With Justin Fields coming off a solid second season where he took a big step forward, the Bears were in a tough spot once they locked in the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, and they've decided to stick with Fields, sending the pick to the Panthers Friday in a massive trade that will net them two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and wide receiver D.J. Moore. It's a huge haul, one that will have big ramifications for both teams, so let's get into it, starting with the Bears side of the deal.
Once the Bears decided they were going to stick with Fields, adding a high-end wide receiver to help him develop would be a high priority this offseason, and that's just what they did with D.J. Moore. Moore will be 26 in 2023 and had three straight seasons of 1,157 yards or more before he stumbled to 888 in 2023.
Moore is an obvious upgrade to the Bears receiving corps, which was led last season by Cole Kmet's 544 yards and Darnell Mooney's 493 – the latter in just 12 games. Moore has thrived in the NFL as both a possession-type receiver and as a deep threat, and it's the latter skill set that will fit in well with Fields especially. Fields is still developing as a passer, but his scrambling ability gives him big play potential few quarterbacks can rival, and his 9.1 average intended air yards last season was the fourth highest in the league.
It'll likely come down a bit as the Bears try to get him to play within the scheme a bit more, and that probably won't be a bad thing for Fields' Fantasy value. The obvious comp here would be to Josh Allen, who struggled with consistency and accuracy in his first two seasons before making a leap in Year Three with Stefon Diggs.
It's unreasonable to put that kind of expectation on Fields, but the hope is that adding Moore helps him move in that direction. The Bears are making a big bet by passing on the likes of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, and a receiving corps of Moore, Mooney, Kmet, and Chase Claypool – plus whatever they might add with one of the many picks they added – should be able to compete.
Now it's on Fields to take that next step. He ranked just 28th in on-target throw rate in 2022. And, though you do have to adjust for the degree of difficulty with so many downfield throws, Fields' expected completion percentage of 65.5% still outpaced his actual mark of 60.4%. He'll need to be more accurate to take advantage of the improved weapons around him.
The Bears are betting he will, and I'm willing to make that bet, too. I don't think Fields is going to make a leap on par with Allen's, but he doesn't need to do that much if he remains one of the elite rushers in the game, and we have no reason to think he won't be. Fields is one of maybe three quarterbacks with 1,000-yard upside as a rusher, so if he can even get to around 200 passing yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns per game, it's not too hard to see him hitting the 25-Fantasy-point-per-game mark of the elite quarterbacks.
The top of the QB rankings is a hard place to break into, but I could see Fields going as high as fourth at the position – behind Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Jalen Hurts. He'll be in the same tier for me as Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert, as a clear next tier with elite upside, worth drafting inside the top-75 picks.
Moore remains in a similar tier to where he was prior to the trade. The Bears are likely going to remain a low-volume passing offense, though I'd bet on them throwing more than they did last year. Fields may be an upgrade at QB, but it's no guarantee yet, and Moore will remain in the low-end WR2 range for me.
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On the Panthers side, this leaves the cupboards pretty bare for whichever rookie they inevitably snag with the first pick. Moore led the team with 63 catches last season, and Christian McCaffrey was second with 33 in just six games; that leaves Terrace Marshall and his 28 catches for 490 yards as the incumbent leader in both categories.
They'll surely add another receiver or two to help Stroud or Young (or maybe Anthony Richardson), and there will be a real opportunity for Marshall or a rookie to step in and be good for Fantasy. But unless they shock us by making a more high-profile move to address the position, we're likely talking about a late-round sleeper type for Fantasy.
And, given the lack of talent surrounding any rookie passer, we're likely talking about just a late-round flier in redraft leagues as well – though whichever QB does end up going No. 1 overall will have a good case for being the No. 2 pick in Dynasty rookie drafts, especially SuperFlex leagues.