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Justin Fields: So How Bad Was It?

By Matt Schauf 10:45am EDT 9/29/21

(Note: This is a sample of the Fantasy Vision write-ups we do for every game, every week. Become a DS Insider to gain access to all of them.)

Justin Fields’ Week 3 numbers support the narrative of a rookie QB unready for the pro game: 6-of-20 passing, 68 yards, 9 sacks.

The game film itself certainly isn’t good. But it also shows more of a young player set up to fail than a rookie flubbing his opportunity.

First came the pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, Fields took pressure on 53.3% of his dropbacks, 2nd only to Carson Wentz (53.8%) in Week 3. Of the 16 pressures among his 30 dropbacks, PFF charged 14 to Bears blockers. Cleveland also converted 56.3% of those pressures into sacks. That was the highest rate for any QB on the week, with Dak Prescott the only other higher than 35.7%.

Fields took some blame in that area as well. PFF charged him with “some responsibility” for pressure on 20% of dropbacks, tied for 5th-highest among starting QBs. Altogether, that area was enough to ruin Fields’ debut.

On top of that, though, the Bears couldn’t run the ball: 34 yards on 10 RB carries, with nearly half of that accounted for on David Montgomery’s game-opening, 16-yard run. Ill-timed sacks and penalties added to the difficulty in extending several drives. A 2nd-quarter possession, for example, found Fields sailing a pass over Darnell Mooney’s head on 2nd-and-short, then a false start by G Germain Ifedi turning a sneakable play into 3rd-and-5. Fields took a sack in the ensuing obvious passing situation.

Later, Fields got creative and underhanded a 3rd-and-9 pass to Cole Kmet for 6 yards. But a holding penalty wiped out the play. The rookie QB then threw a nice ball on 3rd-and-19 that drew a 48-yard PI call on Browns S John Johnson vs. Allen Robinson. Good pickup for the Bears, but another 48 yards Fields didn’t get on the stat sheet.

The rookie's mere 3 rushes for 12 yards in the game might be the most disappointing aspect for fantasy players. But no room in the pocket also meant little room for running. And the Bears clearly didn't design much rushing work into the Fields plan -- for whatever reason.

In his 3 preseason outings, we saw Fields rush once per every 4.45 pass attempts. When he relieved Andy Dalton in Week 2, he finished with 10 rushes vs. 13 pass attempts. So we should expect more runs going forward than we saw in Cleveland.

Of course, this whole package means we can’t trust Fields in our Week 4 fantasy lineups, even with a much better matchup against Detroit. Just know that the rookie’s actual performance wasn’t nearly as hopeless as his stat line might indicate.

Whether to hold him through these growing pains depends heavily on your QB situation and league format. In common 1-QB setups for leagues of 12 teams or fewer, don't feel like you need to stay patient if you already have a quality QB1.

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