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Fantasy Forecast: The Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears face planted in 2019. Are things looking better in 2020? @ReflipeWThenuz breaks down the team and it’s fantasy outlook.

Bears 2019 Review

The Chicago Bears were quite possibly the most disappointing team in the 2019 season. Coming on the heels of a 12-4 2018 season, which saw them go down heartbreakingly to the Eagles at home 16-15 in the playoffs, 2019 was supposed to be better than 8-8. However, the Bears took a big step backward. From both a coaching and personnel perspective, mistakes were made, and opportunities lost. Aside from standout WR Allen Robinson, every single offensive and defensive player was worse in 2019. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and 2020 brings new opportunities for HC Matt Nagy and the Chicago playmakers. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Bears’ 2020 fantasy primer.

Quarterback

Mitchell Trubisky & Nick Foles

Heading into the 2020 season, the team brass has already indicated there will be an open competition for the starting QB spot. Former 1st round pick Mitchell Trubisky will battle it out with former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.

Mitchell Trubisky is cursed to play out his career in the shadow of the two big-name QBs selected after him in the 2017 draft. Through no fault of his own, Trubisky was selected 2nd overall after Chicago traded up one spot to pick him over Patrick Mahomes & Deshaun Watson. After struggling with the worst supporting cast in the league his rookie year under John Fox, young Trubisky took off in his Sophomore year with first-year HC Matt Nagy putting up impressive numbers across the board. In his heartbreaking playoff loss, he was far from the cause putting up 303 yards and a TD on 26 completions with no turnovers. Following the loss, Trubisky went to the Pro Bowl. At the event, this pic was taken and tweeted out by none other than Patrick Mahomes himself.

Make or Break Year

2019 was a train wreck for the entire offense. Play calling, which once seemed innovative, became predictable. The media relentlessly bashed Trubisky as the other two 2017 first-round QBs continued to shine. Injury was added to insult as the young QB dislocated his non-throwing shoulder and missed games. Following his return to the field, Mitchell displayed regression in nearly every category. Rushing and passing numbers saw a decline from 2018 to 2019. HC Matt Nagy seemed to be at a loss for words on what the issue was. Could the sharp decline of the o-line, mental lapses by the QB, or stagnant play calling by the HC? We will never know, but a season that began with high hopes was dashed to the gutter with the franchise QB in hot pursuit. You can see his career stats below.

2020 is shaping up as a make or break year for Mitchell Trubisky. Gone are the good feelings of being the first Bears Pro-Bowl QB since Jim McMahon. The front office has declined his 5th-year option but is undoubtedly still rooting for the player they took number two overall in 2017. The biggest discrepancy I see from one season to the next for Trubisky was the use of his legs. During his Pro-Bowl 2018 campaign, Mitchell Trubisky was a dual-threat QB. Scoff if you will, but the kid put up a 68/421/3 rushing line across 14 games. While those are not Lamar Jackson numbers, they do represent drives that were extended, plays which broke down, and improvisations he turned into success. To get back to his high-end form, he will need to make better use of his legs. If not, he will surely be replaced by the team’s new addition.

There’s a New Kid in Town

Nick Foles is the favorite son in Chicago right now. There is often no more popular player on an NFL team than the backup QB. Especially one that came in and took his team on his back and led them to Super Bowl glory. Nick Foles has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in his NFL career. From his amazing Pro Bowl season in Philly to his freefall in St. Louis. From his years as a backup, back to Philly to glory and back to the bottom again, few players have exhibited as much streakiness as Nick Foles. You can see his career stats below.

The Bears were facing a conundrum in 2020. The team appears tailor-made for a deep playoff run, yet the QB is heading in the opposite direction. What’s the solution? Ship a supplemental draft pick to Jacksonville for a QB who has not only succeeded in the league but in the same system as Chicago runs. That’s right, Nick Foles is familiar with HC Matt Nagy from his time as a backup in Kansas City. He is also well acquainted with QB coach John DeFilippo who coached him in both Philly and Jacksonville.

The familiarity with Matt Nagy’s scheme makes Foles the perfect fit with the current COVID-19 situation. If there was limited practice opportunity leading up to the 2020 season, Foles had the experience and, more importantly, success in that scheme to take the reigns and be off to the races if Mitchell Trubisky fails to make the necessary steps in his development. Not to mention Foles has shown before, including last season, that he is willing to not only compete with but help mentor his young teammates if that’s how the situation plays out.

Pick Your Poison

Heading into 2020, I am rooting for Mitchell Trubisky. He was far from the only QB to struggle last year, but his being taken ahead of Mahomes and Watson amplified the criticism. Hopefully, he can get back to his Pro-Bowl form and make better use of his legs for his sake. Trubisky will be a risky play in SF leagues but could potentially pay off handsomely if he reverts. However, Nick Foles will be a nice upside stash for you SF leagues where he is waiting in the wings to at a moment’s notice take the reins and run with the job. He is certainly the type of streaky player that can win not only a Super Bowl but also a fantasy title for you. Draft the Bears QB’s with caution, but by all means, draft them all the same.

Running Back

David Montgomery

In 2019 David Montgomery had an unassuming rookie season that saw him nonetheless accumulate a heavy amount of touches. I must confess upfront that David Montgomery is one of my guilty pleasures. As a Bears fan who saw the writing on the wall with Jordan Howard, I was absolutely giddy when the team traded up in the 2019 NFL draft to select the Iowa State product in the 3rd round. Montgomery holds the NCAA record for forced missed-tackles in a season with 104. To say that he has make you miss ability is an understatement. What he lacks in long speed, he more than makes up for in short area elusiveness. He has some of the best contact balance I have ever seen. Check out his record-breaking season highlights below.

A Workman Like Season

Despite a somewhat disappointing rookie season, the Chicago Bears rode David Montgomery to the tune of 242/889/6. Throw in another 25/185/1 receiving, and you have a 1,000 total yard campaign with 7 TDs. Not jaw-dropping numbers but yeoman type work from a player the team traded up to acquire. The team showed further commitment to him heading into 2020 by cutting last season’s free-agent pickup Mike Davis and not making any effort to replace him on the depth chart. The team will again head into the season with David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen firmly planted atop the depth chart.

While I know some were not overly thrilled with Montgomery in 2019, I saw a player attempting to find his way. Coming out of Iowa State, the defenses are much more adept in the NFL than the Big12, to say the least. He also suffered from weak play at the QB position as Mitchell Trubisky struggled to find his form after a Pro-Bowl Sophomore season. I liken Mongtomery’s rookie year to someone like Le’Veon Bell. The former Michigan State product saw a similar early career struggle turn into brilliance across the next several years in the Steele City. Like Bell, Montgomery is a patient runner. I feel that there is ample room for development in his game, and he will shine in his second go-around in the NFL with some improved QB and OL play.

Finding His Way

An observation I made in 2019 was that David Montgomery ran much better in power formations than in a wide open spread setting. In the games where Matt Nagy committed to Montgomery in the I-formation, with a lead blocker, he played his best ball, and the team was successful. It makes one wonder if the team will attempt to rely on the running game a bit more in 2020 and build the passing game off of the play-action instead of allowing the passing game to dictate the game script. The team has certainly stocked up on TE’s this off-season, including this year’s top pick Cole Kmet. Hopefully, they will help Montgomery reach new heights in 2020.

David Montgomery is among the safest bets to lead his team in backfield touches. Sure, Tarik Cohen will cap his usage in the passing game, but few players provide the safe floor of a David Montgomery. Especially at his depressed pricepoint. If Montgomery can get his rushing numbers up by even .25 per carry and pick up just a little bit more of the passing game work, he could be a potential league winner. He is my absolute favorite high upside RB2, and I will gladly plant my flag in his camp for the 2020 season.

Tarik Cohen

Along with most of the offense, the diminutive dynamo Tarik Cohen had a down 2019. The former Deacon Jones award recipient epitomized the struggles of the offense. Few players exhibited the dip in production as noticeably as Cohen. The offensive line was simply brutal last year, giving him few holes and lanes to run through. The O-line struggles were certainly one of the reasons for teammate David Montgomery’s struggles, but you can see the numbers on paper for Cohen whose ypc dropped by over a full yard from a healthy 4.5 to an anemic 3.3. You can assess his stats below.

Cohen is also the perfect example of NFL Defensive Coordinators reading the tells in Matt Nagy’s scheme. Cohen, one of the best receiving backs in the entire NFL, saw virtually the same amount of targets and catches from 2018 to 2019 yet saw his production nearly cut in half from a ypc perspective. Teams seemed to be able to read the motions in Matt Nagy’s schemes and sniff the play out before the ball was snapped. 

PPR Gold

Despite his 2019 troubles, nobody doubts the talent of the 5’6 Cohen. As I stated above, he is one of the best 3rd down backs in the league. His size and skill set conjures up memories of prime year Darren Sproles. Not unlike the aforementioned Sproles, Cohen is also able to use his height to his advantage. He is easily lost behind offensive linemen when picking his holes and has better than anticipated power at the point of contact. He will certainly never be confused with a workhorse 3-down RB, but he is deadly and efficient in his role. His consistent work in the passing game makes him an ideal PPR RB. His 2018 numbers were good for an RB. 11 finish in regular PPR leagues. He has back-to-back seasons of over 70 catches and should provide RB3 numbers at a minimum.

Despite his well established PPR value, Tarik Cohen is largely overlooked in fantasy circles. To highlight this point, consider these numbers. Cohen is DLF’s RB40! You didn’t misread that. We here at Dynasty Nerds have given him a composite ppr rank of RB37. At that price point, I must advise you to do yourself a favor and draft Tarik Cohen as your RB 3 or 4 and reap the rewards on bye weeks. He has already put up back-to-back 70 catch seasons with his current QB, and Nick Foles has proven equally adept with the check down. If anything were to happen to David Montgomery in front of him, with the lack of quality depth on the team, Cohen could pick up just enough rushing attempts to challenge for high-end RB2 numbers again. He’s a great later round choice for your PPR leagues.

Wide Receiver

Allen Robinson

One of the lone bright spots in the 2019 campaign Allen Robinson regained his Pro Bowl form and dominated the competition. Quite possibly the most overlooked WR in the entire league, Allen Robinson is a true alpha no.1 target for the Chicago Bears. His 154 targets were good for number three in the NFL as a whole falling only three shy of tying Julio Jones for second in that category.

A full two years removed from his devastating ACL tear in Jacksonville, the Chicago Bears were rewarded for their belief in the former Penn State product. Whether it was Trubisky or Chase Daniel running the team, the passing game flowed through Allen Robinson. Despite his brilliant season, there is still room for improvement heading into 2020. You will note in his stats below that he fell quite short of his career-high in TD receptions.

A New Deal?

Unless a deal is hammered out very soon, 2020 will also be a contract year for Allen Robinson. Players are more often than not highly motivated when money is on the line. It would be exceedingly difficult to believe the Bears wouldn’t attempt to lock up their talented WR1 on a multi-year deal. Robinson has undoubtedly overcome his earlier injury and rewarded the team for paying him coming off the injury. In any case, this will provide a bit of extra motivation if a deal isn’t struck before the start of the season.

I fully anticipate Allen Robinson being a WR1 for both the Chicago Bears and your fantasy teams in 2020. He has both the volume and skill to make this happen with relative certainty. Robinsons is a master route runner. Few in the NFL possess his level of technique when it comes to setting up his routes. For me, he is a more explosive Keenan Allen. I see no reason he will not put up at least 80/1,000/5 at an absolute minimum. In all likelihood, he will challenge for over 100 catches and double-digit TD’s while covering at least 1,000-1,100 yards. Coming in at DLF’s WR17 and Dynasty Nerds WR15 Allen Robinson is my absolute favorite WR2. Draft him and enjoy the WR1 production. I will leave you with a small sample of his route running prowess. Check it out and get yourself some shares of this playmaker on your squads.

Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller was initially brought in as part of the 2018 overhaul of the skill groups. GM Ryan Pace traded back into the 2nd round to select the former Memphis star. Since that time, the Chicago Bears have been looking for big things from Anthony Miller. The former 2nd round pick has, however, struggled with injuries and inconsistency leading into the all-important 3rd season.

Miller has dealt with major shoulder issues since dislocating his left shoulder early in his rookie season. The injury also resulted in a torn labrum and multiple subsequent dislocations. Miller guessed that he dislocated the shoulder five or six times during that rookie campaign. He had offseason surgery and slowly began the 2019 campaign before heating up on the back half of the season. Then tragically in week 17, he injured the same shoulder, again leading to offseason surgery. Despite playing through consistent pain, Miller has missed very little game action. You can see his career stats below.

Put Up or Shut Up

Heading into 2020, both Miller and the Bears know it’s time to put up or shut up. The team cut ties with former starting WR Taylor Gabriel this offseason. They made no meaningful attempt to improve on the in house options. Sure they hope Riley Ridley and others continue to develop, but it was Miller who so captivated the team with his brilliant play at Memphis. Some of the plays he was able to make were downright amazing. His massive 10″ hands are well above average for a player of his stature. He was able to use them and his route running savvy to make some ridiculous plays in college. Some of which you can see below.

Nobody question’s Anthony Miller’s heart; however, the NFL only offers so many chances before a player is pushed to the background due to injuries. Hopefully, Miller has gotten over his shoulder woes. If he can keep it together for 16 games, Miller could put up a 70/800/7 stat line putting him firmly in the WR3 conversation. I believe Miller will challenge for his first 1,000-yard season, solidifying his role as a starter opposite Allen Robinson. If he can lock down the slot role, he could flirt with a significant number of catches. Recent reports have him working out with Mitchell Trubisky this offseason to build chemistry. DLF have Miller ranked as WR56 while we here at Dynasty Nerds have him at WR59. You will not find a better breakout candidate at that price point. Draft Miller as a quality upside depth piece and look to reap the rewards in 2020.

Tight End

Cole Kmet

The Chicago Bears have been on a decade-long search to rectify the mistake they made when they traded former 1st round pick Greg Olsen because he didn’t fit into OC Mike Martz’s scheme. Perhaps, just maybe, they have finally found that replacement. For fantasy purposes, the highlight of the Bears 2019 draft class is unquestionably Cole Kmet. I know Jimmy Graham is still with the team and will likely cap Kmet for the short term, but this is dynasty we are talking about. Jimmy Graham will surely have a couple of games here or there, but he has largely been irrelevant from a fantasy perspective since being shipped to Seattle all those years ago. Cole Kmet is the Chicago TE to own in dynasty.

Coming out of Notre Dame, Kmet was a two-sport star athlete. He had a chance to be drafted as a pitcher potentially but decided to focus on football after feeling soreness in his left pitching arm in college. There were some fears that this injury could affect his football career, but that seems to have waned after a breakout final season with the Fighting Irish. Despite missing the first two games of the 2019 season, he went on to put up excellent numbers while playing a dominant role in the blocking department. You can see his numbers below.

Most scouts viewed Kmet as the top TE prospect in this year’s class. While he is certainly not in danger of being confused with athletic freaks like Vernon David, Mike Gesicki, or George Kittle, he is nonetheless a dangerous weapon. He compares very favorably with other recent prospects like TJ Hockenson and former Golden Domer Tyler Eifert. The player I most see when I watch his game is Martellus Bennet. He will win with his size but has deceptive athleticism to make plays with the ball in his hands after the catch.

The Mentor

As I mentioned earlier, the Bears still have Jimmy Graham, whom they signed to a two-year contract. Graham is certainly on the last leg of his career, having already hinted at retirement before latching on with the Bears. If nothing else, he will provide a valuable mentor to help develop Kmet’s game. Offseason reports have Cole working out with Mitchell Trubisky and other key offensive pieces. Only time will tell if the Bears have finally been able to find a valid replacement for Greg Olsen. If you need a young developmental TE draft, this young playmaker and allow him to develop on your taxi squad. It is certainly possible that Kmet could burst out of the gate ala Chris Herndon a couple of seasons ago. I will leave you with his college highlights, and you decide if this a player worthy of your rosters. He certainly has my attention.

IDP

Defensive Line

Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn was the big offseason acquisition by Ryan Pace and the front office. He will replace former 1st round disappointment, Leonard Floyd. His addition will hopefully finally free up the other member of the defense to realize their immense potential. Or at the minimum, unlike his predecessor, he will wreak havoc on opposing teams that ignore him in favor of focusing on other members of the D. Quinn is simply too talented to be handled one-on-one for an entire game.

Last season with the Cowboys, Quinn was in a similar position feasting off the lack of attention sent his direction. Instead of feasting in the shadow of DeMarcus Lawrence, he will now ply his trade as the compliment to former Defensive MVP Khalil Mack. Quinn will also benefit from playing alongside two outstanding interior D-linemen in Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks. Throw in third-year man Bilal Nichols, and you have one of the best upfront units in the league. Quinn will certainly have a chance to best his 34 tackle 11.5 sack season from a year ago.

Linebacker

Khalil Mack

Simply put, one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. 2019 was a disappointing year for the former Defensive MVP. Mack’s numbers took a severe dip, especially after the loss of Akiem Hicks from the interior of the defensive unit. Former running mate Leonard Floyd was unable to apply pressure from the opposite side, allowing teams to double and triple-team Mack, effectively neutralizing the all-world talent. Things should be different this season with the addition of Robert Quinn on the opposite side.

The real question when it comes to Mack is how he is listed in your league. If your league has him listed as an LB, then his value is somewhat less. However, if your league has a DE/Edge position listing, he is considerably more valuable. Over the last three years, he has 31.5 sacks and a league leading 117 solo tackles for Edge rushing players. With Robert Quinn now on board and the return of a healthy Akiem Hicks, things are looking up for Khalil Mack in 2020. If teams are forced to defend him one-on-one, we could be in for another MVP type season. Check out below what he did to the highest paid tackle in the league. Depending on your league’s classification of Mack, he could be an extreme bounce-back candidate in 2020.

Roquan Smith

Despite a strange 2019 season, Roquan Smith began to assume the mantle of the top Inside Linebacker in Chicago. The former top 10 pick Has missed games in both seasons by the lake. In his rookie year, he was slowed by a protracted contract dispute. Then in his sophomore season, he missed two games for personal reasons before missing the final few contests after tearing his Pectoral Muscle. The former Butkus Award Winner makes plays in every facet of the game, as you can see from his stats below.

Despite missing games, Smith has proved to be a productive player when on the field. With over 100 tackles each season to go along with sacks and interceptions, Smith is the highest rated IDP player on a strong Bears unit. Both DLF & Dynasty Nerds have him ranked as the overall LB3 heading into 2020. With this type of dynasty consensus, the experts are seeing a breakout coming for the uber-talented player. Draft him as an every-week starter at LB and thank us at the end of the season.

Defensive Back

Eddie Jackson

Quite possibly, the best safety in the entire NFL Eddie Jackson is the unassuming superstar on the Chicago Defense. He graded out as the number one safety by PFF two seasons ago. Last year along with the entire defensive unit, Jackson struggled to find that same level of play. The down season has contributed to Jackson’s value being depressed in the IDP community.

One major area Jackson has going for him is the departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Yes, it seems counterintuitive to say that the loss of his former college teammate would be positive for Jackson. However, this is exactly the case. Due to the limitations in Clinton-Dix’s game, Jackson was forced to drop down in the box more often. While that would seem to help his tackle numbers, it severely limited his freelancing play in the secondary. He went from a game changing six interceptions and two forced fumbles to a measly two interceptions and zero forced fumbles. This season the team has changed up the game plan, and with the arrival of veteran Tashaun Gipson from the Texans, Eddie Jackson will now get to do what he does best. Coming in at DLF DB36 and Dynasty Nerds DB45, Eddie Jackson represents a nice value in your IDP leagues.

Conclusion

All in all, the Chicago Bears are a team on a precipice. They could potentially return to playoff form and rebound on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Of course, this would be good news for fantasy players on both the offensive and IDP sides. They could also totally implode, forcing a total team rebuild. If this is the case, the QB position and RB position will likely struggle to find relevancy. Allen Robinson is certainly the safest player on the offensive side of the ball. The Defense should be competitive, leading to a relatively safe set of IDP players.


On the whole, the Chicago Bears will be a fun team to watch with an elite Defensive Unit looking to support an Offensive Squad looking to find its way. I, for one, am looking forward to the 2020 season. Hopefully, you are as well.


Thank you for reading this article! Please be sure to join the #Nerdherd, so you don’t miss out on any of the amazing things we have to offer at Dynastynerds.com. You will get rankings, extra podcasts, and access to our rookie film room. So much for so little, why miss out on all the fun. Follow me @ReflipeWThenuz for more dynasty content and other musings.

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