Herbert is a breakout candidate based on his unique skill-set and possible (if not likely) lead role in the Bears run game. Statistically, Herbert was actually top 10 among qualified RBs in yards per carry, yards before and after contact per rush, explosive run rate and avoided tackle rate. The guy can move, and while he's not a dynamic pass catcher or physical bowling ball, he is very capable of making the most out of limited touches. In eight career games with at least 12 carries, he's had at least 10 PPR points six times and 15-plus five times. He'll be helped greatly by sharing touches with quarterback Justin Fields (it'll drive defenses crazy), plus the Bears offensive line may finally be a strength. Herbert is a Round 7 or 8 value pick since he has potential for plenty of yardage and a handful of touchdowns.
Fans of underlying metrics have spent the last two seasons screaming at the Bears to make Herbert the starting RB.
David Montgomery’s departure in free agency gives Herbert a shot at leading the backfield in an offense that was last season’s most run-heavy.
Herbert makes for an interesting fantasy reserve, though we’ll be watching his competition for roles and touches with D’Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson throughout training camp and preseason.
What We Learned Last YearHerbert spent 2022 as the RB2 behind teammate David Montgomery and finished the season as the RB41 in PPR.He produced one top-12 weekly finish at the position, two more within the top 24, and three more in RB3 range.Herbert finished second among Bears in carry share (30.6%) and rushing yards per game (56.2) in 13 games played.A hip injury in Week 10 caused him to miss the next four games.Among 41 RBs who received 100+ carries, Herbert finished 25th in PFF rushing grade, third in yards after contact per attempt (3.67), and tied for sixth in elusive rating.In each of the past two seasons, Herbert outpaced Montgomery in Football Outsiders’ Defensive-adjusted Yards Above Replacement:Montgomery: 25th among RBs in 2022 (66), 43rd in 2021 (-16)Herbert: 11th in 2022 (128), 27th in 2021 (78)
What to Expect in 2023Herbert enters 2023 as the projected RB1 on the Bears roster following the departure of Montgomery in free agency.When given the opportunity, Herbert has been an effective starting RB in the NFL.2021: four games, 19.2 carries per game, 85.8 rushing yards per game, 13.4 PPR points per game2022: two games, 19.5 carries per game, 117 rushing yards per game, 21.0 PPR points per gameThe Bears added backfield competition in veteran free agent D’Onta Foreman (one-year, $3 million contract) and fourth-round rookie Roschon Johnson.Johnson has already impressed with his readiness to help in the passing game. If he leads in that area, Herbert would see limited target upside.Despite sporting the league’s most run-heavy offense and ranking second in total carries, the Bears finished just 14th last season in total RB carries last season. That pie figures to be split more ways this season, challenging Herbert’s weekly and overall touch volume.
Herbert is entering his third NFL season in position for a larger role following Chicago's decision to replace longtime starter David Montgomery with journeymen D'Onta Foreman and Travis Homer, and fourth-round rookie Roschon Johnson. Herbert started his ascent at Montgomery's expense last season (his 5.67 YPC ranked fourth and his 2.33 YAC ninth among RBs), but was still limited to 138 touches in 13 games. Herbert has impressed as a rusher, but he hasn't been called on much in the passing game (12 targets in 2022). That's notable considering the 233-pound Foreman will be a big factor as a rusher and near the goal line. An expanded receiving role could vault Herbert into the RB2 mix, but if not he's likely to settle in as an underwhelming flex option.