Matt Forte had an incredibly productive 2014 season as the engine of the Chicago Bears offense. He carried the ball 266 times for 1,038 yards and 6 touchdowns while chipping in 102 catches for 808 yards and another 4 touchdowns for good measure. Forte played on 92 percent of the offensive snaps, received a mind-blowing 130 targets and finished as a Top 4 running back in fantasy. A disappointing 5-11 record led to some upheaval in the Windy City and Marc Trestman was relieved of his duties as head coach and replaced by John Fox. A change in philosophy will lead to a dip in targets and usage for Forte, but he still safely projects as a Top 10 running back for 2015. But what would happen if Forte suffered a major injury that costs him the season?
Jeremy Langford, RB – Fourth-round draft choice Langford is currently listed as third on the depth chart behind Forte and Jacquizz Rodgers. The 6’0, 208 lb. rookie was the bellcow back at Michigan State for his junior and senior seasons and ran an impressive 4.42 forty at the combine. More importantly, he has shown enough value in camp and preseason to leap ahead of the previous regimes’ 2014 draft choice, running back Ka’Deem Carey. If disaster were to strike the Bears and Forte, look for Langford to assume lead back duties and the smaller Rodgers to serve as the passing down back.
Martellus Bennett, TE – Although Forte’s targets are expected to go down regardless, losing him to injury would take away Jay Cutler’s safety net. Look for Bennett to step-in and see a small uptick in targets. Bennett finished 2014 as a Top 5 tight end in fantasy with 90 catches for 916 yards and 6 touchdowns. His 129 targets were 3rd on the team behind only Alshon Jeffery and Forte. While the rookie Langford adapts to lead back duties in the event of an injury to Forte, Bennett should pick up some of Forte’s intended targets.
Alshon Jeffery, WR – The offensive philosophy should not change too much with Forte missing time. John Fox is looking to install a more run-heavy offense. Although losing the lead back will lead to some growing pains for the running game, we can still expect to see a balanced attack overall. If any of the wide receivers were to receive a slight bump it would have to be Jeffery, but I do not expect a significant increase for any of the Bears’ receivers.
Marquess Wilson, WR – Similar to Royal, the WR3 should receive a similar amount of targets on a week-to-week basis.
Jay Cutler, QB – While Cutler himself would be more inclined to throw on every down in the absence of Forte, Fox will employ a similar gameplan regardless of personnel. There may be an initial increase for Cutler while Langford gets his legs under him, but overall the offense should maintain a similar balance.
None. The loss of Forte would have more of an impact on the W-L record. There will still be plenty of fantasy points to go around.
Jaquizz Rodgers, RB – Currently listed as No.2 on the depth chart, Rodgers projects to be a change of pace back if Forte remains fully healthy. With Forte on the shelf, look for Rodgers to assume full-time passing back duties in addition to spelling the rookie Langford.
None. While the loss of a player of the caliber of Forte will lead to an overall drop in offensive capabilities, the remaining healthy skill position players will offer a similar range of production.