The Bears were a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2018, coming a double-doink away from making it to the Divisional Round. This made their ensuing 8-8 campaign that much more disappointing. Further complicating matters was the reality that 2017 No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky regressed in a major way, functioning as anyone's idea of a bottom-five QB for most of the season:
- Completion rate: 63.2% (No. 18 among 32 qualified QBs)
- TD rate: 3.3% (No. 30)
- INT rate: 1.9% (No. 15)
- Yards per attempt: 6.1 (No. 32)
- Adjusted yards per attempt: 5.9 (No. 31)
- QB rating: 83 (No. 28)
There's technically a QB competition between Trubisky and Nick Foles, although it's tough to see the Bears re-inserting the former signal caller unless they have to. Foles has been at least average outside of stints under Jeff Fisher and Doug Marrone. Yes, Matt Nagy might not be worthy of higher status, but luckily Foles is at least familiar with Nagy's RPO-heavy offense after they spent the 2016 season with the Chiefs together.
Enter: Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. The departure of Taylor Gabriel was met with the decision to only add Ted Ginn, meaning the Bears' passing game has about as defined of a one-two punch at WR as anyone could hope for.
What follows is a breakdown on the talents of A-Rob and Miller as well as a look at the Bears' 2020 passing game.
Robinson is truly one of the league's best WRs
The only receivers that are arguably more established as their offense’s No. 1 pass-game option than Robinson are Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Adam Thielen and Julio Jones. He now gets to play with the best QB of his career. No, it's not an exaggeration to easily call Foles the best QB to throw A-Rob the ball. Dating back to his days at Penn State he's caught passes from: Christian Hackenberg, Matt McGloin, Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Chase Daniel and Trubisky.
Make no mistake about it: Robinson is an absolute stud.
A change at QB can’t be ignored when projecting enhanced production from a WR, but in this case it’s safe to say Foles should be plenty capable of feeding the ball to A-Rob in a better manner than any of his previous signal callers. He was already the PPR WR8 last season and saw the third-most targets in the league. The 26-year-old WR looked as good as ever in 2019, and now he has the chance to regain his status as one of his position’s most-productive players.
Robinson had at least five catches in 13 games in 2019, a feat that was only topped by DeAndre Hopkins (15) and Michael Thomas (15). He possesses a great floor thanks to this type of high-volume usage while also carrying an elite scoring ceiling. Only Courtland Sutton, Michael Thomas and Stefon Diggs had a higher percentage share of their team's air yards than Robinson in 2019. A-Rob scored 14 TDs in 16 games with the Jaguars in 2015; otherwise he's found the end zone 19 times in 56 games.
A-Rob is an unrestricted free agent in 2021. This combination of a monstrous workload, contract-year mindset, and natural talent makes Robinson anyone's idea of *at least* a borderline WR1 entering next season.
However, Robinson might not be the only Bears WR to present fantasy value next season.
Throw Miller the ball and good things happen
Miller caught seven TDs while playing through a bum shoulder as a rookie and then came on strong during the second half of 2019. Overall, Miller posted 6-54-0, 6-77-0, 9-140-0, 3-42-1 and 9-118-1 receiving lines from Weeks 11-15, working as the PPR WR8 along the way. It's not fair to simply take the best stretch of a player's career and assume that he can replicate it moving forward, although Miller seems to be going under the radar considering 1) Gabriel is gone and 2) We're just one season removed from everyone talking themselves into Dede Westbrook based on Foles' historical usage of slot WRs.
We have more than enough evidence to conclude that Miller is truly a baller.
The problem over the years has been opportunity. Taylor Gabriel made a habit of functioning as the offense's No. 2 WR, but Miller certainly looked the part when asked to step up.
- Millers per game with Gabriel (23 games): 7.5 PPR, 2.4 receptions, 30.8 yards, 0.3 TD, 4.1 targets
- Without (7 games): 11.1 PPR, 4.1 receptions, 52.9 yards, 0.3 TD, 6.4 targets
Miller (8.22) has been the most-efficient target of Trubisky's career in terms of adjusted yards per attempt. Foles' aforementioned ability to enable the likes of Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz from the slot drives home the idea that Miller is plenty capable of beating value regardless of who is ultimately under center.
The biggest issue for Miller is leaping RB Tarik Cohen to become the passing game's No. 2 option. This shouldn't be that hard of a decision to make: Cohen's average of 4.4 yards per target was the single-worst mark among 38 players with triple-digit targets last season. Still, this development will be the difference between Miller flirting with 90-100 targets and easily surpassing the century mark.
The good news is the draft capital required to draft *both* of these WRs is perfectly manageable at the moment.
Both Bears WRs present value at their respective ADPs
A-Rob is presently going off the board in the PPR WR13-15 range in best-ball and re-draft formats alike. It's a jump on last season's ADP when you could get Robinson in the WR25 range, but we also now have evidence that he can post season-long WR1 value with near league-worst play under center. Meanwhile, Miller is going outside of the top-50 WRs drafted, behind a number of unproven rookies as well as the Giants' and Texans' respective groups of receivers.
I'm fine with attacking both WRs at these price points in fantasy drafts of all shapes and sizes. The only WRs I have ranked ahead of Robinson are Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Adam Thielen. While there are similarly-talented WRs like Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay and JuJu Smith-Schuster around this range, nobody is more locked in as their passing game's No. 1 option than Robinson after those top-six receivers. I have Miller as my WR39, a good 10 spots ahead of where many are ranking the rising third-year WR.
It's hard to really see a non-injury scenario where Robinson and Miller won't provide solid value. The lack of a real pass-catching addition to the passing game other than old men Jimmy Graham and Ginn make it incredibly likely that we'll see this passing game flow through its clear-cut top-two receivers. The likes of Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims and Riley Ridley seem incredibly unlikely to leap to the top. Perhaps Foles comes in and provides an upgrade under center: this would be great for the entire offense. Or maybe Trubisky wins the jobs and continues to operate like one of the league's worst QBs: we still have evidence of both receivers thriving as fantasy options in this scenario.
Ideally we could always just draft good players from good offenses. We'll likely be sacrificing the latter criteria when investing in Robinson and Miller in 2020, but both players are truly talented enough to still provide plenty of fantasy football value thanks to their lofty projected target totals.