Chicago Bears, Fantasy Football Sleeper -The NFL Lockout is OVER, which means the 2011 fantasy football season is now officially ON!

NFL rookies can sign Tuesday of this week, while the NFL free agency market will open up this Friday. There is sure to be a torrent of available news in the coming weeks, so be sure to stick with us for all of your up-to-the-minute updates and advice.

– Fantasy Football Rankings
– Fantasy Football Sleepers
– Fantasy Football News and Advice
– Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice
– Fantasy Specialty: 3rd Year Receivers
– Fantasy Football Divisional Breakdowns (coming real soon)

For two years now, fantasy owners have been wondering about when—if at all—Chicago Bears WR Earl Bennett was going to blossom into a viable fantasy football option.

In 2009, he was relatively unknown, and basically served as a spotty plug-in waiver wire guy, but in 2010, many felt he was going to have a breakout year under Mike Martz’s pass happy system, especially with Jay Cutler (ranked 16th in my QB rankings) at the helm.

All they received was a disappointing season.

Well let me be the first to tell you, the 2011 fantasy football season should be the year you all have been waiting for and here’s why. Mike Martz is already on record as saying Earl Bennett’s role is going to expand this season. He went on to also say:

“We didn’t throw it to him enough, that will be remedied. He will figure in a much larger role than he did last year. He came to us late. He was injured. I wasn’t really sure where he was with all the stuff. But he established himself as a guy who needs to get a lot more balls than he did.”ChicagoBears.com

Mike Martz WILL deploy a pass first offense this season, with Bennett likely to play in the slot along with some time on the outside, enhancing his PPR value.

Look the bottom line is, the Devin Hester experiement failed in 2010 so don’t expect another attempt at it.

That leaves Johnny Knox on the outside exclusively because outside WR Devin Aromashodu isn’t likely to return to Chicago which leaves a gaping hole to fill at WR.

You can probably expect Bennett to field some snaps on the outside as well, allowing Martz to utilize the quicker Hester in a slot role from time to time.

But I digress.

In total, Bennet has caught 100 balls for 1,278 yards and 5 touchdowns with a single 100+ yard game to his credit in just 30 games started. He is worth a mid-round selection at this point and should prove to be one of the more valuable 2011 fantasy football sleepers by year’s end.

If these Bears receivers can shed their woeful play against press coverage, and if the coaching staff hold true on their promise regarding Bennett, you’ have little reason NOT to draft him.