The Chicago Bears invented another way to lose on Sunday, collapsing yet again to the Cleveland Browns in an overall ugly game. After the teams began the game with four punts each way, the Bears' defense picked off Joe Flacco and struck first, followed by two more interceptions, including a pick-6 en route to a 17-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Then Flacco remembered how to throw a football and threw for 212 yards in the final quarter to lead an absurd comeback and send the Bears home with another crippling loss on the season. For Fantasy Football implications, the Bears built their lead on takeaway defense and vanilla offense, which didn't bode well for any offensive players in navy and orange. This week may present a more promising matchup against the Arizona Cardinals' leaky defense, but the conversations about Justin Fields' future with the team won't stop, and frankly, he hasn't earned the silence from critics despite the occasional flashy play.
Fields is currently sporting 18.0 fantasy points per game, the 15th-highest average in the league, and the Browns game was a major step back after some promising performances against the Vikings and Lions twice in previous weeks. The worst part about the game was his lack of rushing, as Fields found only 30 yards on the ground on 7 carries. The Cardinals aren't exactly known for letting quarterbacks run free, averaging just 13 rushing yards per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks across their last 7 games. That includes holding Lamar Jackson to just 17 rushing yards on 5 attempts back in October.
So, on that note, where does the Cardinals' defense allow quarterback success? They allow the second-highest completion percentage in the league, meaning you can throw it securely against them. They're also tied for the third-highest yards-per-attempt in the league and are tied for the third-most passing touchdowns allowed.
Justin Fields will need to make it happen through the air for the Bears to come out on top, and if his performance against the Browns is anything to draw on, it may be a risky play. He only threw for 166 yards and a touchdown in that one. His pair of interceptions both came on Hail Mary plays at the end of halves, but coupled with his constant fumbling of the football he is certainly turnover prone and isn't throwing for 300 yards per game to justify it. The matchup is the reason to leave him in your fantasy lineup.
Catching passes from Fields is a top-heavy lineup of receivers, with the top being a single guy named DJ Moore. He had yet another game with the lion's share of targets with 8 looks, reeling in 4 of them for 52 yards. Fantasy Football managers really needed a touchdown to Moore which was missed by Fields early in the second quarter, but his volume is undeniable and won't drop him out of the top-10 in fantasy receiver conversations.
Where fantasy managers needed a Moore touchdown, the Bears needed a Mooney touchdown catch at the very end of the Browns game, but that didn't happen either. Mooney had it right in his grips, in his lap actually, running the play exactly as it was drawn up off a tip on a Hail Mary and he still found a way to muff it up. It was extremely frustrating but carries little to no fantasy implication as he should have been dropped in fantasy weeks ago. He only caught 2 of his 8 targets for 14 yards and is even out in deep leagues.
The running back situation continues its volatility as Roschon Johnson actually led the Bears with 49% of the snaps against the Browns. One week, it's Herbert, one week, it's Foreman, and now, with Johnson firmly in the mix, it's too risky to play any Bears' running back except in deep leagues where you can be happy with 6 fantasy points. There are enough injuries across the NFL forcing the likes of Ezekial Elliott and Gus Edwards to the front of the waiver wire, and the Bears are just too much unknown.
Cole Kmet continues to build his foundation as a do-it-all tight end, and Robert Tonyan's inexcusable drop in the first quarter of the Browns game should only make it clearer to the coaches that it's Kmet or nothing. Kmet caught 5 of his 7 targets for 23 yards and a touchdown against the Browns, but the Cardinals present a different monster as they have allowed just the 4th-fewest fantasy points-per-game to tight ends. Budda Baker is a 2x first-team All-Pro at safety and should be involved in covering Kmet, so the third-year tight end is a good, but not great, tight end play.
Let's look at what three major Fantasy Football websites have to say about the Bears players:
It wasn’t very pretty, but Fields helped manage the offense in a close loss to Cleveland. The next step is putting together a strong statistical line, something that appears far more likely against a leaky Arizona defense.
Fields completed 19 of 40 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Browns. He added 30 rushing yards on seven carries. The third-year quarterback could have had an even worse day, as he fumbled the ball twice but the Bears retained possession both times. Fields did hit Cole Kmet for a five-yard TD in the first quarter and had Chicago out front 17-7 in the third quarter, and he very nearly pulled off a miracle win in the dying seconds with a Hail Mary that fell to Darnell Mooney, only for the wideout to knock the ball into the air for an INT. Performances like this won’t help Fields secure a starting job in 2024, whether with the Bears or for another team, but he’ll have a chance to make a better impression in Week 16 against the Cardinals.
Since Week 4, Fields has been the QB9 in fantasy points per game, ranking 10th in CPOE, 14th in highly accurate throw rate, and seventh in fantasy points per dropback. Fields has rushed for at least 50 yards in 50% of his games this season while ranking fifth in red zone carries per game and second in rushing yards overall. Fields should have a monster day against an Arizona secondary that, since Week 10, has allowed the seventh-highest yards per attempt, the second-most passing touchdowns, the fourth-highest passer rating, and the second-highest CPOE. Week 16 Positional Value: QB1
Don’t play D’Onta is the theme here; the team turned to a three-headed committee last week and will prove hard to decipher again this week against a suspect Arizona defense.
Foreman didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice due to personal reasons. The Bears have yet to reveal whether the personal matter is anything that will keep Foreman away from the team beyond Thursday, so for the time being, the running back’s status for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals is up in the air.
D’Onta Foreman ran for -6 yards on six carries in the Bears’ 20-17 loss against the Browns. It was a rough afternoon for the entire Bears rushing attack against Cleveland. He has a more favorable matchup next week against the Cardinals.
Pacing the backfield in snaps last week, the lack of rushing volume and presence of two veteran peers limits any appeal for this rookie against Arizona.
Johnson carried the ball five times for 36 yards and caught four of six targets for 24 yards in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Browns. Despite the modest volume, the rookie RB led the Bears’ backfield in touches and scrimmage yards, as Khalil Herbert managed just 12 combined yards while D’Onta Foreman lost six yards on his six totes. Johnson could be Chicago’s choice to head the committee the rest of the way as the team looks ahead to 2024, but the situation figures to be tough to predict from a fantasy perspective heading into a Week 16 clash with the Cardinals.
Johnson is the Bears running back flavor of the week. Just to make this clear, I have zero confidence in playing any Chicago running back right now. The Bears running back rotation has been unpredictable. Johnson played 74% of the snaps with 15 touches and 75 total yards in Week 12, only to see a 28% snap rate the following week. Last week, he played 49% of the snaps with nine touches and 60 total yards. Among 61 qualifying backs, Johnson ranks 42nd in missed tackles forced per attempt and 37th in yards after contact per attempt. If Johnson gets a similar workload to last week, he should be a strong flex play this week in a plus matchup. Since Week 10, Arizona has been unable to stop the run, allowing the seventh-highest explosive run rate, the most rushing yards per game, and the 10th-highest yards after contact per attempt. Week 16 Positional Value: RB3
Sent eight targets but only hauling in half of them last week, Moore endured a somewhat quiet showing against a top Cleveland pass defense. Things look better this week with a porous Arizona defense on deck.
Tight end Cole Kmet wound up pacing the Bears in receptions, but Moore was the team leader in targets and yards. It was still his worst output since Week 9, but a minor ankle injury that limited him during practice leading up to Sunday’s contest could help explain the modest numbers. Moore has posted a 28-330-2 line on 40 targets in four games since Justin Fields returned to the lineup, making him a strong fantasy option in Week 16 against the Cardinals.
Moore is the WR10 in fantasy points per game, ranking 11th in deep targets and with only ten red zone targets this season (only three across his last five games). Since Week 10, Arizona has deployed two high at the highest rate in the NFL (70.8%). Against two high, Moore has a 24.5% target share, a 50.7% air-yard share, 2.00 YPRR, and a 38.1% first-read share. Moore should post video game numbers this week against a secondary that, since Week 10, has allowed the 10th-most PPR points per target and the ninth-most receiving yards per game to perimeter wide receivers. Week 16 Positional Value: WR1
An ugly outing ended in brutal fashion with Mooney juggling a potential game-winning haul into the hands of the Browns. Rarely a top target in this offense, it’s best to fade Mooney even in a promising matchup.
Mooney sat out Wednesday’s session while was under the weather, but his ability to take every rep a day later puts him on track to suit up this Sunday against the Cardinals. Though he appears to be locked into a near-every-down role as the Bears’ No. 2 wideout behind DJ Moore, Mooney hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1 and has cleared 50 receiving yards just once in his last 10 outings.
Mooney is coming off three straight games with only two catches and, more recently, had a dropped Hail Mary that cost the team the game. Mooney will still have a couple of chances to return to practice before receiving an official designation for Sunday’s game.
The efficiency in regards to yards per target or reception weren’t there last week, but the touchdown and a win help it all work. The Cardinals struggle in coverage, aiding Kmet’s case as a positional starter.
Kmet (quadriceps) remained limited at Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. Kmet was added to the injury report Thursday as a limited participant, marking his first listing of any kind since the first week of November. His ability to practice in any capacity Friday suggests the quad injury isn’t serious, though the timing might still be a problem when it comes to his availability/contributions this Sunday. The Bears and Cardinals are scheduled for a late-afternoon kickoff Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET, with Robert Tonyan set up to get most of the routes and targets and tight end if Kmet is inactive.
Kmet is the TE8 in fantasy points per game, ranking sixth in red zone targets and second in total touchdowns among tight ends. Since Week 10, Arizona has deployed two high at the highest rate in the NFL (70.8%). Against two high, Kmet has a 19.3% target share, 1.78 YPRR, and a 19.8% first-read share. Arizona has faced the second-fewest tight end targets per game, but they have allowed the 10th-highest yards per reception to the position. Week 16 Positional Value: TE1
Santos converted his lone field-goal attempt in the Bears’ 20-17 loss to the Browns on Sunday. Santos had an outstanding streak of four games with at least 10 points, but he only scored five against Cleveland. With upcoming matchups against Arizona and Atlanta, Santos could be in position to finish the season with strong scoring totals.
The Bears’ Week 15 loss to the Browns snapped Santos’ streak of four straight games with double-digit fantasy points. The reliable Santos hasn’t missed a field goal since Nov. 5. This week, he gets an appealing home matchup against the defensively challenged Cardinals, who are giving up 26.9 points per game.
What do you think? Did the so-called fantasy experts get it right with these outlooks? In my humble opinion, I think back on last year's Commanders game, where Darnell Mooney dropped a potential game-winning touchdown. What did the Bears do? They went into Gillette Stadium and targeted Mooney 6 times, 3 of which he hauled in for 53 yards for a 17.7 yard average. Mooney has had a very down year, and it's tough to watch for a guy in a contract year, but expect the Cardinals to focus on shutting Moore down in this game and that should allow Mooney to earn just his third double-digit fantasy performance of the year. He's a good play in deep leagues.
The Bears host the Cardinals on Sunday, December 24, 2023 at 3:25 Central Time.