The Chicago Bears lost Matt Forte to an ankle injury during the third quarter of the team's Thursday Night Football contest against the Green Bay Packers—an injury that has major fantasy implications for him and for Michael Bush.
Forte was tackled by Charles Woodson, whose knee drove into Forte's ankle and awkwardly twisted it into the turf.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times' Sean Jensen:
#Bears RB Matt Forte has been downgraded from doubtful to out with an ankle injury.— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) September 14, 2012
It remains to be seen how severe Forte's ankle injury is and how long he may be out, but ankle injuries can oftentimes be devastating—especially ones of the high variety.
Let's take a look at how this affects Bush, the Bears and fantasy football.
Obviously, if Forte is out for any amount of time, Bush becomes the team's No. 1 option at running back. He's more of a power running back than Forte, who is more of a slasher.
If Forte isn't ready to play next week against the St. Louis Rams, Bush will be asked to carry the load and will likely tote the rock upwards of 20 times. This is a role Bush has taken on before, though when he had to step in for Darren McFadden in 2011, he started out with a bang then fizzled out at the end of the year.
In the games that Bush started last year for the Oakland Raiders, he rushed for 740 yards on 196 carries (3.78 yards per carry) with four touchdowns. Many of those yards came within the first three starts, when he gained 362 yards on 79 carries (4.58 yards per carry).
If Forte only misses two or three games, Bush will thrive. If he's asked to carry the load all season long, he'll start to lose steam.
Since Bush has a different set of skills than Forte, the Bears will have to adjust their scheme accordingly.
Bush isn't as good a pass-catcher out of the backfield as Forte—especially in the screen game. He is a viable outlet, though, and Mike Tice won't have to change much in the passing game to suit his skill set.
Will the Bears tank without Forte in the lineup?
The biggest change we'll see is in the running game.
I expect to see the Bears do one of two things: Either they'll actually run more with Bush than they were with Forte, utilizing more Power I sets, or they'll completely abandon the run and let quarterback Jay Cutler loose in the passing game.
For the sake of Cutler and Bears fans everywhere, I hope to see the former. The team's offensive line is a mess, and it would behoove Tice to protect his quarterback with a strong running game.
Don't go dumping Matt Forte just yet—even if you have a couple of good backup running backs.
If Michael Bush is available in your league, snatch him up for at least the next couple of weeks, because I expect him to see a ton of work. If in two weeks, Forte is still having issues with his ankle, then ditch him and move on to greener pastures.
I expect that if Forte's injury does keep him out for any amount of time, Cutler's fantasy numbers will decline slightly. He gets a ton of yards off of Forte in the passing game, and he doesn't have the same rapport with Bush.
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