There was nowhere to go but up for Justin Fields after his rookie season.
Not only did he put up a meh performance as a first-year player, but he was also entering Year 2 with a new head coach, first-time play-caller, an offensive line that had more questions than an overzealous friend after a first date, and a group of receivers whose hands were questionable (at best). Despite all of that, Fields overcame it all to put up a solid second season with the Chicago Bears.
And if you were paying close attention to how Fields was trending in-season, then there is a good chance you were reaping the benefits. That’s because, at the end of the day, Fields turned out to be Pro Football Focus’ most improved fantasy football player:
It’s not a fancy leg lamp, but it’s still a major award.
And a well-earned one at that.
No, Fields’ numbers as a passer weren’t great. And I understand that was a contributing factor in why some fantasy players were shying away. But fantasy sports is all about finding points however possible. When it came to Fields, his ground game excellence was pretty much a fantasy cheat code. Think about how fantasy stats are kept. Rushing stats (1 point per 10 yards, 6 points for rush TDs) are traditionally the most valuable. And they are more valuable than passing stats (1 point per 25 yards, 4 points per passing TD). In other words, Fields’ ground gains made him a one-man fantasy team savior. That was on top of being the main reason fans were tuning in to watch a bad Bears bunch.
I laugh thinking about how Bears GM Ryan Poles playing a huge role in deciding if you’re a good fantasy GM next year. Think about it. Imagine Poles bolstering the Bears’ pass protection. Envision an offense with a new collection of pass-catchers for Fields to target. It could add up to Fields reaching another level of fantasy glory. What a world it would be to see Fields lead the Bears back into contention while also leading us to fantasy glory.
Fields won’t be a sleeper next year. Not when he finished as the sixth-highest-scoring quarterback and 45th-ranked player (per PFR’s notes). So I hope you’re ready to pay up in auction leagues. Or prepare to draft Fields a round earlier than you might otherwise expect.