Chicago Bears: Matt Forte 2012 Fantasy Preview
Many fantasy lovers were relieved when Matt Forte signed his new contract of 4 years, $32 million, preventing a potential holdout from boiling over into the season and affecting his performance. Despite his new contract though, I still have some reservations regarding Forte and his fantasy value. Forte surely can provide productive weeks for you, but there are several negatives as well, as you can see below, that show you how he is sometimes over-valued.
Michael Bush was added this offseason, thus Forte’s red zone carries and touchdowns will take a hit. Forte wasn’t particularly stellar in the red zone last year: within the ten yard line, Forte had only ten yards on twelve carries. These low numbers were in large part because Forte shared carries with Marion Barber, who totaled six touchdowns in the eleven games he played. Look for Michael Bush to have a similar effect on Forte’s workload.
Forte is simply not a touchdown machine like some think: Forte only scored three rushing touchdowns in the thirteen games he played in 2011 and only has 21 career rushing touchdowns in four years. For means of comparison, Arian Foster has 26 rushing touchdowns in the last TWO years.
Forte is no longer playing for a contract. He’s no longer getting paid a base salary of $550,000 like in 2011. Will he still play with that same hunger? It has to be considered.
He’s in arguably the toughest division in the NFL with ferocious defenses. To get to the second level in this division, he has to bypass the likes of Jared Allen, B.J. Raji, and Ndamukong Suh just to name a few.
New offensive coordinator Mike Tice likes to throw the ball! Think about his days as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings: it was Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss downfield all day long. Under Tice, the Vikings averaged over seven yards per pass attempt and 65% of their offensive yardage was gained through passing plays. You’d have to think Tice is looking to do the same with the addition of WR Brandon Marshall.
Forte catches a great deal of balls out of the backfield, snatching 52 balls in 2011 for 490 yards (in 13 games). His ability in the open field, especially on-the-run after catching a pass, gives him another dimension that several other backs don’t have. His value definitely rises because of his ability in this department ESPECIALLY in PPR leagues.
The re-marriage of WR Brandon Marshall with QB Jay Cutler is something that defenses have to respect. Both had their best career numbers with each other in Denver, and Cutler finally has a legitimate deep threat in Chicago…no more Devin Hester experiments. This threat will take less focus off Forte running the ball as well as increase his threat catching check-down passes with Marshall (and Tice) stretching the field vertically.
Simply put, Forte has consistently put up productive numbers over the years and has the ability to explode any week. He had a span of five weeks last year that totaled 686 yards, and he’s never dipped below 920 yards in his four year career. Forte will still get a boatload of carries and receptions, remaining the centerpiece of the Bears’ offense and a respectable fantasy football running back.
Second round pick: Forte, in most leagues, is the fifteenth player off the board. Again, his value rises in PPR leagues, but don’t reach for Forte too early. I don’t see him as a first round pick, especially with the growing need of an elite QB this year.
Projected Stats: 1,125 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns; 475 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
And I must say…
I have to get this off of my chest. Peter King recently answered a fantasy football question from one of his Twitter followers, asking who he has “on the top of his board”. He said Foster at 1. Fine. Then he had Forte as his second best fantasy player.
Let’s get this straight: Peter King is an NFL insider. He has impressive contacts and he provides for the fans an inside look of teams. He’s pretty good at it, too.
Fantasy football draft board though? NFL Draft Big Boards? IF King actually has boards and rankings for these (which I doubt he actually does), they’re of pretty poor quality. That’s not his job, and that’s fine except that King pretends to be a guru of everything football when really he’s just a good NFL insider. You don’t see NFL Soup as the first one to break injury news or new deal agreements because that’s not our focus!
Don’t look to Peter King or Adam Schefter or Chris Mortensen or any insiders like that for fantasy football or NFL Draft advice. Stay with experts who follow that and only that like NFL SOUP.
And for the love of God, Matt Forte is not close to being a #2 overall fantasy player in 2012, Peter! Who’s #3? Shonn Greene?
See where all the top experts (not Peter King) rank Forte this year in the Cheat Sheet Wizard.