A stress fracture in Kevin White's shin will put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list to begin the year, meaning White won't play in the Bears first six games. Bears general manager Ryan Pace announced Saturday that White will have surgery that includes the insertion of stabilizing rod into the receiver's leg.
Pace also cautioned that White might not play at all in 2015.
For a receiver who made his mark in his last year at West Virginia with his gamebreaking legs, this is tough news. There's already a hint of concern that White might not have the same kind of burst when he is healthy -- whenever that is.
White is undraftable. Not only will he not play the first six weeks but the Bears are on bye in Week 7. The absolute earliest he can come back is Week 8 vs. Minnesota, and that's if his recovery and rehab from significant leg surgery goes perfect. It's just too much time to wait for a first-year player who might not play to expectations. I'd rather spend the roster spot on someone ready to play.
Does this sabotage the rest of the Bears offense? I would argue that it doesn't. Considering White's absence from training camp already and John Fox's time-honored tradition of not letting rookies play a ton, there wasn't a lot to get real excited about with White, anyway.
Alshon Jeffery, who looks to be okay after a calf problem suffered this week, was going to get a slew of targets anyway. He remains a Top 12-ish Fantasy receiver worth a pick between 20th and 28th overall.
Martellus Bennett could see a few more looks because of White's absence, but he was going to be a fairly popular tight end choice anyway. He'll start getting attention in Round 7.
The big benefactor might end up being Eddie Royal. The newcomer to Chicago is coming off of a seven-touchdown season and has 15 in his last two seasons. Quarterback Jay Cutler never had a great slot-type of receiver in Chicago but did throw to Royal his rookie year in Denver for 91 catches, 980 yards and five touchdowns. His targets are sure to rise. Royal is worth a pick in Round 10 in PPR leagues and a little after that in standard leagues. Definitely keep his name in mind.
Receiver Marquess Wilson could see a boost in playing time with White gone but he's too risky to draft for now.
What about Cutler? Nothing changes -- he was never more than a late-round pick anyway. He still is. Losing White hurts his chances of a career year but he still can post good enough numbers to help Fantasy owners during the bye weeks.