Fitz on Fantasy: 2019 Chicago Bears Buying Guide
With the preseason here, TFG fantasy expert Pat Fitzmaurice is breaking down the prospects for all 32 teams. Click here for a running list of teams, and check back often as teams are added on an almost daily basis. On to the Chicago Bears…
Ryan Pace isn’t one to pace himself when he’s keen on a player. He greedily gobbles up skill-position talent like a slimmer version of Augustus Gloop, future consequences be damned. Here are some of the moves Pace has made since the Bears hired him in 2015:
- Traded up from No. 3 overall to No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft to select QB Mitch Trubisky, forfeiting a third-rounder, a fourth-rounder and a third-rounder the following year to move up a single spot. (Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were selected No. 10 and No. 12 that year, respectively.)
- Traded up into the second round of the 2018 draft to select WR Anthony Miller, giving up a fourth-round pick plus a second-round pick the following year.
- Traded up 14 spots in the third round of the 2019 draft to select RB David Montgomery, giving up their own third-rounder, a fifth-rounder, and a 2020 fourth-rounder. The Bears also received a 2019 sixth-round pick. (In the Miller and Montgomery trades, the Bears were dealing with the Patriots, the NFL’s sharpest organization.)
- Signed WR Allen Robinson to a three-year, $42 million contract in March 2018, with $25.2 million guaranteed.
- Signed TE Trey Burton to a four-year, $32 million contract in March 2018, with $22 million guaranteed.
Pace obviously loves his skill players. Should we feel the same?
Fantasy owners seem to want to fall in love with Montgomery. That’s understandable. Montgomery is one of the top rookie running backs in his class (albeit a thin class), and he seemingly has a clear-cut role as a replacement for Jordan Howard, who’s now in Philly. Howard may have been a one-dimensional plodder, but he carried 250 times last season for 935 yards and nine touchdowns. Even though he was virtually useless in the passing game (20 catches for 145 yards), Howard finished RB20 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring – solid RB2 territory. Some see Montgomery as a dramatic upgrade, and he’s certainly a more competent pass catcher.
Montgomery is slow for an NFL running back and has unimpressive athletic testing numbers, but man is he hard to tackle. He’s rugged. He’s slippery. He has the balance of a gymnast. You practically need to hit Montgomery flush with a battering ram to get him off his feet. My favorite NFL draft analyst, Thor Nystrom of Rotoworld (@thorku) wrote this about Montgomery in his pre-draft evaluation: “In my notes, I have one box in Montgomery’s column with the words GOD MODE TACKLE BREAKER.”
Bonus: Montgomery’s style should pair well with the Bears because their defense is so strong and they figure to have a lot of positive game scripts. Bonus II: Montgomery’s style should play well in cold weather late in the season.
What I worry about is the workload. Can we pencil in Montgomery for the same 250 carries that Howard had last year? Tarik Cohen is too good to be marginalized. He’s still going to own the obvious passing downs and will get onto the field in some other situations, too. The Bears also brought in Mike Davis, albeit on a cheap contract. Maybe Montgomery will soak up those 250 carries and then some, and absolutely smash his RB23 ADP. I’d be interested if he slid in any of my August drafts, but I suspect the price is only going to go up as we get closer to the start of the season.
Cohen is coming off a sensational pass-catching season. After averaging 6.7 yards per catch as a rookie, he averaged 10.2 YPC last year on 71 receptions. Cohen probably isn’t going to get 725 receiving yards again, but 500 yards might be doable. I just don’t know if we can count on him for another eight touchdowns. He only scored three as a rookie, and 5-6, 181-pound guys generally aren’t reliable TD scorers. Cohen is very good at what he does, but I’m fading him at his current cost.
Davis might not have stand-alone value right now, but he can back up both Montgomery and Cohen and play whatever role the Bears need him to play in a pinch. He’ll be a priority waiver add if anything happens to Montgomery and will be worth a modest bid if anything happens to Cohen.
Let’s get one thing straight: I will not refer to Trubisky as “Mitchell.” That’s not an NFL quarterback’s name. He’s “Mitch.” (And I am NOT drinking any f**king Merlot!)
Now that that’s been settled …
Trubisky is a tough guy to get a handle on, which is why I generally play it safe with him in the rankings and slot him toward the back end of that vast tier of QB2 types. I have him at QB20, which is his ADP as well, but I think there’s at least a chance he could zoom up toward QB1 territory in value this year.
Yes, MITCH was woefully inaccurate on downfield throws and threw 26 interceptable passes last year, according to PlayerProfiler.com. Too often his throws are way off the mark, and maybe he’ll never develop into a pinpoint passer. But I do think we have to cut him a little slack. He was a one-year college starter at North Carolina. Then he played his rookie year under John Fox and was kept on a short leash for his 12 starts. Trubisky just turned 25.
Trubisky plays for an innovative coach in Matt Nagy, has a solid supporting cast, and he can run. The running might be the biggest selling point, actually. Trubisky is a nimble and willing runner who had 421 rushing yards and three TD runs last year.
Don’t walk away from the kid just yet.
Allen Robinson has been one of my favorite buys throughout the summer. Can you believe he’ll only be turning 26 in a couple of days? He’s on his second team and second contract. He’s had a 1,400-yard, 14-TD year. He’s missed an entire season (save for a handful of plays) with a torn ACL. Robinson has been through a lot for someone so young.
Robinson’s stats last year were unexciting: 55 catches for 754 yards and four touchdowns. He missed three games with minor injuries, and Trubisky’s inaccuracy hurt his numbers. But Robinson went bonkers in the Bears’ only playoff game, catching 10 passes for 143 yards and a TD in a loss to the Eagles. That’s the real Robinson, and I think we’ll see more of him in 2019. He’s on sale at an ADP of WR29, and I think he’s going to outkick that if he stays healthy.
Anthony Miller dislocated his shoulder in Week 3 of his rookie year, was back in action three weeks later and managed to play 15 games despite dislocating it “maybe five or six times,” by his estimation, during the season. Miller still managed to score seven touchdowns on only 33 catches. He had shoulder surgery in January and figures to play a much bigger role this year.
Trubisky was far more efficient throwing to slot receivers than to his outside receivers last year, and Miller should take the majority of his snaps from the slot. This is a dude who had 191 catches for 2,896 yards and 32 TDs over his final two college seasons at Memphis, and as noted earlier, Ryan Pace made a big move to land Miller in the draft. I like the value on Miller nearly as much as I like the value on Robinson, and if I can’t get Robinson in the fifth round of 12-team drafts, I’ll be looking to add Miller later on.
Taylor Gabriel had a career-high 67 catches and 688 yards in his first season with the Bears, but the 5-8, 165-pount Gabriel is a gadgety player who’s a long shot to maintain fantasy relevance, especially now that the Bears have brought in the gadgety Cordarrelle Patterson, who might steal a few of those jet sweeps that Gabriel runs on occasion.
Trey Burton had a FantasyPro.com ADP of TE9 at about this time last year after going from Philadelphia to Chicago. He finished TE7, though the positional finish wasn’t that impressive since there was a big drop-off after the first four or five tight ends. But now his ADP is TE16, which seems punitively low. I have the feeling that Nagy has more for Burton to do than we saw last year, and I think he’s a value at his current price.
Perhaps the best argument for pumping the brakes on Burton is the lingering presence of Adam Shaheen, who’s 6-6, 270 pounds, and moves well for such a big dude. The Bears took him with the 45th overall pick of the 2017 draft, but a foot injury cost him nine games last year. It’s hard to imagine Shaheen making a breakthrough in 2019.
|David Montgomery||RB25||RB22||RB23||A bit pricey|
|Mike Davis||RB61||RB59||RB65||Waiver add|
|Anthony Miller||WR43||WR44||WR53||Priced right|
|Trey Burton||WR12||WR13||WR16||Decent value|
ADP = Average Draft Position ECR = Expert Consensus Ranking (based on half-PPR scoring)