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NFL Fantasy Football 2010: Matt Forte or Ronnie Brown?

Max Minsker@@MaxMinskerCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2010

DETROIT - JANUARY 03: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears looks for running room during a first quarter run while playing the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With fantasy football season approaching quickly, it's time to start identifying sleepers, preparing cheat-sheets, and reading anything and everything on fantasy football. 

Today there is one matchup I specifically have in mind. That is whether Ronnie Brown or Matt Forte is a better pick this season. 

The first draft ranking I looked at was the one made by the always trustworthy ESPN.com. They had Forte ranked one spot ahead of Brown on their overall list. The ADP rankings on myfantasyleague.com had three running backs ranked between the two; However, NFL.com's fantasy rankings had Brown five spots ahead of Forte. What gives?

It is safe to say there are many different opinions on where these two rank. It seems that the analysis on these two players is completely different. Matt Forte has more upside as a fantasy player, but if Brown can stay healthy he will produce solid numbers. 

There are cases for both sides, so let's take a look at them.

Matt Forte

Chicago will undergo serious offensive reform under Mike Martz this season and will likely look to pass more than in previous seasons. This could be could be good and bad for Forte as catching the ball is one of his strengths. The problem is the team just signed Chester Taylor.

Taylor has proved over the past few years in Minnesota that he can be a very successful receiving back. He was a great third down back last season and actually had one more catch than Adrian Peterson. Taylor had more receiving yards than he did rushing yards last year. Matt Forte will have to compete with Taylor for third down opportunities, which could cause Forte's numbers to suffer.

It has been said that the Bears receiving corps is very underrated. If Jay Cutler can jump start the offense alongside Martz, it could really open up the field for Forte to run. Whether on a draw or a traditional running play, things could really open up for Forte. 

I believe that a lot of Forte's value is completely dependent on the play of Jay Cutler. If Cutler can limit his turnovers and move the ball efficiently while getting the team into redzone situations, Forte's value could spike. Forte could be a very consistent player this season.

It seems like a big risk to put a player's value on the shoulders of Jay Cutler—who, by the way, led the NFL in interceptions last year—but all signs point to Cutler having a much more successful year in his second season with the Bears. 

I definitely don't see Forte jumping into the top 10 in fantasy value this season, but there is nothing worse than pulling your hair out over an inconsistent performer. If you take Matt Forte, I would imagine that you probably won't lose too much sleep over the selection this season. I can see Forte jumping into the top 30, but don't count on it.

Taking Forte in the sixth round of my fantasy draft two years ago was one of my greatest fantasy football successes. Forte will not have the kind of season he had that year, but he will still be solid.

Ronnie Brown

Just five years ago, Ronnie Brown was taken with a top-five pick in the NFL draft out of Auburn. It seems to me that Brown has been a very good running back so far, when he's on the field that is. Brown has been plagued by injuries his entire career. He has only rushed for 1,000 yards once in his career. He has only played a full 16 game season once in his career. 

The serious durability concerns surrounding Ronnie Brown are a big part of his steady decline in fantasy value, but I feel there is reason to be optimistic this season. There is always the possibility that he gets hurt, but if he can stay healthy he could put up some big numbers. 

Ricky Williams played well last season, but there are many skeptics as to how he will hold up this year. Williams is 33, which is old for a running back. Last season was the first time since 2003 where he had a solid workload, which could prove to be interesting as well. 

The Dolphins offense was predicated on the run last season and the same should be true this season. Their wildcat package should be successful and if their running backs stay healthy the running game will still be strong.

The running game will be the first priority, but the passing game will be more reliable this year, which will create more space for Brown and Williams to work with. Acquiring Brandon Marshall will be a huge plus for the passing game and Chad Henne has established himself as the starting quarterback. 

If the Dolphins passing game can become consistently solid, the running game will come easier. I believe the Dolphins offense overall will improve substantially this year.

There is one more possibility for Ronnie Brown owners. If you draft him and he puts up huge numbers at the beginning of the year, sell high. In the first seven games of the 2007 season, Ronnie Brown picked up almost 1,000 total yards and scored five touchdowns.

I remember in my fantasy league that year one of my buddies traded him after week six for three solid starters as Brown looked to be a lock for the Pro Bowl. A week later, Brown went down for the season and my friend had struck gold. 

If Ronnie Brown starts off hot you could potentially try to trade him for some good value if you think he is too much of a risk to keep. 


Conclusion

If I were on the clock and these two players were the top two left on the board, I have to say Matt Forte would be the pick. If you feel like living a little dangerously, Ronnie Brown would be a great choice as well. Both players have great fantasy potential in 2010, but the injury concerns for Ronnie Brown are just too much for me to ignore.

I think the Bears offense will improve substantially next season and that Forte will be handsomely rewarded as his skill set should fit well into Mike Martz's offense. 

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