The Chicago Bears will look to build upon a mediocre 2021 season due to their mass changes in the front office and coaching staff. Curious about Darnell Mooney’s fantasy outlook? We’ve got you covered. The remainder of this article is a comprehensive outlook for the talented wide receiver.
Mooney improved upon a decent rookie campaign by recording 1,055 receiving yards on 81 receptions in 2021. He added four touchdowns in addition to his first 1000 yard season, and it’s clear he could’ve been even more productive.
Darnell Mooney was targeted 140 times last season. 59 of these targets were incompletions, but if half of those were converted we’re talking a big difference in stats. His average of 13 yards per reception makes him a high upside pass catcher.
The Bears were in a bad spot offensively last season. There was no clear receiver to rely on, which caused Mooney to fall into the WR1 role toward the end of the season. When you combine a rookie quarterback with a generally young offense overall, there’s going to be issues to sort out.
Aside from the offensive struggles last year, the Bears essentially reworked their whole front office. The coaching staff is entirely new and they’ll likely ensure the offensive pieces are working synergistically prior to taking the field.
To recap, Mooney had a phenomenal 2021 season, but he’s capable of much more. The sheer number of targets he sees is above the league average – he just needs to haul in more passes. We have a two year sample size to work with, and it’s promising to see that he’s improved statistically year over year.
Going solely off of 2021 numbers, Mooney’s most promising aspects are his target share and yardage per catch. He’s lacking in overall receptions and total touchdowns in comparison to the league’s elite receivers.
Best Case Scenario
There’s a lot to be said regarding the best case scenario for Darnell Mooney. As previously mentioned, the Bears have a new coaching staff with a new offensive scheme. Considering the Bears lack of elite depth at the WR position, the new coaching staff will likely look to build on Mooney’s successes in 2022.
The best case scenario includes Mooney seeing a similar or greater target share than he saw in 2021. 140 targets is nothing to brush off, so the Bears’ quarterbacks will need to continue looking Mooney’s way if he wants to see growth.
Mooney led Chicago in receiving yards throughout 2021. He has the potential to lead the team again considering the Bears haven’t made many moves at the receiver position. It’s likely he’ll fill the WR1 role to start the season because of his proven chemistry with the current QBs.
A lack of production amongst other receivers could also contribute to success. The Bears do not have a receiver like Davante Adams or Cooper Kupp who’s both explosive and consistent. Knowing this, Mooney can use his third season as an opportunity to showcase his true potential.
Worst Case Scenario
While unlikely, the Bears could struggle offensively for a second straight season. If this ends up being the case, it’s going to be a long year for the receiving core. There’s still uncertainty regarding Justin Fields’ ability to lead the offense, in addition to the backup QBs. We can’t rule out the possibility of coach/player conflicts as well due to the new scheme.
Fantasy managers will be watching to see if the Bears look better on offense to start the season. Players such as Byron Pringle and N’keal Harry will compete with Darnell Mooney for targets, and there’s a chance Chicago’s runningback see a higher target share as well.
For the worst case scenario to play out, either Pringle or Harry will have to show breakout potential early in the year. This would likely cause a restructuring of the depth chart and possibly limit Mooney’s role. There’s also a chance that the new offensive playbook favors other receivers.
An injury would drastically impact Mooney’s production in 2022. Of course, we hope this never happens, but if it does Mooney will be sidelined and we’ll need to look elsewhere. On the bright side, through two seasons he seems to be a very sturdy player.
To recap, the worst case scenario would occur as a result of an injury, competition amongst WRs, and poor offensive chemistry. Now that the Bears have three capable receivers, the target share won’t be as lopsided toward Mooney. The first quarter of the season will be imperative for determining his role. Keep an eye on the Bears’ offense to ensure all cogs are working together.
All in all, Darnell Mooney’s fantasy outlook is more promising than it is negative. He’s coming into the 2022 season as the Bears’ top receiver, and he’ll likely get overlooked in a lot of leagues due to the team’s offensive struggles last year.
His 140 targets ranked 11th in the league last season, but he caught the least balls out of any player in the top 11. This is interesting from a fantasy football perspective, especially in PPR leagues or PPR DFS. It’s also an interesting statistic because Mooney hardly ever drops the football. We believe he has the potential to be a top 10 fantasy WR if he can convert on half of the 60 targets that were incompletions that season.
It’s worth noting that QB Justin Fields now has a full year in the league. He’s gone through two training camps and one full season with Mooney. In terms of QB/WR repetitions, Fields and Mooney probably have the most on the team – but this is speculative, of course. Either way, having a couple years worth of experience should work out well for both players.
We don’t have much to work off of from the pre-season, considering starters see limited playing time. Despite this, Mooney has 2 receptions across 2 games, one of them being an explosive 26 yard gain. It seems that the future is looking bright, and we look forward to see how Mooney progresses throughout 2022.