Chicago Bears Team Preview

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    Da Bears are officially back.  After decades of mediocrity the Bears are so loaded on offense one has to wonder if the universe is playing one last cosmic joke on its fans.  The hype has reached a fever pitch as first-overall pick Caleb Williams is walking into the best situation possible.  The Bears finished 7-10 last season and added veteran WR superstar Keenan Allen and drafted Rome Odunze ninth overall to give the potential superstar QB all the weapons he can handle.

    Few teams had the offseason overhaul that the Bears just orchestrated as they seemingly transformed from a running team that has been inept throwing the ball, into a spread-it-out downfield powerhouse that is going to be one of the most exciting downfield attacking teams in the league.  Last season they finished second in rushing attempts and rushing yards while finishing 27th in passing attempts and passing yards.  DJ Moore (WR6) had the best season of his career and while recently departed Justin Fields had an uneven season at best, the slate has been wiped clean and hope has been reborn in Chicago.

    Everything rests on the capabilities of hopeful superstar in wait Caleb Williams as he was the presumptive first-overall pick after a trade heist with the Carolina Panthers.  Usually, the first overall pick goes to a rebuilding team and must start from the ground up, but Williams is starting in the penthouse and has three legitimate WRs who could all go for a 1000 yards next season.  The Bears have done a phenomenal job creating the best opportunity possible for Williams including building a top-10 offensive line, but he still must drive the car.   CJ Stroud laid the blueprint for what a rookie QB can accomplish, and he did so with far inferior weapons at his disposal.  There are still plenty of risks towards drafting Williams for fantasy, but it’s hard to find player with as much top-down volatility. The ceiling is the penthouse even if the floor remains the dreaded bust word which is still being whispered in some circles.

    While the present and future might be riding on Williams, this team is no one-trick pony as they have bolstered the run game with D’Andre Swift (RB23) who will share snaps alongside Khalil Herbert (RB41) and sophomore Roschon Johnson (RB 51).  The Bears are deep at RB and WR and while that might create some issues for fantasy, in terms of winning NFL games, this team should be able to take some punches, while it gears for the knockout blow.

    Even the defense was much improved last season as they finished as an elite unit stopping the run, ranking first or second in rushing yards allowed, rushing TDs allowed and rushing attempts.  Part of the success on the ground might be linked to the leaky secondary that was 25th or worse in passing attempts, passing TDs and passing yards, but a team can only patch so many holes at once.  This team liked to take chances and that is best evidenced by the fact that the defense led leagues in INTs last season (21).  This is a young secondary that gelled as the season went on and actually held teams to under 225 passing in seven of their final nine games a year ago.  This might be one of the rare times where the hype around the team is matched by talent inside it.

    Writer’s Season Win Prediction: 11-6

    Look no further than a receiving core that has been laughably bad for as long as Bears’ fans can remember.  In his first season in Chicago and with a running QB, Moore posted the fourth most receiving yards (1364) in the history of the franchise.  Now add Keenan Allen (WR8) who racked up 1243 yards in only 13 games.  Allen is no spring chicken, coming over from the Chargers at age 32, he’s dealt with injuries the last couple of seasons and has only played 23 games over the last two campaigns.  Allen won’t be asked to carry the entire offense as he was last season and while Williams isn’t Justin Herbert, Allen should thrive in a system that supports him instead of leaning on him to make every play.  If that wasn’t enough, Odunze has all the makings of WR1 and is going to absolute torch smaller cornerbacks when given the opportunity.  What Oduzne lacks in breakaway speed, he makes up for with sheer force of will and is going be a nightmare for defenses in jump-ball situations.  The only real problem is the age-old conundrum there is only one ball.  Last season Moore had a 28.9% target share and Allen had a whopping 32%, it’s only natural that both will have to deal with quality over quantity this season.  Even if both take a modest hit, there might not be enough meat on the bone for Odunze to hit the ground running.  Last season we saw Jaxson Smith-Njigba struggle to find his own lane next to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and its valid to expect a similar result this season.  Like most rookie WRs, Oduzne is going to be a stash for fantasy and should stay on the bench until either Allen or Moore get hurt, but make no mistake he will heard from at some point this season.


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