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Even if he plays, is Matt Forte worth a second rounder?
Matt Forte has been a solid HB choice for fantasy owners for the past four seasons, especially in PPR leagues. He's rushed for at least 900 yards in all four seasons, and had he not gotten hurt he'd have broken 1,000 in three of them—he finished three yards short in 12 games last season. He has played all 16 games in three out of four years. He's also broken 450 receiving yards in each of his seasons.
With stats like those, he's clearly got the talent to be taken in the second or even the first round of a ten-team league. So why should you stay away from him?
The most obvious reason is his contract situation. Forte wants a new deal; the Bears want him to sign his franchise tender. But unlike most holdouts that are going on this off season, Forte actually has a little bit of leverage. He was a major part of their offense, and figures to be their feature back for years to come.
His abilities, as his stats show, are that of a top-tier back. Any team that wants to run the way the Bears do need a talented every-down back.
Unfortunately for Forte and his fans, the Bears don't seem to realize this and contract talks are reportedly not going well, meaning Forte is a likely holdout for at least training camp and possibly beyond. Any missed time hurts his value, especially if his holdout cuts into the regular season.
But there's more. The Bears made several free agent acquisitions that could cut into Forte's numbers.
The most threatening addition is fellow HB Michael Bush, a power back who figures to cut into Forte's goal-line and short-yardage carries. What's worse is that Bush did very well filling in for an injured Darren McFadden in Oakland last year, which means that the Bears should feel pretty confident with Bush in the event of a prolonged holdout. Not good signs for Forte's stats.
The other two additions to worry about are looking to grab some of Forte's receptions for themselves. In the off-season the Bears traded for Jay Cutler's old favorite target, Brandon Marshall, as well as spending a second round pick on Alshon Jeffery, a wide-out from South Carolina. Both should take away from Forte's targets in the passing game, which is usually the stat that separates him from other HBs.
Forte is currently ranked 17th by ESPN. I'd try to grab him in the 25-29 range.