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2022 Player Outlooks: Chicago Bears

By Colby Cavaliere | 6/20/22 |

Justin Fields

QB Justin Fields
(2022 QB Rank - No. 31, 14.6 FPts/G)

The previous regime in Chicago couldnít seem to get out of its own way. Ex-head man Matt Nagy failed to build anything on offense despite having two top-11 drafted signal callers to work with, and ex-GM Ryan Pace missed on free agents and draft picks way too often. Left in the wreckage of the past several seasons is Justin Fields, the 2nd year quarterback out of Ohio State who struggled mightily in his rookie year. With few weapons to throw to, and a scheme that almost ran counter to his strengths, Bears fans are left to wonder if his career can be salvaged.

After sitting Weeks 1 and 2, Fields got his first NFL start in Week 3 against the Browns, and put up one of the worst debuts in NFL history. He looked unprepared and outmatched, getting sacked 9 times, and completing only 30% of his passes for a sad 68 yards in a 26-6 loss. The utter and continued failure by the coaching staff to put Fields in advantageous positions was the true crime. Chicago ran only 24 run/pass option plays the entire year, while teams that had quarterbacks with similar athletic profiles ran upwards of 100. The numbers are equally embarrassing for play action passes. There were some highlights in the 2nd half of the season that flashed his potential, but Fieldsís rookie season was largely a wash. New Head Coach Matt Eberflus, and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy are now tasked with his development. Fields is going to have to find a way to grow on a depleted roster in transition. Speedster Darnell Mooney returns as the top receiver, but after that itís tight end Cole Kemet, a mish-mosh of fringe NFL-level talent, and 3rd round pick Velus Jones Jr.

As the unquestioned starter, and face of the franchise, I have to think Eberflus and Getsy will do everything in their power to help Fields succeed. I expect more pocket movement to help ease the pressure on the o-line and let the mobile QB be a threat with his legs. Without a lame duck coaching staff and front office, I think Chicago has a chance to settle down and be better. That doesnít mean they are going to be good, and Fields simply doesn't have the receivers or experience to be trusted in fantasy, but I can envision a world where he makes a spot start or two for a needy fantasy squad during the season and you wouldnít feel gross having to do it.

RB David Montgomery
(2021 RB Rank - No. 20, 12.1 FPts/G)

A bright spot in an otherwise dreary season for Chicago, Montgomery would likely have had a career year if not for a fourĖgame absence due to a knee injury. Before getting hurt in Week 4, Montgomery already had two 100+ yard games, and 3 touchdowns. While his rushing numbers sunk down the stretch, rookie quarterback Justin Fields peppered him with targets. Buoyed by the 10th most touches in the NFL, Montgomery was a solid RB2 option for 2021.

So, what can we expect in 2022 for the 4th-year back? Well for starters, he is one of the few three-down workhorse backs in the NFL, with only 6th round pick Khalil Herbert behind him. Although he desperately needs Fields to progress to truly move beyond a mid-tier RB2, Montgomery will get enough volume to remain in the fantasy starter conversation. His overall numbers are capped by a lack of efficiency, and likely growing pains of the offense. There is also a chance the new administration gives a longer, more consistent look at Herbert as a cheaper, long-term option. With a chance to set a career high in receptions, I do like Montgomery a round or two more in PPR than I do in standard leagues.

RB Khalil Herbert
(2021 RB Rank - No. 60, 4.6 FPts/G)

The 6th round rookie came out of nowhere while filling in for Montgomery during his four-game absence. Herbert tallied 344 yards (80% of his season total) over that span, displaying a burst and wiggle (4.5 yards per carry) the offense doesnít always get with Montgomery. Unfortunately for Chicago and his fantasy owners, the coaching staff totally ignored Herbert once Montgomery returned, so we didnít get to see if those four games were a fluke, or a sign of possibility. The Bears didnít add significantly to the position in 2022, so I have to believe they trust Montgomery to lead the way, but it also could signal that Herbert could get a longer look than he did in 2021. He doesnít pop athletically, but heís got great vision and is a decisive runner. If heís improved as a pass blocker, I expect him to see the field more, and make for a passable starter if Montgomery gets hurt again.

WR Darnell Mooney
(2021 WR Rank Ė No.22, 8.2 FPts/G)

Mooney, the 2020 5th round pick out of Tulane followed up a solid rookie year (61-631-4) with an at times dominant 2021, finishing with a 81-1,055-4 line for a Chicago offense that sunk to 30th in the NFL with only 3,207 yards in the air. What impressed me most about what Mooney did last season; was the fact it was out from under Allen Robinsonís shadow. During his rookie season he had the benefit of nearly zero defensive attention, but last season most defenses realized that Robinson was a shell of his former self, and that Mooney was the real threat. Despite the added attention, and a struggling rookie quarterback, Mooney was money at times last season.

How do things change in 2022? Well, Mooney is now the unquestioned alpha in the receiver room, with only a rookie, and Byron Pringle to compete with. What makes Mooney a big threat (blazing speed) is also offset by limits to his consistency and touchdown scoring (size, bad team). So, while heís likely to reach and exceed his 2021 numbers, there will be some bouts of inconsistency (he did have six games with less than 4 standard points) baked into his value. I would be thrilled if I could get Mooney as a WR3. At that spot he can win you a week or two, and you can live with a few duds.

WR Velus Jones Jr.
(2021 WR Rank - N/A)

After solidifying their defensive backfield with their first two draft picks, Chicago invested a 3rd round pick in Velus Jones Jr. out of Tennessee. A dynamic special teams player with blazing speed (4.31 in the 40), Jones Jr. is a raw receiver despite several years of collegiate experience. Only in his final year with the Vols did he really pop as a receiver, showing enough for Chicago to add him to the mix. With the Bears, he has a real chance to make a mark with only a few cast-offs as roadblocks to playing time. Offseason reports sound great (as they usually do), with Jones Jr. making an impression on Mooney and building chemistry with Fields. Look for the Bears to ease him in during the first half of the year, using him on special teams, and a few deep shots to keep defenses honest. If he can accelerate his development as a receiver, and the offense can get behind Fields, Jones could make some fantasy noise down the stretch. If you have large rosters he might be worth a stash, and if you donít, make him a priority free agent.

TE Cole Kmet
(2021 TE Rank – No.23, 3.6 FPts/G)

Kmet made a significant leap in his 2nd year with the Bears. His 93 targets were good for 8th in the NFL at the position, and his 612 yards were good for 12th. So how the heck did he only finish at fantasy’s 23rd tight end? ZERO touchdowns, that’s how. Another indictment on how bad Nagy’s offense performed last year was the fact a 6’6’’ 263-pound mountain of a man couldn’t find a way to score a touchdown. Fields had only 31 pass attempts in the redzone last season and threw only 5 for touchdowns. Mike White of the Jets threw as many on 9 attempts! Clearly Kmet is due for some positive regression in the touchdown department. Adding just 5 scores to his 2021 receiving numbers would have made him a fringe TE1. If he can remain a big part of the passing game, Kmet should push to be an acceptable fantasy starter.

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