The Chicago Bears take their flaccid offense into western Florida this Sunday to take on the Bucs. No Brady was no problem for the Buccaneers, beating an underperforming Vikings team in Week 1. The Bears earned over a half of a football game worth of boos as they failed miserably last Sunday, and a lack of anything interesting on offense was a major reason they are now 0-1.
Justin Fields could one day be H1M, but if last weekend was any indication, he’s not even Jim right now. The protection wasn’t there, especially on the edges, and the gameplan was cowardly, but those still aren’t valid excuses for staring down the first read and refusing to take what the defense gives you. What’s promising is that the Buccaneers got torched through the air last week (344 passing yards for Big Kirko), so even if the Bears don’t have Justin Jefferson, there should still be plenty of opportunities to spread the ball around. Fields isn’t going to stop running any time soon, and the lack of protection will lead to even more scrambling, so Fields is still a good, but not great fantasy play at quarterback. The risk of turnovers is striking, though.
The Bears running back gameplan was apparently scrapped in the second half, although the score may have been a major reason why rookie Roschon Johnson nearly matched Khalil Herbert in touches (11 for RJ, 12 for KH) and yards-per-touch (5.0 for RJ, 5.3 for KH). It was a popular prediction for Bears fans that Johnson would carry a large load at running back this season, and it will be good to watch moving forward. This makes D’Onta Foreman a very risky play in deep leagues, although it’s fair to wonder if any of them are great plays until the Bears offensive line shapes up.
Wide receiver DJ Moore had two targets last weekend, so that tells you how bad this offensive game plan is. Darnell Mooney saw 7 targets, tied with Johnson and TE Cole Kmet for the most of any Bears player, so he’s well into the fold at WR2. Chase Claypool looked stuck in neutral for most of the Week 1 game and anyone rostering him needs to be aware that he could be a healthy scratch moving forward. The Bears may be deep at receiver beyond Moore and Mooney, but the snap counts against the Buccaneers will be telling.
Tight End Cole Kmet was the only tight end who saw more than 5 snaps in Week 1, and that likely won’t change unless the Bears find themselves in more goal-to-go situations. The Bears used Kmet in a variety of ways, and that will likely stay the same moving forward. He’s a popular pick for a sleeper fantasy pick but (this time I mean it!) he may finally be the consistent double-digit performer fantasy managers have been needing him to be.
Let's look at what three major Fantasy Football websites have to say about the Bears players:
Week 1 was a mixed bag for Fields. He rushed for 59 yards on nine carries, and connected with Darnell Mooney for a 20-yard touchdown, but he also lost a fumble in the first half and threw a costly interception in the second half. Fields’ ceiling still warrants a start each week, but it will take some time to for him to refine his game.
Although Fields led the Bears in rushing yards and found Darnell Mooney for a 20-yard touchdown through the air, it otherwise was a disappointing performance that indicated a lack of progress as a passer prior to Fields racking up some yards in garbage time.
Statistically, Justin Fields demonstrated improvement as a passer in his 2023 debut. The third-year QB threw for 216 yards, his second-highest total since the start of last season. Still, that statistic does not tell the whole story. Fields’ average depth of target against the Green Bay Packers was just 2.9 yards and his QBR was a disappointing 21.6. Plus, many of those yards came in garbage time when the Packers were in their prevent defense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up a lot of yards to Kirk Cousins in Week 1 but also forced him to turn the ball over three times. Tampa will force Fields to win with his arm, something he has not proven he can do quite yet.
Herbert is the Bears No. 1 RB, but there is a lot of competition for carries. He had just nine rushes for 27 yards with three catches for 37 yards. That’s low volume for a lead back. Herbert may be more involved in Week 2, but until his workload increases, he’s relegated to flex status in deep leagues.
Herbert led Chicago’s offense in touches, but his total was just one higher than backup Roschon Johnson, who tallied 55 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. With quarterback Justin Fields also rushing nine times and D’Onta Foreman garnering five totes, Herbert has competition for carries despite his top tailback status. In Week 2, he’ll face a Buccaneers defense that finished 15th against the run last season.
Whether you believe in Justin Fields or not, the game script we saw in Chicago on Sunday is one we could see often given the state of their defense. The negative game script gave us a pretty even split in the backfield between Khalil Herbert (9 carries, 4 targets) and Roschon Johnson (5 carries, 7 targets). With those targets and playing on nearly half of the team’s passing down snaps, Johnson amassed a league-leading eight HVTs. Most of this work came in garbage time, so Herbert is still the lead back as he played on 55% of the team’s first-half snaps with Johnson down at a mere 20%. I’m not worried about D’Onta Foreman’s 27% snap share and 23% running back touch share.
Foreman was third among Bears running backs in Week 1 snap share. Rookie Roschon Johnson lead the Bears backfield with heavy usage in garbage time. Even so, Justin Fields also accounts for a high number of carries, so Foreman lacks any fantasy charm.
Foreman was third among the Chicago running backs in touches, though it’s uncertain what impact the blowout loss had to do with the distribution of work. Regardless, each of the three backs had between seven and 12 touches. It won’t be surprising if the allocation of touches varies from week-to-week. More information about Foreman’s potential workload may be learned in what should be a more competitive Week 2 game at Tampa Bay.
Foreman received 28.4% of the backfield snaps, but was third in line to Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson. It’s just hard to see much upside in this committee, especially with Justin Fields being a threat around the goalline to keep it himself. Foreman doesn’t need to be rostered in 12-team leagues until there’s an injury to Herbert or Johnson.
Johnson had 20 rushing yards and a touchdown on five carries with six receptions for 35 yards in his NFL debut. While it’s good to see get Johnson some reps, he rarely played outside of garbage time. He is worth tracking, but not ready to be trusted for fantasy purposes.
Johnson saw significant work after the game was out of hand, and he found the end zone late in the fourth quarter. The rookie was also targeted seven times, which tied him for the team lead with Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. More may be learned about his long-term role in the offense next week, when the Bears will likely have a more competitive matchup when they travel to Tampa Bay.
The backfield in Chicago is standing room only right now, but Roschon Johnson has so much upside, that he warrants a bench spot now. The rookie saw seven targets and bullied himself into the end zone, mostly during garbage time, but the Bears did sprinkle him in for carries throughout the contest. Be patient with Johnson, as he’ll likely carve out a larger role for himself in neutral game scripts as the season chugs along.
Moore paced the Bears wideouts in snaps, but had just two targets catching both. Moore was brought in to help Justin Fields grow as a passer and they should develop better chemistry in time. Until then, Moore is a fantasy factor, but temper expectations to WR3 territory for Week 2.
Moore was held in check in his Bears debut, with five teammates garnering more looks than him in the passing game. To his credit, Moore hauled in the only pair of throws his way, but he nonetheless failed to make a meaningful impact in his first game with quarterback Justin Fields. Chicago’s top offseason addition will strive to make a bigger splash in Week 2 while facing a Tampa Bay secondary he knows well from his time in Carolina.
DJ Moore’s debut in a Bears uniform during Week 1 wasn’t particularly thrilling. His disappointing performance, with just two receptions for 25 yards, mirrored the overall struggles of the Bears’ passing game against the Green Bay Packers. However, his upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should offer more fantasy football potential. This is especially true considering the Bucs allowed 344 passing yards to Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Mooney caught four of seven targets for 52 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown in Week 1. As encouraging as his production was in the Bears opener, Mooney needs to prove he can be a consistent contributor on offense. It’s best to seek a more reliable option for Week 2.
Mooney tied with two others for Chicago’s team lead in targets, but his total was significantly higher than top wideout DJ Moore’s two. In fact, Mooney led the Bears in receiving yards, with a 20-yard touchdown to end the third quarter to boot. After a disappointing, injury-shortened 2022 campaign, Mooney was one of the few bright spots for the Bears while returning to action Sunday.
Claypool played 55 snaps but was targeted just twice, without a completion. Claypool has experience in the Bears offense but has been unable to turn it into production. There is no reason to believe things will change in Week 2.
Claypool was dreadful in the Week 1 opener versus Green Bay, parlaying 58 offensive snaps into zero catches on two targets. Coach Matt Eberflus openly admitted the team was going to look into Claypool’s Week 2 role. He simply can’t be trusted in fantasy lineups until further notice.
If Claypool does not play, it should mean another decent week for Darnell Mooney and give DJ Moore more room to improve. However, beware of the Bears spreading the ball around again. Last week four players had three receptions or more, with RB Roschon Johnson getting six.
Kmet caught five of seven targets for 44 receiving yards in Week 1. He is in play as a streamer for Week 2 against the Buccaneers.
Kmet tied with two others for Chicago’s team lead in targets, but his production mostly came in garbage time. With quarterback Justin Fields still unproven as a downfield passer, Kmet holds moderate value as an underneath option, with added upside in the red zone after seven touchdowns last season.
Even though Chicago scored a pair of touchdowns, the team attempted two-point conversions each time as they tried to close a large deficit. Santos has been a very reliable kicker since joining the Bears, but he’s yet to have the consistent scoring opportunities needed to be a reliable fantasy option.
Bears' Defense/Special Teams:
The Bears defense wasn’t productive in Week 1 failing to force a turnover and gathering one sack. While the Buccaneers aren’t a daunting foe, but there are other units with much higher fantasy potential for Week 2.
What do you think? Did the so-called fantasy experts get it right with these outlooks? In my humble opinion, Cole Kmet is a good play after sharing the lead for targets last week. TJ Hockensen caught 8 passes against the Buccaneers defense last week, and the Bears should be throwing plenty between the 20s.
The Buccaneers host the Bears at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, September 17, 2023, at Noon Central Time.