Chicago Bears 2021 Fantasy Previewby Andersen Pickard July 24, 2021 0 comments
The Chicago Bears underwent a fairly large transformation this offseason, moving on from Mitchell Trubisky and replacing him with a different first-round quarterback in Justin Fields. While the Ohio State product might not start for the Bears right away, his eventual emergence should equate to further success (both on the field and in fantasy leagues) for Chicago’s entire offense.
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Quarterbacks – Andy Dalton, Justin Fields
The Bears turned their back on Mitchell Trubisky this offseason, letting him depart and sign on as a backup with the Buffalo Bills. Chicago replaced Trubisky with veteran Andy Dalton, infamously announcing their deal with him by tweeting “QB1.” While Dalton still has a shot at starting Week 1, he won’t be their QB1 for long, regardless of what the team’s social media department wants you to think. Instead, the team traded up in the first round to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, making him the fourth quarterback off the board in the draft. Chicago also has Nick Foles on its roster, though he likely won’t make the Week 1 roster.
Dalton spent 2020 with the Dallas Cowboys and was thrust into the starting job after Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury. Over 11 games, he logged 216 completions, 2,170 yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The former second-round pick finished the year as the QB31, though he was the QB12 from Weeks 11 through 17. Over that seven-week span, he notched 11 touchdowns and five interceptions while averaging 17.83 fantasy points per week. Heading into 2021, he might be a relevant option in daily fantasy leagues, but he’s not worth adding in redraft formats due to Justin Fields’s presence.
Speaking of Fields, he should take over as quarterback at some point in the season. Even Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had an incredible start to 2020, lost his job to rookie Tua Tagovailoa. A similar scenario could be in play for the Bears, especially if the team hits a losing streak or Dalton struggles. Fields’s current ADP is the 123rd selection, which puts him as the QB19. That’s a solid ranking for someone who is expected to open the year as the backup and has no NFL experience. Between his mobility and the weapons at his disposal, the Ohio State quarterback could be quite impactful this year. He’s worth stashing in most leagues, but he doesn’t have top-12 upside in 2021.
Running Backs – David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Damien Williams
Montgomery burst onto the scene in his sophomore season last year, racking up 237.8 fantasy points and finishing as the No. 4 running back. Despite missing a week, he logged 1,070 yards on the ground and 438 through the air, giving him over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. He also found the end zone 10 times and fumbled just once. The Iowa State product had his best performances from Week 11 through 17. During this span, he was the RB2 (and would have passed Derrick Henry as the RB1 if he scored one more touchdown). With Tarik Cohen returning and the Bears’ offense expected to look different under Fields, Montgomery may see his usage decrease slightly this year. Still, he is an absolute steal at his current ADP of 36, putting him at RB20.
Behind Montgomery is Cohen, who tore his ACL in Week 3. Prior to going down, the talented receiver and kick returned logged 14 carries for 74 yards while adding another 41 yards through the air. To gain a better understanding of Cohen’s usage, it is wise to check out his metrics when healthy from 2017 through 2019. Throughout those three seasons, he averaged 83 carries, 342 rushing yards, 68 receptions, 511 receiving yards, and five touchdowns per year. That stat line would have finished as the RB26 in half-PPR leagues last season with a total of 149.3 points.
While you shouldn’t be drafting Cohen as the 26th running back this year, it’s fair to say he is being undervalued. ACL injuries aren’t as lethal to running backs as Achilles injuries, and Cohen has a clear path to carving out immense receiving work once again this year. He’s a solid bench option at his current ADP of 163 (RB51).
Williams, who opted out of the 2020 season and was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, signed with the Bears as their third-string back this offseason. He’ll join an offense led by ex-Chiefs coaches Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor while filling the void that appeared when Cordarrelle Patterson departed for Atlanta. Williams has six years of NFL experience under his belt (seven if you count 2020), though his best season came in 2019 when he posted 711 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns. Regarding his 2020 outlook, Williams will merely provide a change of pace in the Chicago backfield. He’ll have a few solid games and should find the end zone here and there, but he can’t be trusted consistently. At best, he’s a stash option who would have FLEX appeal if David Montgomery goes down. The 29-year-old has an ADP of 175, putting him 54th among running backs.
Wide Receivers – Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller
Despite Allen Robinson wanting out of Chicago and rumors suggesting Anthony Miller might be traded, the Bears’ top-three receivers from 2020 remain on the roster heading into 2021. Robinson headlines the group given his star nature, though his future remains unclear. The 27-year-old is playing under the franchise tag and has shown signs of displeasure with the Bears’ front office. With that said, he is under contract and will be a Bear in 2021. He was a solid weapon in 2020 thanks to impressive volume, hauling in 102 passes for 1,250 yards. He found the end zone six times while finishing ninth among receivers in fantasy points from Week 12 through the end of the season.
Similar yardage can be expected from Robinson this season, though he might eclipse the six-touchdown mark, giving him the potential for even more points. His current ADP of 37 makes him the WR12, which is fair. This ranking means fantasy managers might even be able to steal him as their WR2 in some formats.
Behind Robinson is Mooney, who burst onto the scene as an impressive rookie last year. He wasn’t phenomenal, but he did show plenty of promise. He also showed exactly where he needs to develop and should be able to capitalize on those areas during an organized offseason that is not as impacted by COVID-19. The rookie caught 61 passes for 631 yards and four scores while finishing at WR35 from Week 12 through 17. He should have a more clear and solidified role in 2021 while catching passes from a better-established quarterback unit. With an ADP of 151 (WR55), Mooney is being drafted far too low right now. A top-36 season is not out of the question, and Mooney should exhibit FLEX-level numbers quite frequently this year.
The third and final fantasy-relevant player at the wide receiver position is Anthony Miller. While trade talks once threatened to move Miller out of Chicago, all has since been quiet on the negotiating front. He’ll now fight to hold on to his No. 3 receiver role with the Bears, though Dazz Newsome could provide him with competition. The 25-year-old hauled in seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2018 but has scored just four times since then. In 2020, he caught 49 passes for 485 yards, end the year as the WR74. In fact, from Week 4 through the end of the season, Miller logged zero touchdowns and finished as the WR90 during that time. He belongs on the waiver wire in most formats, though a trade to a better situation (or release) could give him more value.
Tight Ends – Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham
Kmet filled the No. 2 tight end role as a rookie last season but should open 2021 as the clear leader for Chicago. He caught just 28 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns last year, which is disappointing but understandable considering most tight ends don’t break out in their first pro season. As such, it will be imperative that Kmet, who finished as the TE22 over the final five weeks in 2020, takes a step forward in his development this coming year. Between better quarterback play and a more organized and full training camp this year, Kmet might just rise to the occasion. Still, his role will still be limited as long as Jimmy Graham is on his roster. The 22-year-old has an ADP of 292, which puts him 37th among tight ends. At that price, he’s worth stashing only in deeper leagues.
As for Graham, the 34-year-old seems like an ideal cut candidate given his $10 million salary. However, the 6-foot-7 weapon could hold on to his role with an impressive performance in camp, especially considering head coach Matt Nagy has floated the idea of putting three tight ends on the field at a time this season. Still, that doesn’t leave Graham with plenty of guaranteed value from a fantasy perspective. He caught 50 catches for 456 yards last year and will likely see his volume decrease going forward. His height did serve him well, though, as he hauled in eight touchdowns in 2020. This allowed him to finish the year as the TE11. His 7.4 fantasy points per game ranked seventh-most among tight ends who appeared in all 16 games.
While Kmet will encroach on his volume, Graham should be a threat in the red zone, assuming he survives camp. Still, he’s a prototypical boom-or-bust player because you can’t know when he’ll find the end zone, thus rendering him too risky to start on a weekly basis (unless Kmet goes down). At an ADP of 238 (33rd among tight ends), you can pass on him in most formats.
The Bears’ defense took a bit of a hit during free agency as they lost lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and cut cornerback Kyle Fuller. While Chicago did make some much-needed patchwork moves throughout its defense, the unit clearly took a step back this offseason. The Bears D/ST ultimately posted 90 fantasy points (5.6 per week) in 2020, which ranked 19th in the NFL. Despite losing some key faces, they do still have players like Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Jackson in tow, giving them some fantasy relevance. With an ADP of 269, Chicago currently ranks 22nd among all D/ST units. This seems quite low, but that doesn’t mean drastically reaching for them is a good idea. While the Bears are a solid streaming option, you shouldn’t be drafting them.
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