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"Fantasy" Football...a look back at the '08 Bears

Year after year, fantasy football seems to be on the rise. It seems like more commercials are geared towards getting people signed up, more television channels are gearing their bottom line stats towards fantasy football, and people like me take it all in and fall into a four month long binge. Whether you are a casual participant or the league commish, we can all agree that nothing brings more joy than taunting a fellow league member because they all passed up on that season's gem in the draft (ahem...Matt Forte). While the Bears may be the only team I stand up and cheer for, I now keep an eye on players around the league, and often find myself flipping back and forth between games like a madman.

Ladies and gentlemen, I love fantasy football. And I woud love it more if I could put somebody from my beloved Chicago Bears on my team and not feel like an idiot homer. I put fantasy in quotations above because adding some of our guys to the lineup has often been anything but a fantasy...I think "nightmare football" or "failball" may be the more accurate description.

This year, however, has not been as bad as in years past. With (somewhat) steady QB play, an exciting new running back, and Devin Hester catching the ball every now and then, the Bears managed to muster some fairly decent fantasy football stats every few weeks.

So without further ado, here's the 2008 fantasy recap for your Chicago Bears.


Our fearless leader, Kyle Orton, was never expected to be much fantasy-wise. Yahoo leagues had him projected as the 18th best QB option, sandwiched between Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. If only he remained within that sandwich. Let's be honest, Orton was our "game manager", and outside of playing Detroit, he was never a lock for QB in an 8 or 10 team league. This year proved to be pass happy for the NFL, with Brees and Warner chasing Marino's yardage record, Manning putting together a MVP year, and rising stars like Rivers and Cutler getting comfortable in their roles as starters. With our offensive system, Orton just isn't able to make an impact for your fantasy football team. However, if you did start Orton, I hope it was during week 5. His 334 yards and 2 TDs were Brady-esque, and those stats are always welcome. The bottom line here is that there are plenty of better fantasy QBs to choose from, and using Orton for a spot start may be your best reason to keep him on your roster.


Running Back

I remember a certain moment in the last round of my fantasy football draft where I looked at the draft board and laughed as I announced I was picking Matt Forte. Having already picked up Marion Barber and Brandon Jacobs, this was me trying to be funny and show these guys I work with that I'm very partial to my Bears, even if this was a rookie RB. Keep in mind that I no longer live in Chicago, so I was jeered for this pick for about two weeks. Oh how quickly they shut up.

What makes Forte such a great RB option is that he is an offensive weapon when coming out of the backfield. If you have a player who can run and catch, he is twice as valuable as anybody else in the position. Anybody can be fat like LenDale White and fall into the endzone for a quick score from the 1 yard line, but those points can only take you so far. Forte had 7 games this season with 5+ receptions. He even pulled in a TD in the great week 5 neckbearding of Detroit. His fantasy numbers receiving-wise almost made him a better WR option than our core of illustrious wide receivers.

In addition to having great hands, he also put up some good numbers on the ground. His games against the Colts, Detroit (Nov 2), and St. Louis were all for 100+ yards, and he topped 75 yards an additional 4 times. On the other side of the coin, he did have some pretty bad fantasy performances as well. While Forte managed to get some big 3rd down runs throughout the year, he struggled early in the week 4 & 5 games against Philly and Detroit, managing only 79 yards total in those games and producing only 1 touchdown. By the end of the season, he wasn't putting up the kinds of fantasy numbers that you expect from a running back. But looking back on 2008, I think that both Bears fans and fantasy owners had nothing but praise for the rookie from Tulane.

Tight Ends

This position is always a fantasy killer. There are the elite players (Gates, Gonzalez, Dallas Clark), and then you have everybody else. Desmond Clark falls into the everybody else category, barely. Averaging less than 3 receptions and 9 yards per game is roughly 4 points in most leagues, and that's a total you'd expect from a horrible kicker.

On the other hand, Greg Olsen was a better option, but not much better. His season averages are similar to Dez...just over 3 catches and 10.6 yards per game, but his 5 TDs and big play ability make him an alluring pick up in leagues where the TE pool is thin. If given the chance to play most downs as the primary receiving TE, he could certainly elevate his fantasy stock. Olsen was a beast down the stretch, netting 3 TDs and averaging close to 45 yards per game over the last four weeks of the season. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. As the better tight ends in the league head into their later years, Olsen has the chance to become a top TE fantasy player.

Wide Receivers

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but only one word comes to mind for the fantasy football options at wide receiver:



In 11 games, Brandon Lloyd caught 26 balls for 364 yards and 2 TDs. In 13 games, Marty Booker caught 14 balls for 211 yards and 2 TDs. To put this in perspective, our old pal Justin Gage produced 6 TDs from 34 catches for 651 yards. This is primarily with Kerry Collins throwing the ball to him. He was more productive than both of them combined. In terms of fantasy football (and possibly football in general), these two receivers just don't make the cut.

But then there was Devin Hester. He didn't do much in the first few weeks, but Hester slowly became a good 3rd WR option for any fantasy football squad. He had 5 games of 5+ receptions to go along with 7 games of 50+ yards. These certainly aren't top notch WR fantasy games, but they are good for putting up a solid 10 points for your team. What the Bears decide to do with their receiving corps in 2009 will certainly determine if he can become a more reliable fantasy player, but in the meantime he will do just fine as a compliment to touchdown machines like Anquan Boldin, yardage monsters like Andre Johnson, and weasely slot receivers who can catch 10 balls a game like Wes Welker.

Defense / Special Teams

I have yet to participate in a league where individual defensive players are picked, and I look forward to doing it next year. But most leagues revolve around the D/ST position, and year after year Chicago is a great pick. If "passing yards against" becomes a common fantasy stat, I may change my tune unless we can improve our secondary. The biggest fantasy qualm with the Bears D/ST would be the lack of sacks. They managed only 28 this year, and these are typically easy points for a good defensive unit to put up for your fantasy team. Where the points lack from sacks, they are made up for in other areas...namely the 22 picks and 10 fumble recoveries. With 5 defensive touchdowns and a league-high 4 blocked kicks, the Bears D/ST proves to be a well-rounded point scoring machine. Not many other teams can provide that type of fantasy security from this position, and I'd imagine that these boys have something to prove next year, and should still continue to be a great pick in the forseeable future. On the special teams side, the 1 return touchdown was really a letdown, especially considering what we have done over the last few years. Overall, fantasy owners will fight over this unit to fill their D/ST role.


Robbie Gould is not just a great kicker, fellas...he is also a great addition to your fantasy football roster. He was perfect in 2008 with extra points (41-41), and only missed 3 field goals. His 8 makes from 40-49 put the fantasy points on the board, especially in week 3 when he hit two of those against Tampa Bay. The only dowside to Gould as a fantasy kicker is the 50+ stat. In 2008 he was 0-0, and in his career he is 0-2. However, consistently accurate kickers are hard to come by, so his lack of long yardage kicks can be put aside for now. With plenty of scores coming from the ground and hopefully more through the air, his consistensy will continue to translate into fantasy "Gould"...yeah I know, bad joke.


So there you have it. Fantasy football is an artform, and art will always have its critics. The Bears make for an easy fantasy team to dissect...strong running, strong defense, and strong kicking. But what do you think?

I look forward to seeing what changes Angelo & Co. make during the next few months, and I'll be sure to put together the 2009 Bears fantasy preview, as well as take a look around the league to help you put together a solid fantasy football campaign.