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2024 NFL Draft: Why Caleb Williams could be a fantasy football QB1 in Year 1

Let’s hypothetically say that you only knew the following details about the likely landing spot for Caleb Williams, without knowing which specific franchise would likely select him:

  • He joins an offense that features a pair of elite wide receivers who combined for more than 200 receptions and 2,600 receiving yards last season;

  • His team will have a deep and talented backfield, with one of the game’s best pass-catching backs;

  • Williams will have a solid duo that combined for 124 catches last year;

  • His new offensive coordinator is the man who was present for Geno Smith’s career revival in 2022.

All things considered, you’d have to say this seems like a pretty solid freshman situation, right?

It’s essentially a turnkey opportunity for a rookie quarterback — a significantly better environment than we would normally expect for any player selected first. Bryce Young didn’t exactly step into a talent-rich offense last season, and neither did Trevor Lawrence two years earlier. When we look at the roster of any NFL team that clawed its way to the top overall pick, we’re often sifting through smoldering wreckage.

But that is not the case in 2024.

Historically, however, the Chicago Bears have not been known as a quarterback development factory, a fact that seems to have dampened our collective enthusiasm for Williams. We’d love his lineup if it was connected to a team different from the bears. Again, his top receiving options for the upcoming season would have been a great 2023 fantasy selection: DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, D’Andre Swift and Cole Kmet.

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Chicago also has the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft and is widely believed to be interested in bounty prospects, specifically Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers. When training camps open in the summer, there’s a good chance the Bears receiving corps will be universally considered one of the best in the game.

We should probably also mention that Williams himself is often a magician:

He brings great weapons talent and a special level of creativity, along with a history of exceptional production. Last year, in a down season, he averaged a career-best 9.4 yards per attempt for USC while producing 41 combined touchdowns (30 passing, 11 rushing) and throwing just five picks. He is undeniably good at the game.

The worst people on the internet seem to be very concerned about Williams’ personal style choices, but those aren’t legitimate concerns because he’s not getting drafted by the 1955 Chicago Bears. He’s going to play in the current era with modern-day teammates, and those guys will simply appreciate his ability to play darts:

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Under normal circumstances, when a QB prospect is fantastic and his offense is loaded, the fantasy buzz can get pretty extreme. But it probably won’t turn out that way with Williams, because… well, because Bears.

This franchise is entering its 105th NFL season, but somehow no Chicago quarterback has ever cleared 4,000 passing yards in any year. It’s a real civil scandal. There have been 227 individual seasons in league history in which a QB has thrown for at least 4,000 yards, and none of them (zero) have belonged to someone affiliated with the Bears. Absolutely wild.

We’re talking about a yardage total that doesn’t even indicate a particularly great year at this stage in NFL history. Dozens of passers have gone for 4,000 yards in disappointing seasons.

And yet the Bears have never experienced life with a 4K quarterback.

Chicago’s single-season passing record is held by Erik Kramer, who threw for 3,838 yards in 1995. Kramer’s top receivers that year were Jeff Graham and Curtis Conway. Anyone mentioned in that last sentence is now eligible for AARP, from their mid to late 50s. This franchise has been producing non-serious offenses for thirty years.

But in 2024, the script will probably flip. Williams only needs to average 226 yards per game to deliver the most productive season in franchise history, so that’s the first and lowest bar he needs to clear. Assuming he’s in good health, there’s no way he won’t have fun with Moore, Allen, Kmet and Swift (and possibly a high-end newcomer) as weapons.

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As a rusher, Williams is clearly not at the level of Justin Fields, but let’s not forget that he is capable of breakthrough plays like this:

He has crossed the goal line 21 times over the past two seasons, so there is clearly an upward trend in his game.

When you consider Williams’ talent and his remarkably favorable first-year lineup — and ignore the Bears football of the past century, for which he is not responsible — it’s easy to see a path for him to to end up as a top player. 10 fantasy QB immediately. For dynastic purposes, he is already near the top of the rankings, in the top eight.

With all due respect to Jayden Daniels and the Drake Maye brothers, Williams is the best fantasy option at QB in this year’s draft class. By the end of Williams’ first season, a major rewrite of Chicago’s record book should be in full swing.

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