Fantasy football drafts are a euphoria pill of unrivaled proportions for those of us who live and breathe sports. Nearly none of your superstars are injured yet, you look at the projected points and smash the draft button, and football truly feels like it’s back after the long offseason. Every draft has a few players who are worth reaching to grab earlier than the computer would draft. Likewise, there’s always somebody sitting there who probably shouldn’t be, and despite the metrics, a shrewd fantasy drafter will avoid him.
The Chicago Bears as a team were mostly the latter in 2021, and those who snagged Allen Robinson in an early round while Amari Cooper and Cooper Kupp went to their friends and family are probably beyond ready for another crack at a fantasy draft. Even Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery, the Bears’ bright spots on a pitch-black offense, failed to crack the top-20 at their respective positions in fantasy PPR format.
While most Bears will be on the board long after a fantasy football draft is complete, there are still a few wearing Navy and Orange who you won’t have to scroll to find when you’re on the clock. Which Bears are worth reaching for, and who’s worth leaving on the board?
Formatting: This will be based on a standard PPR format with Team Defense. If you play non-PPR formats, kudos to you. Let us know your scoring rules in the comments!
Bears Player to Reach For: Cole Kmet
Tight end remains a fantasy football position that if you don’t address early, you may as well wait until very late to do so. Once Travis Kelce is off the board, there are only a handful of players worth taking over the deep pool of running backs and receivers available in middle rounds.
While David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney might be better to queue up and hope a pick lines up with their projected draft position, there is a Bears player likely to be on the board very late, and he’s worth spending a pick on.
Cole Kmet, the Bears’ third-year starter at tight end, left a lot on the field in a disappointing rookie year in 2020, logging just 28 receptions in 16 appearances for 243 receiving yards. He overcame a lot of his struggles and turned in a much better sophomore performance in 2021, starting all 17 games and finding 612 receiving yards averaging 3.6 receptions per game.
That reception average could have been much higher, as his 5.5 target/game average was surprisingly 8th-highest in the league at his position. If Justin Fields has indeed cleaned up some of his accuracy issues, Kmet should be poised to be in the TE1 conversation.
Kmet also earned most of his 2021 stats in the back half of the season, where he averaged 6.7 targets/game between week 12-18. During that span, he averaged 8.9 fantasy points/game. His trend is moving up.
The only thing missing? Touchdowns. He failed to catch a touchdown pass the entire season, despite 6 targets in the endzone. Some say availability is the best ability in sports, and Kmet has yet to miss an NFL game. Touchdowns should come eventually, and on top of the rest of his volume, this makes him a name to watch.
Lastly, looking at the Bears depth chart makes one wonder who else, if anybody, is going to get targets at tight end. Ryan Griffin? 261 receiving yards last season. James O’Shaughnesy? 244. If Kmet is healthy, he’s the Bears’ only tight end worth a look in fantasy, and that can’t be said for a lot of other middle-tier tight ends such as David Njoku or Hunter Henry.
Kmet is currently 15th in ESPN’s projected point totals for tight ends. Snag him in a late round if you miss out on Kelce or Kittle.
Bears Player to Wait for: Darnell Mooney
It’s fair to wonder who the top target will be this year for the Bears. They entered last season with Allen Robinson expected to eclipse 1000 receiving yards again, and the rest of the team to focus on YAC and later reads.
Then they started sending Mooney deep.
The third-year receiver developed into Justin Fields’ favorite target in 2021, where he, instead of Robinson, crossed the 1000-yard mark (17 games) and caught over a quarter of all of Justin Fields' touchdown passes. He also ran a touchdown in. If the touchdown average stays true, and Justin Fields throws more touchdowns, Mooney will naturally be in flex consideration.
But why wait?
The Bears drafted Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, and new faces like new faces. It’s part of the reason why the new front office was so quick to overhaul a defense that, age aside, didn’t look that terrible on paper. Will the new regime push for Jones to be the top receiving option? If he’s as good as his college tape suggests, he might just earn it anyway.
Both players should be available late in your fantasy draft, with Mooney listed on ESPN at WR23 and Jones outside of the top-50. If your league is small, you’ll be able to target either of them on the waiver wire in a few weeks. In larger leagues, “D. Mooney” might come up on your radar, and your best bet is to wait a round, see if the rest of the league drafted for need and left him for you, and then snag him at the perfect time.
Jumping the gun and stashing him on your bench won’t kill your chances at winning the league, though.
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EARLY ACCESS TO OUR FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Let’s play fantasy football together as a Windy City Gridiron community! In an effort to even the playing field between those who have never played fantasy sports before and those who have been playing for years, we’re going to play with very standard PPR rules. If you play with a different scoring system, let us know in the comments!
The Fantasy draft is scheduled for Sunday, September 4th at 12:00 Noon Central Time.
The rosters will have 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 2 wide receivers, 1 tight end, 1 flex (any RB, WR, or TE can be slotted here), 1 Defense, and 1 Kicker. The bench is limited to 4 players in the effort to reduce excess stashing.
If you’re interested in joining a fun Fantasy Football league with fellow Bears fans, then you can join here.