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The Chicago Bears. The roster is turned over and young. Helmed by sophomore Mitch Trubisky, spurred by workhorse Jordan Howard, and stretched out by free agent signee Allen Robinson, the 2018 Bears have the upside to perform during any given game and exceedingly well in garbage time. Trey Burton is the team’s biggest question mark as to fantasy relevance. Although the Bears look to be at the bottom of the competitive NFC North, there is good value to be found during the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.
Let’s run down the players you should draft or keep a close eye on during the season to bolster your depth chart.
(QB4) Mitch Trubisky
There is something to be said for the value a garbage time quarterback provides in fantasy football, Mitch Trubisky may be the best garbage time quarterback this season. Chicago was dead last in passing attempts in 2017 with 29.6 attempts per game – a statistic I would expect to see change drastically under new head coach Matt Nagy. Trubisky’s legs will be a source of points as well, having run 248 yards in 2017 – good enough for the 13th most by a quarterback, despite only playing in 12 games. Of the flyers at the quarterback position, Trubisky presents the most upside and I could see him ending up in the top-12 quarterbacks by the end of the season. Trubisky is worth a late round flyer.
(RB2) Jordan Howard
Despite two consecutive years topping 1,000 rushing yards and two consecutive top-10 finishes at his position, Jordan Howard should be looked at as a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside. Howard is guaranteed to be Chicago’s starting back and should continue averaging around 17 carries per game. His biggest flaws are (1) his one-dimensional game given his inability to receive; (2) Chicago’s offense is set to be horrible again meaning teams will continue to stack the box. Howard should continue getting goal line looks and has room to improve on last year’s 9 rushing touchdowns. Howard saw his yards per carry drop from 5.2 to 4.1 last year – more consistent performances (Howard finished with three top-10 performances and seven top-20 performances last year, but also a handful of terrible games in three weeks) should help fill that gap.
(RB3) Tarik Cohen
Tarik Cohen should take some carries regularly from Jordan Howard, but will excel as a receiving back in the same vein as Theo Riddick does with the Detroit Lions. In 2017, Cohen caught 53 passes on 71 targets while only playing about 1/3 of the team’s offensive snaps. In standard leagues Cohen will be a RB3 with RB2 upside, but in PPR be a solid RB2. Under head coach Matt Nagy, Cohen is expected to play a larger role in the Chicago offense and should finish in the top-35 running backs in 2018.
(WR2) Allen Robinson
More than anything else, volume will be what drives Allen Robinson‘s value in Chicago. Similar to his 2016 role in Jacksonville where he thrived in garbage time – Robinson will spend much time in the garbage playing for Chicago this year. Robinson is the clear-cut top receiver in Chicago and shouldn’t be threatened by Taylor Gabriel or rookie Anthony Miller to take away from his 150 or so targets this season placing him in the low WR2 tier with fringe-WR1 upside if he’s able to return to 2015 form. Robinson is still young and despite missing nearly all of last season with an ACL injury should maintain a red zone presence throughout the season.
(TE2) Trey Burton
Trey Burton is trending upward in this offseason having signed with Chicago after spending four years as the Philadelphia Phillies‘ third-string tight end behind Zack Ertz and Brent Celek. Burton looks to open the season as one of Mitch Trubisky‘s top targets and although he does not have a track record (only 63 career receptions on 91 targets) did look great in the three games he filled in for Ertz last season, bringing in 11 catches on 15 targets for 128 yards and three touchdowns. For those that miss out on a top tight end or those that choose to sit and snag a tight end toward the end of a draft, Burton is this season’s top sleeper at his position. Be warned his ceiling could be a TE1 with enough volume or a TE3 with no fantasy relevance.
The NFC North will be an exciting division to watch this season, but the Chicago Bears do not look to be a part of the reason why (all four NFC North teams are projected in the top-10 toughest schedules this season). Chicago is well on their way to competitiveness, especially if its offensive line stays healthy (the line could crack the top-10 offensive lines by the end of the season). The upside to this offense is real — the Bears are young and developing and though they will flash brilliance will be inconsistent fantasy contributors this season.