Alshon Jeffery’s Loss is Potential Gain For Meredith, Wilson
Aw, man. Just as we were beginning to get warm fuzzies about Alshon Jeffery, then comes this.
For those too lazy to hit the link, Jeffery was suspended four games by the NFL on Monday after testing positive for PEDs. The suspension snatches 40 catches, 630 yards and a touchdown away from Fantasy owners who were starting to build optimism about a strong finish from Jeffery, who will be an unrestricted free agent next March (“Hello, Alshon. This is Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles....). At the same time, Jeffery’s departure could open the door for at least two wideouts on the Bears’ roster to audition for the lead job in 2017.
Jeffery was 25th among all players with 72 total targets, yet was also on the upswing after the return of Jay Cutler to the starting job. He had nine targets in Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, marking the fourth straight week Jeffery had at least eight targets in his direction. While the production was middling and made him more of a WR2, the potential of a strong finish proved tempting for Jeffery, who, at only 26, would have strengthened his bid to either cash in as a free agent or force the Bears to use the franchise tag on him.
[caption id="attachment_115374" align="alignright" width="300"] Alshon Jeffery's PED issue led to a four-week bye for the Bears WR on Monday. Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire.[/caption]
The loss of Jeffery means Cameron Meredith will (again) be among the hottest players on this week’s waiver wire. After having a two-week stretch with Brian Hoyer that saw him catch 20 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, Meredith’s fortunes dipped after Hoyer was lost for the season with a broken arm in Week 7. Since then, Meredith has just two catches for 74 yards on four targets. Although, he did catch a 50-yard Hail Mary that accounted for the Bears’ only touchdown on Sunday.
Meredith will have to compete with TE Zach Miller for the month-long bushel of targets (Jeffery is eligible to return on December 15), but the return of Marquess Wilson to the practice field last Monday could alter plans. While coach John Fox felt that Wilson “had a good week” of practice, the team did not activate him for Sunday’s game. It stands to reason that another solid week could convince the Bears to suit him up for this Sunday’s game at the Giants. Wilson averaged nearly 17 yards per catch on his 28 receptions last season, while reeling in one touchdown pass.
Veteran Eddie Royal had just one catch for two yards on Sunday in his first game back after missing nearly a month with a variety of injuries. Royal has limited value in most standard leagues and would only be an option in deeper leagues. While the club holds hope that second-year wideout Kevin White, who has been on the injured reserve list (broken fibia) since Week 3, can return this season, there’s little reason for Fantasy owners to feel that bright.
In the end, Meredith has a chance to regain the WR3/Flex position he had in his brief run, while Miller only solidifies his position as a middle of the road TE1. Wilson is certainly worth watching, as he still is viewed by the Bears as having considerable upside. If you can stash off Wilson, I’d suggest you do.
The moral of this story? Just say no, kids.
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