Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
The Chicago Bears had a rough 2017 season, going 5-11 and finishing last in the NFC North, a division that looks like it’ll be one of the tougher ones in football for the next few years. But it’s not all doom and gloom in the Windy City. The Bears played good defense, ranking 12th in yards per play allowed and ninth in points against.
If Chicago’s offense can take a step forward, they should be a more competitive team in 2018. New coach Matt Nagy will be tasked with leading that charge, and he’ll have a young passer he can mold. Nagy comes from Kansas City, where he was the offensive coordinator and helped Alex Smith and the Chiefs field one of the NFL’s better offenses in 2017.
Nagy will have his work cut out for him, but before we move on to 2018, let’s take a position-by-position look at what went down for the fantasy-relevant players on the Bears in 2017, starting with quarterbacks.
The Bears notoriously gave up quite a bit to move up one spot to grab Trubisky in the 2017 Draft. The rookie showed flashes, but he ultimately struggled. Granted, he wasn’t surrounded by much in the way of receiver talent. Trubisky finished his first season with 2,193 yards, seven scores, and seven picks, completing 59.4 percent of his throws. He added 41 carries for 248 yards and two scores.
A mobile signal caller, Trubisky shares some of Alex Smith’s traits, and it would seem like he’d be a good fit in Nagy’s offense. The Bears should be better at receiver in 2018 – getting healthy as well as probably spending some draft capital on the position – which will help Trubisky’s fantasy outlook. Plus, we can’t overlook his legs. Quarterbacks who can run are like a cheat code, so this off-season may be a good time to buy Trubisky for those who play in two-quarterback leagues. As we saw with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff this past year, sometimes passers make a jump in their second season, and with what they have invested in Trubisky, Chicago will likely give him every chance to pan out these next few years.
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Glennon opened the year as the starter, but the writing was on the wall as soon as Chicago traded up to get Trubisky – even though Glennon landed a fairly lucrative off-season contract in free agency. Glennon started four games, completing 66.4 percent of his attempts while throwing for 833 yards, four touchdowns, and five interceptions. All things considered, he wasn’t horrible, although he certainly didn’t do enough to run away with the job. He’s signed through 2019, but the dead cap hit is just $1 million if the Bears cut him after 2018.
Howard didn’t quite match the numbers from his superb rookie year, but he once again put together a quality campaign on what was a pretty poor Bears offense. He finished the year with 1,122 rushing yards and nine scores on 276 carries (4.1 YPC). Howard lost a good amount of pass-game work to the next guy on this list, totaling a mere 23 grabs for 125 yards, but that’s really the only blemish on his resume through two seasons.
Howard is the 36th-ranked player and the RB14, per our January ADP numbers. Despite the superb start to his career, the two things holding him back from climbing into the ranks of the truly elite dynasty backs are his lack of receptions and a pedestrian Chicago offense. Howard may never catch 40-plus balls, but if Trubisky can improve going forward, it would make Howard “feel” a lot safer, although the fact he just put up good numbers in 2017 on an offense that ranked 29th in points and 24th in yards per play should ease those concerns.
Cohen generated a good amount of buzz in the preseason, and all in all, the fourth-round pick from North Carolina A&T had a nice rookie campaign. He delivered a gem in week one, rushing five times for 66 yards and adding eight catches for 47 yards and a score. But only twice did he have more than 45 rushing yards in a game the rest of the season, and he topped 50 receiving yards in a game just twice more (with two more touchdowns). In total, he recorded 87 carries for 370 yards (4.3 YPC) and two scores as a runner while adding 53 receptions for 353 yards and another touchdown as a receiver.
Per our January ADP, Cohen is the 92nd overall player and 29th running back, so he’s holding some good value. Cohen would likely benefit greatly from Trubisky making a leap in 2018 as the scat back gets much of his value from passing-game work. Cohen finished as the RB30 in PPR formats last year, and his big-play ability makes him an enticing asset. It is worth mentioning that Cohen’s 71 targets were second on the team, and it’s fair to wonder if that volume will be there going forward because Chicago’s wide receivers probably won’t be this bad in future seasons.
A distant third on the depth chart, Cunningham ended the year with nine carries for 29 yards and 20 catches for 240 yards and two scores. A pass-game back, he’s seen at least 20 targets in each of the last four years, the first three of which came with the Rams. Cunningham was on a one-year deal, so he’s headed to free agency.
Mizzell signed a three-year deal last off-season after being cut by the Baltimore Ravens, taking the place of Ka’Deem Carey, who was released. Mizzell is going into his age-25 campaign next fall, and he appeared in three games in 2017 as a special teamer but didn’t log a single carry. He’s off the fantasy radar.
Meredith was a player I liked a lot heading into 2017, but he tore his ACL in the preseason. The good news is he’s expected to be ready for camp, and with Chicago owning one of the worst wideout depth charts in the NFL, Meredith should be in line for good volume even if the Bears address the position in the NFL Draft.
As a reminder, Meredith was pretty darn good in 2016, with his breakout flying under the radar a bit. He had 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns that season, registering five standard-league WR1 (top-12) weeks over the final 11 weeks. For the whole of 2016, only T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson had more WR1 weeks, and Meredith did that in an 11-week span. He’s the WR48 right now and makes for a pretty nice buy this off-season as far as I’m concerned
It was another lost year for White, who has been snake-bitten by injuries for most of his NFL career. Since becoming the seventh overall pick in 2015, White has played in just five games, including one game in 2017 before suffering a broken shoulder blade. It’s tempting to write him off, but we really have no idea if he is any good at football or not. His only span of anything resembling health came in 2016, and he put together back-to-back games of at least six catches and 50 receiving yards before getting hurt. I know that’s not much, but we have so little to go on with White.
The Bears own a team option for 2019 that, at this point, it’s hard to see them picking up. But Chicago is starved for perimeter playmakers, and if White can stay off the training table, he’ll likely get a chance to show what he’s got. White is the WR81 right now, so it’s not a horrible time to take a flier on him and cross your fingers that he stays on the field.
Wright led the Bears in targets (91) last year, finishing with 69 catches for 614 yards and one score. Amazingly, the one touchdown tied him for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns on the team. Wright is heading into his age-29 season, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. It’s extremely unlikely he lands in a place where he sees anything close to 91 targets, so this may have been something of a swan song for his fantasy relevance.
Bellamy played in 15 games and put up 24 receptions for 376 yards and one score on 46 targets. An undrafted free agent back in 2012, Bellamy has been in Chicago for his entire career, playing at least 15 games in each of the past three years. He’s also set to hit free agency, and he’s unlikely to end up as more than a part-time player regardless of how that shakes out.
Inman has some intrigue as he flashed big-play ability in his time with the Chargers before being traded to Chicago midseason. The Bears didn’t give up much to get him – a seventh-round pick – and he was a decent roll of the dice for a team that badly needed help at receiver. In just eight games, Inman posted 23 catches for 334 yards and one touchdown on 40 targets. With Chicago, he had two games of at least 85 yards – his first and last games – and he’s set to be a free agent. From the Bears’ perspective, it makes a lot of sense to re-sign Inman, but we’ll see how that plays out. Going into his age-29 campaign, Inman would someone to at least monitor if he ends up in a place where he can see meaningful snaps, and his best chance for that may be with the Bears.
Miller suffered a gruesome and very serious leg injury in 2017, cutting short his season. The severity of the injury can’t be overstated as it was something we rarely see on a football field. Amputation was reportedly on the table at one point due to artery damage, and Miller has undergone nine surgeries since the injury. Miller is due to be a free agent, but there’s no guarantee he ever plays again. He ended the season with 20 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. His 35 targets were the most for any Chicago tight end.
Sims has primarily been a blocking tight end throughout his career, but he got some more looks in the passing game when Miller went down. Sims totaled 15 grabs for 180 yards and one score on 29 targets. He is signed through the 2019 season and could be a name to monitor in deep leagues if this next player doesn’t take on a bigger role.
We all know the drill by now. A vast majority of rookie tight ends don’t do much. Shaheen was no exception as the 2017 second-round pick wrapped up his first campaign with modest totals of 12 catches (on 14 targets) for 127 yards and three touchdowns. In an offense that is hurting for playmakers in the passing game, Shaheen should get every chance to step into more of an every-down job in 2018. He’ll likely be a chic breakout pick in re-draft formats, and he’ll climb quickly from his current value of TE19 if he takes a step forward next season. For those hurting at the tight end spot, it may be worth kicking the tires on Shaheen this off-season.
Brown was a relative no-name player until late in the year. After being released by Baltimore, Brown landed in Chicago, doing nothing early season. But he kept getting more action as the year wore on and ended up posting a 13-129-0 line on 20 targets. Other than touchdowns, Brown basically matched Shaheen’s output, so he’s at least worth knowing in the event that Shaheen doesn’t make a jump in 2018.