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Fantasy Outlook: Matt Forte no longer PPR machine?

Aug 13, 2015

Will a new system deteriorate Matt Forte's fantasy value?

Will a new system deteriorate Matt Forte’s fantasy value?

When the Chicago Bears fired Marc Trestman and brought in new head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase, they made a commitment to return to old school Bears offense. Run the ball, and run it some more.

Matt Forte will continue to be the focus of the Bears offensive attack, but what will his role be in the passing game? He probably won’t be able to reproduce the 102 receptions for 808 yards from last season, but he could gain more than the 1,038 yards on the ground he totaled in 2014. The Bears ran the ball on only 36.8 percent of their plays under Trestman. This season you can expect to see that number go up significantly.

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In anticipation of running the ball between the tackles more this season, Forte bulked up to handle the pounding his body will take. But Forte may not be the bell-cow back in a Fox offense. Fox has a history of using multiple RBs and the Bears added Jacquizz Rodgers via free agency and drafted Jeremy Langford in the fourth round to help support their rushing attack.

Less targets in the passing game, being on the field less than usual (played 90 percent of Chicago’s offensive snaps last year) and turning 30 (the not so magic number for running backs to hit the wall) are all signs that Forte is not a true stud RB1 in fantasy anymore. But even in a reduced role, Forte is still a great all-purpose back who has more yards from scrimmage than anyone since 2008.

“Everybody forgets how good of a running back he is,” Gase said. “He’s not just here to catch the ball. He can run downhill. He can be outside, gap scheme, the guy’s got the whole thing.”

Sounds like a vote of confidence to me. He’s going to get every opportunity to show he still has a lot of gas left in the tank. Forte has not taken the pounding some of the other 29-year-old RBs have in their career. He’s never been a between the tackles guy, but he is going to have to change his style of play if he wants to succeed in this offense.

“Catching 100 balls is not my goal as a running back,” he said. “Coach Fox loves to run the ball and establish the run. If we can control the pace of the game and grind out tough yards and score, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

If you draft Forte, it could take a top 10 pick to secure him. His ADP is 13 on FantasyPros draft sheet for standard leagues and 10 for standard leagues. That’s pretty high for a guy who is trending more towards RB2 value than RB1.

One more thing to remember, Forte is in a contract year. I don’t see the Bears signing him to another deal when they keep raving about Langford’s talent and spending a fourth round pick on him.

On draft day, I’d wait on Forte in hopes he drops to the late first or early second round when you will get more value from the veteran.

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Hilton Guidry is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Hilton, check out his archive and follow him @fantasygumbo.

Correspondent, NFL, Player Profile