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Fantasy Football News 2021

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Bears HC Matt Nagy said Wednesday that he anticipates TE Cole Kmet's role growing in 2021. His playing time spiked late in his rookie year, with Kmet registering a 70+% snap rate in each of final 8 games (including playoffs). But the production didn't follow. Kmet averaged just 5 targets, 3.1 catches and 22.5 yards per game over that stretch. There's plenty of room for those numbers to grow this year, especially in Chicago gets better QB play from Justin Fields and/or Andy Dalton.

The Bears have placed RB Tarik Cohen on the active PUP list to start training camp. Cohen is still working back from last September's torn ACL and was reportedly hobbled during spring workouts. We're guessing he'll be available for the start of this season -- but it's certainly not a lock. We'll continue to monitor his progress. Cohen's absence would free up targets for RB David Montgomery. Chicago also added RB Damien Williams this offseason.

The Athletic's Adam Jahns expects the Bears offense to feature more deep passes this season. "[HC Matt] Nagy’s offense has always been vertical," Jahns writes. "His practices in the offseason program and camp have featured plenty of shots down the field, including this year with [Andy] Dalton and [Justin] Fields in OTAs and minicamp. Nagy wants to be aggressive down the field. It’s in his playbook and in his nature as a coach and play-caller." QB Mitchell Trubisky struggled throwing deep over the past few seasons -- but it's a strength of Fields' game. More deep shots would be particularly good news for speedy WR Darnell Mooney.

Adam Jahns of The Athletic calls Marquise Goodwin the Bears' #3 WR based on OTAs and minicamps. Goodwin didn't play a single snap last season, but Jahns points out the WR's speed as the deciding factor. Damiere Byrd sits 4th in the projection, with Dazz Newsome and Anthony Miller slotting 5th and 6th, respectively. At bottom, we don’t see a Chicago WR beyond Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney emerging for fantasy.

After skipping 2 weeks of voluntary OTAs, Bears WR Allen Robinson showed up for mandatory minicamp. On Wednesday, the veteran confirmed that he won’t be a training camp holdout. “That [contract negotiations] is not in my control,” Robinson said. “That is what it is. I’m comfortable with that. Obviously that [signing an extension] is a possibility. My main focus right now is to continue to get better.” The Bears have until July 15 to extend Robinson. The 27-year-old has rolled up 200-2,397-13 over the past 2 seasons.

In an interview with Cris Collinsworth, Bears HC Matt Nagy said “Andy [Dalton] is our starter … Justin [Fields] is our #2, and we’re going to stick to this plan.” Time will tell on that one. But if the plan holds and Dalton starts, he’ll face tough road tests early on: Week 1 at Rams, Week 3 at Browns. We still see Fields starting the majority of Chicago’s games this fall. See where the rookie sits in our QB Rankings.

Bears WR Dazz Newsome broke his collarbone in Tuesday's OTA session, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports. Newsome will undergo surgery on Thursday but "should be ready right around the start of training camp," according to Pelissero. Although he's a 6th-round rookie, Newsome has a shot to win the Bears' slot receiver job -- especially if they find a trade partner for WR Anthony Miller. We'll keep an eye on Newsome's recovery from this injury.

Bears HC Matt Nagy isn't giving anything to 1st-round pick Justin Fields before he earns it. "Andy is the starter," Nagy reiterated this week, according to NFL.com. "Andy's going to get the one reps." It's no shock that Dalton will open full-team workouts as the starter. What will be worth watching is how soon Fields claims some of those reps. Nagy said Fields needs to speed up his pre-snap recognition and improve at reading defenses. "He's going to get a great opportunity to do that against our defense," Nagy said. "I think that's where we're going to have to see, are there a lot of mistakes being made? Or are there a lot of good plays that are being made? And is it natural and is it easy for him? That's what what we'll evaluate." History says Fields will take over this offense at some point before the 2021 season ends, but Nagy was the OC in Kansas City when Patrick Mahomes sat for a year behind Alex Smith. We'll certainly be watching this situation throughout summer.

Chicago selected UNC WR Dazz Newsome in Round 6 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Newsome broke out for a 72-1,018-10 line back in 2019, beating Dyami Brown in catches and finishing just behind him in yards and TDs. He took a step back this past year, though, tallying 54 catches for 684 yards and 6 scores. And then he bombed his Pro Day, running a 4.59-second 40-yard dash with bottom-barrel agility scores at 5’10 and 190 pounds. We thought Newsome looked more athletic on tape, especially after the catch. But he’ll likely be pigeonholed as a slot receiver in the NFL. If that holds in Chicago, he could potentially step in early if the Bears trade away Anthony Miller (which has been rumored).

The Bears picked up RB Khalil Herbert in Round 6 of the 2021 NFL Draft. After an underwhelming stint at Kansas, Herbert transferred to Virginia Tech and enjoyed a breakout 2020. As a 22-year-old senior, the Florida native tallied 154-1,182-8 in 11 games. His 7.68 YPC ranked 4th nationally. On film, Herbert excelled both after contact and as a contact-dodger. He also exits college with only 1 career fumble (507 career touches). On the negative side, Herbert is still largely unproven in the receiving game. He at least managed 17.9 YPC on his 10 receptions last season. In Chicago, he could be fighting Damien Williams for a 2021 roster spot.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Bears HC Matt Nagy wants to have QB Andy Dalton spend this season as the starter, with Justin Fields learning behind him. Nagy, of course, was the Chiefs OC in 2017, when K.C. traded up to 10 to draft Patrick Mahomes and then sat him for a year behind Alex Smith. Overall, history says that Fields is more likely to enter the starting lineup at some point this season. But this report is worth taking seriously for at least current best-ball drafting. Dalton doesn't come close to Fields in upside for either real or fantasy football, but he's pretty similar to what Smith was in 2017. Dalton does throw a lot more INTs, however, than Smith did. He has also posted sub-.500 win-loss records in his past 5 seasons. It's hard to imagine a struggling Bears team not making a switch to Fields. It's also worth noting that Fields enters the league as a more-polished passer than Mahomes did. We'll see if the buzz changes once we get into training camp and preseason.

The Bears traded up from #20 to #11 to snag Ohio State QB Justin Fields. Fields’ career has run parallel with that of Trevor Lawrence since high school. He entered college essentially tied with Lawrence as the nation’s top recruit. After a year at Georgia, Fields starred across 2 Ohio State seasons. He delivered 63 TD passes vs. just 9 INTs while completing 68.4% of his throws at 9.3 yards per attempt. Fields ranked 2nd only to Alabama’s Mac Jones in Pro Football Focus adjusted completion rate among draft-eligible QBs in 2020 (80.8%). Fields adds dynamic running ability, tallying 1,133 yards and 19 TDs on the ground for his college career. Fields hits the NFL with at least as much fantasy upside as Lawrence and the potential to deliver QB1-level numbers right away. It shouldn’t take him long to beat out Andy Dalton for the starting job in Chicago.

The Bears have agreed to a 1-year deal with RB Damien Williams, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 29-year-old (as of April 3) spent 2 seasons with the Chiefs before opting out of 2020 over COVID concerns. Williams shined over late-season stretches in both of those years but totaled just 161 regular-season carries and 53 receptions over those 2 campaigns. He previously played under new Bears OC Bill Lazor in Miami but totaled a mere 51 rushes and 60 targets over those 2 shared seasons. Williams will join a Chicago backfield that finds David Montgomery heading into his 3rd season and coming off a torrid fantasy finish to 2020, plus Tarik Cohen coming off a September ACL tear. We'll see how all these pieces fit together, but we don't head toward 2021 with big expectations for the former Chief.

NFL Network reports that the Bears are expected to sign QB Andy Dalton to a 1-year deal worth $10 million, with a $12.5 million max. That sounds like the contract Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting in Washington and points to Dalton likely taking over the starting gig. Dalton is a better option than Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky but doesn't present a big upgrade to the fantasy outlooks of other guys in the Chicago offense.

Update: "They told me I was the starter," Dalton said, according to Adam Jahns of The Athletic.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the Chiefs are releasing RB Damien Williams. The veteran, of course, opted out of the 2020 season for COVID reasons. His departure now creates a potential opportunity for Darwin Thompson to fight for the #2 job. Neither Darrel Williams nor Le'Veon Bell is under contract for 2021, leaving only Thompson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. We'd bet on the Chiefs adding more either in free agency or the draft. Thompson is a fine shot to take late in best-ball drafts right now, though, in case he reaches the season as K.C.'s 2nd back.

The Bears signed K Cairo Santos to a 5-year, $16 million deal. Santos finally gave Chicago stability at the position last season, drilling 30 of 32 FG tries and 36 of 37 XPs. His job security makes him a fine pick in early fantasy drafts.

The Bears are placing the franchise tag on WR Allen Robinson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That means Robinson will remain stuck in Chicago's offense for at least another year rather than getting a chance to hit the open market this month. We'll see who his 2021 QB will be. Robinson, at least, has already proved he can produce strong fantasy numbers with the likes of Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. So we're not altering his fantasy outlook.

Bears CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) is inactive for today's game against the Saints. That marks the 4th straight game he has missed. With slot CB Buster Skrine (concussion) previously ruled out, it'll be the 4th straight week that Chicago has missed 2 of its top 3 CBs.

The Bears have downgraded LB Roquan Smith (elbow) to OUT for Sunday's game against the Saints. That leaves no clear full-time replacement behind him. It likely means full or near-full playing time for LB Danny Trevathan, though, making him a better IDP option.

The Bears have downgraded WR Darnell Mooney (ankle) to OUT for Sunday's game against the Saints. That boosts the fantasy football outlook for WR Anthony Miller.

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