The Chicago Bears went into the offseason knowing they needed to find wide receivers for quarterback Justin Fields. And before free agency even opened, they accomplished just that by bringing D.J. Moore to the Windy City.
The Carolina Panthers have traded up to No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft in exchange for Moore, a 2023 first-round pick (No. 9), a 2023 second-round pick (No. 61), 2024 first, and a 2025 second-round pick.
If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s because it is. The trade comes a few weeks after Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said he wouldn’t be against trading up in the draft at an NFL Combine press conference.
“You go get that guy you want, you know?” Fitterer said. “If you have a conviction on a guy, you go get him. It’s pretty simple that way. If you don’t know and you’re going to give all these resources to go up and get it, you’re hurting your team in the long run.”
Meanwhile, Chicago has identified its guy — Justin Fields — and has begun equipping him for a third-year leap. So what fantasy impacts should one expect from this trade?
The Fantasy Implications of DJ Moore Coming to the Chicago Bears
For D.J. Moore…
Fantasy Twitter was fairly divided on Moore’s outlook. Being traded to a team that ranked 32nd in passing attempts and 32nd in passing yards (by a good margin) while being tied for 20th in passing touchdowns rarely means improvement.
But this is the exception to the rule. Chicago was backed into a corner last season with a pitiful receiver corps. It also had an offensive line that forced Fields to run even more than the Bears would like. As a result, only four teams had a higher pressure rate when passing than Chicago.
That problem hasn’t been fixed yet. But with the most cap space in the NFL ($75.6 million) and five picks inside the top-105 selections, the Bears will likely invest heavily to correct this issue.
This all shapes up for Moore to take a step forward with the Bears. Carolina ranked 29th in passing attempts, 29th in passing yards, and 28th in passing touchdowns in 2022. This is far from a downgrade. Instead, it’s an olive branch from the middling QB situation Moore would’ve dealt with yet again in Carolina.
Treat Moore as a WR2 with WR1 upside — it may feel like a broken record, but 2023 is the year Moore can reach his ceiling.
For the other Bears…
Justin Fields is a top-five fantasy quarterback, and maybe even higher. He was the QB3 in PPG from Week 6-17. I’m throwing out Week 18 as he did not play. This came with virtually zero passing volume, weapons, or offensive line play.
The sky is the limit for Fields, who will manage to be somehow undervalued in August behind bigger names. Star wide receivers can do wonders for young signal callers like the Ohio State product.
The situation is a bit tougher for the other receivers. While the passing volume must increase, it may not be high enough to sustain two wide receivers, let alone what Cole Kmet commands at tight end.
The team traded essentially a first-round pick (No. 32) for Chase Claypool, but he whimpered to a mere 14 receptions in seven games with the Bears. Darnell Mooney is under contract for another year and should play better as a No. 2 than a No. 1 WR.
There will likely be too much volatility among the bunch to trust, but all are worth late-round stabs. Mooney would still be the one to bet on, though Kmet’s upside at a thin TE position will also paint him as a sleeper darling this summer.
Adding Moore ultimately adds some priority to the passing game that didn’t exist and another face for defenses to gameplan against. That remains a net positive.
For more offseason Chicago Bears content, check out Josh Hudson’s plan to fix the Bears for fantasy in 2023!
For the Panthers…
Carolina paid the piper for the No. 1 pick, and Vegas is confident about who the pick will be in April. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud (-250) is the favorite to go first overall, with Bryce Young behind him at +200.
Either way, it’s tough for a rookie quarterback to support his weapons, especially when they’re of such poor quality. Take the strong 2021 class of Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson (yikes), Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Davis Mills.
Lance didn’t play. For Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, Jones, and Mills — who all started a large part of the year — here’s their highest-scoring WR in PPR formats.
It’s doubtful that one of Terrace Marshall, Laviska Shenault, or whomever the Panthers bring in at receiver can exceed those finishes, even if it’s Meyers himself through free agency. Unlike the Bears, who are ready to open up their offense, the Panthers will likely pound the rock and be conservative with their rookie QB.
It limits what their weapons can do. So expect a free agency signing such as Meyers to lead the way, likely as a high-end WR3.