The hype continues to grow for Justin Fields after he finished a strong sophomore season with his running game. Of course, he’s a quarterback, so it was lackluster in real life when you factor in how he did through the air. He was a star in fantasy as his rushing upside carried him to many dynasty championships. The concern for his immediate future is whether he can develop into an NFL starting quarterback with his accuracy/arm. Should Fields continue to struggle badly throwing the ball, the Chicago Bears might cut bait. Should he take the Hurts-leap, then Fields will become the first franchise quarterback in a while for the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears are doing everything they can to help him. They have a brand-new offensive line. Chicago went out and traded for star wide receiver DJ Moore, hoping he will enable Fields to the Hurts/Murray leap as a passer. They got more depth at all the skill positions and improved the defense, so there isn’t as much pressure on Fields. So, can he take that next step and become a true top-tier NFL quarterback? That’s the biggest question in both dynasty and for the Chicago Bears and their fans.
2022 Season Recap
Fields had an enormous season on the ground. He ran circles around defenders in the 15 games he played. He rushed for 1,143 yards on only 160 carries and had eight touchdowns. His legs will continue to be lethal in the future. However, Fields better hold onto the ball better, as 16 fumbles are a career-killer should that continue into the future.
Through the air was a far different story. Fields struggled again to push the ball down the field with his arm. He improved his accuracy to a still woeful 60.4%. He threw 17 touchdowns but had an eye-sore 11 interceptions. Fields also failed to get the ball downfield, with a lackluster 7.1 yards per attempt leading to only 2,242 passing yards.
Plus, mostly due to Fields’ penchant for holding onto the ball far too long, he took 55 sacks. That will destroy his body long-term if that doesn’t change. The advanced stats lead to a lot of worry beyond the rushing output. He was 11th in danger throws, 32nd in true completion percentage, 20th in expected points added, extremely low on catchable passes or accuracy, and struggled a ton versus man coverage. All of that has to improve for Fields to actually become a franchise and dynasty QB1. The true bright side is that Fields will continue to be a lethal fantasy quarterback, thanks to his legs.
2023 Season Projections
Fields should have a career year this season, mostly thanks to DJ Moore’s involvement on the offense. Fields now has a true alpha wide receiver that should be able to reign in some more of his throws. After all, Moore is used to catching awful throws from bad quarterbacks from his time with the Panthers. Still, the true fantasy upside is from Fields’ legs. They will carry him once again to fantasy stardom. He’s a fantasy cheat code, as he will rival only Lamar Jackson for the best rushing ability in the NFL this season.
Fields should finally break the 3,000-yardage barrier, a monumental moment and a significant rise from last year’s 2,200+ yardage total. That’s purely due to Moore and the Bears’ offense, in general, improving. Still, it’s a far cry from being a top dynasty quarterback. He’s a contender’s dream quarterback, as he’ll score a ton. But the future is incredibly murky if he doesn’t improve his arm/accuracy this year. Luckily, I have him improving quite a bit this year, raising his accuracy to a respectable 63.4%. Justin Fields is a safe bet to finish inside the top-12 quarterbacks in dynasty this year. He might even compete for the top five.
Long-Term Dynasty Outlook
Fields has a weird long-term outlook in dynasty. This is because no one knows whether he will secure a long-term job because of his arm. Should his arm continue to struggle and prove a hindrance, the Bears very well could move on. If he improves a ton with his arm like I think he will, he’s a dynasty darling, and his price will rise through the roof. Right now, Fields is a lottery ticket. His legs will carry him to be a potential QB1 every week. However, if he can’t get his arm into the Jackson/Hurts tier, then Fields won’t have a long time as a starting quarterback. In that case, he would fall into the Tyrod Taylor career arc. An elite rusher but not much else.
Thus, having him as your QB1 in dynasty is a big risk, especially as a contender. He’s worth multiple firsts right now, so see if you can’t get someone to bite, especially if you’re rebuilding. If you’re contending, see if you can’t sell him and a second or so for Jalen Hurts. Get reliability without the risk. Otherwise, hold him and wait and see. His price could soar by Week Two. It could also tank by then. If he struggles immensely to start the season, then good luck getting anything significant for him. Were he to shock the world, the sky is the limit. If you’re contending and have him, make sure you have a better quarterback on your roster ahead of him.
The last thing you want is to have Fields as your QB1 and have him bust. Play the safe but high-scoring game. Keep Fields as your QB2 and potentially have two top-12 dynasty quarterbacks on your championship-contending roster.
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As always, May the Force be with You…