2018 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 5,502 (21st)
Offensive Touchdowns: 44 (13th)
Offensive Plays: 1013 (14th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 545 (27th)
Rush Attempts: 468 (6th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 68 (24th)
Unaccounted for Carries: 261 (2nd)
Matt Nagy’s first season in Chicago was unquestionably a success. He took the 5-11 team he inherited and turned it into a 12-4 division winner in just a year. The offense – which should be his calling card –was not exactly a juggernaut, however, with the team finishing 20th in yards per play and 22nd in yards per drive. Nagy also rode the running game a little more than expected (46 percent of offensive plays) given his roots, but game script had something to do with that. With the defense likely to regress some after forcing 36 turnovers last year – it does have to be noted 27 of those were interceptions, which are less fluky than fumbles – the offense will need to do more and likely lean on the passing game more than they did a year ago.
From a holistic standpoint, Mitchell Trubisky took a step forward as a sophomore. He improved his completion percentage (59.4 to 66.6), his yards per attempt average (6.6 to 7.4), and his touchdown rate (2.1 percent to 5.5). However, those overall numbers hide what was an up-and-down season in which the sophomore struggled at times with his accuracy and ball protection – his interception rate was the one major statistic which took a step back. Those inconsistencies carried over into Trubisky’s fantasy performance. He had three games with at least three passing touchdowns, including a massive six – 25 percent of his season total – against the Bucs, but he threw one or fewer in half of his healthy games. He topped 20 fantasy points in five of six games at one point in the season, but he did not manage that feat in any game outside of that run.
All of that said, the end of that good run coincided with a shoulder injury which forced Trubisky to miss two games. Before the injury, he averaged 247 passing yards, 36 rushing yards, and two passing touchdowns. After, he averaged 189 passing yards, 14.5 rushing yards, and one passing score. Assuming the pre-injury rushing production sticks around, which is possible if not probable considering almost half of his attempts last year were designed, Trubisky should continue to be in the streaming conversation this year. If he is able to take a step forward as a passer, there is a chance he can be more than that. Quarterback is so deep it does not make sense to draft Trubisky in standard redraft leagues, but he is a fine late-round upside pick in best ball.
Another reason for Trubisky optimism is what should be Allen Robinson’s fully healthy return. Robinson spent the entirety of his first offseason with the Bears rehabbing a torn ACL and missed three games due to injury. When he was on the field, Robinson commanded a respectable 22 percent target share and had the second-most efficient season of his career. He also dominated in Chicago’s playoff game, hanging a 10-143-1 line on the Eagles. Another year removed from his injury and coming off a healthy offseason, it would not be surprising to see Robinson take a step forward, especially if he gets a little better touchdown luck. The nature of the Bears’ offense will likely prevent Robinson from getting enough targets to threaten WR1 production, but he could turn into a solid WR2.
Limited by a shoulder injury most of the year, Anthony Miller did not see a lot of targets as a rookie, but he was efficient with his looks and a monster in the red zone, converting five of 11 targets into touchdowns. Interestingly, things could switch the other way this year. Assuming he is healthy, Miller will have a good shot to jump Taylor Gabriel in the pecking order and increase his target share, but that touchdown total is likely to regress unless he gets more usage around the goal line. He is a good late-round flier, but there is a lot of uncertainty in his projection
As for Gabriel, things shook out about as well as they could have for him last season from a usage perspective, touchdowns aside, and he still was an underwhelming fantasy option. Now he has to deal with a healthy Miller and free agent addition Cordarrelle Patterson, who can do a lot of the same things. Perhaps Miller does not ascend, Patterson does not really get involved in the passing game, and fourth-rounder Riley Ridley rides the bench all season, but it seems likely Gabriel takes a step back.
At tight end, Trey Burton had a lackluster first season in Chicago, topping 40 yards in just three games. He did supplement those yardage totals with six touchdowns, but he was just the TE15 in per-game scoring in a weak year at the position. He also missed Chicago’s playoff game with a groin injury, which eventually required surgery in May. There is not an obvious path to more targets for Burton unless the Bears are forced to throw more, which is certainly possible, and his efficiency numbers were already good last year. Barring a large jump in touchdowns, Burton seems headed toward a similar season. The nature of the position keeps him in the back-end TE1 conversation, but he is not an exciting pick.
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A terrible fit in Nagy’s offense, Jordan Howard was unsurprisingly shipped out of town, leaving behind 250 carries and 26 targets. To replace him, the Bears added Mike Davis in free agency and David Montgomery in the third round of the draft, both of whom can function in the passing game. The question will be who takes on the bulk of Howard’s role? A Day 2 pick the Bears traded up to get, Montgomery would seem to be the favorite, but Davis should at worst be more involved than Benny Cunningham was last year – something which could prevent the rookie from reaching the touch totals Howard managed a season ago. With that in mind, Montgomery is a bit of a risky pick late in the third or early in the fourth. As for Davis, he is a fine late-round selection who could hit big if he surprisingly wins the lead job in camp.
The arrival of Montgomery and Davis could affect Tarik Cohen, who was third on the team with 91 targets last season. There were already reasons to expect Cohen to take a step back, and now he will be playing with a lead back who can operate effectively in the passing game. Cohen has said his role will remain the same, but the size of that role is a big question, especially after he fell off a bit down the stretch last year. Also in question is his ability to match his eight touchdowns from a season ago – nine if you count his passing score. The good news is his roughly fifth-round ADP right now is not outrageous, but there is a decent chance he takes a step back.
Chicago’s over/under is sitting at 9.5 at most books after they posted a 12-4 record a year ago. As mentioned above, Chicago’s 2018 takeaway total is a reason for concern. Including last year’s Bears, 17 teams recorded at least 35 takeaways over the last 10 seasons. On average, those teams won 2.3 fewer games the next season. No teams in the group increased their win total, and just two matched it. Another reason for concern is the schedule. The Bears check in with the fifth-toughest schedule according to Warren Sharp’s Vegas odds analysis, including a league-high four games against top-five opponents and seven against top-ten teams. Perhaps Mitchell Trubisky takes another step forward and the defense does not miss a beat under new coordinator Chuck Pagano, but the under looks like a better bet.