Every summer, we take a deep dive into the fantasy football average draft position (ADP) of players on each real-life NFL team. We do this so that we can determine which guys are undervalued, overvalued, or valued just right. As we Goldilocks this ADP, our draft board forms based on our opinions of players and where they go in fantasy football drafts. Since drafters draft (mostly) by site algorithms, site algorithms drive ADP on that site. So, we use FantasyPros’ aggregate average draft position data in order to smooth out those edges. To really smooth out the edges, I will use half-PPR average draft position, which you can find here. We continue our series with the 2021 Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears had, in my opinion, the steal of the draft. I’m sure that they didn’t set out to get Justin Fields at 11, but that’s where they ended up. They’re a team in transition, with Allen Robinson in a franchise tag year, two new quarterbacks, and coaching staff in a put-up-or-shut-up campaign. What can we expect from the Chicago Bears’ fantasy football options in 2021? Let’s start out by taking a look at a sleeper, breakout, and bust from the 2021 Chicago Bears.
Sleeper: Justin Fields, Quarterback (QB24, 192 OVR)
There’s a lot of buzz about Andy Dalton starting some games for the Chicago Bears. This is utter poppycock. I’m not saying that Andy Dalton won’t start some games for the Chicago Bears, what I’m saying is that there is no conceivable reason to give Andy Dalton starts if you are the Chicago Bears. He had about 30 extra days on Justin Fields, and Justin Fields is one of the smartest players ever. This Andy Dalton claptrap has taken Justin Fields’ ADP and shoved it underwater. He’s the #24 quarterback off the board, in the same range as guys like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston. Sheesh.
Justin Fields will be a top-fifteen quarterback, at worse, from the moment he gets the nod as the starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears. Jalen Hurts finished 2020 with QB1 games in three-quarters of his starts. Honestly, that feels like a good place to start for Justin Fields. He’s better at everything than Hurts, and he has a real QB1 to throw to, as well as a viable deep threat in Darnell Mooney. Should Justin Fields end up starting from week one, he has an incredible chance to be a top-ten quarterback all year long.
But that starting week one might be the hard part. He will eventually beat out Andy Dalton, probably because Andy Dalton isn’t anywhere near Fields’ talent level, but Matt Nagy & Co. might be dumb enough to let him languish for a bit first. He’s a must-have in all 2QB leagues and the perfect QB to stash in a 1QB, deep bench league.
Breakout: Darnell Mooney, Wide Receiver (WR59, 170 OVR)
The Chicago Bears quarterbacks let Darnell Mooney down last season. He ranked just 74th in catchable target rate, with Bears QBs frequently forgetting how to throw a football when they uncorked one to Mooney. While Mooney’s contested catch rate was somehow more abysmal, that isn’t really his game. Mooney is a surehanded evasive guy, who ideally doesn’t want to get contested targets. He als dropped just 2-of-73 catchable targets last year, which means that he isn’t going to clank additional catchable targets off of his hands.
The Chicago Bears also don’t have an exceptionally deep group of pass-catchers. They funneled targets to guys like Anthony Miller, Jimmy Graham, and Cordarrelle Patterson last year. Mooney is better than all of them, so should the Chicago Bears let it rip with Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney will benefit early and often.
Bust: Tarik Cohen, Running Back (RB52, 155 OVR)
Tarik Cohen missed almost all of 2020 with a torn ACL. Since he played his last snap with the Chicago Bears… they sort of realized that Cohen’s targets can go elsewhere. David Montgomery ran the second-most running back routes last season, behind only J.D. McKissic. The Chicago Bears have evolved past a need for Tarik Cohen. In a healthy year, he rushes the ball about 5 times per game, getting most of his value out of the 5.2 carries and 4.2 receptions per game. Even before injury felled him, he played 46%, 32%, and 32% of snaps last year, finishing with 4.7 rushes and 2 receptions per game.
Also, in the last two seasons, Tarik Cohen was one of the least efficient pass-catching backs on a per-target basis, notching just 4.4 yards per target since his big (71 catch, 723 receiving yard) 2018. 39 running backs have at least 65 targets in the last two seasons… the 4.4 yards per target ranks 65th.
In his stead, David Montgomery was one of the most efficient pass-catching backs in the NFL. Montgomery notched 8.1 yards per reception, and had a 79.4% catch rate. Montgomery made Cohen irrelevant for fantasy football, even before Cohen went on IR. In Cohen’s three games, he and Montgomery both had nine targets, and Montgomery outgained Cohen 64-41 in those three games. And all of this is before we even account for Damien Williams suddenly being on the roster, and the down-roster RB touches getting distributed further.
Bottom of roster real estate is a prime location, and a location I doubt I use on Tarik Cohen. He tops out at around ~120 touches this year. That just isn’t anything I’m interested in getting with.