Last year Justin Fields emerged as a fantasy football superstar. Once Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy reshaped the offense around Fields’ legs, his fantasy value exploded. From Week 7 to Week 17 (since Fields missed the final week due to injury), Fields was the third-best fantasy QB. He scored 20 or more points in six of his last nine games. He finished the year with the second-most rushing yards by a QB in NFL history.
Yet, NBC Sports fantasy expert Matthew Berry doesn’t think fans should make it a point to draft Fields early in fantasy drafts this season.
“I have him as a fifth-round guy,” Berry told NBC Sports Chicago in an upcoming episode of the Under Center Podcast. “I’m at 56 overall, he’s my No. 7 quarterback this year.
“I think there’s a weird thing here where I actually think Justin Fields is going to be a better NFL quarterback this year, but potentially not as effective as a fantasy quarterback.”
To start, Berry notes that the Bears may try to use Fields more as a pocket passer this year than last year. We know that’s on the team’s to-do list as they try to build a more balanced offensive attack in 2023, and additions like D.J. Moore and Robert Tonyan will help Fields make more plays with his arm as opposed to his legs. That’s the opposite of what you want to hear from a fantasy perspective.
“Four of the top six quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points per game finished with 700 or more rushing yards,” Berry said.
Last year, Fields finished the year with 1,143 rushing yards, so he still has a great chance to cross that 700-yard threshold even with a dip in rushing production. But that dip in production could be what takes Fields from QB3 to QB7.
Further, Berry pointed out that a lot of Fields’ production came on jaw-dropping highlight reel touchdown runs. He broke the Bears’ franchise record for longest run by a QB in back-to-back weeks (61 yards and 67 yards). He became the only player since 1925 to have three 50+ yard rushing touchdowns in a season.
“I just don’t know how sustainable that is,” Berry said.
Berry made sure to say he’s not meaning to talk Fields down as a player. He believes Fields will have a monster year and has him ranked QB7 for a reason. He’s just a little wary to have Fields ranked as a top-three fantasy QB like some others do.
“I think Fields is amazing, I think he’s an incredible player, I think he’s going to get you fantasy points with his arm and his leg, I think he’s going to develop as a passer. I think he has a really nice year as an NFL quarterback and I think he has a very good year as a fantasy quarterback. I’m just concerned that he actually might be better NFL-wise than fantasy-wise.”
You can catch our full interview with Matthew Berry on the Under Center Podcast, which airs on NBC Sports Chicago at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Later that night you can catch the episode on YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.