To classify Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ rookie campaign as underwhelming would be more than a little generous. The Ohio State product took a beating behind a poor offensive line, fumbled a dozen times (losing five), tossed 10 interceptions, and completed less than 60 percent of his passes. Buried within that were moments of excellent play, both as a passer and runner, giving hope to those seeking to blame Fields’ Year 1 struggles on former head coach Matt Nagy.
With Nagy gone, the offense will be turned over to new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who spent the past three seasons as the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers under their head coach Matt LaFleur. Getsy worked hand in hand with Aaron Rodgers on one of the NFL’s top offenses, but this will be his first time calling plays, so there could be some growing pains for the inexperienced combination of Fields and Getsy, at least early on.
There are changes aplenty in the receiver room as well with Darnell Mooney the only one of the top four wideouts from 2021 to be back in the Windy City. Let’s see what Fields will be working with 2022.
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Mooney emerged as Chicago’s No. 1 receiver last year, showing a connection with Fields that eluded the incumbent WR1 Allen Robinson, who signed with the Los Angeles Rams in March.
The Tulane product has been a great find for the Bears after they nabbed him with a fifth-round pick in 2020, building on a solid rookie year with last season’s 81-1,055-4 line. While some of his best work did come with Andy Dalton (New Orleans Saints) under center, he still enters 2022 clearly as the top option for Fields.
An afterthought for most of his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Pringle had a mini breakout season in 2021, corralling 42 passes for 568 yards and five touchdowns. While it wasn’t enough to land a big deal on the open market, the Bears guaranteed $4 million of his salary, which tells you his place on the roster is secure.
At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, Pringle has a good blend of size and speed, and he should have a shot at a significant role given the dearth of proven options outside of Mooney at the position. He turns 29 in November, though, so it’s debatable how much better he’s going to get.
Velus Jones Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown
It’s nigh impossible to build a consensus on draft day, but most seemed baffled by the Bears utilizing the draft’s 71st overall pick on Jones, who was projected as a Day 3 selection. While he has plenty of speed and the versatility to contribute on offense and special teams, Jones is already 25 years old (roughly eight months younger than St. Brown, who is entering his fifth season) and is considered a developmental project as a receiver. His ceiling for 2022 seems to be as a glorified gadget guy.
St. Brown has great size (6-foot-5, 214 pounds), is a physical blocker, and will have the advantage of spending the first four years of his career working with Getsy in Green Bay. He never saw many chances as a pass catcher with the Packers, but his hard-nosed approach earned him a fair number of snaps. Perhaps the Getsy connection will get ESB a few more opportunities in Chicago.
Undersized gadget Dazz Newsome along with veteran journeymen Tajae Sharpe and David Moore figure to compete for the fourth and fifth spots. None of them are of interest in this limited passing offense.
Fantasy football outlook
There are a lot of variables at work here: an unproven quarterback coming off a tough first year, a coaching change, a first-time play caller, and an overhauled receiver corps to name a few.
The only player that seems likely to overcome all those obstacles and deliver for fantasy owners is Mooney, who is selectable as a high-end WR3 or fringe second in more competitive formats.
Tight end Cole Kmet very well could finish as the No. 2 Bear in terms of targets, and the backfield will get its, too.
Those in deeper leagues might want to keep an eye on Pringle after he performed admirably for the Chiefs last year, but Jones, St. Brown, Newsome, Sharpe and Moore can be ignored.