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2024 Player Outlooks: Chicago Bears

By Colby Cavaliere | 6/17/24 |

QB Caleb Williams
(2023 QB Rank - N/A)

I’m trying to imagine what it would have been like if my starter home was a fully furnished four-bedroom with a cute back-yard, because that’s the situation Caleb Williams finds himself with the Bears. I’m not just talking about the tens of millions he’ll get this year, but the smorgasbord of weapons he’ll have at his disposal this season. I can’t think of a better supporting cast situation for a No.1 pick in recent memory. With Moore, Allen, Kmet, and electric rookie Odunze to throw to, Williams’ situation probably has Justin Fields looking like the shrugging shoulders emoji. Williams was electric in college, making off-schedule plays look routine, as he carried both Oklahoma and Southern Cal. At times the pressure of matching teams point for point caused Williams to develop some poor habits, but he never was careless with the football, as he had an other-worldly 94-14 touchdown to interception ratio in college. With a top-10 defense to rely on, Williams won’t have to play hero ball. If he can simply work within the confines of the offense, get decent protection, and get the ball to his playmakers on schedule, he could knock on the door of the top-10 in his rookie season, much like C.J. Stroud did last year. With the ability to make plays with his legs, and the ability to handle the pressure of being the best player in college football the last several years, Williams has the mental and physical make-up to be a fantasy asset from Day 1.

RB D’Andre Swift
(2023 RB Rank - No.23, 10.1 FPts/G)

Swift had always shown flashes of elite talent while in Detroit, but a lack of toughness and reliability caused the Lions to ship him off to Philly. By most accounts it was a great move for Swift as he set career highs in games played (16), carries (229), and rushing yards (1,049). The lack of scoring (6 total touchdowns) and career low 39 receptions really capped his upside. A scuffling mid-season stretch kept him as a low end RB2, but Swift parlayed his 2023 season into a lucrative multi-year deal with a loaded Chicago offense. Swift gives the Bears a dynamic threat on the ground and in the air, and with the sheer number of weapons in the passing game, he should rarely see stacked boxes. His 8-million a year (14-million guaranteed) contract means the Bears see him as an RB1, and with talented, but flawed incumbents Khalil Herbert, and Roschon Johnson behind him, look for new coordinator Shane Waldon to use Swift much like he did with Kenneth Walker in Seattle. Walker’s 13 carries inside the 5 were tied for the 8th most in the NFL, and with Swift not having to contend with Jalen Hurts or Justin Fields stealing scores, should have a chance to approach double digit touchdowns if he holds down his role at the goal line. Even with baked-in injury risk, I think Swift could be a sneaky RB2 value.

RB Khalil Herbert
(2023 RB Rank - No.41, 7.7 FPts/G)

The trio of Herbert, Foreman, and Johnson combined for 1,400+ rushing yards and 8 scores, of which Herbert contributed the most. The “starter” when healthy, Herbert piled up most of his production in just three games, as a slow start and a high ankle sprain doomed his numbers. Clearly Chicago didn’t think enough of Herbert to let him run it back as a starter, paying good money to bring Swift to Chicago. Consider Herbert a cheap, veteran option to back-up and spell Swift, rather than a true competitor for the alpha role. Because workhorse backs are rare breeds in the modern NFL, Herbert is going to contribute a fair share, but he’s more waiver add than draftable asset.

RB Roschon Johnson
(2023 RB Rank - No.50, 4.5 FPts/G)

Despite injuries to both backs in front of him, the 2023 rookie didn’t see the field as much as you would have expected. Whether it was the mental aspect more than the physical that kept his contributions down, Johnson still led Bears runners with 34 receptions, proving his receiving chops. I expect Swift to be the leader in the backfield, but there could be chances for Johnson if he can leapfrog Herbert. Johnson is younger, and was drafted by this front office. Like Herbert, Johnson is not a draftable player, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be a capable fantasy starter should something happen to Swift.

D.J. Moore

WR D.J. Moore
(2023 WR Rank - No.6, 11.3 FPts/G)

If “Things that Boggle the Mind” were a category in Jeopardy, the trade that sent D.J. Moore to the Bears would be worth $500. The receiver needy Panthers, who were breaking in a rookie quarterback, traded their only pass catching threat for peanuts. Moore nonchalantly headed over to the Windy City and put up career highs in receptions (96), yards (1,364) and touchdowns (8) all while being the only receiver worth paying attention to. Throw in an inconsistent run-first quarterback, and Moore continued to be the rare receiver that thrives in even the most dire situations. While he should get a strong upgrade in rookie Caleb Williams, the receiver room is suddenly packed for the Bears. Moore enjoyed being the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd read on each play last year but that simply won’t be the case in 2024, so repeating the 136 targets and 96 receptions is going to be a longshot. A rookie QB, and a Shane Waldon offense that utilizes all three receivers fairly equally, means Moore will be hard pressed to be anywhere near the WR1 he was last season.

WR Keenan Allen
(2023 WR Rank - No.11, 12.8 FPts/G)

Allen shook off an injury plagued 2022 to dominate his 11th NFL season. In only 13 games he set career highs in receptions and yardage, and had his finest fantasy season since 2017. He was downright unstoppable in Weeks 3 (18 receptions), and 10-12 (35 receptions for almost 400 yards), showing he still has the ability to carry a passing game. As he enters his age 32 season, he moves on to Chicago, the first time he’s played home games outside of Southern California. With the Bears he’ll be breaking in a talented, but likely inconsistent quarterback, as well as competing with an accomplished vet and dynamic rookie for targets. Allen has been the alpha his entire career, but this offense doesn’t force the ball to any one guy. Allen is going to have to deal with a diminished role. Throw in the fact that he’s missed 10 games the last two years, and I’d be hard pressed to rely on him as anything more than a low end WR3.

WR Rome Odunze
(2023 WR Rank - N/A)

For professional growth purposes Odunze walks into the perfect situation. He will get to learn from two elite vets, gets to develop alongside his rookie QB teammate, and won’t face any pressure to carry the passing game as he should always get the best matchups on defense. Odunze was a dominate college receiver, and the 9th overall pick, so don’t look for the Bears to totally exclude him, but in reality, he’ll start the season as at best, the No.3 option in the passing game. His floor should be Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s season from a year ago, putting him squarely in WR4/5 range. If Allen or Moore were to get hurt, Odunze could certainly pop off, and for my money his upside makes him a much better season-long add than the aging Allen.

TE Cole Kmet
(2023 TE Rank - No.7, 6.8 FPts/G)

Kmet stepped up in a big way last season, as he helped fill the pass-catching void behind D.J. Moore. The 5th year tight end finished in the fantasy top-10, helped by a career high line of 73 receptions for 719 yards on 90 targets. His 13 touchdowns over the last two seasons are solid standard league numbers, but like most of the incumbent skill players on this offense, he’s set for a big regression. The additions of Swift, Allen, and Odunze means Kmet drops way down on the pecking order, even if he’ll benefit from an improvement in quarterback play. With a drop in receptions and yards, Kmet is going to need to approach double-digit touchdowns if he wants to land in the top-10 again in 2024.

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