What Does Devin Hester's Injury Mean for Chicago Bears, Fantasy Owners?

John RozumCorrespondent INovember 25, 2012

Nov 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Once again, injuries continue to mount for the Chicago Bears.

According to the Bears' official Twitter account:

Devin Hester is out for the rest of today's game with a concussion. #Bears #MINvsCHI

— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 25, 2012


Hester's fantasy football implications take a hit with this news, and Chicago's offense could be in trouble too.

Already ranked No. 31 in passing offense entering Week 12, Jay Cutler and Co. need to find another outlet for the Bears offense. Cutler held a 59.2 completion percentage, including only 12 touchdowns to 10 picks, so the aerial assault clearly needs to improve.

On the bright side, Cutler did go 23-of-31 for 188 yards and one touchdown, and one pick, which gave him a 74.2 completion percentage versus the Minnesota Vikings. Here, we break down what lies ahead for Chicago's fantasy football players as the NFC North race heats up.


Bears Special Teams

Hester's value to Chicago on special teams is arguably the most important to any one team in the league. Aside from Hester's ability to break a big return at any moment, only guys like San Francisco's Ted Ginn Jr. and Cleveland's Josh Cribbs are on that kind of level.

Prior to Week 12, Hester had 43 attempted returns on punts and kickoffs for 660 yards. Averaging 15.3 yards per return, Hester's ability to keep Chicago in games by producing solid field position has played a key role in the Bears' impressive start.

After all, the man scored three times on returns each of the past two seasons, and that skill set always provides Chicago with a competitive advantage. Now, though, with all the precautionary measures the NFL has taken regarding concussions, who knows when Hester will be back.

Cutler and the Offense

Although Hester plays a minor role in Chicago's offense, his presence in the slot can never go unnoticed.

For one, Cutler's acceleration and top gear alone can burn any defender in man coverage. That explosiveness also can slice a Cover 2 and slip past a deep Cover 1 safety. In short, the coverage is irrelevant since defenders can't match Hester's foot speed.

Entering Week 12, he had only 18 receptions for 203 yards and one score. However, his yards were second on the team, and Hester's receptions were tied for third. If anything, the downside in 2012 has been Cutler's pass protection.

Now Chicago will have to revert more to the ground game, because aside from Marshall, the receiving corps hasn't present much to a defense anyway. As for Hester, he may be a deep threat, but not a true receiver for possessions over the middle and accumulating yards after the catch.

Additionally, the Bears offense took a harder hit with Matt Forte's injury. Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune:

#Bears announce Matt Forte has an ankle injury. Return is questionable.

— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) November 25, 2012


Fantasy Football Impact

Unless you have the Chicago Bears defense and your fantasy league gives points for kick/punt return yards and touchdowns, Hester's injury is not a tough loss.

This would be different if he contributed more offensively, but that has not been a viable factor since 2008 and 2009, where Hester collected a combined 108 receptions for 1,422 yards and seven scores.

At best, he is a flex option and only a receiver when needing to fill for a bye week.

Week 11 was the end of the byes, and Hester's injury only lessens his real and virtual football impact. In Chicago, it's a good idea to add Michael Bush, as the Bears can't afford to abandon the run.

Hester's complete impact can be mainly attributed to special teams, so still keep the Bears defense, but don't hope for any additional points on kickoffs or punts.


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