Will we get the breakout we all wanted from Chicago Bears RB David Montgomery in Year 2?

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Chicago Bears.

Allen Robinson is far and away Chicago’s top target, but considering the team’s QB questions, is it more likely he finishes as a top 5 fantasy WR or outside the top 20 this season?

Dalton: He was the No. 7 fantasy WR in PPR formats last year, when he also finished No. 3 in WOPR, and I’m of the belief Nick Foles is a massive upgrade over Mitch Trubisky (and by far the best QB of ARob’s career), so I have Robinson as my WR6 and am closer to moving him higher than I am lower. This is someone who recorded 1,400 yards and an NFL-high 14 touchdowns as a 22-year-old sophomore during a season his QB, Blake Bortles, posted an ugly -3.5 CPOE (completion percentage over expected). Given the Bears’ highly questionable RB situation, Anthony Miller’s chronic shoulder issues, Foles’ sneaky potential and the easiest projected schedule for WRs, Robinson is an underrated threat to finish as the No. 1 fantasy wideout in 2020.

Liz: History has a way of repeating itself, so I understand the slight worry that Robinson could regress. After all, we witnessed him go from being fantasy’s WR5 overall in 2015 to the WR28 in 2016. But Matt Nagy is better than Gus Bradley and Nick Foles is better than Blake Bortles. Furthermore, the Bears’ lack of receiving depth figures to buoy ARob’s target volume. It is much more likely that, assuming health, a player as talented as Robinson who’s also gifted with 130-plus looks will finish inside of the top-five rather than outside of the top-20. He’s my WR9 on the season.

Andy: It’s much more likely that he reaches the top five. Barring a significant injury, he’s a clear WR1 for fantasy purposes. Robinson is the unrivaled No. 1 target in Chicago’s offense, masterful at using leverage and creating separation. He’s finished as a top-12 fantasy receiver with both Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky as his quarterback. So yeah, he can thrive in the Nick Foles era, no doubt. Robinson is a sneaky candidate to lead the NFL in targets, considering his relative importance in the Bears’ offense.

I mean, c’mon — just look at this guy:

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David Montgomery never got going as a rookie. Is he a post-hype sleeper with no competition in the backfield or little more than a flex option?

Andy: To be perfectly honest, I hate having to commit to an answer on Montgomery when Devonta Freeman and various other vets are just hanging out there as unsigned free agents. It doesn’t appear the Bears are going to pull the trigger on another back (because they haven’t done it yet), but I can’t say it would be shocking. Montgomery, after all, was remarkably inefficient last season in terms of both traditional (3.7 YPC) and advanced metrics. He wasn’t great. He barely crept over 1,000 scrimmage yards by the end of the season, yet averaged just 4.0 yards per touch.

But still, I’m not gonna write off a 23-year-old entering his second season. There are plenty of examples of NFL rushers who struggled as rookies and broke out as sophs. (Yeah, sure, there are also plenty of examples of rushers who struggled as rookies and struggled as sophs and landed in the CFL. It happens.) At the moment, Montgomery has no serious competition on the depth chart. He’s potentially looking at a monster workload. If we’re drafting tonight, I’d view him as a viable No. 2 fantasy RB.

Liz: There’s no denying Montgomery struggled with inefficiency in his rookie campaign, posting a true carry rate of 3.5 YPC (RB56) and a production premium of -23.2 (RB69). Yet his numbers absolutely improved as the year progressed. Over the first eight games of the season, Monty averaged 14 carries per game, but over the last eight weeks of 2019 that number went up to 16.25 attempts per contest. Additionally, he became more efficient with those attempts, improving his yards created average by 50 percent from Weeks 8-17. It’s therefore reasonable to expect the second-year back to further his development as a rusher, especially given the lack of competition in this backfield and, consequently, the volume he’ll receive.

Plus, he was the RB25 in fantasy last year and is being drafted as the RB26 this go-around. That’s a solid value for a flex player with RB2 potential. 

Dalton: He’s coming off a miserable rookie season that saw him finish 48th out of 50 running backs in YPC after contact (even septuagenarian Frank Gore got more). In rushing DVOA, Montgomery graded 40th among 45 backs (and also poorly as a receiver) while finishing No. 109 in fantasy points per opportunity. It’s pretty clear Montgomery’s impressive broken tackle numbers in college were deceptive, as that metric matters less for (and can even benefit from) runners who lack explosion.

However, I still have Montgomery ranked as a top-25 fantasy RB, as volume remains king, and he truly appears to be the only game in town. Chicago needed to upgrade the position in the draft as much as any team in football but selected its ninth tight end instead. I want there to be a sleeper in this backfield considering Montgomery’s underwhelming rookie season, but it’s unquestionably the thinnest in the NFL. The backup appears to be undrafted Ryan Nall. The team used a third-rounder on Montgomery last season, and they enter 2020 fully expecting to make him their workhorse.

Anthony Miller is a popular breakout candidate going into Year 3. At his current Yahoo ADP of 132.5, there’s no risk and all upside. What makes or breaks him taking a big step forward this season?

Liz: A player whose toughness extends far beyond the trite superlative, Miller is an ace talent. He posted 7 TDs in 2018, despite playing through a shoulder dislocation over the last three months of his rookie effort. In 2019, he started slow, but by mid-November was back to form, posting five consecutive fantasy-relevant stat lines and averaging over 86 yards per game from Weeks 11-15 before spraining his AC joint in Week 16.

Because both injuries were sustained in the same shoulder, and because they both required offseason surgery, there’s an obvious concern that this issue could become recurrent and potentially limit Miller’s ceiling. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Miller start slow again in 2020. But assuming that managers are drafting him with patience, his ADP is a solid value. Just don’t expect him to hit the field sans rust.

Dalton: The main factor in Miller’s possible breakout is whether his shoulder holds up, a shoulder that required yet another surgery after he injured it during a meaningless Week 17 game. He can clearly play, and the Bears have few options in the passing game after Robinson, and to reiterate, his new quarterback Foles finished with the second-best CPAE in the NFL in 2018. Miller is primed for a breakout and won’t be cheap like this come August.

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

Andy: The answer here is health. He’s coming off another offseason shoulder surgery, which is no small concern. Miller has only actually missed one week in his two-year career, but he’s played at less than full capacity in at least half his games. He’s on track to open the season at something close to 100-ish percent and he has a clear shot at triple-digit targets as the team’s No. 2 receiver. Foles obviously helps, too. In a full season, it’s reasonable to think he can deliver something like a 65-850-7 line. You should be thrilled with that from a player you draft well outside the top-100 picks.

Chicago Bears Projected 2020 lineup
Chicago Bears Projected 2020 lineup

#FantasyHotTaek

Andy: It kinda feels like our editors are attempting to bait me into some sort of outrageously bold take on Foles or Monty here, knowing that I’m a Bears fan. But I’m not fallin’ for it, folks. Instead, let’s go with this: Chicago is definitely producing the top-scoring D/ST for 2020. The names on this team’s defensive depth chart are ridiculous: Hicks, Mack, Quinn, Jackson, Trevathan, Goldman, Roquan, Fuller. The Bears are absolutely loaded with ball-hawks and maulers. The division is not exactly a lay-up line, but this team’s D is going to be very good at the things that drive traditional fantasy scoring. Go get ‘em.

OVER/UNDER on 8.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Dalton: With heavy juice on the under and as a believer in the Foles upgrade being greater than the public perceives, part of me wants to go contrarian here, but it just seems like this original line was off. In a division also featuring the Vikings, a Lions team I like more than most (Matthew Stafford was getting 8.6 YPA before going down last year) and a Packers squad that just went 13-3 and appeared in the NFC Championship Game, and with the Bears still making decisions like signing washed Jimmy Graham, I’m taking the UNDER.

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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