The Bears are a complete mess. Their leader on defense is having it out with the team’s legends. Not surprising given the name of this site, I support the legends. As far as their fantasy outlook, they are perhaps the most volatile bunch in the league. Cutler and Forte could emerge or they could disappear to the fantasy wasteland.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Extremely Difficult
First up in Week 14 is the New England Patriots. They are playing at home so weather could be a factor. Next up is the Minnesota Vikings on the road. They won’t have to deal with the elements, but they will be facing back-to-back Super Bowl contenders. The road doesn’t get any smoother in the fantasy championship game as the return home to face the Jets.


Five Star Fantasy Options


Four Star Fantasy Options
Jay Cutler – I know he’s not loved around the league  or by fantasy owners, especially after the 26 interceptions he threw last year, but he is a talented QB. Mike Martz was brought in to improve the offense, and I think Cutler will be the main benefactor.


Greg Olsen – I know Tight Ends don’t excel in Martz’s offense, but when has he had a TE of Olsen’s caliber? He had Vernon Davis, but that was before he emerged. Olsen followed a 54 catch, 574 yard, 5 TD sophomore season with 60 catches for 612 yards and 8 TDs. He remains the Bears’ best option in the passing game, and he will be utilized.


Three Star Fantasy Options
Matt Forte – Forte was one of the major disappointments last year, but I think Chester Taylor’s presence will help. Taylor is a crafty veteran who will help show Forte the ropes. He will also take away some of the pressure on Forte making him a more effective runner.


Two Star Fantasy Options
Chester Taylor – Assuming Forte holds onto the starting gig, Taylor only makes for a decent backup RB or flex option. He can do it all. Run, catch, block. His work ethic could win him the starting job at some point, which kind of makes him a 2.5 star guy.


Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox – The Bears have four capable receivers. Unfortunately there isn’t much separating them. Hester had the most catches and yards. Knox had the most TDs. Aromashodu had an explosive finish. Bennett was #2 in catches and yards. Hester is probably the safest bet. Aromashodu has the most upside. While all four should be owned in most deep leagues, I wouldn’t want any of them as anything more than a 4th or 5th WR.



Bears Defense/Special Teams
The arrival of Julius Peppers and the return of big mouth Urlacher should make them a viable option again. They play the Lions twice, the Bills, and the Seahawks. Unfortunately they draw the Vikes twice, the Pack twice, the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Patriots.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Greg Olsen first down

Last season Greg Olsen was a solid tight end in his second professional season, catching 54 passes for 574 yards and 5 TD.  Considering that he only started seven games and had Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman throwing him the ball, that’s actually pretty impressive.

He was actually the team’s second leading receiver in both catches (Matt Forte had 63) and yards (Devin Hester had 665), while leading the squad in TD.  Desmond Clark, who had been the starter, figures to be the second tight end this season, giving Olsen even more opportunity to mature and take the next step.

You also have to take into account that Jay Cutler will now be manning the QB position, a significant upgrade.  While Bears QBs combined for 3,229 yards and 14 TD, Cutler passed for 4,526 yards and 25 TD.  Needless to say, there are going to be significantly more opportunities to make plays, even in the dismal winter weather in Chicago.

Having not imported any significant WR to help upgrade the position, the extra completions have to go to someone.  While Forte figures to be one of the safety valves for Cutler, Olsen should be the other.  There were only seven tight ends who caught over 700 yards last season, a mark that I would fully anticipate Olsen exceeding.

The team’s tallest receiver stands at 6′3″, and that’s Brandon Rideau who has appeared in just two games after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 by the Browns.  At 6′5″, Olsen should prove to be a prime target in the red zone and should be among the leaders in TE for TD.

With that said, let’s look at what I’d expect from him in 2009:

Receiving – 78 catches, 870 yards, 8 TD

Those numbers would easily place him among the top five tight ends in the league.  His ADP is currently at 79.75, the sixth TE coming off the board.  My original rankings had him at #7, but that obviously has changed.  When the new rankings come out, he’ll be at #5, having jumped ahead of Dallas Clark & Kellen Winslow.

What are your thoughts of Olsen?  How good do you think he could be?

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For all the talk of Chris Cooley being pushed by Fred Davis last year, he just went out and turned in a 83 catch, 849 yard season.  Both were career highs for Cooley, but he managed just 1 TD as he was used more as a blocker in the red zone.  He had 27 TDs in his first four year though, so I’m expecting him to rebound in that department in 2009.  He’s going a few rounds after Witten, Gates, Gonzo, and Clark, in the 8th round, although he could put up similar numbers, especially compared to Dallas Clark.  I think he’ll catch 70 passes for 800 yards and 6 TDs.
Owen Daniels has to compete with two great WRs in Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, as well as RB Steve Slaton, for receptions.  He had a solid 2008 season with 70 passes for 862 yards and 2 TDs.  It’s bizarre that he caught 5 TD passes (out of 34 receptions) as a Rookie and 5 over the past two seasons (133 receptions).  He should continue to put up big reception and yardage numbers, but I’m not convinced he’s going to make a great leap in TD production.  I expect him to catch 65 passes for 800 yards and 4 TDs.  He is going around the 8th round in fantasy drafts, making him a solid value there.  If you miss out on one of the big four, don’t sweat it.  Daniels is more than serviceable.
Greg Olsen is expected to make a big leap with new QB Jay Cutler. He had a solid year with 54 catches for 574 yards and 5 TDs.  Chicago is lacking playmakers at WR so Olsen should factor into the passing game even more.  Cutler has shown an inclination to hit the Tight End, as evidenced by his connection with Tony Scheffler (when healthy).  Plus, I expect Matt Forte to catch fewer passes to reduce the wear and tear on him, and the fact that Cutler hasn’t historically thrown a lot of screen passes.  Olsen is going around the 6th round. Personally I would wait on Daniels and Cooley, but Olsen does have more upside.  I think he finishes a notch below with 65 catches for 750 yards and 5 TDs.
This is my preseason top ten. Totally didn’t see Vernon Davis coming.

Click here for my Midseason revised rankings.

Click here for my Second Half rankings.

#1  Antonio Gates
Gates dealt with nagging injuries last year, but still managed 704 yards and 8 TDs.  Those numbers, which are solid by any Tight End’s standards were the lowest for Gates since his Rookie season back in 2003.  As long as he’s healthy I see know reason Gates won’t be the #1 fantasy Tight End in 2009.
#2 Tony Gonzalez
Gonzo reclaimed the top Tight End spot last year, and despited turning 33 recently he should be able to stay in the top two.  He has a new Offensive-minded Coach in Todd Haley and a new QB in Matt Cassel, both of which should be upgrades from years past.  You can pretty much pencil him in for 1000 yards and 7+ TDs.

#3  Jason Witten
T.O.’s departure could actually hurt Witten a bit.  No, not emotionally, but T.O. did draw the opposing Defenses’ attention.  With T.O. gone Defenses will be able to key in on Witten more. He’s still going to produce, but I think his numbers will look more like last year than 2007.

#4 Dallas Clark
Clark is also losing a WR from the 1996 NFL Draft as a teammate as Marvin Harrison won’t be back.  For Clark I think that works in his favor.  The Colts have a variety of weapons to keep Defenses honest, but Peyton Manning will have one less mouth to feed.
#5 Chris Cooley
Cooley had a great year for the Redskins with 83 catches for 849 yards.  He only managed to score once though.  He had averaged around 7 TDs in his first four years.  They’ will come back in 2009, along with his ranking.

#6  Owen Daniels
Owen finished as the sixth highest scoring Tight End despite having just two TDs.  He hasn’t exactly shown the ability to reach paydirt consistently yet, but I could see him improve in that area in 2009.  If he can score five or six TDs and maintain the 800 yard average he has the past two years, he could possibly crack the top five.

#7 John Carlson
John had a very impressive Rookie season catching 55 passes for 627 yards and 5 TDs.  With a healthy Matt Hasselbeck and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on board, Carlson should be able to avoid a Sophomore slump.

#8  Zach Miller
Zach nearly doubled his yardage last year going from 444 as a rookie to 778 in his second year.  He only scored one TD last year, which was down from three in his rookie season.  As he and JaMarcus Russell continue to build their rapport, I see that TD number going up next year.  800 yards and 4 or 5 TDs isn’t out of the question.

#9 Greg Olsen
Greg was one of the Bears’ top targets in the passing game.  He should be utilized even more next year as he continues to develop into one of the game’s best pass-catching Tight Ends.  I see him leading the Bears in receptions next year.  He should rack up at least 700 yards and four scores.

#10 Dustin Keller
With Kellen Clemens likely taking over the starting Quarterback job, Dustin Keller is going to be a big security blanket.  He caught 48 passes for 535 yards and 3 TDs as a rookie.  He had 388 yards in the second half last year.  He should build upon that success in his second year.

Week 7 Tight Ends

13 October 2008

The San Diego Chargers have been very Tight End friendly in 2008.  Donte Rosario opened things up with 96 yards and a TD in Week 1.  Week 2 saw Tony Scheffler haul in 64 yards and 2 TDs.  Week 3 it was rookie Dustin Keller for 41 yards and a score.  In Week 4 Zach Miller produced 95 yards and a TD.  In Week 5 Anthony Fasano had 47 yards.  Last week the Chargers shut down the Patriot Tight Ends, but that is such an unpredictable Offense this year without Brady. 

This week it’s Buffalo’s turn to face San Diego.  Their weapon at Tight End is Robert Royal, who has 102 yards and a score in five games.  He’s never been a big yardage threat, but recent history suggests he could score this weekend.

Another player I like is Chicago’s Greg Olsen.  The Bears Offense has opened things up in recent weeks with the strong play of Devin Hester and Rashied Davis at Wide Reciever.  That should open things up in the middle for Olsen vs. the Vikings, who have been susceptible to TE production since losing MLB E.J. Henderson.  Without Henderson the Saints got a combined 100 yards from TEs Billy Miller and Mark Campbell in Week 5, and TE Michael Gaines had 24 of Detroit’s 150 receiving yards in the loss to Minnesota last week.

The Sporting News has a sweet Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft that I’ve been using for the last few years to get ready for the season.  They offer 10 & 12 Team Drafts that go 15 rounds.  I use it as a gauge to see where certain people are picked.  As the season approaches, these Mock Drafts become better because everyone is more up-to-speed on the players and you get a full draft.  When there isn’t a full draft, there is an Autopick in place.  They go by Sporting News rankings.  It’s not ideal, but it’s acceptable.  Another cool feature is the chat board which allows you to discuss players with other fantasy football fanatics.  Unfortunately I wasn’t in a very chatty room so I didn’t gain much fantasy insight this time around.  Oh well, there’s always next time.

For my first mock I got the 9th pick.  The Big Dog RBs (as well as Brady, Moss, and Lynch) were off the board.  I opted to go for Larry Johnson.  With my second pick I opted to go with the 2 RB system and grabbed Clinton Portis.  I thought about Larry Fitzgerald, but chose to go with 2 RBs here with thoughts of grabbing 2 WRs in the next Snake swing.  When my pick got to me I was surprised to see Torry Holt still hanging around.  Naturally, I grabbed him.  The other WRs available were Jennings, Harrison, Boldin, and Roy Williams so I eschewed the 2 WR thought and went with Carson Palmer.  I again let the WRs slide (as Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers were the ilk of WRs available) and took Darren McFadden with my 5th pick.  Dwayne Bowe was still available when the Snake swung to me so I grabbed him.  I took old man Hines Ward with my 7th pick to round out my starting WR corps.  In the 8th round, I opted to take another rookie RB in Jonathan Stewart.  With my 9th pick I added WR depth with Vincent Jackson, hoping he’ll meet the high expectations that were put on him last year.  I finished off with a TE.  I debated between Alge Crumpler and Vernon Davis, but was afraid one is washed up and the other is too injury-prone so I went with Chicago’s Greg Olsen.  In Round 11 I decided to go Defense and chose Pittsburgh.  In Round 12 I decided to add RB depth by choosing Deuce McAllister.  In the 13th round I went with D.J. Hackett.  I was a big fan of his heading into last year, and think he should do fine in Carolina.  I took a flier on the Giants’ Steve Smith in the 14th.  I finished the draft by taking a Kicker.  Much to my delight Adam Vinatieri was available.  I snatched him up quickly.

One suggestion I have is to stick with the picks until the end.  Often people duck out early to get to their next draft (because they are rather addictive), but that defeats the purpose of the mock draft.  Anyone can pick the first several rounds.  Where you want to practice is the middle to late rounds.  That’s where fantasy football championships are won.  So head on over to the Sporting News and sign up for a Mock Draft right away.  My team name is Lester’s Legends.  If you see me, say hi.

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