Before training camp gets underway, I wanted to go through the NFC North and look at players whom you might want to keep an eye on to see where their fantasy football value is trending. We’ve already looked at the Detroit Lions that you can check out here:
These players can either be trending towards fantasy relevance or complete irrelevance. This article addresses players who are in the latter group.
We’ll look at two players from the Chicago Bears whom I would be hesitant to lock into your opening day roster, whether that’s for a redraft league or for a dynasty league. Fantasy season is just around the corner, and it’s time to start building those big boards.
Allen Robinson II, WR
Before his injury, Robinson was one of the better receivers in football. In 2015, Robinson caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. If you stumbled into Robinson during that fantasy season, I envy you. In 2016, he came back to Earth a little bit with 73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns. Those seasons were both in Jacksonville where he commanded a large share of the targets. Now he’s in Chicago and the Bears are revamping their offense.
They brought in new head coach Matt Nagy from Kansas City and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich from Oregon to help Mitch Trubisky make a Jared Goff-like year-two jump. I’d expect Robinson to command a considerable amount of attention if he were playing with last year’s receiving corps, which essentially amounted to a bunch of guys they pulled in from outside Soldier Field and told to suit up.
But the weapons are much different this season.
In addition to Robinson, the Bears brought in Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, drafted Anthony Miller, and have Tarik Cohen as a pass-catching option, and maybe—just maybe— we might see a full season of former #7 overall pick, Kevin White. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.
Robinson is playing for a new team, coming off an ACL and depending a lot on developing good chemistry with a second-year QB who’s learning a new offense himself. That’s a lot of variables to rely on Robinson to be a big part of your fantasy squad. Luckily, his ADP is hovering around the fourth-round range so if you want to bet on potential, it won’t cost you too much.
Trey Burton, TE
It’s extremely difficult to hit on a good tight end in fantasy nowadays unless you draft Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce. Trey Burton is no exception. For many of the same reasons you should be hesitant about Allen Robinson, be careful not to reach for Burton as he also plays his first year for a new squad.
Burton was the third tight end option in Philadelphia and started getting playing time after injuries began to hobble starter Zach Ertz. He displayed plenty of athletic ability when he did play and he should be remembered forever by Eagles faithful for delivering the Philly Special pass in the Super Bowl:
But like Matt Nagy, Doug Pederson is also a pupil from the Andy Reid coaching tree. He didn’t find much of a use for Burton in Philly, which should draw some questions. Nagy coached Travis Kelce in Kansas City, but expecting him to dig up Kelce-like numbers when Pederson didn’t is asking for a lot.
Opportunity as the starting TE will significantly raise Burton’s fantasy value. He had 31 targets last year and turned those opportunities into a 74.2% catch rate and five touchdowns. In a wider sample size, Burton’s 2016 season saw 60 targets, but he only caught 37 of those and one TD. To be fair, that was during Carson Wentz’ rookie season when he was still sailing passes over his receivers’ heads, but it’s reasonable to expect Burton’s catch rate from 2017 to go down.
Burton could be the next big thing at the tight end position. Or he could show why he couldn’t break past Brent Celek on the depth chart. It’s fitting that he’s smack dab in the middle of the tight end ADP list.