Matt Forte: Which Waiver Wire Pickups Can Hold the Fort for Injured Bears RB?

John RozumCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2012

Matt Forte: Which Waiver Wire Pickups Can Hold the Fort for Injured Bears RB?

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    Start looking for a brief Matt Forte replacement in fantasy football.

    Per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

    The Bears believe running back Matt Forte suffered a high ankle sprain Thursday night vs. Green Bay, per source.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 14, 2012

    This is quite a set of unfortunate circumstances for the Chicago Bears running back. So, just as we saw against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, Michael Bush is the obvious No. 1 ball-carrier.

    Therefore, those with Forte in fantasy certainly need to find a filler as the 2012 season progresses. That said, let's take a look at some running backs worth having as backups to call on when needed.

    After all, depth does pay nice dividends in the short and long run.


    Please note that the size and format varies between fantasy leagues. So, any player available in one league may not be available in another.

Marcel Reece, Raiders

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    Marcel Reece may be a fullback, but he's more of that hybrid back that can be a reliable checkdown target as well.

    Now yes, his production in Week 1 versus the San Diego Chargers was anything but impressive.

    However, that's how the Oakland Raiders' ground game looked the entire night. And considering that Darren McFadden finished with 13 receptions for 86 yards, defenses will be keying on Run DMC out of the backfield.

    So, Reece will get a lot of single coverage looks and/or go completely unnoticed when leaking from behind the line. Carson Palmer will take shots downfield as the Raiders do present some explosive receivers, but Reece has the ability to get solid yards after the catch.

    Still, he's at decent flex spot or No. 3 running back as McFadden is Oakland's lone offensive threat. And in order to derive some attention from Run DMC, Reece will need to opportunities to produce in 2012.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos

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    Knowshon Moreno proved reliable on Sunday night against Pittsburgh after making some key mistakes early on.

    But, the Denver Broncos never lost faith in his dependability and Moreno was able to get a score despite only accumulating 13 rushing yards. So, playing Moreno mostly involves your trust in Denver to run the rock inside the red zone.

    Well, the good news is that with Peyton Manning under center anyone can produce at any time. The Broncos do have an offensive line capable of creating multiple running lanes and landing blocks downfield, which only benefits the Denver running game even more.

    Denver also only ran the ball 27 times against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 16 carries went to Willis McGahee. To that end, the best odds of starting Moreno should come against teams where Denver potentially runs many plays inside the red zone.

    He's not going to amass tons of yards, but Moreno's ability to find the end zone does give the Broncos another reliable dimension when the defense tightens up.

Pierre Thomas, Saints

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    Courtesy of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins, Pierre Thomas only carried the ball four times in Week 1.

    In addition, the New Orleans Saints only called 10 total running plays and Thomas' contributions were significantly limited. If anything, blame the Saints defense that allowed 464 total yards to a rookie quarterback.

    On the bright side, this is New Orleans and much like Peyton Manning in Denver, anyone can produce with Drew Brees at the helm. The man knows how to dish the rock around and at some point Brees will need to rely more on his running backs as well.

    Defenses will have to key on Darren Sproles, as he is the Saints' best all-around back, so two-back sets with him and Thomas provide favorable mismatches. It also wouldn't be surprising to see New Orleans run the ball more in 2012.

    Its defense remains vulnerable at stopping any opponent right now, therefore, slowing the game down and winning the time of possession battle is New Orleans' best alternative to win.

Brandon Jackson, Browns

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    In order for the Cleveland Browns offense to improve Brandon Jackson needs some carries.

    He wasn't given one carry against the Philadelphia Eagles and unsurprisingly, Cleveland failed to establish any sort of ground game.

    Obviously with Trent Richardson in the backfield the Browns have a complete ball-carrier. Jackson, however, is a great change of pace option and is even more reliable on medium down-and-distance situations.

    Possessing solid vision and the ability to make a defender miss in the open field, Cleveland needs Jackson to contribute for a two-back tandem. This only helps take pressure off the passing game and make play-action more relevant.

    By no means is Jackson a No. 1 or No. 2 fantasy back, but he can be a nice flex option as the Browns are likely to face many passing situations with their dismal offensive line. And receiving is arguably Jackson's best attribute.

Ronnie Brown, Chargers

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    A lot here obviously depends on the status of Ryan Mathews.

    Well, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

    Ryan Mathews (clavicle) appears cleared for contact. Practicing in helmet and shoulder pads for first time since Aug. 10 surgery.

    — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) September 13, 2012

    This certainly comes as good news for Charges' fans, but Ronnie Brown is still a viable asset to the Bolts offense.

    Against the Raiders in Week 1, he was targeted five times and caught all five passes for 26 yards. No, that's not outstanding production but Oakland's defense was impressive throughout. Still, San Diego needs Brown to present a No. 2 back and he can be effective when called upon.

    He's definitely a better receiving back which does bode well in the Bolts pro-spread attack. San Diego is also facing some tough divisional defenses in 2012 and having just one standout ball-carrier will not suffice.

    We know Rivers will want to test defenses downfield, so Brown will see open space underneath when given checkdowns.


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