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2023 Fantasy Football First Look: Chicago Bears

Jayson takes a look at what to expect from Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense in fantasy football this season.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 12: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears dives for a touchdown during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The birth of a new fantasy season starts with the labor pains of studying and understanding each team’s offseason roster changes and how they fit. In this “Fantasy First Look,” I’ll go through each team and give you the CliffsNotes of the story I expect each of them to tell over the 2023 Fantasy Football Season.

Chicago Bears Fantasy Football Preview

Matt Eberflus, Luke Getsy and Justin Fields found their sweet spot over the last 10 games of the 2022 season. Fields rushed for 60+ yards in nine of those games. In total, during that span, he ran 118 times for 949 yards and seven touchdowns. His passing also made a leap as well. In his first seven games last year, he completed just 56% of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions. Over the last eight games, he improved to a 64% completion rate with 12 touchdowns to five interceptions.

The Bears have put more weapons and depth around Fields that will lead to consistent, improved play. Last year wasn’t a fluke. Fields is a top-five fantasy quarterback this season.

 A Four-Letter Dirty Word: RBBC

Chicago has done a good job of not only upgrading talent but also improving the depth and versatility of their offense. We’ll start with the running back position. David Montgomery departs, but the backfield adds D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer, joining with the returning Khalil Herbert. While it’s a great strategy for the team to stockpile multiple RBs, it will be frustrating for fantasy players.

Khalil Herbert is the best of the bunch. He had six games last year in which he was given 10+ carries. In those six games, he rushed 87 times for 502 yards (5.8 ypc) and three touchdowns. He’s the most instinctual back of the quartet. Montgomery ran the ball 72 times more than Herbert last season for only 70 more yards and only one extra rushing touchdown, while averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

However, Herbert’s value is hurt by not being a premier receiving back or a big-bulky power back. D’Onta Foreman steps in as the power back who can move. After being selected by the Texans in the 2017 draft, Foreman tore his Achilles in his rookie year. His career was revived a couple of years later in Tennessee by Mike Vrabel, who knew him from Houston. When Derrick Henry went down in 2021, Foreman made the most of his opportunity. He springboarded that into a stellar 2022 with the Carolina Panthers. Over the last two seasons, Foreman had 336 carries for 1,480 yards (4.4 ypc) and eight touchdowns. He now moves into the No. 2 role in Chicago, likely taking away short yardage and goal-line carries from Herbert.

But it’s not just Foreman who will pull from Herbert’s workload. Chicago also drafted a rookie to join the mix in Roschon Johnson. Johnson has a similar style to Alfred Morris. He is a bigger back that is hard to bring down as he runs with explosion, power and balance after a decisive cut. While Johnson isn’t the fastest with a 4.58 forty time, he has rare explosiveness for a 220-pound back. At the 2023 NFL combine, he finished tied for third among running backs in the 10-yard split at 1.52. That is the same time as Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs, who each had much faster 40 times at 4.46 and 4.36, respectively. Johnson’s 10-yard split also came in one spot behind Devon Achane at 1.51, who had a 4.32 forty time. Johnson can give the offense more versatility, and his lead-blocking ability will allow him to be on the field with Fields and Herbert/Foreman at the same time. Johnson can also eat into those short-yardage and goal-line carries as well.

The trio of Herbert/Foreman/Johnson have a great blend of talents, but none of them are stellar receiving threats. That opens up a possibility for the Bears to keep Travis Homer and allow him to carve out a receiving-specialist type of role. Fantasy production will be muddy early on in this backfield until, inevitably, injuries start to hit.

Receiving Threats

Fields now has a legit one-two reiver tandem in D.J. Moore and Darnell Mooney. Fields already had his safety-blanket tight end in Cole Kmet, but now he has a legit 12-personnel attack with Moore, Mooney and Kmet being joined by Robert Tonyan, who has crossed enemy lines after spending the last five years in Green Bay. In Tonyan’s last two full seasons (2020 and 2022), he put up 52/586/11 and 53/470/2. Last season Kmet caught fire with Fields over the last nine games, with 36/385/6 after recording alien of just 14/159/1 over the first eight weeks.

Moore should easily establish himself as Fields’ number-one receiver. In Carolina, his quarterbacks changed yearly, if not weekly. Moore still managed to average 77/1103/5 over the last four seasons, despite his starting QBs including Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton, P.J. Walker, etc. The revolving door and below-average play at quarterback played a huge part in Moore having a low catch rate of 55.6% over the last three seasons. Now, partnered with Fields, we should see a more efficient Moore, but will that equal more production?

Add or Avoid
  • Justin Fields will have 25+ passing and 10+ rushing touchdowns this season. He’s a league-winning type of player that you build your roster around and a no-brainer at his current ADP.
  • This will be an RBBC, but if you’re taking one Chicago RB, make it Khalil Herbert. As running backs start flying off the board and the Bears’ backs collectively sink, pull the trigger on the best of the bunch, Herbert.
  • D.J. Moore has a proven track record of producing no matter the quarterback. Now, he has a talented, playmaking quarterback that should be able to complete closer to 65% of his passes to Moore, rather than the 56% he’s been hauling in over the last three seasons. Mooney is a talented receiver, but he’ll fall to second fiddle behind Moore this season. Equanimeous St. Brown, rookie Tyler Scott, Velus Jones Jr., Dante Pettis and Isaiah Ford are all among the group competing for the remaining roster spots. Despite it being a run-heavy offense, I like Moore as Fields’ go-to and would look to add him.
  • Cole Kmet sees Tonyan join the tight end room, but it shouldn’t pull from Kmet, whose 69 targets were the most on the team last year. The addition of Tonyan should allow himself and Kmet to each pivot from inline to flexing out as the third receiving option. I believe Kmet is another worthy roster addition.
  • Chase Claypool should be avoided. Chicago is better in 12-personnel and 21-personnel than they are in 11-personnel with their current roster construction. Giving Fields two receivers with two tight ends and a back or two receivers with one tight end and two backs seems to play more to their strengths. A mix of Moore, Mooney, Kmet, Tonyan, Herbert, Foreman, Johnson and Homer would play to a more efficient offense with Fields than much work for Claypool.