Will Ka’Deem Carey find his way back into more playing time and back on the fantasy radar in 2017?
The Chicago Bears spent a fourth round pick on Ka’Deem Carey in 2014. Important note: this was Phil Emery’s Bears, not Ryan Pace’s Bears. Carey was set to become Matt Forte’s backup, and if he succeeded, he would become the heir to the running back throne. But Carey’s results have been mixed at best.
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Carey showed flashes of being a legit NFL running back his rookie year against the Green Bay Packers, but other than that was just mediocre in spot duty. In his first year under John Fox in 2015, Carey again showed he was nothing more than a pedestrian running back. By 2016, Forte was gone and there was an opportunity for Carey. Langford struggled and the starting job was there for the taking. But it was Jordan Howard who took the job and never looked back. Carey did have a two-game stretch where he had 19 carries for 99 yards and looked like he had some spring in his step, but the other 10 games he appeared in, Carey had 13 carries for 28 yards and again just looked like a running back with no real ability to impact a game.
Carey enters the 2017 season on the hot seat. Howard is now entrenched as the team’s starting running back, and the backfield is crowded with Benny Cunningham, Jeremy Langford, and rookie Tarik Cohen. The Chicago Bears will not carry five running backs. The team will also not be able to put any of these players on the practice squad. The only one they might consider is Cohen, but he would have to clear waivers first, and a team out there would definitely roll the dice on the “human joystick.”
That means the Bears are going to have to release one of their backups. Cohen’s job is almost certainly safe. That means either Cunningham, Langford or Carey are going to be shown the door. Cunningham makes the most sense to be Howard’s true backup. He can handle the role of a 3-down back better than Langford and he also has the ability to return kicks that could add to his value.
If Cunningham looks competent in camp, his job is most likely safe. That means Langford or Carey would be the odd man out. Langford has shown more ability to become a playmaker, but Carey has shown more ability to contribute on special teams. The Bears have signed several players over the last couple years who are good special teams contributors, so Carey’s impact there may not be as critical.
Odds are, it will be Carey that is shown the door. If Carey makes the squad, he will most likely make it as the team’s RB4 and will only play on special teams. He wouldn’t be worth a roster spot at all. Carey’s best chance to have any fantasy impact this year would be if the Bears’ waive him and a team with a star running back picks him up in hopes he can spell their great player. That way Carey at least becomes a handcuff option in deep leagues.
Carey has zero fantasy value in 10, 12, 14, or 16 team re-draft leagues. His value is also nil on keeper and dynasty rosters. The only way he’s worthy of a roster spot if he has a new team in 2017 and his new team might see more use for him than the Bears do. Carey’s days in Chicago are numbered and if he does make the team, he’ll be a special teams contributor only unless the running backs in front of him face significant injuries.
Ka’Deem Carey 2017 Projections: 11 carries, 36 yards, 0 TDs, 1 catch, 8 yards, 0 TDs