Khalil Herbert Fantasy Outlook: A Fantasy Football Sleeper To Emerge From the Bears’ Backfield?

Chicago Bears RB Khalil Herbert has a clear path to extended work in 2023. Should fantasy football managers label him as a premier value?

Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert presents an interesting case for fantasy football enthusiasts. As a sixth-round pick, he has already demonstrated his talents in the limited opportunities he has received. However, despite the team’s decision to move on from David Montgomery this offseason, Chicago has added D’Onta Foreman, which creates uncertainty in the backfield.

Not only will there be a committee situation, but managers will also need to consider Justin Fields’ unique skill set and how it affects the workload of both running backs in an offense that struggled to score consistently last season.

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Khalil Herbert’s Fantasy Outlook

Herbert enters his third season with the clearest path to consistent work he has seen with David Montgomery now in Detroit. While the potential for a feature role in this offense is certainly possible, Foreman was inked to a one-year deal in March, and the Bears selected Roschon Johnson in the fourth round to provide competition — derailing the Herbert hype train.

Chicago’s offense showed signs of upside with Justin Fields emerging last season, but let’s not overreact. In 2022, the Bears failed to crack the top 20 in yards per play, points per game, and red-zone scoring rate. Yes, there were spark plays, but sustained success over four quarters really wasn’t a thing.

To give the offense more balance, Chicago traded for D.J. Moore, with the clear hope being that Fields can develop into a versatile weapon capable of hurting defenses in a multitude of ways. Moore’s addition, in theory, could take carries away from this backfield. However, it also could result in more effective possessions and, thus, more scoring chances, so I’m not ready to call that bad news for the presumptive lead back in town.

What Role Does David Montgomery Leave Behind?

During his four seasons in Chicago, Montgomery averaged 229 carries. Could Herbert get to that? We have essentially that as a sample size of Herbert in the pros, and with him returning 5.0 yards per carry, there is certainly reason for optimism.

More reason to be bullish on Herbert is the fact that both he and Montgomery ranked as top-10 running backs in fantasy points per rush attempt last season. The impact of Fields’ athleticism is tough to overstate, so make sure to account for the good (uptick in efficiency) with the bad (limited volume potential) in your analysis.

MORE: Fantasy Football Breakouts 2023 — Targets Include George Pickens, Elijah Moore, and David Montgomery

For fantasy owners, the drop-off from Montgomery to Herbert figures to be felt in the passing game. Herbert has 153 career receiving yards and was never much of a threat out of the backfield at the college level while Montgomery cleared 300 receiving yards in each of his final three seasons in town. If this skill limitation is here to stay, Herbert’s ceiling for playing time will be capped, thus making a true fantasy breakout season a bit tougher.

Should Fantasy Managers Draft Herbert at His ADP?

This is an easy call for me because of the limited opportunity cost. By drafting Herbert in the ninth round, you already have your starting lineup built and likely have at least a reserve or two that you feel good about.

We are also talking about an ADP range that features receivers with basically no NFL résumé and touchdown-dependent tight ends. What do you have to lose? But you didn’t think I’d leave you with a “what do you have to lose” argument and leave, did you?

Fasten your seatbelts, things are about to get funky.

Might Herbert be Tony Pollard with less fanfare? Sure, both enter 2023 with a chance to establish themselves as every-down backs in the NFL, but the résumé similarities are downright eerie.

Tony Pollard (seasons 2-3)

  • Carries: 231
  • Rush Yards: 1,154
  • Rush TD: 6

Herbert (seasons 1-2)

  • Carries: 232
  • Rush Yards: 1,164
  • Rush TD: 6

Weird, right? And what if I told you that both were born in late April and, in their final collegiate season, averaged well north of 8.0 yards per touch while scoring exactly nine touchdowns?

Obviously, I’m not suggesting you pick Herbert in the Pollard range. Still, following those two seasons, Pollard fully emerged as a regular fantasy asset, finishing 2023 as RB9 on a per-game basis, and that was with Ezekiel Elliott still very much in the mix. Herbert’s pass-catching prowess lags behind Pollard’s quite a bit, but so does his ADP … by 80+ picks.

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