In a somewhat shocking trade to lead off the 2012 league calendar year, the Miami Dolphins have traded WR Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears as first reported by Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. The Bears reportedly will send two third round picks (in 2012 and 2013) to Miami to complete the deal.
On the surface, Marshall is reunited with his former quarterback Jay Cutler (three seasons in Denver) while Miami is left with a large void to fill in their new-look offense. Marshall was targeted on 32% of Miami’s passing attempts in 2011.
Marshall had moderate fantasy success in his two seasons in Miami (PPR WR21 2010, WR11 2011), but not at the level he enjoyed in Denver (WR6 2008, WR7 2009). Marshall’s recent shortcomings as a fantasy option have been a lack of touchdowns. After scoring 16 touchdowns in his last two seasons in Denver, he only scored nine the last two years.
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Marshall has been one of the most targeted wide receivers per pass route run in the league since 2008 (4th 2008, 3rd 2009, 9th 2010 and 7 th 2011) and that trend should continue in Chicago. He is the prototype possession receiver with an average depth of target of 11.5 yards and an average of 4.0 yards after catch per reception. Marshall does have big-play ability with six of his 25 touchdowns coming from outside the red zone.
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Brandon Marshall gives the Bears their first legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in recent memory. The health of speedster Johnny Knox is uncertain going into this season, while Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are better suited as complimentary receivers. Marshall’s move to Chicago could push him inside the top-10 wide receivers again with an increase in touchdown opportunities with Cutler at the helm. Other than Matt Forte, there are no other offensive skill players that will command many targets. Even in a new surrounding with a familiar quarterback, Marshall could again exceed 30% of the total targets in 2012.
Marshall’s arrival in Chicago almost assures that the Bears will not resign WR Roy Williams.