Fantasy Island

Popularity of fantasy football is at an all-time high, but can Bear fans afford to take any of their favorite players in the upcoming draft?

Rex Grossman: As long as he remains healthy he will remain the starter. In six career starts Grossman has three touchdowns to four interceptions. There are better weapons around him this season and a revamped offensive line, so Grossman may be worth a late round selection.

Thomas Jones: The Bears most effective offensive player from a year ago will have a more limited role this season. Jones had career-highs in carries (240), yardage (948), and touchdowns (7). He also led the team with 56 receptions. While Jones could begin the season as the starter, he's going to have to share the ball with Cedric Benson. The fact he's not going to be an every down back will push him down draft boards.

Cedric Benson: Like Jones, the fact that Benson has to split time limits his value. Chances are Benson will assume the starting job early in the season, but he's a limited pass catcher and will not be on the field in certain situations. He has a knack for reaching the end zone with 64 rushing touchdowns in four years at Texas. He will be the Bears first option in the goal line offense. Benson is worth a look in the middle to latter rounds.

Desmond Clark: Two years ago Clark had 44 receptions and two touchdowns. His numbers dropped to 24 and one TD last year. The lack of proven talent behind him means he will be on the field. At best a late round selection or a free agent pickup.

Muhsin Muhammad: Should be the first Bear taken in any league. He will be the top option in the passing game and has averaged 75 receptions, 1,004 yards, and six touchdowns over the past seven seasons. His ability to get open in the red zone leads to touchdowns. He had 16 TDs last year, and while he will struggle to match that production, double-digits are not out of reach. The two-time Pro Bowler is worthy of being taken among the top receivers in the game.

Bernard Berrian: The Bears best deep threat is becoming a well-rounded receiver, which could lead to a starting job opposite Muhammad. At the very least, will be used as a third receiver to stretch the defense. Averaged 15.0 yards per reception as a rookie and led the wideouts with two touchdown catches. Berrian is worth a gamble in the late rounds or more likely as a free agent.

Justin Gage: Will compete with Berrian for a starting job. After a disappointing second season, Gage looks to rebound using his patented jump ball route. His size and leaping ability makes him a tough cover for any cornerback. Gage could turn into a late round steal.

Doug Brien: At age 34, Brien doesn't have the power to hit from long range. He's still a dependable kicker that could be a reliable option in free agency.

The Bears defense and special teams combined for seven touchdowns last season. There's no reason that number can't be duplicated this season because of a healthy defense. The unit's biggest playmakers were never on the field at the same time. Jerry Azumah, Mike Brown, Brian Urlacher, Adewale Ogunleye and Charles Tillman all missed at least a quarter of the season. The defense/special teams should be among the first selected.


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