Fantasy Football: Alshon Jeffery Shines

On Monday night, the Bears beat the Packers in the 187th renewal of the teams’ storied rivalry to move to 5-3 and pull even with Green Bay and Detroit in the NFC North race. The fact that Chicago is tied for first is not surprising. What is surprising is the way in which they have won their games. Make no mistake, these are not your father’s Monsters of the Midway.

The Bears’ once-dominant defense has allowed a whopping 28.3 points per game this season, the fourth-worst figure in the league. Thankfully for Chicago fans, the Bears offense under new coach Marc Trestman has advanced from “functional,” as it has been the last several seasons, to “explosive,” ranking second in the NFL with 30 PPG (up from 16th a season ago) allowing them to outscore teams for wins.

Much of that improvement can be attributed to the progress made in the team’s receiving corps over the last several seasons. That growth began with the acquisition of all-pro Brandon Marshall a season ago and has continued this season with the breakout season of second-year wideout Alshon Jeffery.

Jeffery was the Bears’ second-round pick in 2012 and endured an up and down rookie season in which he caught just 24 passes and was limited to 10 games thanks to a broken hand. In the offseason, the former South Carolina star recommitted himself to his physical fitness.

“He changed his body, he’s starting to eat the right foods and he worked out with Brandon [Marshall] to get his body right so he could elevate his game,” said Trestman. “In training camp, from the moment we got out on the field, from stretch to drills, everything was at full speed. Now he’s seeing a little bit of the product of all of his hard work.”

That “product” that Trestman spoke of is a season that has put him in the conversation for biggest breakout star in the league. Jeffery is 17th in the league with 621 yards through eight games and his 16.3 yards per catch rank 15th in the NFL. Those stats include a trio of unimpressive games to begin the season, making his most recent games even more impressive.

In his last five games, the 23-year old Jeffery has outperformed even Marshall, catching three TD passes and breaking the 100-yard mark three times as well. In Week 5, against New Orleans, Jeffery broke the Bears’ single-game receiving record with 218 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown from quarterback Jay Cutler. After that game, Brandon Marshall was not shy about heaping praise on his partner in crime.

“Alshon put in the work, and he’s definitely getting the reward,” Marshall said. “When it’s all said and done, he’s going to be the best wide receiver ever to come through the Bears, statistically.”

That sounds like a player that you might want to have on your fantasy team, especially this week with Cutler returning to the Bears’ lineup after a game and half on the sideline with a groin injury. The Bears face a Lions team that, according to ESPN, allows the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs, so owners can expect Jeffery to have another big game.

Jeffery seems to be on the path toward stardom in the league and will be one of the top fantasy receivers in the league for years to come. Right now, he’s only owned in 96 percent of leagues, so he should be the first player you pick up if he’s on the waiver wire in your league. He’s certainly helped the Bears change their identity and become an elite offense in the NFL.

Dylan Sinn is a freelance contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSinn or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty