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Fantasy Monsters of the Midway: Best Bear Available

While some may approach their draft with a “Best Player Available” mentality, let’s take a look at Best Bear Available!

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NFL: Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

There you are in the fifth round of your fantasy football draft. Josh Jacobs is right there, but you already have both running back spots and your flex spot filled. Should you take Jacobs and sit him on your bench until either he has a good matchup, your RB1/2 gets hurt, or you have somebody on a bye week?

No. Cooper Kupp, welcome to the Big Baller Squad.

Here’s where a lot of NFL GMs outsmart themselves, and even in fantasy football we prove we may not do that much better of a job drafting talent. Do we take the best player available, knowing that we really don’t have a shot of playing them right away? Week 1 we face that guy from work who will absolutely gloat about every reason down the board they pulled off the win. But if we reach, then we’re leaving a player on the board who will definitely start for another fantasy owner. What happens when we play that owner? The player will have career highs that week, of course.

Sometimes you have to take a player just so somebody else can’t.

BPA, or Best Player Available, is a divisive topic and maddening in the details. There’s always nuance to it, and in the real world if you don’t have a good quarterback then you take a quarterback, every time, regardless of who you’re leaving on the board. In Fantasy Football, often you can be forgiven for drafting for need once, just don’t make it a habit.

Let’s take a look at the BBA, or Best Bear Available:

Formatting: This will be based on a standard PPR format with 1 QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, Team Defense, and 1 K. If you play non-PPR formats, kudos to you. Let us know your scoring rules in the comments!

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Quarterback: Justin Fields

Admittedly, this could depend on the size of a fantasy league and bench allowance, because in smaller leagues with short benches it’s often best to “stream” quarterbacks by substituting out every week based on matchup, with a few exceptions such as Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers who are must-starts every week.

In larger leagues, the Bears week 1 starter Andy “Red Rifle” Dalton is a viable starting candidate. He ranked 30th in QB fantasy points last year despite playing only 11 games in relief of injured starter Dak Prescott for the Dallas Cowboys. With an average of 12.4 fantasy points last year, his lack of dual-threat capability and low job security makes him a risky pick. Even Nick Foles could make some sense here, as he could be traded to a run-heavy team with QB injuries and see some action away from the Bears’ third-string.

There’s no argument louder than the wailing elephant in the room, though. ESPN has Fields listed as QB17, a massive upgrade from the typical lot of quarterbacks the Bears trot out onto the field. ESPN has his projection as:

Fields was selected by Chicago with the 11th overall pick of April’s draft. The Ohio State product checks in at 6-foot-3, 227 pounds with outstanding accuracy, a good arm and high-end rushing ability. The latter sets him apart (81-383-5 rushing line in 2020), but Fields has also shown to be an aggressive and effective passer. His 10.3 average depth of throw and 91 total QBR are both tops in this year’s rookie class over the past three seasons and he protected the ball well (1.5% INT rate). It’s possible Andy Dalton will get a few starts to open 2021, but the history of first-round QBs suggests Fields will be under center very quickly. His elite rushing ability, powered by 4.45 wheels, could quickly launch him into fantasy relevance, so he’ll be a fine late-round pick

Justin Fields will be QB1 eventually, and until he earns his starting role, he’ll be sitting there on some owner’s bench while said owner refreshes their browser into oblivion. He’ll be there as an excellent bench candidate.

Chicago Bears v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Running Back: David Montgomery

While it’s fair to say David Montgomery was the recepient of extra reps last year, with Tarik Cohen out with a torn ACL and a lack of depth quality behind him, he finished 4th among all NFL running backs with 264.8 fantasy points in standard PPR format and that’s nothing to write off. That was enough to top the likes of Aaron Jones, Ezekial Elliott, and the aformentioned Josh Jacobs.

He wasn’t exactly the poster-child for efficiency, though. As our own Robert Schmitz pointed out, his yards-per-carry ranking of 28th in the NFL leaves a lot left to prove this year. On the subject of carries, 247 rushing attempts should demand double-digit touchdowns, and with only 8 on the year in 2020, he’s hardly a dream at the position.

ESPN has his projection as:

Montgomery enters his third NFL season after a terrific second half of 2020 vaulted him to a fourth-place finish in fantasy points. Montgomery’s season started slowly, as he managed only top-12 fantasy week in nine games, but he took advantage of a huge workload and very light schedule after returning from injury in Week 12 and went on to post six-consecutive top-8 weeks to finish the season. Montgomery ranked 17th in touches (14.3 carries, 3.0 targets per game) and 25th in fantasy points during three weeks with a healthy Tarik Cohen, but was top-four in both categories (16.6 carries, 5.0 targets) once Cohen went down. Cohen is back and Damien Williams and rookie Khalil Herbert were added, so combined with a much tougher schedule, Montgomery figures to return to earth. He’s a mid-to-back-end RB2.

Montgomery will usually be off the board in the mid-20s, and with Cohen potentially getting more reps in the colder months and Damien Williams needing some carries as well, Montgomery isn’t exactly a value pick. Still, Cohen is coming off injury and Williams opted-out in 2020. If Montgomery is on the board, see if he can do work as your RB2.

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson II

In smaller leagues with short benches, David Montgomery may only have one compadre worth a spot on fantasy teams: Da Bears WR1: Allen Robinson. Regardless of who is throwing him the ball, barring injury the soon-to-be 28 year old receiver is likely to threaten 100 receptions this season, a bar he cleared last year even with NFL backups at quarterback.

He finished 2020 ranked 9th among all receivers in fantasy points, and though his strength is in the glue-hands on medium move-the-chains routes, a quarterback worth his salt under center could unlock a deep-route-Robinson the likes of which the NFL hasn’t seen since 2015 when he was with the Jaguars.

ESPN has his projection as:

Robinson has yet to have the benefit of playing with a top-end QB, and yet he continues to deliver the goods. The 2014 second-round pick has put together back-to-back top-10 fantasy campaigns, finishing no lower than sixth in targets and routes during each of the past two seasons. Robinson’s 1,250 receiving yards in 2020 were his most since 2015 and, though he had some bad luck in the TD department (6 TDs, 7.8 OTD), his 15 end zone targets were third-most in the NFL. It’s not a lock, of course, but Chicago’s QB situation could be much better this season if first-round pick Justin Fields proves to be the real deal. Even if he doesn’t, Andy Dalton may be an improvement on last year’s situation. Robinson is in his prime at 28 years old and is one of the game’s top talents. He’s a borderline WR1 in fantasy.

Darnell Mooney is worth a bench/spot-starter role in larger leagues, and there could be room made for Dazz Newsome in dynasty format, but Robinson is really the only wide receiver worth a starting spot on most fantasy teams.

Chicago Bears v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Tight End: Cole Kmet

The Bears unofficial depth chart lists Cole Kmet as the starting Tight End, but it’s plain to see that the Bears coaches’ approach to the position will be package personnel. Outside of the redzone, Jimmy Graham is probably either on the sideline or a decoy on the play. Play-action with a Y-Tight End will see Jesse James on a route. Where does this leave Cole Kmet?

Kmet and forty-eight other NFL tight ends attended this year’s Tight End University, where the likes of George Kittle and Travis Kelce gather for a summit with younger tight ends in the league and retired tight ends such as former-Bear Greg Olsen. The big takeaway for Kmet from this event? Staying on the quarterback’s timing and getting open. If he can get open more consistently in the second year, playing time alone should provide him the opportunity to shine.

His ESPN fantasy projection is:

Kmet was the first TE selected in the 2020 draft (43rd overall) and is positioned for a bigger role in his second season with the Bears. After totaling 14 targets during his first 11 NFL games, Kmet averaged 5.7 per game during his final six games. The Notre Dame product reached six targets in four of those games and fell below four only once, averaging a healthy 17% target share during the span. Kmet turned the usage into a weak 23-165-1 receiving line, but 23% of balls thrown his way were off target (sixth-highest among TEs). More downfield (6.3 aDOT) and goal line work (one end zone target) would be nice, but his target volume and 88% snap share suggest better days are ahead. Even if Jimmy Graham sticks around, 22-year-old Kmet should be viewed as a TE2 with breakout potential.

At TE20 for ESPN player rankings, don’t be surprised when you see Kmet available in deeper drafts. If he takes the necessary step forward the Bears are counting on based on NFL draft position, then he’s the best value pick wearing navy and orange.

We’ll continue this series next week with a look at best fantasy “sleeper” pick on the Bears roster. Each week of the season, we’ll give you a Start/Sit guide for Bears players on your fantasy team before the week kicks off. Let us know in the comments which Bears player is has the highest fantasy value in your scoring system!

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