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Spotlight: Matt Forte

posted by Will Grant on Jul 8th

Will Grant's thoughts

When the 2010 season began, many people had written Matt Forte off as the downside of a RBBC. Chester Taylor had been signed as a free agent from Minnesota and Forte was coming off of a 1400 yard season where he had only reached the end zone four times and he was averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. In the new Mike Martz offense, many wrote Forte off as the #2 back to Chester Taylor and his draft stock fell accordingly.

RBBC? Maybe not.

What actually happened was the exact opposite. Chester Taylor flamed out, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry, posting his lowest rushing and receiving yards since his rookie season. Meanwhile, Forte found new life, ringing up over 1600 yards from scrimmage, 4.5 yards per carry and reached the end zone nine times. Forte finished in the top ten for fantasy RBS while Taylor barely made the top 60.

Heading into 2011, Forte is the designated starting running back for a Chicago team that took big steps to improve their offense over the offseason. They added rookie Gabe Carimi to the offensive line and added former Seahawk Chris Spencer to replace aging Oldin Kruetz at center. They also upgraded their passing game, adding Roy Williams and Sam Hurd from Dallas, taking even more focus off of the running game. This should set up Forte for another solid season running the ball. Finally, TE Greg Olsen has moved on, leaving and the Bears are looking for a more vertical passing game. This plays right into Forte's hand because he can line up on the outside, or catch the short check-downs over the middle and break them for longer gains.

However, a repeat of last season is not guaranteed. Forte expressed a desire for a contract extension before the season started. As the pre-season is about to open, no such offer has been given and Forte is threatening to sit out the pre-season if one is not given soon. While the Chicago front office wants to get the deal done, even Jerry Angelo admitted that it wasn't going to be an easy process. To guard against a lengthy holdout, the Bears signed ex Cowboy Marion Barber. Even if Forte signs a long term deal, Barber could vulture carries from Forte, including those precious goal line carries that fantasy players love so much.


  • Proved that he can carry the load as the #1 RB of the team last season, and flourish in a Mike Martz offense.
  • Improved offensive line and passing game should give him bigger lanes to run through.
  • Soft hands make him an excellent fit for the 'pass first' offense, something that Marion Barber is not known for having.


  • Offensive line still has question marks. Kruetz has big shoes to fill and one rookie OL isn't a lot of improvement.
  • Marion Barber is known for his short yardage carries and he could steal a few goal line TDS this season - something Forte struggled with last season.
  • Six division games against Detroit, Minnesota and Green Bay - teams with very tough defensive lines.

Final thoughts

The Bears will get a deal done with Forte before the season starts. They know he's a big part of their offensive future and that Barber and Taylor are both short term help at best. While Barber does have the potential to steal short yardage TDS from Forte, the improved passing game favors more long TD runs and receptions out of the backfield, which should compensate for any lost fantasy points. The tough run opponents are a bit of a concern, but Chicago has shown a commitment to getting Forte the ball, even in tough situations and this season should be no exception. A 1600 yard, 10 TD performance is easily within his grasp and you should feel confident taking Forte as your RB#2 in most fantasy leagues. In PPR leagues, Forte's receiving skills move him into the top tier RBS, making him a solid second round pick.

Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Husker Bru said:

Never seems to get the love he deserves, at least not in my leagues (and my leagues even include Chicago guys). Even on the days when Mike Martz decides he doesn't feel like trying to run the ball, Forte will make up for it with 70 yards in catches. Best thing about Forte from a fantasy perspective: virtually no competition for his job. Chester Taylor is strictly a relief pitcher.

Badgers Fan said:

He is a pretty solid rb2, a decent use of a 2nd round pick. I think he may get drafted into the late rb1 territory, which I wouldn't be ok with. Touchdowns can be a tad unpredictable, because you don't know if he'll rip off a bunch of long td's this year, but throughout his career he hasn't been a td monster (all tho for 2 out of 3 years he's been respectable), so he's already at a handicap there when measured up to other rb1's. His early early mockdraftcentral ADP is 20 (rb #14). That's more than fair. As long, as I mentioned, he doesn't slide into the rb1 zone, then he's a very good rb2 in ppr leagues. In standard league's, he's still a solid mid ranged rb2 because he churns out a lot of yards.

CompetitiveEdgeFootball said:

I think he's underrated.

I'd rather have him than Peyton Hillis, Steven Jackson, Blount and Moreno, the other 4 RBs going around his ADP.


1600 total yards and 11-12 TDs is borderline RB1 production, and he has no competition or injury issues. This guy is as safe a back as you can get, and he's available a lot later than he should be.

You have to look at the production here, not "man i hate that guy."

For those who cry about his YPC, there's not an analyst in the world that would try and tell you that his offensive line was any good. If this guy gets in space, or to the outside he's dangerous. For all the times he runs up to a bad offensive line that can't open a hole, and gains 1 or 2 yards, that's going to hurt his YPC.

He's used in the passing game as much as anyone else on the team, he had more catches than any of the WRs. If you want a realistic way to judge Forte's value, I think you look at yards per touch on the ball, including his catches.

We Tigers said:

The Bears were an illusion last year; I thought they were one of the least impressive/least threatening 11-win teams in the history of the league. CompetitiveEdge is right in that you can't just look at Forte and say "I hate that guy" because of his strong efforts so far, but I do think both Forte and the Bears take a significant step back this year. The Chicago defense is getting very old, their receivers didn't show much last year, and overall I see them as a soft team more likely to hit 5 wins this year than get back to 11.

Forte was deceptively effective last year after a few real stinkers early in the season: 16 plays over 20 yards, only 5 games with fewer than 7 fantasy points, and a couple of really monster games. Despite that, I think the Bears are a team headed in the wrong direction who will need a very strong season in free agency (upgrade at WR, youth on D, and a couple more bodies for the o-line) to counteract a weak draft and a team that wasn't that good in the first place. I expect it'll place a limit on both the volume of work Forte gets a chance to see, and what he does with it. Think 2009 numbers: a decent floor because of his heavy role in the passing game, but rushing stats that disappoint. I think he'll still be the best fantasy performer on the team, but one with relatively low upside.

rzrback77 said:

Matt Forte is one of those guys where the whole is much greater than simply the sum of his parts. He is a guy that a lot of folks bad-mouth or disrespect, yet he continues to produce.

Mike Martz was hired by the Bears fore the 2010 season and his reputation of not using RBs created a fantasy bargain a year ago in Matt Forte. According to FBG information, Forte was drafted around RB 23 last year, even after ranking 4th and 18th in non-ppr scoring his first two seasons.

In 2010, his carries did drop to a career low, but only 21 or just over one per game from his 09 stats. He was still active in the passing game with 51 catches. All told, he had 237 rushes and 51 catches for 288 touches (18 per game) and he finished as the RB 10 in non-ppr scoring.

The Bears did not draft an RB, but did add a first round offensive lineman and I think that Forte's load will be about the same as a year ago, with a slight uptick in efficiency. I think that the Bears will have a little more offensive success in thier second year in the system. Check out his ADP prior to your drafts and he may present a value opportunity.

Matt Forte projections

Will Grant25910517585273
Message board consensus24310436534733