NFL Fantasy Football: Time To Put a Sell Order on Your Matt Forte Stock

Nathan WaddellCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2010

Time to Sell on Matt Forte
Time to Sell on Matt ForteJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you have done any investing for yourself, or have any knowledge of investments at all, you know that the best time to buy a stock is when the stock's price is low, but you have every reasonable belief that the price of the stock will increase.

Conversely, you want to sell a stock at the highest price possible to maximize your profit before it becomes clear to other investors that the stock is taking a downturn, if not an outright plummet to the bottom.

The same basic principles of investing hold true in fantasy football.  It is why we constantly hear advice to "sell high" on a questionable player after the player has a big game.

It is time to place your sell order on Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte.

Forte burst on the fantasy football scene his rookie year in 2008.  During his rookie campaign, Forte rushed for 1238 yards and eight touchdowns, while also catching 63 passes for 477 yards and four touchdowns.

During his rookie explosion, the knock on Forte was that he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry.  The standard being 4.0 yards per carry for a good NFL running back, Forte's sub par yards per carry was a concern, but overlooked by many due to his overall production.

Forte's sensational rookie campaign earned him a spot in Top 10 preseason rankings entering the 2009 season.  But it was not to be.  Owners were forced to lower their expectations when Forte failed to produce at his 2008 level, rushing for less than 1,000 yards and scoring only four total touchdowns.

The 2009 season also did nothing to alleviate concerns about Forte's rushing abilities, as his yards per carry continued to decline, finally falling to 3.6 by the end of the season.  Following the 2009 season, the Bears attributed Forte's decline to the lingering effects of a mild knee injury suffered during the season.

So we arrive in 2010 with expectations lowered, Forte being drafted on average as the 20th running back, anywhere between the fourth and seventh rounds.  Generally meaning he was either drafted as a team's second running back, or as a flex player depending on a league's setup.

Then, Week 1 of the 2010 NFL season turned everything upside down.

Forte exploded for 50 rushing yards, seven receptions for 151 yards, and two receiving touchdowns. Fantasy general mangers could be heard the world over shouting praises for themselves about how genius they were for stealing Forte in the middle of their draft.  For claiming a top tier running back in the fifth round.  

And word went out: Matt Forte, had returned.

Ah, but has Matt Forte truly returned?  Or was Week 1 a mirage in the desert of under-performing early round running backs?

Over three weeks of play, Forte has 108 rushing yards, zero rushing touchdowns, 202 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.  His yards per carry thus far is a measly 2.8 per attempt.  Yet, Forte is still a top-10 running back in fantasy football.

The top-10 ranking is a mirage, and here is why.

Forte has scored zero touchdowns on the ground.  Rushing touchdowns are kind of what running backs are supposed to do.  It's kind of their "thing."  What makes a running back valuable, and why they are drafted so early and often, is that running backs touch the ball more than any position player, save quarterbacks, and have more opportunities to score.  Forte simply has not done that.

Why else is Forte's position in the top 10 a mirage?  75 percent (151 yards) of Forte's receiving yards this year have come from his Week 1 game against the Detroit Lions.  To compound the ugliness, 89 of the 151 yards came on one play.  One play, in one week, produced 29 percent of Forte's total yards.

Forte is not getting it done at the goal line either.  In the first three weeks, Forte has had six rushing opportunities at the goal line, and he has converted zero of those opportunities for touchdowns.  Forte is the only running back in the NFL with four or more goal line opportunities that has not scored at least once.

But wait, you say, even if Forte isn't getting it done on the ground, he's getting it done through the air, and that's okay with me.  It should concern you, and here is why.

In Week 1, Forte caught seven balls for 151 yards.  In Week 2, he caught five balls for 37 yards.  In Week 3, Forte caught two balls for 14 yards.  Notice a pattern there?  Ya, I thought so.

So why are Forte's receptions, and his consequently his value, declining every week? Without access to the weekly game plan, one can only speculate that in Week 1, the Bears were using new offensive coordinator Mike Martz' offense for the first time in a real game situation.  While still adjusting to the new offense, QB Jay Cutler used his check down option of Forte more often in Week 1.

As the team has become more comfortable with the offense, Forte is being used less as a receiving option.  All that leaves is using Forte as a running option, and so far that has not worked out very well.

Granted, it is easy now to look back at Week 1 and realize that Forte is not the second coming of Marshall Faulk.  Forte is still a top 10 running back, but for how long no one knows.  The time has come for you to cash in your chips and maximize your profit.

Sell now, before the rest of the fantasy football world sees the mirage for what it really is.


For more fantasy football chatter and banter, you can follow Nathan on Twitter at @NathanWaddell.