31-Year-Old – Chicago Bears
2013 Fantasy Football Outlook
New head coach Marc Trestman confirmed that Hester, who struggled as a receiver under Lovie Smith due to issues with drops, would strictly be used as a return specialist this season. He's still one of...
2013 ADP: –
Bye Week: 8
Devin Hester Contract Information:
Signed a four-year extension in July 2008 that will keep him in Chicago through the 2013 season. The deal is worth up to $40 million and includes around $16 million in guaranteed money.
Hester returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown in Sunday's loss to the Redskins.
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|Devin Hester Snap Counts|
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Devin Hester: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Exclusive Fantasy Analysis (FREE PREVIEW)The failed Hester experience at wideout is officially over. After signing a deal to be paid like a No. 1 receiver in 2008, Hester has been anything but. He was never been able to gel with Jay Cutler and over the past two seasons has amassed only 49 catches for 611 yards and two touchdowns. He could in line for a bounce year as a returner after not scoring in 2012, but his fantasy value is strictly reduced to return yardage leagues from now on.
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Every year the Bears vow to give the best return man in league history more opportunities at wide receiver, but they rarely seem to follow through. Last year was no exception as Hester saw just 56 targets in 16 games. This year, the Bears’ new playbook apparently features a package specifically designed for Hester, but that means little unless they plan to use it more than occasionally. The problem is even when Hester does get targeted, the results are typically underwhelming – he’s averaged more than 8.0 yards per target just one season in the last five. And at 5-11, 190, he’s never going to be a big red-zone threat. Of course, Hester is a must-own if your league counts return yardage, and he still does have blazing speed, unmatched vision in the open field and elite quickness. But the odds are against a big role especially with Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery now in the fold.
Mike Martz's arrival was supposed to help the Bears' receivers. That wasn't the case with Hester, who dropped off significantly in 2010. Hester averaged a career-low 6.5 YPT and 11.9 YPC and caught just four passes of 20-yards plus after hauling in 12 from that distance in 2009. At 5-11, 185, Hester's never going to be a red-zone threat – only five targets there all year – but he's one of the greatest kick returners in NFL history given his speed, quickness, vision and agility. (In fact, Hester took three punts back to the house in 2010). For some reason, the Bears haven't gotten those qualities to translate from scrimmage, and we wouldn't be surprised if his pass catching duties were curtailed further in favor of keeping him fresh for special teams.
Anyone getting significant work in the Bears Mike Martz-coordinated, Jay Cutler-led offense deserves consideration, and Hester is no exception. While Hester had an unremarkable season on the surface, there are some things to like such as his 8.4 yards per target and 63-percent catch rate. At 5-11, 185, the former elite return man has blazing speed, great quickness and tremendous vision in the open field. That said, he’s not asked to run a lot of deep routes — just three catches of 40-plus in 90 targets, and he’s obviously not a red-zone factor (just seven targets all year). Hester will have to battle Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox for targets, but he’s very much in the mix at press time, and in fact was preliminarily named a starter by Martz.
Jay Cutler has to throw to somebody on the outside, and Hester might well end up being his top target. The 5-11, 185-pound Hester is better known as one of the league’s all-time great return men, but he’s developed as a receiver over the last couple years, using his tremendous quickness to get away from defenders on short routes. While Hester’s shown his dangerous deep speed time and again on kick returns, the Bears rarely targeted him down the field last year (just nine plays of 20 yards or more and one for 40-plus). Hester’s not strong enough to break many tackles, he sometimes struggles to get off the line crisply in press coverage, and he’ll never be much of a red-zone threat. But paired with a quarterback who can get the ball down field, Hester could deliver his share of big plays in 2009.
For the second year in a row, Hester was the best return man in the NFL, totaling six returns for touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 299 yards and two more touchdowns. With Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad out of Chicago, Hester enters the year with a relatively high ceiling for a guy you should be able to get fairly late in your draft. He's a low-risk guy to target, as you can simply cut bait with him if he isn't getting enough looks in the passing game to warrant a spot on your roster. He'll still be one of the best returners in the game, and projects as a nice sleeper as he should have an increased role in the offense.
The Bears want to convert Hester into an offensive player, and why not? There’s no one in the league that’s more elusive in the open field, and we imagine Chicago will try to get Hester the ball in space on screens, reverses or even on an occasional running play. Coach Lovie Smith isn’t afraid to take chances on offense – sticking with Rex Grossman is itself playing with fire – so we could see Chicago giving this experiment a real shot. Just keep in mind that while the team is hoping to turn him into Reggie Bush, the more likely outcome is Dante Hall.
Hester, a second-round pick from Miami, is an explosive player who is expected to immediately become the Bears' kick returner in his rookie year. Though many view him as a man without a true position, Hester likely will play a little bit at cornerback this season, but his main contributions will be on special teams.