We’ll start with what matters the most….the numbers. In Marc Trestman‘s new offense Matt Forte thrived and the numbers prove it. Forte finished second in the NFL with 1,339 rushing yards and fourth in the league with 83.7 yards per game . . .
In Trestman’s offense Forte saw a lot of touches in the passing game as well last year. Forte was targeted 95 times and had 75 receptions for 592 yards with 3 receiving touchdowns. So with the rushing and the passing numbers combined Forte finished the 2013 season with 265.3 fantasy points (in standard scoring) and that is nothing to take lightly. It was the RB’s first year in the offense and there is a great chance these number get improved upon.
It pains me to say this, because I love Matt Forte in a way that should make his family (and mine) uncomfortable, but you should probably trade Matt Forte if he’s currently on your dynasty team.
First, let me establish my Matt Forte Fanclub bonafides. I am not a Chicago Bears fan, just a fan of fantasy football and you can’t love fantasy football and not love Matt Forte. I happened to be an early believer before his rookie season and I ended up owning him in nearly every league I was in that year. I won a lot of those leagues. It wasn’t just that he was good (1700 total yards and 12 TDs good), he was good every week. He didn’t have a single game where he didn’t put up at least 80 total yards or a TD except week 17 and no one cares about that week. In week 16 (championship week!), on Monday Night Football no less, Matt Forte picked up 48 yards and the game-tying TD on the Bears last drive in the 4th quarter. They won in overtime and he had another 17 yards there. So, if you’re keeping track, he racked up 65 yards and a TD during the last 10 minutes of the final game of the fantasy football season. It so happened that I needed all of those fantasy points in the league I cared about the most and he got them. This is pretty emotional, and I’m already regretting that I started writing this. He even has a prestigious award named after him.
I wasn’t playing dynasty at the time, but I imagine Matt Forte was HUGE heading into his sophomore season. But, he committed the unforgivable fantasy sin of disappointing his owners that year and he’s been underrated ever since. If you play PPR, then I would wager with you that Matt Forte has exceeded his draft price in every league you’ve played in (unless it’s got a bunch of Bears fans in it).
Last offseason brought Marc Trestman to Chicago and James Todd was all over what that would mean for Forte. Marc Trestman is still in Chicago and Matt Forte is still good at catching the ball. Yes, the offense will stay the same, but the offense also largely stayed the same between his rookie and sophomore seasons. That’s kind of a lie because they swapped Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler, but at the time that looked like a move that would help the whole offense and especially a pass catching back like Forte. The issue isn’t whether or not Forte will be good because I expect him to be a top-10 PPR RB again next season (and probably even again after that…I really like Matt Forte). The issue is regression to the mean. Adrian Peterson was a top-10 PPR RB this season for example, but he shouldn’t have been drafted in the top-5.
Matt Forte doesn’t have the same cachet that Purple Jesus does. His current dynasty ADP is 23rd overall which is actually pretty reasonable. ADP is an imperfect tool however since this only tracks startup value. For leagues that are already chugging along there will be owners that need a RB or want to chase a championship window and Matt Forte is exactly the kind of peg that will fit in that hole. You should move him before the NFL draft because currently the Bears have only Forte and Michael Ford in their backfield. RBs are becoming devalued in the real draft so it’s possible that a popular scout favorite will slide into a later round and get scooped up by the Bears to muddy the waters.
Finally, running back is a young man’s game, and Forte will turn 29 late in the season. Do not give My Boy Matt Forte away by any means, but be aware that he set career highs in pretty much every category last season (rushing yards, receiving yards, receptions and he tied his high in total TDs) and he’s unlikely to exceed that. His value is at its highest right now. There will be uncertainty in the draft where the Bears could add some competition to the backfield mix and he’s at an age where any injury or bad stretch of games will look like one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse to a lot of dynasty owners. Trade him away now and then late in the fantasy season you can try to reacquire him when the dynasty community starts to think he’s old and hasn’t lived up to their expectations.
Full confession, a month ago I traded Matt Forte for Montee Ball and Larry Fitzgerald and I still kind of hate myself even though it was the right move.