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.
The Chicago Bears are hoping that the second go-round is a lot better for Justin Fields than the first one was. They fired Matt Nagy, replacing him with Matt Eberflus… and then they pretty much sat pat on offense. They made no splashy moves in free agency or the NFL draft, leaving Fields with some pretty bare cupboards to work with this season. But, like every team, we can still extract value, and find some players to try to avoid, for fantasy football rosters in 2022. Let’s take a look at the Chicago Cubs’ 2022 sleeper, breakout, and bust!
Sleeper: Khalil Herbert, Running Back (RB61, 200 OVR)
The Bears took Herbert to backup David Montgomery in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft and did basically nothing to upgrade the position behind Montgomery and/or Herbert after that. And, they sat pat with good reason. Herbert had only four games with any amount of touches last season, thanks to the Bears going with a top-heavy approach to the running back room.
In the four games that Herbert had more than five touches (thanks to a David Montgomery injury), Herbert averaged 19.5 carries and 2.3 receptions for 97 yards per game. He only scored one touchdown in that timeframe, but that has more to do with the Bears than Herbert. The Bears only managed to get Herbert six touches inside the ten-yard line, and only one inside the five-yard line in that timeframe. He never had a chance to score touchdowns, something that would hopefully change under a Matt Eberflus regime that saw Jonathan Taylor lead the NFL in red zone touches in 2021.
Breakout: Justin Fields, Quarterback (QB18, 128 OVR)
Fields was my second-favorite quarterback in the draft last year, and I am hoping that the Bears didn’t break him too bad with Matt Nagy in year one. If you look at Fields’ top-line numbers from 2021, there also isn’t much to inspire confidence in him in year two, to be honest. In his ten starts, he finished with 1800 yards, 7 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and 386 rushing yards (with one rushing TD). That’s… not great, at all. But then we get into the Matt Nagy of it all, and things get a little bit better for Fields. Nagy didn’t let Fields top 20 pass attempts for three of his ten starts, and when he finally took the restrictor plates off of Fields, Fields then went on to average 51 rushing yards, 200 passing yards, and a score per game. Given that the Bears’ offense was mostly “bomb it out to Darnell Mooney either before, or in lieu of, running around like a madman,” things could have been worse.
This is a lot of words to say that the breakout case here is one mostly built on hope. Fields, like fellow rookie Trevor Lawrence, is better than he showed on game tape last year. His last two starts prior to missing two games (and half of a third) came out to 3,900 passing yards, and 1,258 rushing yards pace, with 25 total touchdowns to 17 interceptions. The picks are horrible, but considering those two games were against the 49ers and Steelers, two of the best defenses in the NFL, it’s something you sit up and notice. Much like Jalen Hurts last year, the case for Fields is not just his passing, but also his rushing. In just 635 snaps, Hurts ranked fifth in the league in QB rushing. The guy just three yards ahead of him, Kyler Murray, played over 300 extra snaps. And that’s Kyler Murray, who we all understand to be one of the better rushing quarterbacks in the league. In fact, Fields ranked third in rushing yards per snap among QBs with at least 500 snaps in 2021, behind just Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. Fields has that kind of fantasy football upside.
This is the weird part about teams like the Chicago Bears. The offense is putrid, and there are very few things to feel good about the team. Only two players go inside the top 125 (David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney) and both of them are solid players going at good values (RB18 and WR30, respectively), and it’s hard to do things like call Velus Jones a bust. So, please bear with me, here. The expectations for the Chicago Bears are simply too low for anyone to get in a huff about someone being a bust in 2022 fantasy football leagues.