2020 Chicago Bears Team Preview: Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky?

SI Fantasy's Team Preview series from high-stakes legend Shawn Childs aims to break down the Chicago Bears to evaluate the offense, defense, coaches and everyone in between with a fantasy-slanted analysis.
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Coaching Staff

After a breakthrough season in 2018 (12-4), the Chicago Bears slipped to 8-8 last year because a fade offensively (29th in points scored – 280 and yards gained). They scored 141 fewer points than in 2018 (421).

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. He has a 20-12 record over two years as a head coach with one appearance in the playoffs.

Bill Lazor takes over as the offensive coordinator after spending 2019 as an analyst for Penn State. He has four seasons of offensive coordinator experience. His NFL career started in 2003 while coaching in the league for 13 years.

The Bears’ defense slipped to fourth in points allowed (298) and eighth in yards allowed while being less opportunistic.

Chicago brought in Chuck Pagano to take over the defense in 2019. His 2011 success as the Ravens' defensive coordinator helped him earn the head coaching job for Colts for six seasons. He went 11-5 in each of his first three years with Indy while making the playoffs each season. Pagano faded over his next three seasons (20-28), pushing his career record to 53-43. He has 19 years of experience in the NFL.

Quarterbacks

Mitchell Trubisky (RANK - ADP)

Despite playing through a left shoulder injury (labrum), Trubisky set career highs in completions (326) and pass attempts (516), but had a significant step back in his yards per pass attempt (6.1 lowest in the NFL – 7.4 in 2018).

Surprisingly, his WR1 (Allen Robinson – 98/1147/7) held value, which left failure behind almost every other door in the receiving game.

In 2018, Trubisky had the feel of a rising QB with slick movements as a runner (68/421/3). We see how that played out.

The Bears have questions at TE (46/425/2), but they did add Jimmy Graham via free agency and Cole Kmet in the draft. WR Anthony Miller (52/656/2) played through his second season with injuries while failing to develop into a top tier WR2.

I expect a bounce-back by the Bears’ offense in 2020 while being in the free-agent pool in most fantasy leagues. Viable QB2 if his season starts well. Trubisky had surgery in late-January to repair his labrum issue.

His ADP (260) remains low due to Nick Foles being in the mix to start.

I like the upside of Trubisky, but it comes down to wins to keep the job. On the first run of the projections, I gave him 95 percent of the quarterback playing time, which came to 4,081 combined yards with 25 TDs and 11 interceptions.

Nick Foles (RANK - ADP)

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Running Backs

David Montgomery (RANK - ADP)

Montgomery wasn’t much better than RB Tarik Cohen last year on early downs (3.7 yards per rush), but the Bears still gave him 16.7 touches per game.

His only three contests of value came in Week 8 (147 combined yards with one TD and four catches), Week 9 (76 combined yards with two TDs and three catches), and Week 17 (23/113/1).

Chicago had him on the field for 63 percent of their plays.

Over his last two seasons at Iowa St., Montgomery rushed for 2,362 yards with 24 TDs on 515 carries. He gained only 4.6 yards per rush, which is unimpressive at the college level. He picked 71 catches for 582 yards in his college career. Many of his TDs came on short easy runs while lacking open-field moves and vision to create more significant plays.

There’s upside here with three-down ability, but the Bears need to solve their offensive line issues to create more significant plays. Borderline RB2 in draft value (ADP – 52), but Montgomery is worth fighting for on draft day.

I set his initial bar at 1,206 combined yards with nine TDs and 30 catches, ranking 26th.

Tarik Cohen (RANK - ADP)

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Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson (RANK - ADP)

The only bright spot in the Bears’ offense last year was the play of Robinson. He set career-highs in catches (98), targets (154), and catch rate (63.6) despite Chicago’s wide receivers catching only 214 passes for 2,484 yards and 14 TDs on 349 targets.

Robinson caught seven or more passes in eight games while finishing up the year with double-digit targets in five of his last six contests.

His better play came at home (52/646/4 on 82 targets).

He’s showing growth in his possession skills while also having the ability to make big plays. Over six seasons in the NFL, Robinson only has one other year of value (2015 – 80/1400/14).

Viable WR2 with his success tied to a rebound in the Bears’ fading passing game. Fantasy owners have him priced as the 12th receiver off the table in mid-June with an ADP of 36. His early projections came to 91 catches for 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns, which ranked 15th at wide receiver for me.

Anthony MillerTed Ginn, Javon Wims & Riley Ridley

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Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham (RANK - ADP)

The two-year experiment in Green Bay didn’t go as planned for Graham. He struggled to score TDs with a diminishing opportunity.

Graham has four catches or fewer in 15 of his 16 starts while failing to gain over 50 yards in 14 contests.

Last year the Bears struggled offensively with the TE position being a part of the problem (46/425/2 on 69 targets).

A new home can’t offset his declining skill set at age 34. The Bears added TE Cole Kmet in the second round in this year’s draft, which steals snaps and targets away from Graham. I only see 42 catches for 461 yards and three TDs with no interest in the fantasy world based on his ADP (279 as the 35th TE drafted).

Cole Kmet

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Defense

The Bears fell to ninth in rushing yards allowed (1,632) with 16 TDs and nine runs over 20 yards. Opponents rushed for 3.9 yards per carry.

Chicago dipped to ninth in passing yards allowed (3,554) with 17 TDs and ten Ints. Their defense finished with 32 sacks (18 fewer than 2018). They allowed only 40 catches over 20 yards, which was the fourth-lowest total in the league.

In the premium outlook, on defense you'll find write-ups for DE Akiem Hicks, DE Bilal Nichols, DT Eddie Goldman, LB Khalil Mack, LB Roquan Smith, LB Danny Trevathan, LB Robert Quinn, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Jaylon Johnson, S Eddie Jackson & S Tashaun Gipson

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Team Defense Outlook

The two keys for the Bears' defense in 2020 will be regaining their pass rush and their offense, making more plays to help control the clock. They did address some of their issues in the offseason. Chicago has some playmakers, which invites scoring ability in the fantasy games. Top-ten option in the fantasy market with more upside if their core stays healthy.

Free Agency, Draft, Offensive Line, Offensive Schedule & Defensive Schedule

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