For the seventh straight season, the Bears failed to make the playoffs. They have one playoff appearance over the last 11 years. Chicago brought in Matt Nagy to be the head coach after a successful 2017 season as the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. Nagy had ten seasons of NFL experience working under Andy Reid.
The Bears ranked 30th in offensive yards and 29th in points scored (264). They regressed in points scored in each of the last two years (2015 – 335 and 2016 – 279). Mark Helfrich takes over as the offensive coordinator after spending the previous four seasons as the head coach for the Oregon Ducks. He led Oregon to a National Championship in 2014.
Chicago did show growth on defense in 2017. They moved to 9th in points allowed (320) and tenth in yards allowed. Overall, they improved by 79 points on defense from 2016 (399). Vic Fangio returns for his fourth year as the defensive coordinator. He has 17 seasons of experience in the NFL with the same job.
In the offseason, Chicago tried to add some weapons to their offense to help their young QB develop. They signed TE Trey Burton and WR Allen Robinson. Burton played well behind Zach Ertz in Philly giving him a chance to prove is he can handle an NFL starting job. Robinson had one elite season on his resume, but he missed almost all of 2017 with a to ACL on his right knee. The Bears released WR Kendell Wright while adding Taylor Gabriel for WR depth.
Cody Parkey has the first shot at the kicking job after Cairo Santo signed with the Jets.
Chase Daniels will compete for the backup QB job with Mike Glennon no longer on the roster.
The only other player of interest added to the roster was DE Aaron Lynch who missed 18 games over the last two seasons after posting 38 tackles and 6.5 sacks with the 49ers in 2015.
Chicago did lose a pair of offensive linemen – G Tom Compton and G Josh Sitton. Compton is only a low-level backup while Sitton has a long, productive career in the NFL. Josh will start the year at age 32.
The Bears parted ways with three players on the defense – LB Pernell McPhee, LB Christian Jones, and DE Mitch Unrein. McPhee was a rotational player with some value in sacks. Jones delivered 90 tackles and two sacks, but he ranked as a liability in all areas. Unrein continues to improve against the run as a rotational player.
With the 8th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Bears selected LB Roquan Smith. The Bears didn’t find a legendary power linebacker, but they did land an athletic speed player with great vision and anticipation. Smith will have value in all facets of the game, but he will lose momentum if offensive linemen disrupt his free run at the ball carrier. His resume is short on defense, which gives him more room for growth.
In the second round, Chicago added OL James Daniels. He gains his edge with his quickness and lateral movement. Daniel will be an instant upgrade in a quick hitting run game while needing to add strength to handle power rushers in pass protection.
WR Anthony Miller was the choice with the second draft pick in the second round. Miller offers strength at the WR position with the ability to create a space out of his pass patterns. His hands need to improve under duress, but he does show the talent to make deep adjustments in the deep passing. Andrew has two seasons of success in college while showing growth each season. Miller has a chance to threaten all areas of the field while adding value after the catch.
The next three draft selections were dictated toward the defense – LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe, DL Bilal Nichols, and DE Kylie Fritts.
Iyiegbuniwe is a second linebacker that brings speed to the defense while being undersized (6’1” and 229 Lbs.). His football instincts aren’t enough to offset his burst after the snap if trapped by oncoming blockers. Joel protects to add value in pass coverage while possibly add value early in his career on special teams.
Nichols has minimal upside rushing the QB while expecting to be an early down rotational player against the run. Bilal plays hard on every down, but his foot quickness isn’t an edge.
Fritts gives the appearance as an upside pass rusher with his combination of power, speed, and quickness, but he’s battled injuries in his whole career in college. Kylie needs to lose the pretty boy look in the trenches if he wants to earn winning playing time in the NFL.
With their last selection in the 7th round, the Bears invested in WR Javon Wims. His size (6’3’ and 215 lbs.) and hands should make him a viable threat at the goal line on fade routes. Wims has the wheels and pass catching skill set to win jump balls in the deep passing game. Javon has limited route running with questions in his release against press coverage.
Chicago finished 16th in rushing yards (1,788) with 13 rushing TDs and five runs over 40 yards. Their ball carriers gained 4.2 yards per rush.
The Bears had the worst pass attack in the NFL (2,811 yards) with only 13 TDs and 12 Ints. Their offensive line allowed 39 sacks and 84 QB hits. Chicago completed just 30 passes over 20 yards.
LT Charles Leno played in the last 48 games for Bears after getting drafted in the 7th round in 2014. After struggling in his first two years in the league, Leno developed into one of the better players in the gain game at his position with strength in both run and pass blocking.
LG James Daniels should move into the starting lineup after getting drafted in the second round. His style should work well with the Bears’ run game while possibly having risk in pass protection against power rushers.
C Cody Whitehair was one of the best centers in the league in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. Whitehair played left tackle in college while his natural position is at guard. Last year he lost his way in pass blocking while grading as an edge in the run game.
RG Kyle Long only played in 15 full games in 2016 and 2107 due to ankle, shoulder, neck, and elbow injuries that all required surgery. Long had tons of baggage here while projecting as a league average player when at his best.
RT Bobbie Massie has been on the decline in each of the last three seasons. At best, Massie is a below average player in all areas in all areas.
The left side of the line and center position should rank at league average with more upside if Daniels hits the ground running. I don’t trust Kyle Long, and Bobby Massie is going to be a liability. Overall, the Bears’ offensive line will rank just below league average with more upside in run blocking than pass protection.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
Chicago has a league average schedule for their rushing offense. They have three tough matchups (ARI and MIN X 2) with only three favorable mid-tier games (BUF, NYG, and LAR).
On the passing side, the Bears have five games (TB, NE, NYG, and DET X 2) against teams with risk defending the pass. Their only two games will come against the Vikings.
Chicago tried to be balanced on offense in 2017, but game score led to a few more passes. The Bears ran the ball 47.2 percent of the time. This season they have more talent on offense with an improving defense. I expect close to a 50/50 split in runs and passes this year.
QB Mitchell Trubisky – With one year of starting experience at North Carolina, Mitch threw for 3,748 yards with 30 TDs and six Ints. He also rushed for 303 yards on 93 carries with five TDs. Trubisky comes with a high pedigree from high school, but he failed to win a starting job until 2016. He looks to be a very good game manager with the ability to extend drives with his legs if needed. Mitchell will need to do a better job getting the ball out quickly on his dropbacks plus show he can handle the show from behind center. In his rookie season over 12 starts, Trubisky went 4-8 with 2,193 passing yards with seven TDs and seven Ints while rushing for 248 yards and two TDs on 41 rushes. Mitchell had limited upside in his receiving options while working as a game manager for a team that showed improvement on defense. He passed for fewer than 200 yards in nine games with his best two games coming in Week 14 (276 combined yards with two TDs) and Week 15 (317 combined yards with one TD). On the year, Trubisky averaged only 27.5 pass attempts per game while taking 31 sacks. Chicago has strength at running back, but they did add more exciting playmaking talent at the receiving positions. Mitchell looked the part of an NFL QB in 2017, and the new coaching staff will let him attack the field in the deep passing game. Possible 4,000 combined yards with league average TDs thanks to his upgrades at WR.
Other Options: Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
RB Jordan Howard – The addition of Tarik Cohen and a shoulder issue deemed Howard a failed Fantasy investment in 2017 as a second-round pick. He finished with 299 touches for 1,247 combined yards with nine TDs and 23 catches. Jordan flashed his explosiveness in four games (23/140/2, 36/167, 15/125/1, and 23/147/2) with two other games of value (121 combined yards with three catches on 26 touches and 44 yards and two TDs. Unfortunately, Howard had short production in seven games (9/7, 21/65, 15/54, 7/6, 13/38, 10/37, and 9/9). When on his game, Jordan has beast upside. He won’t be a huge factor in the passing games, which forces Howard to earn his keep with TDs and rushing yards. Possible 1,500 combined yards with double-digit TDs and about 25 catches. Last season the Bears’ RB rushed for 1,534 yards and 11 TDs on 377 rushes plus 97 catches for 718 yards and three TDs on 130 targets while having one of the worst offenses in the NFL. I expect him to be an excellent value on draft day as an RB2 while expecting many peaks and valleys over the last season.
RB Tarik Cohen – The Bears took a scat back Tarik Cohen in the fourth round in last year’s draft. He has elite speed (4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine) while lacking size (5’6’ and 179 lbs.). His running style has a Barry Sanders type feel while projecting to be a terrific player in the passing game, which may have limited upside due to his ability to handle his responsibilities in pass blocking. Home run type player who need needs space to be a factor at the next level. In his four seasons at North Carolina A&T, Cohen rushed for 5,619 yards with 59 combined TDs plus 98 catches for another 945 yards. He proved to be a value in Fantasy drafts last season leading to 723 combined yards with three TDs and 53 catches. His best opportunity in the passing game in Week 1 (8/47/1 on 12 targets) and Week 2 (8/55 on nine targets). Defenses seemed to catch up with his skill set over the last 14 games leading to only 37 catches for 251 yards and no TDs on 50 targets. Over this stretch, he gained on 3.9 yards per rush on 75 carriers and 6.8 yards per catch. In the offseason, Cohen worked hard to get stronger and add more bulk. An excellent chance at 175+ combined touches with a run at 1,000 combined yards with 65+ catches and a handful of TDs. The added strength to the WR and TE position should create more space at the second level of the defense.
Other Options: Benny Cunningham, Taquan Mizzell
WR Allen Robinson – Based on targets (151), Robinson had the same opportunity in 2016 as his 2015 season. Unfortunately, he lost value in catches (73 – 80 in 2015), yards per catch (12.1 – 17.5 in 2015), TDs (6 – 14 in 2015), catches over 20 yards (11 – 31 in 2015) and catches over 40 yards (1 – 6 in 2015). His catch rate (48.3) was the lowest of his career while never being into a favorable area. Allen only had four games with over 20 Fantasy points in 2016 (7/57/2, 7/76/1, 9/107/1, and 9/147). Last season Allen was only on the field for three plays due to a torn ACL in his left knee. The Bears thought enough of him to sign Robinson to a three-year contract worth $42 million. He should have plenty of time to get healthy for the 2018 season. The new offensive coordinator will be more aggressive throwing the ball deep, which is a plus for Allen. Last season the Bears’ WR caught only 133 passes for 1,684 yards and three TDs on 231 targets. I don’t expect a huge spike in passing yards even with the coach-speak in Chicago. I’m going to draft Robinson with the idea of a 65/1000/7 type of season while hoping for upside if he’s discounted on draft day.
WR Anthony Miller – Over the last two seasons at Memphis, Miller caught 191 passes for 2,896 yards and 32 TDs while chipping in for another 94 yards and one TD rushing the ball. Anthony offers a unique combination of strength, route running, and open field ability. I love his moments with the ball and his adjustments to the ball in the deep passing game. Better CBs will test Miller in the NFL, but he looks to have the skill set to develop into a top WR in the game. He’s expected to move into the starting line while being an instant factor in the deep passing game. His presence gives Mitchell Trubisky a chance at pushing his TDs and passing yards to a much higher level. I like his overall package better than Allen Robinson, but I can’t trust his opportunity in the short passing game to set a higher floor while expecting a learning curve at the next level. Call me an intrigued with a starting point of 60 catches for 900+ yards and five TDs. I’d love to steal him as WR5 in the 2018 Fantasy draft season.
WR Kevin White – Over his first three years in the NFL, White only had 21 catches for 193 yards on 40 targets after being drafted in the first round in 2015. In 2016, he broke his left leg in early October while also suffering an ankle injury, which came a year after having surgery to repair shin splints. Last year Kevin broke a bone in his shoulder leading to another missed 15 games. He had an exceptional showing at the 2015 NFL combine when he ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash plus he showed plenty of strength when he benched 225 lbs. 23 times to lead all WRs. After being a non-factor for West Virginia in 2013 (35/507/5 in 11 games), Kevin made a huge step forward in 2014 when he caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and ten TDs. Over the last few years, we’ve seen WRs from the Mountaineers with huge catch totals (Tavon Austin – 225 in 2011 and 2012) and Stedman Bailey – 114 in 2012) struggle to make an impact in the NFL. I like the combination of speed and strength, but it takes plus route running ability to make an impact at the next level. Fading prospect with a lot lower opportunity while owning plenty of injury risk. Over three seasons in the NFL, White has only played in five games.
WR Taylor Gabriel – After playing well in 2016 for the Falcons (35/579/6 on 50 targets, Gabriel struggled to make big plays in 2017. He finished with similar catches (33) and targets (51) with a decline in his yards per catch (11.5) and TDs (1). A low-level player who can make a long play on a short catch or beat a defense deep if overlooked in coverage.
Other Options: Bennie Fowler, Josh Bellamy, Tanner Gentry, Marlon Brown, Javon Wims
TE Trey Burton – Over the last two season with the Eagles, Burton caught 60 combined passes for 565 yards and six TDs on 91 targets. Last year he played well in two starts (2/41/1 and 5/71/2) with Zach Ertz out of the lineup, which will be his attraction to Fantasy owner in 2018. His catch rate (66.3) is high in his career, but he did only gain 8.8 yards per catch in 2016 with minimal growth last year (10.8). In college, Burton played QB, RB, and WR, which shows he has talent and athletic ability. Last year TEs in Chicago caught 61 passes for 680 yards and five TDs on 98 targets. I expect the best season of his career, but he has a talented young TE behind him on the roster, and I sense he’ll be over drafted in 2018. Only a 50/500 guy with minimal upside in TDs.
TE Adam Shaheen – In his second season at Ashland University, Adam caught 70 passes for 803 yards and 10 TDs. His resume is short while playing against a lower level of talent. Shaheen will win many jump balls while showing plus hands. He doesn’t need a big window for success, but his route running still needs some work. His size (6’6” and 278 lbs.) and blocking ability gives him three-down ability. Adam is an upside TE who caught ten passes for 124 yards and three TDs on 11 targets in his best three games with a bump in playing time. His season ended after Week 14 with a chest injury. Probably a year away from being Fantasy relevant while adding some value in games in 2018.
Other Options: Dion Sims, Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker, Colin Thompson
K Cody Parkey – Over four seasons in the NFL, Parkey made 86.4 percent of his 88 field goal chances with great success from 50 yards or longer (6-for-7). Over the last two years, Cody missed four of 50 extra point tries. Chicago scored only 31 TDs while creating only 22 field goal attempts. Nice leg and the Bears should be better offensively in 2018. Only an occasional matchup option in the Fantasy market.
The Bears’ run defense has one of the better schedules in the league. They face five teams (ARI, MIA, TB, and DET X 2) that struggled to run the ball last year with the Cardinals expecting to be better with David Johnson back in the starting lineup. Chicago will be tested against the run against the Rams and the Vikings (2).
Chicago has four tough games (TB, NE, and DET X 2) for their pass defense. The Packers and the Jets were the weak links in 2017, but a healthy Aaron Rodgers will help Green Bay throw the ball better this year.
The Bears ranked 11th in rushing yards allowed (1,730) with ten TDs while averaging 27.0 runs per game. Carriers had nine runs over 20 yards.
Chicago moved to seventh in passing yards allowed (3,376) with 18 TDs and eight Ints. Their defensive line had 42 sacks. They allowed only 36 catches over 20 yards, which was the second-best total in the league.
DE Akiem Hicks set a career high in sacks (8.5) while adding 54 tackles. Hicks ranks highly against the run with two straight years of success. DE Jonathan Bullard improved in his second year in the NFL after being drafted in the third round. He played well vs. the run while being a weak option in the pass rush.
DT Eddie Goldman had the most tackles (4) of his career, but he’s faded in sacks (1.5) in each year in the league after Chicago drafted him in the second round in 2015. Overall, Goldman is a league average player.
The Bears have two first-round draft picks at the linebacker position – Leonard Floyd and Roquan Smith. Over two seasons in the NFL, Floyd has 67 combined tackles with 11.5 tackles with his best value coming against the run. Smith comes with an exciting skill set to offer value on all three downs. LB Danny Trevathan finished with 89 tackles, two sacks, five defended passes, and one Int last year. He has some risk vs. the run while being an edge in coverage. LB Sam Acho projects to be a liability in a rotational role in 2018.
S Adrian Amos has been consistent tackler (67, 65, 69) over the last three seasons leading to a strong asset against the run and in pass coverage. Last year he did miss three games, which led to some stats left on the table.
S Eddie Jackson stepped right into the starting line after the Bears’ selected him in the 4th round in 2017. Jackson had 73 tackles, six defended passes, two Ints, and two TDs to rank as league average player at his position. Jackson is a playmaker with upside in the return game. Eddie would have been drafted higher if he didn’t suffer a broken leg in 2016. Jackson doesn’t project as an edge in run support due to some weakness in his tackling. He’s a former CB so his best value will come in coverage. His game could be exposed in the pros due to less talent in front of him something that wasn’t an issue at Alabama. Eddie needs to get stronger while improving his technique in tackling.
CB Kyle Fuller made a considerable step forward in coverage leading to 22 defended passes along with 69 tackles and two Ints. He has some risk vs. the run while being a former first-round draft pick (2014). CB Marcus Cooper failed to match his breakout season with the Cardinals in 2016 (69 tackles, 11 defended passes, four Ints, and one TDs) leading bench role last year. CB Prince Amukamara played the best ball of his career in 2017 while grading well in coverage and against the run.
The second and third levels of the Bears’ defense has the most talent, but the LB position does have one weak link. I don’t see a ton of pressure on the QB created by the defensive line, so the young talent at linebacking position will need to carry the load in this area. I expect success vs. the run and upside in coverage, which put Chicago a couple of pass rushers on the defensive line from being a strong defense. Viable second Fantasy defense with some matchup value.
[table id=6 /]