also don’t like him against Darrelle Revis in primetime.

If¬†Allen Hurns¬†is healthy, play him. #BORTLEKOMBAT is going to have flawless victories against the Baltimore secondary all day. Then you’re left with two Kansas City players against the best defense in football. In this situation, I go with the running back who is guaranteed touches. If the Chiefs offense has any chance at production against the Broncos, it’s going to be¬†Charcandrick West¬†trying to impersonate Jamaal Charles in Week 2 (125 rush yards, 1 TD).

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QB –¬†Yeah…ouch. I feel for Marcus Mariota’s wellbeing against the Panthers. You will get plenty of volume out of Brian Hoyer though. Bill O’Brien still hates his run game without Arian Foster, which has turned into a chuck fest for the Texans offense that’s usually playing from behind. You also have to feel better about DeAndre Hopkins and Nate Washington catching passes over the whoever is doing it in Tennessee.

WR –¬†Now that¬†James Starks¬†is officially the starting RB, you have to play him. The Lions have given up the most rushing touchdowns in the league.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 3 Fantasy Mailbag

My favorite ongoing social media sports joke may in fact be the Andrew Luck “Civil War Era” Letters when things go wrong…

Andrew Luck Civil War

“My Dearest Abigail,

It is with much regret I must report our efforts to protect the homefront against the Jet brigade of New York were for nought. General Pagano was displeased with my inability to conquer the Isle of Revis. We lost our position upon the field on at least three occasions and despite the valiance of Private Moncrief, our company was forced into retreat. We will regroup and look to return to prominence as we move toward Nashville, led by the youthful Colonel Mariota.

Your beloved,

Andrew”

Be better, Andrew. 

Quick Hits

  • In better quarterback news, the Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls after he completely destroyed what would probably be his toughest matchup all year. Brady dropped 3 touchdowns and 466 yards against Rex Ryan’s Bills defense in Buffalo. For the 15th time, an NFL record, the Patriots won after Brady throws 50+ passes. In perspective, Peyton Manning has 17 games throwing 50 or more passes and has a 4-13 record doing so. Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Warren Moon are tied for second in wins throwing that many passes…just 5 each.¬†

Brady vs Bills

  • If you drafted Le’Veon Bell and had him stashed until this week, it’s time to unleash the beast. In 15 of the 16 games he played in 2014, Bell recorded 100+ total yards and/or scored a touchdown. He also was the league’s 40th leading receiver in terms of yards, and had the most among all running backs. Ben Roethlisberger owners should really like that as well. Bell will lace’em up against a Rams defense that allowed 6.5 yards per carry to Washington rookie running back Matt Jones a week ago. Welcome back, Le’Veon.¬†

Bell Week 3

  • If you were on the “Odell Beckham Jr’s overrated” bandwagon, get the hell off it. ODB (as I refer to him) came back in a hurry last week against the Falcons, catching 7 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown that looked like he ran threw a Super Mario star. This weekend, Beckham lines up opposite from a Washington defense that gave up the most touchdowns to wide receivers a year ago (23). In his only game against them, ODB caught 12 passes for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns.¬†

Mail Time!

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The universe is testing you Jason, and I know…It’s not fair. This coming from someone who started Peyton Manning in Week 1 and Tony Romo in Week 2.¬†The WR1 epidemic is awful and hamstrings are a bitch, but I’m hoping you either drafted well or went hard on your waiver wire. There are a few adds I would recommend if you haven’t yet though:

Travis Benjamin¬†helped Johnny Football out a lot last weekend, recording 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 3 catches. Won’t light it up PPR wise, but he has that “go-up-and-get-it” ability that got Josh McCown paid after his stint in Chicago. If you get return points in your league, Benjamin becomes all the more attractive against the Raiders.

Michael Crabtree¬†is averaging 12 targets per game after his first two starts in Raider black and silver. Not a great matchup going against Cleveland, but you would think Amari Cooper will draw the Joe Haden coverage more. Cooper getting the majority of opposing secondary attention helps Crabtree’s production, as does a healthy Derek Carr that will be playing more catchup in ballgames than not.

Leonard Hankerson is doing what many Roddy White and Julio Jones owners in the past have become familiar with from Harry Douglas. When either of the Top 2 Falcons WRs were injured (or going ghost like White has a tendency to do), Douglas was a PPR machine. Hankerson had 6 catches and a touchdown on 11 targets last week. The Dallas defense may sober his admirers this weekend, but he has two great matchups afterwards against Houston and Washington.

Nate Washington¬†is a notorious spot-start guy in Fantasy and that may be the case here whether DeAndre Hopkins goes against Tampa or doesn’t. Ryan Mallett threw 58 passes a week ago and Washington is averaging over 18 yards per reception. Probably a sleeper play, but it makes a lot of sense if you’re desperate.

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There’s an interesting conundrum with Alfred Morris and Matt Jones in the backfield for Washington. The running attack appears to be their offense’s bread and butter and Jones became the flavor of the week out-carrying Morris last week 19-18. What’s worse for Morris is that Jones actually catches passes and was trusted more late in the game last week against the Rams…I would go with with Pierre Garcon¬†based on the targets he gets on short yardage downs, Morris’s role being diminished, the Giants being competent against the run, and Duke Johnson still being the #2 man in Cleveland.

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Glad you were able to walk threw #1…I know you’re probably frustrated with the guys who are likely your Top 2 drafted RBs, but this may be the week to reap the benefits of taking them. Latavius Murray has a plumb rushing matchup against a Browns defense that let Dexter F’ing McCluster run for nearly 100 against them and has allowed 300+ rush yards in 2 weeks. The Raiders should be feeding Murray until he pukes…Because the Lions have no clue how to use obviously their best back in Ameer Abdullah, I lean toward Justin Forsett¬†in your flex. He’s the second most targeted receiver for the Ravens and 2nd on the team in catches too going up against a Bengals defense that has allowed the most running back touchdown receptions so far in this young season.

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I would start¬†Forsett exactly for reasons I listed above…and then I look to¬†Dion Lewis.¬†The Imitation Game that is Bill Belichick’s running back strategy may have been cracked. Even after a fumble (GASP), Lewis was still getting love in the Patriot’s offense. He has over 100 combo yards in each of his first two games, and at least 5 touches of 10 or more yards in both as well. Lamar Miller just isn’t getting enough usage for me to feel comfortable playing him yet, which is super unfortunate.

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Among the two WRs, I lean toward Terrance Williams. After Romo went down last week, Williams looked like the Cowboys’ best offensive weapon. Brandon Weedon is pretty gross, but he will at least be held upright behind the Dallas OL. The Falcons secondary is also allowing the third highest passing percentage to quarterbacks so far this season…Now you can comfortably wait and see if Eddie Lacy can go Monday night against the Chiefs. If he does, you definitely start James Jones. If not, then there’s an argument to be had. The KC front 7 is better at rushing the quarterback than they are stopping the run, and James Starks would get plenty of work against them. Jones doesn’t get enough targets (just 7 in 2 games) for me to feel comfortable playing him over someone who is guaranteed touches. Go with¬†Starks¬†if he’s the #1 running back on Monday.

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I am assuming you meant John Brown and if so, you should start him. I know Larry Fitzgerald had a resurrection game, but consider who it was against. The 49ers are ripe for the taking when it comes to #1 WRs and John Brown has taken most of his reps in the X spot. Expect Carson Palmer to keep tossing bombs and for Brown to be at the end of quite a few…Now for your flex. The reasons above are why I don’t trust James Jones as much as many. Todd Gurley is finally ready to go and appears nowhere on the injury report. Gurley is part of a committee but I believe he has the highest ceiling among any of your options. If return points count in your league, go with Benjamin. He has the same number of targets as Jones, but more big play ability. If not, take a chance on Gurley. It’s early enough in the season where taking chances is fun and not terrifying.

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It’s #TyrodTime, my friend. We saw Drew Brees’s decline begin a year ago, and he overcompensated by throwing more than any quarterback in the league. Until he can do more than 1 TD and 1 INT in a game, can you trust him?…Let Taylor do his thing until the league figures him out.

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I won’t argue against Crowell in this situation. In a standard league, which I assume doesn’t count return yard points, James Jones does have a leg up on Travis Benjamin given the quarterbacks throwing to them. However if Vontae Davis is out this weekend for Indy, start Kendall Wright. As we saw last Monday, that Colts secondary is horrendous and it doesn’t get any better with Davis out. Marcus Mariota could potentially be having a field day this weekend.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

Chicago Bears: Marshall Out, McPhee In. Now What?

Ryan Pace has made his first personnel moves to kick off his tenure as Chicago Bears GM.

It began with the trade of Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick.

Brandon Marshall vs. Vikes

In just 3 seasons with the Bears, Marshall ranked 11th for receiving yards (3,524) in Bears history, tied for 5th in touchdowns (31) and 8th in receptions (279). However, following an injury plagued 2014 season and accumulating off-field issues, Pace and new head coach felt it best to part ways with the former pro bowl receiver. The reception of this move has been polarizing among the team’s fan base, but the bottom line is that the Bears received compensation for an almost 31 year old wide receiver (Birthday – March 23rd) coming off multiple injuries and declining athleticism that they planned on releasing anyway. Marshall has also openly voiced how football is more of a platform than a passion, so at least he won’t have to fly cross country to record his weekly Showtime appearance. 5th round picks are no slouches either…unless you consider Carl Nicks, Richard Sherman, or Kam Chancellor as such.

The second big move came today as the Baltimore Sun¬†reported that the Bears and OLB/DE Pernell McPhee have agreed to a 5-year/$40 million deal with $16 million guaranteed…also a 5th round pick.

Pernell McPhee

McPhee isn’t as sexy a name as Julius Peppers was when Lovie Smith rang his doorbell at midnight of the 2010 Free Agency start. McPhee’s skill set and versatility are VERY sexy though. Just 26 years old, McPhee is a pure pass rusher with experience as a defensive end and outside linebacker in Baltimore’s 3-4 system. He has also played end in a 40 front. McPhee has dealt with injuries to both his knees, but played in every game during the past 2 seasons. He recorded 7.5 sacks in 2014 while spelling for pro bowler Terrell Suggs, who was nursing an achilles injury.

The McPhee signing does 3 things:

1. It provides flexibility in the draft. The Bears needed an edge rusher and now they have one. A proven one. They put themselves in a position where they don’t have to draft a “need” but instead the best available player with 7th overall pick. That could be Alabama WR¬†Amari Cooper.¬†Bears could use another top-end pass catching talent. It could be¬†Clemson’s¬†DE/OLB¬†Vic Beasley. You can’t have enough weapons to go after the quarterback on the field.

2. It gives new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio options in his unpredictable defense. McPhee has played every technique on the defensive line. He has stood up to rush the edge. He’ll even rush from the middle on 3rd down from a “chaos” look that you see with multiple 3-4 schemes. And chaos is good…That also opens things up for Fangio to assign positions to unknowns currently on the roster like Willie Young, Jared Allen,¬†and¬†Lamarr Houston.

3. It sets the tone for the type of players the Bears are looking for. The defense is in dyer need of a makeover. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, both Chicago Bears all-timers, are on the outs due to age and recent injury history. The average age for defensive starters was 29 while more than half were 30+ years old. The 26 year old McPhee adds youth, but also has a recent Super Bowl ring as part of his resume from 2012. There are other free agents with winning experience who would also fit the needs of the Bears roster.

What’s Next?¬†

The new NFL year and free agency officially begins today at 3:00 PM CT. Teams had already struck deals with high target players over the weekend.

DT Ndamukong Suh to Miami (6 years $114 million, $60 million guaranteed)

S Devin McCourty stays with New England (5 years $47.5 million, $28.5 million guaranteed)

WR Randall Cobb stays with Green Bay (4 years $40 million, $17 million guaranteed)

WR Jeremy Maclin¬†to Kansas City (Total and years aren’t confirmed, suspected $11 million per year)

TE Julius Thomas to Jacksonville (Expected multi-year deal, $9 million per year)

C Rodney Hudson¬†to Oakland (5 years $44.5 million, guaranteed money hasn’t been confirmed)

Note: Guaranteed money is key with NFL contracts. Rarely does anyone make their entire contract total.

So let’s look at the Bears’ needs and the targets to address them.

Defensive Line

While McPhee can be plugged in as a 5 technique DE, and one would assume Lamarr Houston would fit at the other side, the Bears still need a space eater in the middle to play nose tackle.

Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton –¬†Former Broncos NT under Fox, stellar run defender. Interest from Raiders, Colts, Washington, and the Bears

Dan Williams –¬†Cardinals DT who didn’t get enough playing time. Ranked 8th vs the run by Pro Football Focus. Interest from Giants, Lions, and Washington

Corey Peters –¬†Falcons DT and 5 year veteran. Rebounded well after achilles injury.

Kenrick Ellis –¬†Jets NT. Great 2 down run stopper.

Vince Wilfork –¬†Patriots NT, 5-time pro bowler and proven winner with plenty and knowledge to share. Devin McCourty is trying hard to get him back.

Wilfork GIF

Inside Linebackers

In Fangio’s 3-4 scheme, there are two ILBs…one being the “Mike” (middle) linebacker and the other being the “Jack” backer who lines up weak side of the line. Opponents’ run games will be funneled inside for the most part and while the NT eats up space and OL, the ILBs will be responsible for finishing the plays tackling.

Bruce Carter –¬†Cowboys LB who filled carried a lot of weight with Sean Lee out. Aggressive and uber-athletic. Would be a huge steal away from the Packers who are targeting him.

Brandon Spikes –¬†Former Bills defensive captain yet was treated like a 2 down defender under Jim Schwartz. While he may be on back end of career, provides the violent thump a Fangio LB needs.

Mason Foster –¬†Buccaneers LB who doesn’t fit in Lovie’s Cover 2, but is better built to take on anything funneled to the middle. Bears already linked to Foster.

Nate Irving –¬†Broncos LB that Fox is obviously familiar with but coming off a knee injury. Still in high demand and being pursued by Cardinals. Powerful and prototype for 3-4 ILB.

Nate Irving INT

Cornerbacks

While the Bears do have Kyle Fuller and former pro bowler Tim Jennings, they weren’t all that great with them after the first month. Health reasons have proven you can’t have too many, and Jennings may be better suited for the nickel as he gets older.

Davon House –¬†Packers CB expected not to return, well versed in Fangio’s system as the he was DC for Dom Capers previously. Excelled as slot defensive back last season.

Perrish Cox –¬†49ers CB who has off-field issues but obviously experienced with Fangio. Great instincts in coverage and reading receivers hips. Doesn’t allow much spacing.

Darrelle Revis –¬†Obviously a big fish to catch in a small pond, but come on…Revis Island.

Darrelle Revis

Safeties

A glaring need for years with the Bears defense, the Bears already missed out on my first choice, Devin McCourty. Don’t necessarily need a playmaker but someone who is at least dependable.

Rahim Moore –¬†Another former Fox defender who was very solid in 2014. Not as flashy as Earl Thomas but fits the “dependable” mold that would make the Bears comfortable.

Antrel Rolle –¬†Giants safety that Bears are linked to. Very vocal about being reunited with University of Miami teammates Andre Johnson and Wilfork. Wouldn’t necessarily rule that out for Bears.

Da‚ÄôNorris Searcy –¬†Bills safety with run-stop and coverage skills. Young and wasn’t really an every down player, but certainly looked the part.

Mike Adams –¬†Colts safety who does a solid job. Older player but could fit for a year or two and get it done.

Mike Adams

Wide Receiver

Obviously there’s an opening for another split out receiver after the Marshall trade. As mentioned earlier, drafting one is a likely possibility but why not add someone with experience. The preference for the Bears would be a speedster, somebody who can take the top off a defense. They didn’t have that guy last season and it made the Jay Cutler led offense predictable. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery weren’t burning past anybody for a much needed deep threat. But anyone with dependable hands would also do…before the draft.

Torrey Smith –¬†Ravens receiver who has proven to be a risk/reward option for the past few years. Has dropping issues but can certainly stretch the field though and compliment Jeffery well.

Andre Johnson – Very similar career as Marshall production-wise, without the baggage.¬†Doesn’t fit the burner mold but super dependable route runner. I’d blame his lack of touchdowns on his quarterbacks more than him.

Michael Crabtree – Former Heisman candidate that has shown promise but hasn’t met the ridiculous standards we all set for him. Change in scenery and pairing with Jeffery and Martellus Bennett could help him breakout.

Michael Crabtree

Running Backs

The Bears do have Matt Forte, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to start looking beyond the pro bowl “everything” back. Forte will be in the last year of his deal and at the very least will need a backup this season. Bears look to be very run-heavy this coming season, so a 2-back system would be beneficial to not go overkill with Forte touches.

Ryan Matthews –¬†Chargers RB that has had difficulty staying on the field, but solid power runner when given opportunities. Not sure how much Matthews will garner on the market, but would make a great compliment to Forte and can make it an audition to take over after his contract is up.

CJ Spiller –¬†Very similar situation to Matthews in terms of injury history and needing an audition, but a much better pass catcher and versatile offensive weapon. Spiller is also no stranger to the 2 back system.

Knowshon Moreno –¬†Another back with injury history that could also be affordable because of that. Made his money with Dolphins after playing in Adam Gase’s RB-by-committe system and obviously familiar with Fox.

Knowshon Moreno

Of course there are more needs and other options the Bears could go with. Feel free to recommend your suggestions and follow along the Free Agency action with me on Twitter.