It’s no secret that the Bears’ offense wasn’t exactly spectacular in 2019.
Placing in the bottom four in both points per game and total yardage, as well as finishing as the eighth-least efficient offense in the league according to Football Outsiders, the Bears struggled mightily in essentially all facets of offensive play last year. With a quarterback battle now underway and very few sizable additions having been made to the unit, it appears likely that Chicago will finish with a below-average offense yet again in 2020.
Such a disappointing group has caused for some pessimism among fantasy football experts, where the name of the game is offensive firepower, but are all of their concerns warranted? Let’s play buy or sell with notable Bears offensive players for the upcoming fantasy season.
Buy: Allen Robinson
After putting forth a fantastic 2019 campaign on an abysmal Bears offense, it should come as little surprise that Allen Robinson is the only early-round fantasy player the team currently has on the roster.
Ranked as the No. 11 wide receiver in ESPN’s consensus PPR rankings, Robinson is likely in line for another big season in 2020. The Bears have a weird mix of weapons that has some players who are still varying degrees unproven, as well as some players who are past their prime. Robinson is the only player who doesn’t fall into either category and is both a young and proven producer in the NFL. While none of CBS Sports’ three fantasy experts have him in their top 15, the workload that the former Pro Bowler is on track to take on could see him reach as high as the top 10 in fantasy outlets, especially in PPR leagues.
The lack of stability the Bears have at the quarterback position could scare some fantasy owners away from taking Robinson early, but he is a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the league and will likely serve as a security blanket for whomever Chicago chooses to start. Currently being projected as a fantasy option in Rounds 4 or 5, he could be a steal as a WR2 with borderline WR1 upside this year.
Pass: Both Bears quarterbacks
It should come as a general rule that if a quarterback is in the midst of a battle for his starting position, one should not draft him in fantasy football.
The uncertainty that comes with the Bears’ quarterback conundrum, both in Week 1 and beyond, makes both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles undraftable in standard 10-team, or even 12-team leagues. Not only is it likely that both quarterbacks will end up starting at some point in the 2020 season, but the odds that either one of them will put up fantastic production are relatively slim. ESPN’s fantasy experts agree with that sentiment, as neither Chicago signal-caller was able to crack the top 30 in their consensus quarterback rankings.
If you’re looking for a sleeper quarterback to take near the bottom of the draft, there are many more quarterbacks who not only have much better job security than Trubisky or Foles, but also have much more upside. Just stay away.
Buy: David Montgomery
David Montgomery’s rookie season did not exactly live up to fans’ expectations.
Granted, plenty of factors contributed into his being the fourth-least efficient back among the 45 qualified running backs according to Football Outsiders. However, his vision that he displayed in college proved inconsistent in the NFL, which has caused many national media members to sour on the 2019 third-round pick. Now would be the perfect opportunity for fantasy players to buy low on him.
ESPN’s consensus running back rankings have Montgomery ranked No. 28 in PPR formats, and none of CBS Sports’ experts have him rated higher than No. 24 in their PPR rankings. His average draft position in ESPN formats is currently 75.8, making him a Round 8 pick in a 10-team league. While it’s unlikely the Iowa State alumnus will suddenly develop into a top-10 running back overnight, his workload indicates he could outdo his current projections. Tarik Cohen has never topped 100 carries in a season, and his value is much more apparent as a pass-catcher in fantasy football. With Cohen’s shoehorned role and Ryan Nall being extremely unproven at the NFL level, that should open plenty of touches for Montgomery on the ground.
Don’t expect Montgomery to become a legitimate RB1 in fantasy outlets, but he should end up being a serviceable RB2 who can be had in RB3 territory. Be sure to keep tabs on him going forward.
Pass: Cole Kmet
This could really go for either Cole Kmet or Jimmy Graham, but the latter is projected to see more targets in 2020 and is arguably being undervalued as the No. 26 tight end on ESPN’s PPR rankings. He probably shouldn’t be considered a draftable player except as a late-round flier in deep leagues, but given the prominence the tight end position has in Matt Nagy’s offense, the former All-Pro might end up outproducing his current projections.
It’s very rare for rookie tight ends to excel right out of the gate, especially tight ends who aren’t expected to see the bulk of the targets at the position on their team. It should go without saying, then, that Kmet doesn’t project as a valuable fantasy option in 2020. The second-round rookie is not ranked in the top 32 of CBS Sports’ PPR or non-PPR rankings. While the Bears may use more two-tight end sets than they did last year, Kmet probably won’t see significant targets come his way right away.
It may be tempting to select Kmet as a late-round flier because he’s young, was drafted high and—if you enjoy drafting players from the hometown team—plays for the Bears, but there are many other late sleepers with much more immediate fantasy upside. It will likely be another year before he’s a viable fantasy option.
Buy: Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller hasn’t entirely lived up to the hype since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2018, but souring opinions from the national media could make him a steal in fantasy this year.
Though he started off 2019 on disappointing terms, Miller kicked it into high gear near the end of the season. From Weeks 11 to 15, he averaged 17.62 fantasy points in PPR leagues, reaching double-digit totals each week. Granted, he didn’t reach double digits once before that stretch, but the late-season surge could be a call for excitement for fantasy owners searching for a deep sleeper. Both Trubisky and Foles have shown a penchant towards favoring the slot in their careers, and with Miller seeing more than half of his snaps come out of the slot in 2019, he offers PPR upside regardless of the starter at quarterback.
Two of CBS Sports’ fantasy experts have Miller ranked as their No. 45 receiver, but one has him as low as No. 57, and ESPN’s consensus rankings have him at the No. 55 spot. Fantasy football rosters generally consist of 16 players, and Miller’s average draft position in ESPN leagues has him falling just outside of Round 16. With no Taylor Gabriel and very little threat to take Miller’s job as the de facto WR2 in Chicago’s offense, he could be a player keeping a sharp eye out for late in your drafts this year.
Proceed with caution: Tarik Cohen and Bears D/ST
Both Tarik Cohen and the Bears’ defensive and special teams are picks worth keeping an eye on, but one should not be incredibly aggressive in seeking them out.
In Cohen’s case, most of his value comes off of his high volume as a receiver. Given that he’s usually used more of a checkdown option than a downfield threat, he has much more value in PPR leagues than he does in standard leagues, since the latter only allows points for receiving yards. CBS Sports’ fantasy experts have Cohen ranked anywhere between Nos. 23 and 33 in their PPR running back rankings—making him a solid FLEX option—but in their non-PPR rankings, the Human Joystick doesn’t rank any higher than running back No. 40.
Considering that Cohen has never reached 100 carries in a single season and his rushing yard totals are pretty mediocre, he shouldn’t be much more than a late-round option in standard leagues, especially if he ends up playing like he did in 2019. However, in PPR formats, he does offer value as a serviceable RB3 or a high-end RB4.
It’s no secret that the Bears have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but that didn’t translate into fantasy production too well last year. One season removed from being the top-scoring D/ST unit in fantasy, Chicago’s group dropped all the way to 15th in 2019. While they still had the fourth-fewest points allowed and a top-10 defense in terms of allowing the fewest yards, their turnover totals fell far short of their league-leading 27 interceptions in 2018. Last season saw them pick off just 10 passes: the fourth-fewest total in the league. They also finished in the bottom 10 in sacks, making for disappointing fantasy production.
In fantasy football, D/ST units are like running backs in modern-day real football: there are some that can really make a difference, but most of them are pretty interchangeable. One of the worst things a player can do is overdraft a defense, as they generally don’t score many points and can be pretty inconsistent over the course of a full year. The Bears could be able to bounce back with the addition of Robert Quinn and a healthy Akiem Hicks, so they could return to being a top-10 fantasy unit once again. ESPN currently has them as their sixth-best D/ST with a Round 14 average draft position, which seems like fair value. They should be a solid defense, but don’t go out of your way to snag them much earlier than that.