Mitchell Trubisky’s Imminent Breakout Season (Fantasy Football)
One of the more intriguing teams to watch this year might surprise you. In 2018, the Chicago Bears have been one of the busiest teams. It started on the very first day of the year, when the team decided to move on from coach John Fox after he led the Bears to three consecutive losing seasons. On January 8, only one week later, they hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Matt Nagy, to replace him.
In March, they added three offensive weapons – Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton. And in April, during the 2018 NFL Rookie Draft, they selected Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller in the second round. After having the worst offense in 2018 and statistically a poor rookie season, Mitchell Trubisky hopes to rebound and find himself in the running for the league’s most improved quarterback.
Trubisky was taken as the second overall pick last year, as the Bears moved up one spot to get him. In return, they gave up the No. 67 overall pick, the No. 111 pick, and a 2018 third-round pick to San Francisco. The 49ers then traded down the No. 67 pick to the New Orleans Saints, who just so happened to draft Alvin Kamara. While Kamara flourished in 2017, Trubisky and the Bears floundered. But 2018 is a new year, and with a new year comes renewed hope and promise. This could be the year that the Bears start reaping the reward for pulling the trigger on Trubisky, as he begins the year as their starter and has a great chance to breakout.
A Year of Excellence at North Carolina
Trubisky does not have a college resume that jumps off the page. In 2014, during his freshman year, he played second fiddle to Marquise Williams, who was a junior and had more experience. When Trubisky played, he wasn’t very accurate. He only completed 53.8% of his passes and threw five touchdowns along with four interceptions, for an overall passer rating of only 114.2 compared to Williams’ 135.3.
The next season, Williams again was the prefered starter. That year, the Tarheels went 10-2 despite Williams’ mediocrity at quarterback. Trubisky was his backup and played much better when called upon. Although he only threw 47 passes, he completed 85.5% of them, throwing six touchdowns and no picks for an insane 226.4 passer rating.
In his third and final season with North Carolina, it was finally his team as Williams graduated. It is really his only true sample as a quarterback in college. He had an impressive 68.2% completion rate which was fifth best in the nation, ahead of both Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
Plus, he threw 30 touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions. He threw for 3,748 yards, which was 10th best in college. His passer rating and yards per attempt were also better than the other two first-round picks of 2017. More than that, he proved to be more than just an accurate passer. On the ground, Trubisky rushed for 308 yards, scoring five touchdowns.
A Year to Forget Under Fox
It is anyone’s guess figuring out what the Bears were trying to do last year. Before the draft, they parted ways with every quarterback they had in 2016. Gone were Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley. Instead, they brought in perennial backup Mike Glennon. If they knew they were going to draft a quarterback in the first round, why would they get a bench warmer to mentor their potential rookie?
The Mike Glennon experiment didn’t last long. The pressure of coming off a woeful 3-13 season most likely created panic within the organization. Although Glennon was never the answer, even as a bridge, Trubisky was way too raw to be expected to start in 2017. However, after only four games, Fox pulled the plug on Glennon and plugged in Trubisky.
As a starter, Trubisky went 4-8 and out of all the quarterbacks to have at least 300 pass attempts, came away with the third-lowest passer rating at 77.5. Only Trevor Siemian (73.3) and Brett Hundley (70.6) were worse. He completed less than 60% of his passes and threw only seven touchdowns while also throwing seven interceptions. The only real encouraging stat came via the ground since Trubisky carried the ball 41 times for 248 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry — better than anything he did in college.
A Year of Offensive Upgrade
Although Trubisky wasn’t productive or efficient as a passer in 2017, it wasn’t entirely his fault. Chicago’s receiving corps was arguably the worst in the league. Kendall Wright, who is now fighting to be Minnesota’s third wide receiver this year, was the de facto number one in Chicago. The Bears also had Joshua Bellamy and Dontrelle Inman as the other main targets for Trubisky.
With the additions of former elite receiver Robinson, shifty Gabriel, and newcomer, Miller, the Bears already have an upgrade at the wide receiver position. There are still some caveats that come with all three. Robinson is coming back from a torn ACL suffered the year before and hasn’t had a memorable season since 2015. Gabriel is like a wideout version of Tarik Cohen — fast and elusive, but has never been more than a number three receiver. While he has shown some exquisite flashes, he has also been known to disappear.
Next up is Miller. He is more intriguing than Gabriel and has the potential to be the team’s number two. Although he is a rookie, he is the rookie that comes with the most college production out of any of this year’s rookie crop. In three years at Memphis, Miller had 238 receptions for over 3,500 yards. In his final two years Miller scored 32 touchdowns, the same number of passing touchdowns the Bears had during the same span.
Burton is another addition at tight end. Although he chased Zach Ertz’s shadow in Philadelphia, he has shown signs of being an exciting, smaller joker tight end with great receiving chops. And let’s not forget Kevin White who is still there. Rumor has it that the former first-rounder tore it up during OTAs and could be another option if he can somehow stay healthy and prove that he is any good.
A Year to Develop Under Nagy
Trubisky, now entering his sophomore year, has an eerie resemblance to Jared Goff, who is one year ahead of him. In Goff’s rookie season, he became the Rams’ starter in Week 11 and managed to lead his team to seven straight losses. His season was shorter, but it was more catastrophic than Trubisky’s. However, after firing old school Jeff Fisher and replacing him with a young, dynamic, and offensively-driven Sean McVay, he blossomed in his second season and finished 10th in passing yards, fourth in touchdown-to-interception ratio, and most importantly, as the 12th best quarterback in fantasy, according to FantasyPros.
Matt Nagy, who also happens to be a young, dynamic, and offensively-driven coach, seems to be what Trubisky needs to jumpstart his career in Chicago. Nagy came from Kansas City last year and showed his coach, Andy Reid, that he was by far the best play-caller on the team. Although it is too early to tell whether or not Nagy will have the same impact as McVay, he is definitely cut from the same ilk and will be an improvement over John Fox, without a doubt.
A Year to Get Trubisky in Fantasy
This is a telling year for Trubisky. He has had everything put into place for him to ensure immediate and long-term success. The rest is really up to him.
In fantasy, there is still trepidation concerning Trubisky. Right now he is the 22nd-ranked quarterback on FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings. If you are targeting your quarterbacks late in the draft, Trubisky could be your guy. He is a dual-threat quarterback that might start on your bench, but could eventually take off and lift you to a fantasy championship.