We’re previewing every NFL team to get you ready for the 2021 season. Our analysts will tackle pressing fantasy questions and team win totals, in order from the squad with the least amount of fantasy relevancy all the way to the most talented team. Next up, the 25th-ranked Chicago Bears.
Allen Robinson was the WR11 and WR12 the past two seasons despite Chicago’s QB struggles. Our 2021 consensus rankings suggest a similar finish (WR10), so what’s the percentage chance he finishes in the top-5 with the best QB talent he’s played with.
Andy: The point of drafting Robinson is that his bust potential is vanishingly small — almost nonexistent, assuming a healthy season. He’s already produced WR1-level performances despite being attached to some of the least impressive starting quarterbacks of his era. Songs should have been written about his incredible 2015 season.
Robinson will be working with some combination of Andy Dalton and Justin Fields this year, which is about as good as he’s ever had it. We can safely forecast another 150-plus target, as he’s reached that total in each of the past two seasons. There’s basically no chance that Chicago’s offense can keep pace with KC or Buffalo, so it’s tough to put Robinson in the same tier as guys like Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs. But a top-5 positional finish? He’s done it before and can certainly do it again, with just a small amount of TD luck. If you need a precise percentage, let’s say 33.7.
Matt: A top-five finish is within Robinson’s range of outcomes every year because he’s that good of a player. We’ve seen his floor over the last two years amid hideous Chicago quarterback play, and that’s proven to be a trusty proposition. At some point, Justin Fields can be the type of quarterback to boost Robinson back toward the career-ceiling we’ve seen from him. However, projecting that and the type of overall target/scoring volume he’d need during Fields’ rookie year is aggressive. That’s not to mention how deep and top-heavy the position is right now. It’s possible but a less than 50 percent chance.
Scott: Robinson’s overcome bad quarterback play his entire career, and that dates back to Penn State. He’s unbreakable. And maybe Justin Fields will be a quick study (or Andy Dalton a quality placeholder). There is no reason to worry about Robinson; he’s long been in the circle of trust. I agree that Robinson is likely more a floor pick than upside pick, but when you’re drafted in his ADP pocket, there’s plenty of upside too.
David Montgomery had a breakout 2020, finishing as the RB4, largely due to an ultra-friendly schedule. What’s the best-case scenario finish for him this season?
Matt: Most of the risk and likely regression is already baked into David Montgomery’s 2021 ADP (RB20 range). Having Justin Fields waiting in the wings should boost the overall efficiency of this offense, staving off at least one of the major warts in the running back’s outlook. He profiles as a high season-long floor, upper-tier RB2.
Scott: Montgomery took advantage of a heavy workload, and no one expects him to slide back to RB4. But I love drafting a player who can hit a fair amount of regression and still return a fantasy profit. Late-third or early-fourth round on Montgomery, I’ll be open minded.
Andy: Credit to Montgomery for taking full advantage of that layup line of a schedule he faced at the end of 2020. He also handled the increase in receiving workload well, following the season-ending injury to Tarik Cohen. I have little doubt that he can produce similar rushing numbers in 2021 — let’s say another 250-ish carries for just over 1,000 yards — but there’s really no path to another 68 targets. We have to expect his receiving opportunities to be slashed, because this team is definitely gonna put Cohen back to work. This is a conversation we had back in January. A reasonable expectation for Montgomery’s year-end stats is probably 1,250 scrimmage yards, 25-30 receptions and 7-9 touchdowns. Those numbers won’t carry you to a title on their own, but they can certainly help.
The Bears don’t seem to be in a rush to play Justin Fields. Whenever the rookie takes over the job, how should fantasy managers view him — priority add, worth stashing ahead of time or leaving him on the waiver wire?
Scott: Frisky, exciting upside play for Supeflex and DFS. Dual-threat quarterbacks are a well-established cheat code.
Andy: Fields obviously has a rushing element to his game that will make him fantasy relevant as soon as he plays, plus he’ll have a strong supporting cast around him. It’s not realistic to stash him if you play in, say, a 10-team league with typical one-QB rosters. But in a deeper format with more than four bench spots, he should be in someone’s draft plans. I’m expecting to see him at the controls of Chicago’s offense in October, when the schedule takes a friendly turn. From the moment he takes over, he’ll have weekly top-10 upside.
Matt: I’ll believe Justin Fields isn’t starting Week 1 when I see it. There’s every bit the chance the rookie just blows the doors off of the current version of Andy Dalton in training camp. In that scenario, a coaching staff looking to save their jobs won’t be able to afford their Golden Ticket quarterback for some foolish reason like, “but we play the Rams in Week 1.” When/if he’s named the starter, he’ll have an immediate path to fantasy appeal given his rushing potential. Being tethered to a stud WR1 in Robinson only helps matters. He’d push for a top-20 fantasy quarterback ranking if we knew for sure he’s starting Week 1.
Chicago Bears projected 2021 fantasy contributors
QB: Andy Dalton / Justin Fields
RB: David Montgomery / Tarik Cohen
WR: Allen Robinson / Darnell Mooney
TE: Cole Kmet
Scott: I’m not racing to the window to punch the ticket, but I have to shade over. Green Bay is staring regression in the face. Detroit is in a rebuild. Minnesota should be better, but it’s a team with problems, too. Not that anyone is in love with Matt Nagy, but he’s never finished under .500 and he’s made the playoffs twice in three years. Chicago figures to be competitive again.
Follow Andy: @andybehrens
Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB
Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski