Fantasy Football 2012: Michael Bush to Bears Has Wide Impact

Marco PatitucciContributor IIMarch 22, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 24:  Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders as Bush carries the ball upfield during the game on December 24, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears signed a running back to a four-year deal—and it wasn’t Matt Forte. Forte, who received the franchise tag from the Bears this offseason, remains without a long-term deal.

Meanwhile, Michael Bush recently signed a four-year, $14 million deal with Chicago ($7 million guaranteed), according to PFT's Mike Florio.

This move affects the Bears RBs in fantasy football, as well as Bush's former teammates in Oakland.

First, this move hurts Forte in a couple of ways.

For one, he feels personally “disrespected” by the way the Bears have handled his contract situation—paying other RBs while he has not yet been given a long-term deal.

He said via Twitter:

for the record I'm not mad at the signing of another running back. This is 4th time that's happened. I embrace competition as well as help

— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 22, 2012

He continued:

But as for not taking care of ur own and undervaluing a player under his market value is another story! #twitterrant

— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball against  Brian Rolle #59 of the Philadelphia Eagles during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 7, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Former teammate Greg Olsen joined the fray as well, stating:

If u have a studd 3 down guy like @MattForte22 why keep paying backups big $ every yr? Crazy!! Matt deserves better

— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen82) March 22, 2012

Is the returning bad blood between Forte and Bears management enough for him to hold out?

Possibly.

But with Bush in the fold, a holdout from Forte won’t hurt the team as much.

The move also affects Forte’s fantasy value.

I had Forte rated as a top-five back heading into the 2012 fantasy season. Now I would be hesitant to use a first-round pick on him.

The hope for Forte’s fantasy owners this upcoming season is that he would get more goal-line opportunities. However, again, the Bears will have a more prototypical goal-line back in Bush.

Last year, Marion Barber had six rushing TDs to Forte’s three on nearly 100 less rushing attempts.

Forte has inconsistent scoring production in his four-year career, with 12 TDs in 2008, four in 2009, nine in 2010, and four again in 2011.

Marion Barber(right) was the goal line back for Forte(left) and the Bears in 2011
Marion Barber(right) was the goal line back for Forte(left) and the Bears in 2011Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With Bush now joining Forte in the backfield, a return to double-digit TDs seems less likely.

The move also affects Bush’s value.

Whether the Bears’ move was disrespect towards Forte or not, Bush is a quality back.

He was one of the top handcuff backs over the past few years with Oakland, filling in for the oft-injured Darren McFadden.

Bush ran for 977 yards with seven TDs for Oakland in 2011. He had 655 yards and eight TDs in 2010.

However, Bush’s value in Oakland over the past two years was high because of lingering injuries to McFadden.

Forte did sit out the last four games of 2011, but he is less of an injury risk than McFadden. For that reason, unless Forte holds out, Bush’s value drops a bit too.

In Oakland, the Raiders now face a risky situation with no experienced backup to McFadden.

Whoever takes over that backup role becomes a name-to-know, and possibly a player-to-own in fantasy football.

Right now, McFadden’s backup would be second-year back Taiwan Jones, who had just 16 rushing attempts in his rookie campaign.

McFadden and the Raiders have lost their safety net in Bush
McFadden and the Raiders have lost their safety net in BushEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Raiders fullback Marcel Reece is a pass-catching back with a career rushing average of 5.0, and is a player to keep an eye on in the preseason. Oakland could use him in a variety of ways, especially since they do not have an established TE.

However, the situation isn’t settled. The Raiders could do something in the draft or in free agency to solidify the position.

The Bears’ move ultimately should improve their team. Unfortunately, they may have further disgruntled their star player in the process.

In the fantasy realm, both Bush and Forte will take a hit unless one of them is injured. And the Raiders' backup RB situation is one to watch.

On one final note: Bush and Forte have identical 4.2 career rushing averages.