2012 Fantasy Football Profile and Projection: Bears WR Brandon Marshall
While it's a new beginning for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Bears in March, there is a built-in level of familiarity for Marshall in his new environment.
In his second year in the league (2007), Marshall had a breakout season with the Broncos.
Not only did Marshall have his first of three consecutive 100-reception seasons that year, but he also posted a career high in yards (1,325) as well.
That season his quarterback was Jay Cutler and his position coach was Jeremy Bates. After all being in different places this past year, the trio has been reunited in Chicago this season.
While several elite receivers weren't in the league back in 2007 (Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, etc.), Marshall is one of only three players to post five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons along with Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Atlanta's Roddy White.
When it comes to receptions, only Wes Welker (554) has more than Marshall (474) during that span. In his final season in Denver (2009), Marshall set the NFL single-game record for receptions (21).
Marshall is a big-bodied receiver—6'4", 230 lbs.—but one of the knocks on him is his relative lack production in the red zone. Although he ranks second in receptions and fifth in yards (5,938) during that five-year stretch, Marshall is tied with Santonio Holmes, Vernon Davis and Dallas Clark for only 14th in touchdowns with 32.
Off the field, it's natural to be concerned about his level of maturity, which could impact his play or lead to another suspension.
While he has borderline personality disorder, he has generated his fair share of negative headlines from domestic disputes, alleged involvement in nightclub altercations, etc.
Despite his consistency, Marshall was certainly more productive in Denver than he was the past two seasons in Miami.
Over his first three seasons in Denver, Marshall averaged 102.3 receptions, 1,236.7 yards and 7.7 touchdowns per season.
In his last two seasons with the Dolphins, those averages declined to 83.5 receptions, 1,114 yards and 4.5 touchdowns per season.
In other words, a reunion with Cutler and Bates should only be viewed as being a positive for Marshall's on-field production in 2012.
Strength of Schedule
Based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed to wide receivers last year by the teams the Bears face this year, Marshall and the other Bears receivers have the fifth-most favorable schedule.
From a fantasy perspective its the second-most favorable in the fantasy postseason—weeks 14-16.
In Week 14, The Bears face the Vikings, who allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL last year. The next week they go against Packers, who allowed the most passing yards ever last year and the Cardinals in Week 16.
With his best days and production being those where he and Cutler were together, Marshall should see his numbers improve over last year's production.
In an ideal world, I would prefer to draft Marshall as a high-end WR2 with his upside of being a low-end WR1. That said, you can bank on a 1,000-yard season, at a minimum, from Marshall.
Assuming off-field distractions and incidents don't interfere with his on-field production, Marshall, who turned 28 in March, is a solid dynasty receiver, especially now that he's in a situation where he actually respects his quarterback.
In dynasty leagues, I also prefer to draft Marshall as a high-end WR2.
Projection: 90 Receptions, 1,145 Yards, eight TDs
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