This is Justin Fields’ team. After trading down from the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears put all speculation about a quarterback change to rest. Fields still has room for improvement, but the Bears are putting pieces in place to help him succeed. This off-season’s moves should result in the team taking a big step forward which should also yield major fantasy points.
Chicago Bears Fantasy Football Preview
Key Subtractions and Additions
Subtractions: David Montgomery (RB), Riley Reiff (OT)
Additions: D.J. Moore (WR), Tremaine Edmunds (LB), Nate Davis (OG), DeMarcus Walker (DE), T.J. Edwards (LB), Darnell Wright (rookie OT), Robert Tonyan (TE), D’Onta Foreman (RB), Roschon Johnson (rookie RB)
The most coveted fantasy asset from the Chicago Bears is quarterback Justin Fields. His rushing upside puts him just outside the top tier of the position. His 160 rushing attempts in 2022 rank second behind only Jalen Hurts amongst quarterbacks. However, Fields’ 1,143 rushing yards rank seventh amongst all positions last season.
Justin Fields is one of just six quarterbacks to average over 20.0 fantasy points per game (20.5) in 2022. Notably, 10.82 of his 20.5 points per game average is strictly from his rushing production. That’s the second-highest average of pure rushing production from a quarterback in a single season behind only Lamar Jackson’s 10.84 points per game in 2019.
Now, given the additions to his pass catchers and in the Chicago Bears backfield, one can assume Fields will not rush 160 times again this season. However, he’s still a very good bet to rush over 100 times with his style of play. That keeps him in the mix to finish inside the top five of fantasy quarterbacks in 2023. I expect Fields to bring balance to his game with more passing this season, but confident his rushing will provide a safe floor and massive ceiling for fantasy football week-to-week.
I’m higher than most on rookie Roschon Johnson. Yes, he technically backed up Bijan Robinson at the University of Texas, but Johnson holds potential and value of his own. Roschon Johnson could work his way into a starting role for the Chicago Bears sooner than later as a back that can run, catch passes, and most importantly, pass block, which keeps him on the field more.
D’Onta Foreman is a downhill runner, but the oldest (27) of this group. While successful since, he does have an Achilles tear injury in his history from his 2017 rookie season. As a result, Foreman has played just 43 games over five seasons, 17 of them in 2022. In easily his best season as a pro, Foreman rushed 203 times for 914 yards and five scores.
Khalil Herbert is probably going to come off of the board the earliest in most fantasy drafts of these three. In three games last season with 16 or more carries, Herbert rushed for at least 77 yards in each and scored three times. The year prior, as a rookie, Herbert had four-straight games of 18 or more carries with 72 yards or more in each with 97 or more in two of them.
The fact of the matter is that, while successful at times, none of these three backs have handled a large workload over multiple seasons at any point in their college or professional careers. Consider, too, that Justin Fields is going to log his fair share of carries in 2023, as well.
That said, it’s difficult to fathom drafting or starting any of these running backs as an RB2 in most fantasy formats. My advice is to grab Roschon Johnson in later rounds and hope he’s a winning lottery ticket that commands most of the snaps as the season progresses.
Trading the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is the biggest move from the Chicago Bears’ off-season. Getting a package of picks in return is expected, but making D.J. Moore a priority acquisition in the trade is extremely significant. D.J. Moore is easily the best wide receiver Justin Fields will have had in his young career.
Prior to 2022, Moore was the only player in the league to log 1,200 or more all-purpose yards per season from 2019-2021. Even with such success, Moore has never finished as a WR1 in fantasy football because he only scored four touchdowns exactly in each of those seasons.
Last year, he reached a career-high seven touchdowns, but just 888 yards, his lowest total since his rookie season. I think the 2023 Chicago Bears will remain a run-first team, but Moore still has WR2 value as their top pass catcher.
We haven’t seen enough from Justin Fields yet to feel confident about him supporting multiple fantasy-relevant pass catchers. In 2022, tight end Cole Kmet led the team in targets with just 69. The target leader amongst wide receivers was Darnell Mooney with 61 and he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11.
Mooney or Chase Claypool would be my bet to finish second in targets on the Chicago Bears this season behind D.J. Moore. Still, even with that role in mind, it probably only translates to weekly streaming value for fantasy football. Stacking the potential of Justin Fields and D.J. Moore together in the 5th and 6th Rounds of fantasy drafts is a strategy I’m interested in after spending my first four picks on more trustworthy studs. They should connect frequently throughout the 2023 season.
After signing Robert Tonyan Jr. in free agency, the Chicago Bears tight end situation is a mess for fantasy football. Tonyan joins Cole Kmet which diminishes both of their values. Kmet wasn’t a sure thing to finish as a TE1 to begin with and surely isn’t now. While it may seem like he had a successful 2022 fantasy football season, he finished as the TE19 on a points-per-game (8.2) basis.
A little more than one-third of Kmet’s total points in 2022 are from just two, big back-to-back performances in Weeks 9 and 10. He scored 22.0 then 23.4 points which are just two of four double-digit scores for him on the season.
The 2022 Chicago Bears passed at a historically low rate with an average of just 22.2 attempts per game. Kmet’s 19.2% target share is bound to decrease with the addition of other weapons, including Tonyan, on an inevitably pass heavier (however slight) team in 2023. That said, I’m fading both Kmet and Tonyan in fantasy football unless one emerges as a consistent target for Fields. You won’t catch me stashing either on my bench while I figure out which one it is, if any.
Even with Aaron Rodgers out of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers are no cakewalk matchup twice a year for the Chicago Bears. Additionally, the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions are two of the top-eight highest-scoring teams on average from last season. Trusting the Bears defense in fantasy with five matchups against these teams during the fantasy season already makes me nervous.
Chicago did spend a good chunk of change improving the defense this off-season. Signing Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards at linebacker then DeMarcus Walker at defensive end are serious additions. Even with a boost to this side of the ball, I don’t think this unit will dominate consistently on a week-to-week basis.
The Chicago Bears have tough back-to-back early matchups in Kansas City against the Chiefs and then in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. They have limited streaming potential elsewhere throughout the season, though, and should be considered.
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— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) May 6, 2023