One reference on Chicago railroad history states, “Chicago is the most important railroad center in North America. More lines of track radiate in more directions from Chicago than from any other city.”
Ever since the Chicago Bears hired Matt Nagy as their head coach, another rail line originating from Chicago is gaining a growing number of commuters – the Bears Hype Train.
Anyone with a pen and an opinion seems to be more than happy to add another name to the growing list of Bears players who have a shot at being fantasy relevant. Recent quotes:
“Trubisky is guaranteed to make a substantial leap in 2018.” – Yahoo Roto Arcade’s Andy Behrens (7/6)
“Five reasons why the Bears will make the 2018 NFL playoffs.” – NFL.com’s Adam Rank (7/12)
Currently there are ten Bears players appearing in the top 300 ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings):
- RB Jordan Howard (20)
- WR Allen Robinson (41)
- TE Trey Burton (102)
- RB Tarik Cohen (103)
- QB Mitch Trubisky (140)
- WR Anthony Miller (173)
- D/ST Chicago Bears (229)
- TE Adam Shaheen (273)
- WR Kevin White (289)
- WR Taylor Gabriel (292)
I’ve mentioned this before, it’s important to note that in an average NFL game dating back to the 1970’s, the average number of offensive plays that are run is approximately 62. That’s it – 62. This doesn’t account for incomplete passes either – those are included in that magical number of 62 plays.
Perhaps this number doesn’t mean much to a fantasy owner? After all, they may reason, a better offense will have more than 62 chances per game. Sadly this is not necessarily the case. This is because if an offense is better, then they will ultimately score, which ends their possession.
We’ve probably looked at the time-of-possession stat hundreds of times and never fully realized that all 32 teams – good and bad – only possess the ball for about 30 minutes per game.
This means that these roughly 62 offensive plays need to be divvied up among the offensive players.
From a fantasy perspective, this is actually good news if an offense is centered around a select few players. For example, just last season when Matt Nagy was the coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, 51% of the offensive touches went to only 3 players: Kareem Hunt (33%), Tyreek Hill (9%) and Travis Kelce (9%). The other Chiefs players were fantasy irrelevant due to a lack of consistent touches.
But this number (62) is bad news if an offense spreads the ball around. If you owned any Patriots, Saints or Rams players from 2017 then you know the fantasy roller-coaster angst. For instance, Cooper Kupp had 6 weeks of 10 points or more last year (standard formats). Frustratingly he also had 7 weeks with less than 5 points.
To help support this, let’s say that a typical, consistent fantasy player worth owning scores at least 150 points or more. Of these spread-the-ball offenses of the Patriots, Rams and Saints, only 12 players from all 3 of these teams had 150 fantasy points or more. Three were quarterbacks. Two were the D/ST. That leaves 7 fantasy relevant skill players from 3 powerful offensive juggernauts.
Similarly, if this many Bears are “rumored” to be part of this innovative, open, Nagy offense, then it could be a risky move to optimistically board the Bears Hype Train. You may need to “switch” your fantasy targets. (In case you missed it, “switch” was a train pun.)
I realize that kickers get absolutely no respect. But if this Bears Hype Train stays on track as well as some of the prognosticators are projecting, then why is kicker Cody Parkey not getting any fantasy ranking love? Parkey converted over 91% of his field goals last season and holds a career 86.4% conversion rate. Of active kickers, that’s top 10 in both categories. Parkey’s current ECR is a caboose-like rank of 30 among kickers.
Comparing the teams that spread the ball around, Parkey could be as relevant as the Patriots (Gostowski), Saints (Lutz) and Rams (Zuerlein) kickers.
Will the Bears Hype Train derail? If the rumors are true that Nagy does indeed spread the ball around in an innovative offense, the players that might benefit the most are Howard, Trubisky, Parkey and the Bears D/ST. Everyone else will be a coin flip week to week. Or in sticking with the railway analogy, it might be tough to “gauge” their consistency. All aboard!
Player rankings courtesy of Fantasy Pros