We should #NeverForget that Chicago could have entered 2021 with any of Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, or Deshaun Watson at quarterback. In 2016, the Bears passed on Dak Prescott in the draft six times when they had just 32-year old Jay Cutler at the position. In 2017, the Bears decided to trade FOUR draft picks to move up to second overall to draft Mitch Trubisky. Meanwhile, Watson and Mahomes played Farm Heroes on their phones in the green room.
Those decisions eventually led to, shall we say, some less-than-inspired play from Trubisky and the Bears saying thanks-but-no-thanks on a new deal after his four-year rookie contract.
Man… Trubisky is God awful. Bears need a qb ASAP. Trade for carr, a great d for him he’d shine 😂😂😴😴
— grill master Jetsy (@jetsyO_o) January 11, 2021
If your fans are clamoring for a trade of Derek Carr, may God have mercy on you.
That brings us to the 2021 draft and the Bears trading FOUR MORE draft picks to select Justin Fields at number 11. After missing the top three guys in the draft, the Bears had to panic-pull the trigger again, lest they end up with Kyle Trask, Kellon Mond, or Ian Book.
Alright. What’s done is done. You have your next potential franchise quarterback. But, in 2021 you’re in a division with Aaron Rodgers. You just lost three defensive ends and a linebacker to free agency. You let Cordarrelle Patterson, who was a fantasy god in 2021, walk for nothing after the Bears couldn’t figure out how to use him. At least you’ll let the young quarterback play, right?
Why would Adam Gase do that when you can start the Red Rifle and Big Dick Nick for seven games? Why yank a rookie in and out of the lineup for 17 weeks, letting him pile up a 7/10 TD/INT ratio? Only the Bears, man. Only the Bears.
With new coach Matt Eberflus already declaring that they will “build the offense around quarterback Justin Fields,” what do the Bears look like free from the Adam Gase shackles? Who can we buy and sell for fantasy in 2022? Let’s dive in.
Buy: Darnell Mooney
If there is to be one pass catcher to rule them all in a new offense designed around Justin Fields, it will be Darnell Mooney. We already saw the connection blossoming in 2021 and it should continue to grow with a full offseason with Fields as the surefire QB1.
Mooney was drafted as the WR51 in half-PPR leagues in 2021, so he is certainly in the conversation for players who produced the highest ROI from their draft slot. Mooney was top-20 in air yards, receptions, and receiving yards last season. He also was surprisingly eighth in target share, ahead of guys like Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, and Deebo Samuel. But the downside was he scored just four touchdowns, tied with D.J. Moore for the fewest among the top 30 in receiving yards last year.
The lack of touchdowns don’t surprise you, however, when you consider he never knew from week to week who would be the quarterback of the team in the next game. But when Fields was in the game, he peppered Mooney with throws. They weren’t all great throws, admittedly. Mooney ranked ninth in unrealized air yards with 815 last season. But the connection between the two was instantaneous.
Give those two a full offseason together and Mooney’s 95th percentile speed and breakaway ability (eighth in average cushion) give him a case for being drafted as a top-20 receiver next season.
Sell: Allen Robinson (even on a new team)
Technically, Allen Robinson is no longer a member of the Chicago Bears, as his franchise tag expired and he is a free agent. Also technically, he looked like dog crap on the field last year. Blame whoever you want: Robinson himself, Fields, Gase, other mediocre pass-catching options. The reality is the Bears paid $17,880,000 for 38 receptions, 410 yards, and one touchdown.
The likelihood he will be back with the Bears after the 2021 debacle is nil, so we have to evaluate whether or not he is worth buying at his ADP or at his dynasty value without knowing where he will play in 2022. FantasyPros consensus ranks presently has Robinson as WR39 for 2022, so not a very steep price to pay. But still almost a WR3. Who is WR38, you might ask? Playoff hero Gabriel Davis. Who would you rather have? The longer track record or the shiny new toy?
No matter where he ends up, the production can’t be much worse. Among wide receivers, Robinson ranked 66th in targets, 89th in yards after the catch, 81st in yards per route run, and 113th in target separation, according to Player Profiler. But he may have to add a new learning curve in 2022 as well.
A study over at numberFire in 2018 found that from 2000-2018, 70% of wide receivers changing teams either stayed at the same fantasy level or saw a production drop-off. Even Allen Robinson fit this mold right after the study. Forget about 2017 when he took one snap before blowing out his knee. Robinson actually declined in production from 2016 and 2018 when he left Jacksonville. It took until his second year in Chicago before he started to get back to previous levels of production.
Now he will be a 30-year old receiver coming off a career-worst year moving to a new team. At a WR3 or Flex price tag, I am likely out for 2022.