Running back Khalil Herbert is entering his second season with the Chicago Bears, and his role in Year 2 is expected to be a bigger one.
The Bears selected Herbert in the sixth round (217th overall) of the 2021 NFL draft and he became one of the more pleasant surprises of what was generally a disappointing 6-11 season for Chicago.
Herbert began the year as the team’s third-string running back, but wound up starting two games in relief of David Montgomery and Damien Williams. He played just 28% of the team’s snaps on offense, but he made the most of his limited opportunities, establishing himself as an unexpected playmaker. Herbert had just four games with 18 or more carries, and he rushed for 72 or more yards in all four of those contests, also finishing with one 100-yard game (stats via Pro Football Reference).
By comparison, Montgomery rushed for 72 yards four times in his 13 starts as the team’s feature back.
Considering the flashes of potential coupled with the expectation of an increased workload in Year 2, those looking to stock their fantasy rosters with top-tier talent might want to consider adding Herbert, who PFF has dubbed a top “sleeper” candidate.
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New Bears OC Expected to Showcase Multiple RBs in His System
The Bears brought in former Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Luke Getsy to be their new offensive coordinator, and his system is expected to be similar to that of his mentor in Green Bay, Nathaniel Hackett, who is now head coach in Denver.
Hackett utilized RBs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to great effect in 2021. Both Jones and Dillon had at least 799 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving apiece last year, and the hope is for Montgomery and Herbert to be used similarly.
“I’m excited. I definitely think we’re going to use our run game this year and it’s gonna allow us to open up the rest of the offense,” Herbert said in April, via CBS Sports’ Bear Report.
“Coach is doing a great job of easing us into it,” Herbert added, also acknowledging the way Green Bay employs its RBs.
“Up there they use both those backs really well and balance them out a lot. It’s definitely exciting that they know how to do it and in this offense I definitely think we’ll be able to do that,” Herbert said.
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Herbert Could Have Fantasy ‘Value Every Week,’ PFF Says
Herbert’s stats in 2021 weren’t eye-popping, but the potential was clearly there:
Herbert finished with 433 yards on 103 carries (4.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, and he also averaged over 24 yards per kickoff return. His 84.4 rushing grade from PFF was sixth among all NFL RBs, and while Chicago’s O-line is suspect and unproven, the team also added fullback Khari Blasingame this offseason with the aim of having him be featured mostly as a lead blocker in the run game, which is what he did for Derrick Henry in Tennessee over the last three years.
Montgomery may also be featured more in the passing game, which would free up Herbert for more touches in the backfield.
“Herbert could receive more of the rushing opportunities while Montgomery takes the passing downs, which would give Herbert some value every week,” PFF’s Nathan Jahnke wrote on July 6. “Herbert would again be a fantasy starter if Montgomery were injured, and he wouldn’t face much competition from the backups.”
It remains to be seen how often the Bears will incorporate the second-year RB, but all arrows seem to be pointing up for Herbert, especially in the fantasy football realm.