2022 Bears Fantasy Football Preview: Is there enough here for Justin Fields to live up to his potential?

2022 Bears Fantasy Football Preview: Is there enough here for Justin Fields to live up to his potential?


The Bears got rid of Matt Nagy after another disappointing season, but it’s fair to wonder if the issue here was coaching as much as a lack of offensive talent. The loss of Allen Robinson without an obvious replacement doesn’t help, and it puts a lot of pressure on Fields to carry an offense he may not be ready to. On the other hand, his skill set is very Fantasy friendly if they can take advantage of it.

2021 Review

Record: 6 – 11 (26)
PPG: 18.3 (27)
YPG: 307.4 (24)
Pass YPG: 188.6 (30)
Rush YPG: 118.7 (14)
PAPG: 31.9 (23)
RAPG: 27.9 (11)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Justin Fields QB31, Andy Dalton* QB33
RB: David Montgomery RB19
WR: Darnell Mooney WR23, Allen Robinson* WR84
TE: Cole Kmet TE21
*No longer with team

Number to know: 67

The Bears ran just 67 read-option rushes last season, per ProFootballFocus.com, an inexcusably low number for a team with Justin Fields as the primary quarterback. They also ran just 64 run/pass option plays, which is again far too few for a player with Fields’ skill set and limitations. Fields was too often left either dropping back in traditional passing situations or tucking the ball on designed runs that keyed the defense into the play call early enough to smother him.

New offensive coordinator Luke Getsy joins the Bears after being the passing game coordinator for the Packers, and that offers reasons to be optimist. The Packers were fifth in the league in run/pass option plays last season with 139, so I’d expect that to be a bigger part of the offense, putting Fields in more easy situations to either pick up yards with his legs or with easy completions. I’m also assuming we’ll see more creativity in how he is used in the running game, and it’s not entirely out of the question he takes a leap similar to where Jalen Hurts was last season — an inconsistent, but often highly effective Fantasy QB who makes up for a lack of weapons in the passing game with high volume rushing production. That’s the hope, at least.

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks

2. (39) Kyler Gordon, CB
2. (48) Jaquan Brisker, SAF
3. (71) Velus Jones, WR
5. (168) Braxton Jones, OL
5. (174) Dominique Robinson, DE
6. (186) Zachary Thomas, OL
6. (203)
6. (207) Doug Kramer, OL
7. (226) Ja’Tyre Carter, OL
7. (254) Elijah Hicks, SAF
7. (255) Trenton Gill, P

Additions

OL Lucas Patrick, WR Byron Pringle, LB Nicholas Morrow, Equanimeous St. Brown, DT Justin Jones, RB Darrynton Evans

Key losses

LB Khalil Mack, WR Allen Robinson, DT Eddie Goldman, RB Tarik Cohen, LB Danny Trevathan

Available Opportunity

40 carries, 23 RB targets, 159 WR targets, 31 TE targets

2022 Preview

Rankings

Chris Towers’ projections

QB Justin Fields PA: 556, YD: 3894, TD: 22, INT: 14; RUSH — ATT: 117, YD: 526, TD: 7
RB David Montgomery CAR: 257, YD: 1029, TD: 9, TAR: 67, REC: 55, YD: 394, TD: 2
RB Khalil Herbert CAR: 70, YD: 302, TD: 3, TAR: 22, REC: 20, YD: 134, TD: 1
WR Darnell Mooney TAR: 124, REC: 75, YD: 1025, TD: 6
WR Velus Jones Jr. TAR: 65, REC: 42, YD: 535, TD: 3
WR Byron Pringle TAR: 76, REC: 44, YD: 572, TD: 4
TE Cole Kmet TAR: 111, REC: 72, YD: 732, TD: 5

Biggest Question

Is Justin Fields ready to make the leap?

The Bears were frustratingly unwilling to take advantage of Fields’ greatest gift, his athleticism, early on last season, and the offense floundered as a result. Of course, Fields had just seven passing touchdowns to 10 interceptions, so his middling passing production was an issue in and of itself. Even if Fields is used more consistently as a runner as he should be, a receiving corps led by Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, and Velus Jones doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. There’s tons of upside with Fields but also a pretty low floor still.

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

Jones is already 25 and didn’t break out in college until his age-24 season, so his analytical profile is lacking, to say the least. What he has going for him is athleticism — a 4.31 40-yard dash at 6-foot, 204 pounds — and opportunity on a Bears depth chart with little competition for targets. The fact that he wasn’t even the best receiver on his college team despite his advanced age as a prospect is a major red flag, but Jones could get enough opportunities to have some appeal as a boom-or-bust flex play.

Mooney already broke out last season, so the question is whether he has room to continue to grow. I was skeptical he would ever reach the level he did in 2021, so I may not be the best person to ask, but I do think it’s asking a lot to expect much more than what he did a year ago. However, he has almost nothing in the way of target competition, so if he can remain in the 27% target share range while the offense around him gets more efficient, Mooney could take another step forward even without playing significantly better himself. There could be fringe WR1 upside here, especially if the Bears lean on him more in the RPO game, creating more easy, quick looks to get the ball in his hands.

The thing about the Bears offense is, David Montgomery and Mooney are the only players being drafted early enough to possibly justify the “bust” label, and I just don’t feel like either is at much risk of disappointing. Fields could be if you decide to reach on him as a starting option in the later rounds because there’s a chance he just isn’t all that good. For all his athleticism, Fields wasn’t an especially productive runner in college, so maybe his struggles as a rookie weren’t as much on the coaching staff as we think. The price tends to be low enough that it doesn’t matter much if Fields busts, but if you go into the season expecting him to be a starting option, there’s plenty of room for him to disappoint.

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