Fantasy Football 2013: Matt Forte Could Be PPR Gold
Ever since joining the league, Matt Forte has been one of the better receiving running backs we have in the game today. He’s been a focal point of the Chicago Bears’ offense for years now, and as we approach the 2013 season, fantasy owners can expect that trend to continue, if not increase.
Newly appointed head coach Marc Trestman has been known to implement pass-heavy offenses in which the playing style features short passes. You think he isn’t licking his chops thinking about all of the possibilities with an elite pass catcher like Forte? I mean, Forte has been involved in the passing game a lot in the past, but he could be in store for a serious uptick in receptions. First, let’s take a look at his career receiving numbers, just so owners can appreciate how terrific he has been for PPR purposes.
I’m sure fantasy owners would be content with those receiving numbers, am I right? 70 targets each year, possibility of 60 grabs and a couple of scores. Not too shabby. However, alongside Trestman, Forte’s ceiling could be much, much higher. Let’s travel back to 2002 when Trestman was the offensive coordinator for the Raiders. He used the same style of offense he’s been known for using in the CFL, and it was highly productive. First, quarterback Rich Gannon threw for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns, en route to a league MVP. The Raiders also made the playoffs that year (no, seriously), but these aren’t what catches my eye. Oakland’s running back at the time, Charlie Garner, caught a ridiculous 91 passes that year. 91. Are you kidding me? To put that into perspective, that number ranked him 10th in the league in catches, ahead of guys like Torry Holt, Rod Smith and Joe Horn. Oh yeah, his teammate, a guy by the name of Jerry Rice, caught just one more pass than Garner that year. Think about it. Although Rice was in his 40′s at the time, Trestman didn’t feature the offense around a downfield attack to the greatest wide receiver to ever lace them up. Instead, he continuously implemented checkdowns and short in-routes to Garner, which was part of the reason Gannon posted the highest completion percentage of his career that year (67.6).
And what about way back to 1998? Trestman was with the Cardinals as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Same story, different team. That year, Larry Centers, a fullback, caught an impressive 69 passes for 559 yards and two scores. Needless to say, I think Forte is much more athletic and explosive than Centers was out of the backfield.
Trestman will utilize Forte in a way that will quite possibly remind many of Brian Westbrook’s days as an Eagle. Short, quick passes that tire the defense out and allow talented receiving backs to get out in space. Rumblings out of Chicago are that Trestman has been watching film on Forte, studying how effective he can be in the passing game, almost how Andy Reid has been watching games of his new toy, Jamaal Charles. Trestman has stated that Forte is an excellent route runner, which could possibly signify some work out of the slot for the Bears’ back. Exactly where he will line up remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, Forte better be ready to catch the ball.
Let’s be honest, as good as Brandon Marshall is, Chicago can’t look for him every time down the field. As long as Forte is healthy, he is my bet to finish second on the team in receiving, just like he did a season ago. Sure, the touchdown potential isn’t huge, considering Michael Bush will almost certainly be the team’s short yardage back. However, Forte will be almost always on the field between the 20′s, and with Trestman leading the charge, 75-80 catches is a possibility.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.