*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
The Bears weren’t in a must-win situation but there was hope they might move to a #2 seed with a win (and Rams loss)…and that hope was dashed pretty quickly, but the Bears kept their starters in the whole way. For the Vikings, it was easy – win and in, lose and out of the playoffs. The motivation factor rested with the Vikes. Minnesota had home field. Vegas felt it too…they had Minny as a -4.0 favorite. This had to be a Vikings win…but the Bears kicked their arse from the opening whistle to the end.
The Vikings were never really in this game even when they closed the gap to 13-10 in the 3rd quarter. It felt like the Bears were half-paying attention in this game and not really running the full playbook while the Vikings gave it their all…and the Bears just turned it on when they wanted. Once MINN got the game down to behind by three, down 13-10, the Bears shut them down in the 4th quarter and scored 11 points to push to a 24-10 victory.
I absolutely abhor Mike Zimmer, so I could not be any happier fir this result. However, as a Bears-to-get to/win-the-Super Bowl ticket holder…I’d rather they played Zimmer this week vs. facing Nick Foles.
Another Minnesota collapse, second time missing the playoffs in three seasons. Last year, an NFC finals beat down by Nick Foles ended their dream. Erratic, more disappointing play and ever-changing offensive coordinators and kickers -- when will Zimmer get taken out/fired like he should be? Not yet…he’s central casting of ‘an old ball coach’. The media thinks NFL teams are looking for ‘their McVay/Nagy’, young up-and-comers -- most GMs are not…they’re looking for their Vince Lombardi, Bill Parcells, Coach Ditka stereotypes. If Zim falls flat next year…it might be over. I’m thinking it will be.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Mitchell Trubisky (18-26 for 163 yards, 0 TDs/0 INTs) had a weird season…
He starts the season, first three games, with 2 TDs/3 INTs…flashing signs of something but making poor decisions too often -- and then in Week 4 he drops 6 TD passes on Tampa Bay, and had to be held back for an entire quarter+ or he might have thrown 8-9 TD passes against TB and broken NFL records.
The Week 4 explosion marked a change in the Bears offense and Trubisky soared to become the #1 fantasy QB over a several week stretch midseason. Then he got hurt in Week 11, missed Weeks 12-13, came back and won 4 straight games but with much lower, dull production like he started the season with.
At times, it looked like Trubisky was becoming elite…but then Matt Nagy did what he was schooled to do in KC under Andy Reid – reel everything in and play conservative. Just run the ball and play great defense, which Chicago can…but there will come a time in the playoffs that they need Mitch to put the team on his back – and I know he’s not ready for that. You have heard me harp on it enough the past two years – you know I think he could be the greatest QB talent we’ve ever seen…but I don’t think he believes it, nor does his coach believe it, nor does his team believes it, nor the fans or media. Trubisky is not Baker Mayfield of mindset…the guy that’s going to show you how great he is just to spite you. Trubisky is very content, at this stage, to be the guy people say he is. It’s going to cost Chicago in the end in the 2018-19 playoffs.
Trubisky will likely be flat, in performance, in the playoffs and enter 2019 fantasy as a QB2 projection…like Goff was in 2018. No analyst truly believed Goff’s 2017 rise…except me. Trubisky will have the same value depression for fantasy 2019, but he’ll beat their projections and take another step forward.
I don’t doubt Trubisky will be very good or great ahead…but I don’t want to see ‘good’ -- I’m looking for him to be ‘one of the greats’. You can’t say that about most NFL QBs…you can’t even think it. You can with Trubisky. I just don’t know when or if we’ll ever see him hit his max potential.
He’s still a fantasy bargain and great FF option for the future.
-- What’s in Matt Nagy’s heart for offense played out in this game, and has the last few weeks…
Nagy wants to power run the ball, safe passing game, and mega-defense to victory. It’s not crazy…it’s just Chicago is letting teams hang around for potential upsets instead of putting them down with impunity by letting their super-talent weapons get unleashed.
Jordan Howard (21-109-2, 1-5-0/2) played 41 snaps and Tarik Cohen (5-24-1, 2-8-0/3) just 19.
From Weeks 4-13, Cohen averaged 5.8 catches per game and scored 7 TDs in those 7 games. The last 4 weeks, 3.0 receptions per game, under 55 yards total in each of his last 3 games.
They only use Cohen when they’re losing/in a panic. Tarik has seen 9 or more targets in a game three times this season…all three were losses for the Bears. It’s another reason why I think the Bears will fall short in the playoffs – Matt Nagy is famous for it, going back to his KC playoff collapse last season -- instead of using Cohen as a lead-punch weapon to jump up and beat down an opponent quickly, he waits until there’s offensive trouble and then starts running gadget plays for Cohen. Tarik should be seeing the majority of touches every game for this team, and early…and often. He doesn’t.
The two best offensive weapons the Bears have, Trubisky and Cohen…the two they try to hide until it’s too late/dire and then want them to pull miracles.
Is Cohen an RB1 in PPR next season? He was running top 5-6 among RBs in PPR for much of the season and then got froze out late and fell to #15 among RBs in FF PPG/PPR this season. He should be an RB1, but with Matt Nagy/Andy Reid clone coach…you never know.
-- …and on the other side we have the same issue only worse…Dalvin Cook (11-39-0, 4-21-0/5) is a mediocre RB being treated like a god by Mike Zimmer. Zimmer cannot get Cook the ball enough, despite him being a limited athlete at RB (by NFL standards) and his results/production shifting from OK to pretty flimsy as well.
Cook is not terrible, he’s just not anything to be feared. The opposing defense is not in fear of being beat-down by Cook. As soon as Zimmer took over the offense (by proxy, by firing his O-C after that Week 14 MNF game vs. Seattle), Cook’s snap count and touch count jumped up.
Zimmer wants to run the ball every play if he could, and he’d do so with Cook if he could…which makes Cook an RB1 threat for 2019. I totally get why people would invest in him, but he’s not my cup of tea. He’s an injury risk and a potential off-field concern…not a guy I want to build a dynasty backfield with or burn a high redraft pick on, but I get why people would – the coach wants it to happen so bad that Cook will have all the advantages.
**Coming Very Soon – College Football Metrics 2019 subscriptions will be opening up and the new season will be under way. I have been going through the East-West game prospects and beginning the first full scouting reports since December 2018, and they’ll be the first things you see out of the gates when we open up.
I’m shocked by a few of the East-West prospects…some potential ‘wow’ prospects in a game there usually isn’t as much ‘wow’ in because the more interesting prospects usually wind up at the Senior Bowl. Not this year...or the Senior Bowl is loaded! The East-West games will have our dynasty rookie draft sleeper wheels turning early.
Haskins-Grier-Lock-Stidham…other? What’s up with this oft-labeled weak QB draft class? I’m not sure it’s that weak…depends upon your perspective.We’ll be analyzing and computer grading all the top QBs and discussing what I mean by ‘perspective’.
It’s NFL Draft overload season…it’s Fantasy title defense or title chase study season… Here comes our 8th year of College Football Metrics to the rescue!**
-- When the Zimmer hostile takeover of the offense took place (firing the O-C they just hired), then Adam Thielen (3-38-0/4) crashed and burned.
9 TDs and nine 100+ yard games in 13 game played before the O-C change and 3.3 catches, 45.7 yards, and no TDs in the three games under the new O-C. Zimmer values Dalvin Cook over Adam Thielen, in his heart.
Zimmer is likely to hire an O-C that shares his same brain/concept for 2019…you see the Hue Jackson rumors swirling. I fear for Thielen’s fantasy value in 2019…depending upon who Zimmer hires. If it’s Hue, then he’ll push Stefon Diggs (8-47-1/10) over Thielen in two seconds, believe that.
What is the wrong thing to do, wrong choice to make between two things…that’s what Hue will do – choose the wrong thing every time without fail. You can bet on it/plan fantasy around it.
-- The Bears WR situation went a little haywire/interesting in this game…
Allen Robinson (DNP) was held out due to injury…and I still say ARob looks terrific, and when he’s back to 100% -- he’s going to make a run at WR1 for 2019.
With Robinson out, that left Taylor Gabriel (4-61-0/4) and Anthony Miller (0-0-0/0) to be the main WRs. Miller went down early and rookie Javon Wims (4-32-0/4) was forced in and started making plays like he’d been there all year – an extension of how great he looked this preseason.
Wims is so superior a talent to Anthony Miller it’s not even funny…yet, another mishandle of talent by Matt Nagy, to me. What they see in Miller, I have no idea. How they are missing Wims as high-level talent potential with great size/reach…a future #1 WR foundation…I have no idea either. I’d like to push Wims more for dynasty/fantasy but he’s not likely to crack the starting lineup in 2019 Week 1. It’s a shame.
Gabriel was another big disappointment from offensive genius Matt Nagy. They paid all this money to the guy, he started out hot through Week 5…and then they forgot they had him. 5.4 catches per game, two 100+ yard games, 2 TDs in his first 5 games and 3.6 catches, no games over 65 yards, and no TDs the final 11 games.
Why did they pay him all that money again?
If the Bears offense takes another step next season, Gabriel might take a step forward as well.
-- Trey Burton (5-33-0/6) was another big-ticket item in free agency that didn’t do much for fantasy. There were top 5-6 TE fantasy expectations/hopes by us, and he finished #13 in PPR PPG this season…down with the cluster of other ‘meh’ fantasy TEs.
I didn’t see any Travis Kelce type usage as was whispered by Nagy. Every Bears weapon under-performed this season, except Tarik Cohen…the one guy they try hard not to feature.
Burton upside in 2019? Maybe. I’m not as bought in on Nagy…so, I’m not sure we’ll see changes/improvements in 2019 on offense. We should…the talent is right there, but not sure if Nagy knows how to draw it out. He may be spending too much time running funny goal line plays with defensive players to work on making this offense the juggernaut it could be with so many unique weapons to produce/feed.
-- Kirk Cousins (20-33 for 132 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) got out to a strong start in 2018, but then faded away over time.
2.0 TD passes per game, five 300+ yard passing games in his first 11 games and 1.6 TD passes with no games over 255 passing yards his final five games – he barely averaged over 200 yards passing the final five games of the season.
It’s not Cousins so much as the offensive design by Mr. Zimmer. It could be combustible between the two in 2019…
-- Two promising young IDPs started/played almost the entire game for Minnesota…
LB Eric Wilson (9 tackles) had another good game in place of Eric Kendricks. Wilson has to be considered a starter alongside Kendricks in 2019. Wilson has been so quick to the ball and making plays every time he got a chance this year…but only got chances due to injuries to others. I think we got a nice IDP sleeper here, but I’m wary of Zimmer.
Rookie CB Holton Hill’s (7 tackles) size just jumps out at me every time I see him play (6’3”/200). I didn’t really connect to him pre-Draft, but he’s caught my attention now. I’m a little late to the party but I’m here. He’s going to be starting in 2019, potentially…and he’s a willing tackler. He could play safety as well and really be something for IDP.