The Bears returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010 last season. They finished third in the NFC at 12-4, though they were eliminated by the Eagles on Wild Card Weekend. They’re poised for another strong season, as they’ve undergone minimal offseason changes and most of their best players are still very young and improving. Their top-ranked defense took a hit when coordinator Vic Fangio was named as the new head coach of the Broncos, but they have so much talent on that side of the ball that they should remain one of the league’s best units. They added multiple exciting, though non-star-level skill players through free agency and the draft, and while those additions complicate the depth charts, they should boost the overall offensive potency.
Key Departures:Jordan Howard, RB; Vic Fangio, Defensive Coordinator
Key Acquisitions:Mike Davis, RB; David Montgomery, RB; Cordarrelle Patterson, WR; Riley Ridley, WR
2019 Fantasy MVP
Mitchell Trubisky, QBWith Davis and Montgomery muddying the RB depth chart, and a pass-catching corps that lacks a marquee name, Trubisky is the easy choice here. When an offensive is likely to be good, but it’s unclear who the primary beneficiaries will be, one should invest in the QB as a de facto catchall. The Bears defense set up their offense with the sixth-best average field position in 2018, and a shorter field makes it easier to score. Every RB in their talented backfield is a good-or-better receiver, which is a massive improvement over last season when Jordan Howard led the backfield in snaps. As for Trubisky himself, he’s improved significantly over his first two seasons and now gets to settle in for a second season under Matt Nagy. Trubisky’s yards per attempt improved from 6.6 to 7.4, and his passer rating jumped from 77.5 to 95.4. He’s one of the best rushing QBs in the NFL, finishing fifth in rushing yards and sixth in attempts last season despite missing two games.
2019 Fantasy LVP
Taylor Gabriel, WRGabriel led Bears WRs in receptions in 2018 and has generated some excitement due to the nature of his role as the clear No. 2 WR in what could potentially be a high-quality offense. However, he’s likely to disappoint. Despite playing three more games than Allen Robinson, Gabriel still saw fewer targets. Both Robinson and Tarik Cohen compiled more receiving yards. Gabriel is small and rarely used in the red zone, further decreasing his upside. The Bears were already one of the most run-heavy offenses in 2018, and the additions of Davis and Montgomery to the backfield indicate that more targets will also head to RBs in 2019. If Trey Burton continues to improve, then that will siphon even more targets away. Lastly, though Gabriel is likely safe in his role as secondary WR in Chicago, he’s not that much better than the players behind him on the depth chart who are likely to make at least token contributions.
2019 Breakout Player
David Montgomery, RBFrankly, there aren’t a lot of possible choices for a “breakout player” on this roster. Burton already finished eighth among TEs in 2018, and Cohen and Robinson have already “broken out.” The only players who feel eligible here are the backup RBs and secondary WRs. Given that limitation, Montgomery is the player best positioned to make an impact. Through four NFL seasons, Mike Davis has only one game with more than 16 carries, and just four more games with more than 12. Montgomery, on the other hand, was an absolute workhorse throughout his last two and a half seasons of college ball. The departure of Howard leaves a massive opening for a primary ball-carrier, and Montgomery is the only Bears back with the size and experience to indicate that he can carry the load. All three of Montgomery, Davis, and Cohen are likely to remain involved all season, and Cohen is a near-lock to lead the threesome in receptions, but Montgomery is most likely to lead the group in carries.
Final Thoughts:The Monsters of the Midway have the fifth-hardest schedule in the league, according to last year’s composite record. That stat is easy to compile and not always particularly helpful, but with two games against the Vikings and improved Packers defenses, in addition to games against the Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, Rams and Saints, they’re likely to see a ton of tough matchups. The Bears ran the ball 46.2 percent of the time in 2018, the fifth-highest rate in the league. That, combined with the way they clearly prioritized bringing in more dual-threat running backs, mean that DFS managers might find success differentiating their lineups with some QB-RB stacks. Of the Bears’ 28 passing TDs in 2018, only half went to wide receivers.
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