2020 Fantasy Preview: Chicago Bears
Last year, the Chicago Bears were a disaster on offense; they ranked 31st in yards per play, 32nd in yards per pass attempt, and 29th in yards per carry. The only bright spot was an amazing season by Allen Robinson. Otherwise, Bears fans were left wondering who was most at fault: Coach Matt Nagy or their quarterback. The front office traded for Nick Foles to challenge Mitch Trubisky for the starting role, so we have their answer. Even without a new quarterback, it’s hard to imagine Chicago matching their futility of last season: since 2010, the bottom five offenses in per-play efficiency have gained an average of 0.7 yards per pass play and 0.4 yards per carry the next season. I don’t expect greatness here, but we can still reasonably hope for better.
The Bears appear to envision themselves as a win-now team, though they have a lot of competition both in the division and the conference. Robinson and Anthony Miller will be the starting wide receivers with Ted Ginn Jr. joining for three-wide sets. David Montgomery will be the workhorse while Tarik Cohen should continue as the third-down back. Rookie Cole Kmet looks to be the immediate starter at tight end while Jimmy Graham should be his backup. There are definitely some useful pieces here for the coming season.
Note: I expect Nick Foles to be the starter in 2020. As such, the other projections are based on this number. I am including Mitch Trubisky’s projections as well just in case.
ADP: 244, QB32
Nick Foles has never played a full season. He’s only started more than eight games twice in his career. Still, he has two things going for him: he’s a Super Bowl MVP and he’s not Mitch Trubisky. At this point, that might be enough. It’s fair to say Foles is already a better quarterback than Trubisky ever will be, and he rejoins former coach Matt Nagy. I have to believe Nagy had some serious input on this choice, and I project Foles will be the starter by week 3 — if not when the season begins. Due to a limited track record, it’s hard to say what Foles will do for 16 games or if he can even hold up. Still, he provides some optimism for an often disappointed franchise.
Best Case: Nick Foles grabs the job during the preseason and holds it throughout the year. He clicks in Coach Nagy’s familiar system, and the team finally starts to look like a well-oiled machine. The Bears win the NFC North.
Worst Case: Foles gets his chance, but he proves not to be the savior Chicago was hoping for. Despite a familiar quarterback, Coach Nagy is unable to keep the offense running smoothly. Trubisky is swapped back in, but nothing improves. The die has been cast.
2020 Projection: 540 attempts, 350 completions, 4,000 yards, 25 TD, 12 INT; 30 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD
ADP: 262, QB33
Mitch Trubisky was supposed to be the answer in Chicago when Ryan Pace made the bold move to move up one spot and secure him in 2017. Unfortunately, the question turns out to have been ‘Who should we avoid?’ After being subjected to a stone-age John Fox offense in 2017, Trubisky showed some flashes in 2018. He had the physical abilities as a passer and runner to make expectations soar. There were plenty of issues, but hopefully, another year would help iron them out. That was not the case; Trubisky heavily regressed in 2019 as the offense regularly sputtered. The team has apparently seen enough, and Trubisky’s days are numbered. Still, it’s worth wondering what the season might look like if he is forced to be the starter.
Best Case: Trubisky runs more with the ball–ala 2018–and this opens up some easy throws to help him regain his confidence. He stays at starter and Chicago sneaks into a wildcard spot.
Worst Case: Trubisky again struggles in the preseason and is supplanted before the regular season begins. Outside of an appearance here or there, his time in Chicago is over.
2020 Projection: 500 attempts, 320 completions, 3,500 yards, 24 TD, 12 INT; 64 carries, 380 yards, 3 TD
ADP: 43, RB23
David Montgomery was highly touted heading into 2019; he was a third-round pick and the backfield was his to lose. So how did it go? The offensive line fell apart and Montomgery struggled his on way to 889 rushing yards on 3.7 yards per carry. From my perspective, it’s hard to say just what Montgomery is–he looked timid at times and was slow to hit holes. Still, he was hard to bring down on the first contact and frequently fought for more yards. Here’s where I stand: I think Montgomery is serviceable and has no competition for workhorse touches. At least for 2020, he is going to eat. How valuable he becomes will depend on how good his blocking is.
Best Case: Montgomery takes a step forward and the line plays better. He functions as a true three-down back, taking the majority of the passing-game work as well. He finishes as an RB1 with 1500 yards from scrimmage.
Worst Case: Montgomery looks the same as last year: hard to bring down, but slow to hit the holes. The line isn’t any better, and the result is a second straight sub-1000 season.
2020 Projection: 275 carries, 1,150 yards, 6 TD; 40 targets, 28 receptions, 210 yards, 1 TD
ADP: 94.4, RB41
Tarik Cohen regressed in a big way last year, seeing a drop in carries, yards per carry, yards per reception, and touchdown rate. Now, there is a question of whether or not Cohen can hold off Montgomery and remain the pass-catching threat. Personally, I think Cohen is safe. He was used poorly last year, but the coaches know his strengths: he was an RB1 for the same staff in 2018 despite seeing only 99 carries. Cohen will never see anything close to a workhorse role, and he has a bit of a fumbling problem. That being said, he should be one of the top pass-catching threats again. He’s also going at a dirt-cheap ADP if you plan on a Zero-RB strategy.
Best Case: Cohen continues to eat 4-5 carries per game in the change of pace role as well as dominating the backfield’s pass-catching role. Foles makes better use of Cohen’s skills, and the “Human Joystick” scores 10 touchdowns.
Worst Case: Cohen is all but squeezed out of the running game as Montgomery proves the better weapon in nearly every case. He also loses targets to Miller, Montgomery, and rookie tight end Kmet. His days in Chicago are numbered.
2020 Projection: 70 carries, 300 yards, 2 TD; 100 targets, 75 receptions, 600 yards, 4 TD
ADP: 32.4, WR11
Allen Robinson was a beast in 2019. Despite miserable quarterback play, he still saw 154 targets, 98 receptions, and 1,147 yards. On top of the accumulated stats, Robinson was consistent: he only had two games with fewer than 7 targets and three games with fewer than 5 receptions. Because of the success last season, I have no worries about who is behind center in 2020. Robinson should eat no matter who is throwing to him. Did I mention he finished in the 98th percentile against man coverage and the 97th percentile against press coverage?
Best Case: Robinson is once again the only reliable threat on the team, and he continues to devour targets left and right. He crushes last year’s numbers as Foles is an improvement over Trubisky, and Robinson elevates to the elite tier of receivers.
Worst Case: Robinson regresses from last year while Miller, Montgomery, and Kmet become viable targets as well. With the ball spreading around more, Robinson has trouble matching last year’s standout season.
2020 Projection: 150 targets, 100 receptions, 1300 yards, 8 TD
ADP: 128.6, WR49
Anthony Miller was on my breakout list heading into last season, but he was slowed down early by a shoulder injury from the year before. Through his first 9 games, he had 30 targets for 17 receptions. He came on strong late before re-injuring the same shoulder again in the last game of the season. The next six games saw 54 targets and 34 receptions. At that pace, Miller would have had this season: 144 targets, 91 receptions, 1,155 yards, and 5 touchdowns. That may be a high expectation, but it shows what a healthy Miller can do in this offense.
Best Case: Miller proves that the flashes of talent were for real. He stays healthy all season and becomes a full-fledged weapon to complement Robinson. He totals his first career thousand-yard season and takes some pressure off Robinson’s shoulders.
Worst Case: Miller comes into another season unhealthy, and he gets off to another slow start. With Miller having failed to break out in his first three seasons, the team drafts his replacement in the offseason.
2020 Projection: 110 targets, 72 receptions, 935 yards, 5 TD
ADP: 333, TE35
Chicago is not where you want to be looking for your tight end this year. The top contenders for starting tight end are Jimmy Graham, who looks about three years past his prime, or rookie Cole Kmet. If I had to choose someone here, it’s Kmet. Graham could outproduce Kmet this year, but there is a virtually-zero chance that Graham does anything of value this season. At least with Kmet, there is the chance of a breakout. Kmet was a second-round selection out of Notre Dame, and he has the size and speed of a prototypical tight end. Still, it’s tough for tight ends to break out early.
Best Case: Kmet is able to find holes in opposing defenses as they focus on trying to stop Robinson and Miller. He breaks some big plays and has a few big breakout games. His presence also helps stabilize the run game and the offense clicks.
Worst Case: Kmet is the next Adam Shaheen — despite the hype and draft capital, he fails to do much of anything in his rookie season. Without a useful talent at tight end, the offense sputters and the team crawls to the finish with a losing record.
2020 Projection: 50 targets, 30 receptions, 350 yards, 2 TD
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)