Seven-year veteran running back Justin Forsett has been lost in the shuffle throughout most of his NFL career. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks as a seventh-rounder in 2008, and despite showing glimpses of a diverse skill set in 2009, was quickly buried on the depth chart behind newly acquired Marshawn Lynch.
Four years and three teams later, he's finally ready for his coming-out party with the Baltimore Ravens.
After a lackluster showing from Bernard Pierce early in the team's Week 1 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals—he carried six times for just 14 yards and lost a fumble—Forsett was called into action. He sparked the team's offense, rushing 11 times for 70 yards and a touchdown against one of the league's best run defenses. He also showed his capability as a receiver out of the backfield, accumulating five receptions for 14 yards.
ESPN analyst Coley Harvey's in-game tweet summed up the running back's impact on the game:
Despite Baltimore's 23-16 loss to Cincinnati, Forsett's performance was one major bright spot for the Ravens. He's earned a chance for a starting role going forward, and fantasy owners must take notice quickly.
Head coach John Harbaugh seemed pleased with Forsett's showing on Sunday, based on comments he made to reporters during a press conference.
"Justin did a great job. He has been playing that way all since he got here, all through offseason and training camp. He proved it in the game."
The coach added another comment which furthers the case for Forsett: "We're not too enamored with fumbles. It's not what we're looking for from our running backs."
Baltimore ranked 30th in the league in 2013, averaging just 83.0 yards per game on the ground. This is a team looking for a catalyst, and Forsett proved he can be just that on Sunday. With another AFC North contest coming up on Thursday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens don't have time to tinker with their rotation. Expect them to go with the running back on a hot streak.
Dave Richard of CBS Sports has the right idea:
While Pittsburgh is widely heralded as a fantastic team against the run, that doesn't appear to be the case so far this season.
During the team's Week 1 contest against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers gave up a total of 183 yards on 30 carries—an average of 6.1 yards per rush—and two touchdowns to Cleveland's ball-carriers. All three Browns running backs—Ben Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell—averaged at least 6.3 yards per carry.
JJ Zachariason of Rotoworld tweeted his take on the Steelers run defense:
Considering Forsett's performance against Cincinnati, just imagine the kind of gaudy numbers he could put up against Pittsburgh.
Fantasy owners who own their league's top waiver-wire pick this week must prioritize Forsett above all other options. While the breakout performances of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns and the aforementioned West were certainly appealing, Forsett has the greatest chance to produce on a consistent basis as his team's starter for the remainder of the season.
Lock this running back up on your roster immediately. You won't regret it.