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Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUST: MATT FORTE RB NEW YORK JETS

A year ago at this time, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte was coming off a 2014 season where he redefined what it was to be a PPR weapon behind the QB as he caught a ridiculous 102 passes for 808 yards while also rushing for 1,038 yards in a Le'Veon Bell-esque campaign.  One of the greatest pass-receiving backs of all-time, Forte was once again a first round pick in 2015 drafts despite the fact he turned 30.  Alas showing that age shows mercy to no one, Forte went down as one of many first round busts last season as he rushed for just 898 yards and 4 scores while also seeing a major drop in receptions with a still very good 58 but a drop nonetheless.  Forte also missed three games with injuries in a likely nod to the high-mileage and losing tread on his rushing tires and making matters worse, averaged just 4.1 per carry after going for 3.9 in 2014 which was overshadowed by all the receptions.  As a result, the Bears showed no hesitation to move on from Forte once he hit free agency and he was then scooped up by the New York Jets on a two-year deal.  While on the surface a fresh start would seem like a good thing for Forte, the fact of the matter is that more trouble likely lies ahead for a guy who clearly is on the decline based on his per game rates. 

First let's get to the body of work.  The 102 receptions in 2014, while incredible, were a major outlier.  Forte instead has been a consistent 50-60 reception guy which is still tremendous production in a PPR league.  Now 31 and with a ton of tread on his rushing tires, Forte needs to hold his reception level high in order to maximize his slipping value but that could be trouble this season due to the Jets' re-signing of Bilal Powell.  Powell was a very good running back for the Jets down the stretch of 2015 and his prowess as a pass-catcher has put him into the favorite to be the third-down back.  That means it will be Powell and not Forte who will get the major dose of passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith.  Then in terms of the rushing numbers, Forte has been at 3.9 and 4.1 the last two years which is very mediocre production on that front and shows his age.  A much fresher and spry Powell could very well eat into Forte's workload and steal a bunch of his potential value. 

When you put it all together, Matt Forte looks like a veteran guy who is more name brand than actual effective fantasy football asset at this late stage of his game.  Powell is a major threat to Forte and more injuries and slippage in production is also in the cards for him as well.  As a result, avoid Forte at all costs in the draft unless you can get him very cheap as a RB 2 in PPR.  Otherwise this could be Steven Jackson circa Atlanta Falcons all over again this season. 

2016 PROJECTION:  748 rushing yards 4 TD 45 receptions 472 yards 2 TD 



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