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32 Teams In 32 Days: Chicago Bears

Ever since I can remember, the Chicago Bears were a team that focused on running the football and playing defense. John Fox fit the typical mold of what most of us came to expect from a Chicago Bears head coach: 3 yards and a cloud of dust with the occasional play-action pass to offset the running game.

Then came the 2018 season, in which GM Ryan Pace sought to reverse course and bring in a young, offensive-minded head coach. Incoming coach Matt Nagy brought with him an aggressive, up-tempo passing game that he learned under the well-respected Andy Reid. Nagy inherited the former #2 overall draft pick in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and with the help of free agent signings and draft picks, the Bears built a dynamic offense to match the already stellar defense that was in place. Let us take a look at the Chicago Bears from dynasty perspective.

Studs:

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Mitchell Trubisky – There may not be a more polarizing player in the dynasty community than young Mitchell Trubisky. In his first season, under the John Fox regime, Trubisky struggled with poor play calling and an overall lack of talent at the skill positions outside of his former RB Jordan Howard. Fast forwarding two years into 2019, Trubisky is coming off an extremely successful campaign in which he guided the Chicago Bears to their first division title in years, and his performance helped him become the first Bears QB since Jim McMahon to be named to the Pro Bowl. Last season Trubisky was the QB12 overall, based on average points per week. His running ability and strong arm led to fantasy success, as well as NFL success, in his first year playing within the Matt Nagy system. 

I fully expect Trubisky to continue to grow in his 3rd season, perhaps most importantly because it will be his 2nd year in Nagy’s scheme. Trubisky and his receivers have had another full off-season to work together and should only get better with additional reps. Also working in Trubisky’s favor is the facelift that GM Ryan Pace gave to Chicago’s backfield, replacing Jordan Howard with free agent Mike Davis and 3rd round draft pick David Montgomery. The arrow is solidly pointed up for the young Pro Bowl signal caller.

Tarik Cohen – Some in the dynasty community felt that the drafting of David Montgomery spelled doom for former MEAC star Cohen. I am not one of those analysts. For starters, Montgomery and Mike Davis will be fighting it out to fill the far larger shoes of the departed Jordan Howard. I realize that the dynasty community has developed a bias against Howard, but that does not change the fact that last season he handled 270 total touches in the Chicago offense. That is only 10 fewer touches than Joe Mixon. But in spite of Howard’s heavy workload, Cohen managed to turn his 170 total touches into over 1,100 total yards and 8 combined TDs as you can see below.

The dynamic Cohen obviously did his best work in the receiving game, as evidenced by his 71 catches. There could certainly be some regression on his RB11 finish from last season, but I fully expect Tarik Cohen to remain heavily involved in the Chicago game plan. I expect the Chicago running game to play out like the Chargers backfield split in years past between Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. No matter how talented Montgomery is, and I do believe he is talented, Cohen is simply too dynamic to keep him off the field. 

Allen Robinson – I’m sure some of you out there are rolling your eyes at the addition of Robinson as a fantasy stud, but hear me out. Last season was not only his first season in a new city and a new scheme, it was also his first year following a devastating knee injury that robbed him of his entire final season in Jacksonville. During his time with the Jaguars, Robinson experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One thing that was never in question was his talent. Coming out of Penn State, Robinson put up far superior numbers to fellow 2014 2nd round pick Marqise Lee. In particular, Robinson’s 2015 season was downright special, as he became one of the youngest receivers ever to score 14 TDs in a single season. 

Still only 26 years old at the start of the 2019 campaign, young Allen Robinson has a lot of football left to offer his owners. As the season progressed last year, you could see the connection between Robinson and his young QB blossom, culminating in his best game of the year in a playoff loss against the Eagles. In that contest, Robinson shredded Philadelphia’s secondary for a 10/143/1 stat line. This season I fully expect Allen Robinson to regain his 2015 form and go for over 1,000 receiving yards and close to double digit TDs. Draft him with confidence as a solid WR2 in his second year in Chicago. 

Duds:

Taylor Gabriel – The signing of Taylor Gabriel to a multi-year contract last off-season was a shocker to many in the dynasty community. There was a brief hope by some that Gabriel would fill a similar role to the one occupied by Tyreek Hill in the Kansas City Offense that Nagy coordinated the previous season. Gabriel did post career numbers in 2018, but as you can see below, they were far more useful to the Chicago Bears than your dynasty team.

Gabriel should only be rostered in the deepest of leagues. The Bears have attacked the wide receiver position in both subsequent drafts following Gabriel’s signing, so his long-term future with the team is uncertain. Obviously if there are injuries, the diminutive speedster could return some value, but there are more valuable players to roster on your squad.

Trey Burton – There were few disappointments bigger last season than Trey Burton. When the Super Bowl hero from Philly signed a big-money deal in Chicago, many were excited. Burton would finally have the chance to come out from behind the shadow of All-Pro TE Zach Ertz. He would also theoretically get to play in the same system that made Travis Kelce a perennial All-Pro. Much like Taylor Gabriel, the athletic Burton put up career-best numbers in 2018. However, also like Gabriel, those numbers were far below what the dynasty community expected, as you can see below. 

It is possible that Burton could improve on his numbers from last season in his second year within the Matt Nagy system. I am simply not convinced that those numbers will ever justify his big-money deal. Burton is rather small for the TE position, and as I stated in the Taylor Gabriel section above, the Bears have brought in numerous pass catchers over the past two seasons. I expect Burton to remain a hit-or-miss TE2, never adequately filling the Travis Kelce role within the Matt Nagy system. 

Breakouts:

Anthony Miller – When the Chicago Bears traded up to select Anthony Miller in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL draft, we knew they had big plans for the former Memphis Tiger. Miller had a strange rookie campaign for the Bears, largely due to injury. Miller dislocated his shoulder more than half a dozen times throughout the year and had to tough his way through the season, oftentimes coming in and out of games. Despite the injury struggles, Miller put up some tantalizing numbers, as you can see below.

Following his rookie season, Anthony Miller underwent shoulder surgery. Once healthy, Miller should occupy an expanded role within the Chicago offense. His 7 TDs in his injury-marred rookie campaign showed the type of red-zone weapon he could be. Miller should develop into a fine WR2 for your dynasty teams, with the opportunity for more if fellow WR Allen Robinson struggles or is injured. 

David Montgomery – As I stated above, I love Tarik Cohen and his potential both short-and-long term in Chicago. However, that does not mean that I am not excited for the arrival of young David Montgomery. No matter what the dynasty community thinks of Jordan Howard, the Bears gave him a large chunk of the backfield work. Montgomery stands to inherit the lion’s share of that workload. Montgomery was a tantalizing talent at Iowa State University, where he set the NCAA record for forced missed tackles in a single season with 104, shattering the previous record of 89, held by Dalvin Cook. Montgomery put up some very impressive numbers at Iowa State, as you can see below. 

There will be ample opportunity for Montgomery to stake his claim to the starting RB job in Chicago. The Bears have very big plans for him, as evidenced by how much they paid to move up in the draft to select Montgomery in the 3rd round. At a minimum, I would expect Montgomery to get 250 total touches in the dynamic Chicago offense. What he does with those touches remains to be seen, but I would expect Montgomery to be a highly productive dynasty RB, both in the short term and for years down the line.

Stashes:

Riley Ridley – Riley Ridley has all the hallmarks of a pure value pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Chicago was already flush at the WR position but seemingly could not pass up the opportunity of drafting the talented receiver from Georgia. Many in the dynasty community are conflicted by the former Bulldog. Ridley displayed some very nice skills in his time between the hedges, but he never put up the type of numbers we would expect from a true alpha WR1. His lack of big numbers were largely due to the Georgia system, which relied heavily on the run. Despite being the leading receiver at Georgia, you can see below that his numbers were not overly impressive.

While Ridley didn’t put up gaudy numbers, when given a chance he always managed to leave his mark on a game. There was no greater evidence of this than his showing in the national championship game against Alabama, where he caught 6 passes for over 80 yards. Ridley will be blocked on the depth chart in Chicago during his first couple years. This could be good for Ridley, as he will have time to learn from vets, including similarly-built Allen Robinson. Draft Ridley and stash him for a potential future payoff.

Adam Shaheen – This pick may pertain more to TE-premium leagues, but I am not willing to throw in the towel on the former 2nd round pick just yet. Coming out of Ashland College, it was a given that Shaheen would take some time to develop at the NFL level. Shaheen is the exact opposite of fellow TE Trey Burton. Where Burton is on the smaller side for a TE, young Adam Shaheen is a monster of a man, standing at 6’6’’ and 275 lbs. He dominated his competition at the Division II level, putting up back-to-back seasons of 800+ yards and at least 10 TDs. The signing of Burton last season took some of the pressure off of Shaheen. At this point, Shaheen has had two full seasons to learn the NFL game. It may take a 3rd year of seasoning, but there are far worse stash players than this mountain of a man. Do yourself a favor and check out his highlight film below and ask yourself if this is the type of player you’re willing to stash and wait on.

Conclusion:

Last year marked a true changing of the guard for the Chicago Bears. The coaching switch from John Fox to Matt Nagy turned the team upside down, particularly from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. The West Coast scheme of Andy Reid, which has been modified by his former pupil, brings with it tons of fantasy goodness for our dynasty teams. The Chicago Bears boast-worthy dynasty players at nearly every position for your squads. Grab yourselves a piece of this high-flying offense and reap the rewards in your dynasty standings. Stay tuned as we come back at you tomorrow with yet another team breakdown in our “32 Teams in 32 Days” series. Until then, happy drafting and don’t make any trades I wouldn’t.


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