This Sunday, the Chicago Bears host their bitter rival Green Bay Packers, at historic Soldier Field on the Chicago lakefront. Quarterback Justin Fields is entering a critical third year with the franchise and his second under the current regime of head coach Matt Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles. The latest big move by Poles was to trade the #1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers to acquire wide receiver DJ Moore, and the Bears also field a handful of other intriguing fantasy football options going into this season.
Running back Khalil Herbert joins Fields in their third year in the pros, and the young rusher showed some burst last year when coming in for now-departed back David Montgomery. Herbert should take on lead back duties this year, but the Bears also signed veteran back D'Onta Foreman and drafted Roschon Johnson in the fourth round. The committee is built, but it remains to be seen how it will be utilized.
Joining Moore at receiver are a pair of contract-year men in Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool. Mooney, drafted by the Bears under a former GM, was once the Bears' top option at receiver when he caught 1,055 receiving yards in 2021. Injuries derailed a promising 2022 season, and the Bears made a move to trade for Chase Claypool, who caught 9 touchdowns in his rookie season in 2020 before settling a bit in his last few years in Pittsburgh. Both are good options in deep Fantasy Football leagues, but without knowing who the true #2 is in Chicago, they won't be projected for many fantasy points until the Bears target them with some plays.
Tight end hasn't changed much since last season, with Cole Kmet expected to shoulder the majority of the load. Once a fun sleeper pick in fantasy football leagues, Kmet has been a mix of Kittle-Lite in his do-everything tight end role, and a victim of Justin Fields scrambling frequency in fantasy football. The Bears made a decent signing in Robert Tonyan, a good red zone target and a fun option in their own offense, but not a viable fantasy football target unless Kmet goes down for a lengthy amount of time.
At kicker, Cairo Santos brings the 7th-most accurate field goal percentage in 2022 (minimum 4 attempts), but missing 5 extra points really hurts his fantasy outlook, not to mention the Bears team (see: Lions-Bears 11/13/22). He's also not known for very deep kicks, so expect the Bears to go for it often on 4th down when in between midfield and red zone. As far as the Bears' defense and special teams in fantasy football, they finished dead last in fantasy scoring last year. A lack of sacks and a penchant for shootouts leads to a lack of fantasy production, even if they grade out higher in other areas. They shouldn't be an option, even in deep leagues.
Let's look at what three major Fantasy Football websites have to say about the Bears players:
Fields record-setting rushing season last year has propelled him to solid QB1 status, despite subpar production in the passing game. He has the physical tools to excel as a passer and now has a legitimate receiver in DJ Moore. Fields’ rushing ability makes him an every-week starter, so you can start him with confidence for Week 1.
Justin Fields put up at least 88 rushing yards or a touchdown in all but one of his final 10 games last season for the Bears, and in Week 1, he’ll get a Packers defense that gave up 21.8 points per game in 2022, ranking them in the middle of the pack.
After having more turnovers (15) than total touchdowns (nine) as a rookie, Fields drastically improved his playmaking in 2022. In 15 games, he emerged as a dynamic runner, gaining 1,143 yards and eight scores on the ground. He also passed for 2,242 yards and 17 more TDs. In doing so, Fields became only the third quarterback in NFL history to top 1,000 rushing yards, including a record 178 against the Dolphins in Week 9. Although he still threw 11 interceptions, was sacked 55 times (t-1st) and led the league’s worst passing attack, he’ll be aided by improved protection and new weapons this season. Most notably, Chicago acquired wideout DJ Moore to serve as his top target after he recorded 1,100 receiving yards in three of his five seasons in Carolina. Additionally, Fields could benefit from a full season with Chase Claypool and will look to continue building his rapport with tight end Cole Kmet. With a year of familiarity working in coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme as well, Fields will strive to become a more impactful passer to match his elite rushing output in the upcoming campaign.
Herbert is slated to head a backfield committee, though he doesn’t contribute much to the passing game. He’ll share carries with D’Onta Foreman and QB Justin Fields. Despite sitting atop the Bears RB depth chart, Herbert doesn’t register as a fantasy option for Week 1.
Khalil Herbert averaged at least 5.7 yards per carry last season for the Bears, and in Week 1, he gets a Packers defense that gave up 139.5 rushing yards per game in 2022, the seventh-highest total in the league.
After flashing as a rookie in 2021, Herbert started last season strong, totaling 354 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns through four weeks. Although his involvement behind David Montgomery fluctuated afterward, Herbert finished as the NFL’s most efficient running back by averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Such production came in only 13 games due to a midseason hip injury, but Herbert still went for 731 rushing yards and four TDs, plus one more score through the air. With Montgomery departing in free agency, increased opportunities may await Herbert in the upcoming campaign, but offseason additions D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer could cut into his workload. A committee approach that includes quarterback Justin Fields might ultimately unfold, but Herbert nonetheless holds intriguing upside if his role is expanded.
Foreman is expected to serve as the Bears’ backup running back in Week 1 with Khalil Herbert taking the lead. Chicago is a run-first offense, but with QB Justin Fields likely to lead the team in rushing yards, Foreman isn’t in the fantasy mix for Week 1.
D’Onta Foreman put up five games of at least 110 yards in his 11 starts last season and will debut for the Bears in Week 1 against a Packers defense that gave up 139.5 rushing yards per game in 2022, the seventh-highest total in the league.
Foreman took advantage of increased reps after the Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey last season. Ultimately starting nine of 17 appearances, Foreman finished with career highs of 203 rushes, 914 yards and five touchdowns, which was powered by five games of at least 110 yards. This offseason, he signed a one-year contract with Chicago, where the 235-pounder will help replace free-agent departure David Montgomery. While that position should lend itself to early-down and short-yardage work, Khalil Herbert could compete for the starting job after leading NFL RBs with 5.7 yards per carry in 2022. Plus, rookie fourth-rounder Roschon Johnson and veteran Travis Homer also are on hand. As a result, Foreman may be subject to a committee approach, albeit in a run-heavy offense that also features QB Justin Fields.
Johnson isn’t expected to contribute much to the running game, but he’s more skilled as a receiver than Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman. The rookie should see action on passing downs but not enough to rely on for fantasy production.
After backing up 2023 eighth overall pick Bijan Robinson in college, Johnson was selected by the Bears in the fourth round of this year’s draft. At 6-0, 225 pounds, Johnson is a physical runner who averaged 5.6 yards per carry across four seasons at Texas. However, in Chicago, he’ll likely be in a reserve role, as the Bears backfield is led by Khalil Herbert and offseason signing D’Onta Foreman. The team also brought in veteran Travis Homer this spring. Given his blocking attributes, though, Johnson could claim snaps in hurry-up and blitzing situations. Doing so would help him see the field more, but his overall rookie value nonetheless projects to be modest.
After five productive seasons with the Panthers, Moore was acquired by the Bears in a deal including sending Carolina the top overall pick in the 2023 draft. Moore becomes Chicago’s No. 1 wide receiver, which is a bit of a wild card scenario with Justin Fields at the helm. Moore’s floor is a WR3, which is what to expect in Week 1 when the Packers visit Soldiers Field. If Fields improves as a passer, Moore has WR2 upside.
DJ Moore had three 1,100-yard seasons to his credit prior to joining the Bears, and in Week 1, he’ll get a Packers defense that gave up just 197.0 passing yards per game in 2022, the sixth-lowest total in the league.
While playing all 17 games for a second straight season, Moore posted a career-best seven touchdowns in 2022. However, with a rotating cast of underwhelming quarterbacks, he finished with his lowest receiving output (888 yards) since his rookie campaign. Ahead of his sixth year as a pro, Moore’s stock could be boosted by a change of scenery, as he was traded to the Bears this offseason in a blockbuster deal. In Chicago, he immediately profiles as the team’s top target, considering no wideout on the team topped 500 receiving yards in what was the league’s worst passing offense last year. Although QB Justin Fields has proved to be an electric runner, his development as a passer should be crucial to Moore’s success. With three seasons of 1,100-plus yards, Moore figures to offer Fields a much-needed No. 1 option, but besides the volume associated with that role, Moore’s overall upside could prove reliant on Fields improving from the pocket.
Mooney was miscast as a lead receiver for the Bears last season, not to mention the multiple injuries he dealt with. A now healthy Mooney will drop to No. 2 on Chicago’s WR depth chart, with DJ Moore taking the top spot. The Bears hope QB Justin Fields improves as a passer, but until it occurs, Mooney is out of the fantasy conversation.
Darnell Mooney made more than four catches in just three of his 12 games for the Bears last season, and in Week 1, he’ll get a Packers defense that gave up just 197.0 passing yards per game in 2022, the sixth-lowest total in the league.
Coming off 81 catches and 1,055 yards in 2021, Mooney had elevated expectations heading into last season. With the Bears having the league’s worst passing attack, however, he was unable to find much success, despite serving as the team’s top wideout. Because a fractured ankle ended his campaign early, Mooney managed just a 40-493-2 line on 61 targets in 12 games. While he’ll need to overcome that injury ahead of the upcoming season, he should find himself in a more appropriate No. 2 role after Chicago acquired DJ Moore this offseason to lead its receiving corps. Moore’s presence adds significant competition for targets, but Mooney may enjoy higher quality looks while facing less defensive attention in 2023, which also marks a contract year for the 25-year-old.
Claypool is expected to be ready for Week 1 as the Bears starting slot receiver. While he appears to be in a fantasy-friendly spot, the Bears are still a run-first team, leaving Claypool out of the fantasy conversation.
Chase Claypool never topped 51 yards in any of his eight games with the Bears last season, and in Week 1, he’ll get a Packers defense that gave up just 197.0 passing yards per game in 2022, the sixth-lowest total in the league.
After topping 850 yards in both of his first two years with the Steelers, Claypool was traded eight games into last season. The 2020 second-rounder landed in Chicago with expectations of emerging in a struggling passing game. Instead, Claypool floundered in the league’s worst aerial attack, managing merely 14 catches (on 29 targets) for 140 yards and no touchdowns in seven contests. Ahead of the 2023 campaign, Claypool will hope his familiarity with the scheme contributes toward a resurgent contract year. While quarterback Justin Fields will need to improve as a passer, Claypool also faces increased competition for looks, as DJ Moore now leads a receiving corps that welcomes back Darnell Mooney from a season-ending ankle injury.
Kmet emerged as QB Justin Fields’ favorite red zone target last season, but relying on him to find the end zone is a slippery slope, especially with the addition of WR DJ Moore. There is still trust between Fields and Kmet as the Bears’ clear-cut No. 1 tight end. As such, Kmet is in the mix as a matchup play for Week 1.
Cole Kmet topped 50 yards just three times all of last season for the Bears, and in Week 1, he’ll get a Packers defense that gave up just 197.0 passing yards per game in 2022, the sixth-lowest total in the league.
A second-round pick in 2020, Kmet enjoyed a breakthrough last season. Continuing his streak of playing every game since entering the NFL, he caught 50 of 69 targets for 544 yards and seven touchdowns. In doing so, he led the Bears in all major receiving categories. While that fact indicates the struggles Chicago’s league-worst passing attack endured as a whole, it nonetheless was a season of growth for Kmet. As he approaches a contract year, the tight end is tasked with continuing his development while welcoming some competition for targets. At wide receiver, the Bears acquired DJ Moore this offseason to become quarterback Justin Fields’ No. 1 option. At tight end, Robert Tonyan arrives with familiarity in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s passing game from their time with the Packers. Those additions could impact Kmet’s overall usage, but his performance in 2022 should offer enough optimism for a similarly secure stock.
Cairo Santos has missed just eight total field-goal attempts over his three seasons with the Bears, and in Week 1, he’ll get a Packers defense that gave up 21.8 points per game in 2022, ranking them in the middle of the pack.
After three-plus seasons with the Chiefs and journeyman status for three more years, Santos has settled in as the Bears’ placekicker over the past three campaigns. His accuracy has more or less been on point, while nailing 90.6 percent of his field-goal attempts and 92.8 percent of his point-after tries. However, he missed five PATs in 2022 and is just 6-for-10 overall on FGAs of 50-plus yards in Chicago. Santos’ current contract locks him in as the team’s kicker for the 2023 season.
Bears' Defense/Special Teams:
Unless they display some unexpected improvement, the Bears D/ST will not be in the fantasy mix much — if at all — this season. Their Week 1 home date against the Packers may be the best chance to deploy them, but only if you’re lacking better options in the deepest of leagues.
Facing the Packers is a high-upside matchup for the Bears D/ST because QB Jordan Love is still largely an unknown. The Bears added DEs DeMarcus Walker and Yannick Ngakoue — who combined for 16.5 sacks last season — and LBs T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, so there’s certainly weekly upside if the secondary can tighten up. Fantasy managers should tread lightly in the early part of the season while this team sorts itself out.
What do you think? Did the so-called fantasy experts get it right with these outlooks? In my humble opinion, most Fantasy Football websites are sleeping on DJ Moore, and hopefully, that translates to defenses doing the same thing.
The Bears face the Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday, September 10, 2023, at 3:25 Central Time.