Starting looks to be Matt’s Forté

I met Cedric Benson at the NFL scouting combine in 2005, and my reaction to him was clear: I didn’t like the dude. I found him surly and disingenuous when putting on his happy face and saying the type of things all rookies are trained to say at the combine, the ultimate job interview in the NFL. That same year I met Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Braylon Edwards, and loved all three guys. You really can gather a lot of vibes and gut feelings about these players simply by meeting them briefly. Maybe Marshawn Lynch will go down as a bad cover story for us this year, but I’m still confident after meeting Lynch that he won’t even be in the same hemisphere that Benson is in right now in terms of the off-the-field stuff is concerned.

Let’s see what comes out about Benson’s recent DUI charge, but the verdict is already in with Benson: he’s a huge pile of crap for putting himself in such a bad position just weeks after his boating incident. What’s next, charges stemming from driving a riding lawnmower while drinking?

The Bears drafted Matt Forte because he’s a featured back, and a true lead back. He’s a three-down back. Benson isn’t any of these things, so his margin of error was very small this off-season. And how does he respond? He does with two alcohol-related charges in less than two months. Benson may be done, but even if he’s not, Forte’s looking a lot better these days. I took him in the 6th round of the Magazine Expert League draft, and that pick is looking really good right now.

Forte will have his hands full starting on a team with a weak o-line and passing game, but he’s the type of player who can still do some nice damage even in a less-than-ideal situation. He’s big and physical, so he can pound it, but he also has some zuzu and the ability to make defenders miss and use his lateral explosiveness to get to the outside. He’s a good blocker, and he has good hands. The Bears absolutely love Forte, and he now seems poised to get a ton of touches this year.

If healthy, I’m thinking about 1175 rushing yards, 7-8 rushing TDs along with about 40 catches for 375 yards and 1-2 TDs. These are low-end projections, and that’s fair considering his inexperience and shaky situation. But those numbers would have placed him in the top-15 at RB in 2007, a down year for the position. So right now, if healthy, I’m projecting Matt Forte to be a top-20 back if Benson is out of the picture, which he could be as soon as this week. Benson, as we saw last year, if the type of player who gets stuffed repeatedly behind a bad line, someone who won’t make people miss, and someone who won’t help out in the passing game much at all. I haven’t seen him play a snap in the NFL, but Forte is a better starter for this team right now than Benson.

Category: Fantasy Football


23 Responses

  1. NYBrewCrew says:

    How does Adrian Peterson fit into this situation and do you see them letting Benson go? If he does go, could they bring in a Kevin Jones or Shaun Alexander to replace him?

    Maybe even a Lamant Jordan?

  2. John Hansen says:

    They didn’t want to go into a season with Peterson as their #2, which tells you want they think of him. He’s just a pedestrian back, so if Forte is doing ok, then he won’t likely touch it much each week other than an occasional breather and 3rd down play.

    Jordan would be a good fit in SD teamed again with Norv Turner.

  3. jbeau says:

    Projecting him as a top 20 guy with that line and QB? In John I trust. We shall see.

    I just hope they release Benson, to clear up a little of the smoke. Makes my drafting a little easier.

    Think K. Jones or SA could land there? IF they don’t want AP as their #2 back, they may sign one of them no?

  4. John Hansen says:

    Maybe the 20-25 range is more realistic, but damn near 20 if he’s the lead guy all year and healthy. Every time something like this happens people float out all the free agent names, so let’s see. What the heck will SA do for them? Nothing. And they probably won’t be interested in a back in Jones who could be damaged goods. This is why they used a #2 pick on Forte.

  5. Gump says:

    Hmmmm, I seem to remember somebody being very high on Benson last year.

  6. John Hansen says:

    Very high is a stretch, optimistic about his potential production as the lead guy on a good team that was in the Super Bowl, yes.

    Would you prefer I stick to that position after watching him suck in his first time as a lead back last year or adjust my thinking based on what he actually showed on the field and especially off the field?

    PS: Benson’s been waived 5:15 pm ET.

  7. FFRich says:

    1550 total yards with 8-10 td’s and 40 recpts….Those are ROY numbers and almost top 10 FF RB numbers. On that team? We haven’t even gotten to training camp yet and it seems we need to dust off #40 for Mr. Forte.

  8. John Hansen says:

    The ‘if healthy’ part is the key there. If every back in the league is healthy, that’ll likely put Forte #20-25. I’m just trying to say if this guy is healthy he’ll get the ball. And I’m trying to get across that, if he’s healthy all 16 games , he’s good enough to average 73 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards per game, even on this team. It’s a power running attack, and they will run it as much as they possibly can. Benson was terrible last year and he was still averaging 20 carries per game before he got hurt.

  9. tpwaller says:

    Benson was a terrible bust. The Bears compounded their mistake when they traded away Thomas Jones.

    In high school, Cedric Benson wrote the Texas record books. He got a street named after him and thought he made it.

    My cousin, who is a Tulane fan, will sing the praises of Forte. He still has Rex Grossman as his QB and the Bears have no WR’s. The offensive line is average. Forte wasn’t a first rounder and a lot of RB’s were drafted ahead of him.

    On the high end, he may be a RB2. I would probably look at him as an RB3, but I don’t know if I will be going after many Chicago Bears – boy have they fallen

  10. FFRich says:

    John and the other experts see a lot more of these guys than we get to see. But watching him on the NFL Network at the combine and also the little game film they showed of him on draft day; he reminded me of a “slower” Chris Brown. He seemed tall, on the slim side (for an NFL RB) and seemed to run very upright. I recall at least one scouting report described him as “a poor man’s Brian Leonard”; that’s certainly less than a ringing endorsement. But, it’s hard to argue that if he wins the #1 RB gig for the Bears that he won’t, at least, do better than Benson did last year.

  11. Adam Caplan says:

    Forte is a much different runner than Brown. Forte is more like Rodney Hampton than Brown who isn’t a very patient runner.

    Forte’s best comparison is to Dorsey Levens with better speed. The one problem is the Bear OL isn’t very good so that hurts his upside a bit.

  12. Idiot Savant says:

    Forte has the opportunity to start now behind a shabby line..and his upside to me must be topped out at numbers similar to that Thomas Jones accomplished when he joined the Bears…probably less since the line and QB situation is poor, and also the defense is not as dominating as it once was. Ironically, I believe the running game will be better just because I had no faith in Benson after his many disappointments…so I think the Chicago Defense will be helped by his prescence..Question?… will FORTE be able to pass protect for Orton/ Grossman. Board members have said yes..but I’d like to hear some word from the team or John/ Adams “spies”.

    Would K Jones be a decent fit here…?? Or perhaps Lamont Jordan?

  13. Adam Caplan says:

    The difference between Jones, who wasn’t a good goal-line back, and Forte, is size. Forte should be should more. But yes, they don’t have a good OL.

    No one has any idea when he’ll be able to handle a third down role. Forte struggled mightly with pass protection. The good thing is that’s something that can be taught and something he can improve on. But at the very least as we noted in the podcast, he’ll handle third and second down situatiuons.

  14. Adam Caplan says:

    As for Jordan, he’s still with Oakland but will be released unless one of the other three backs gets hurt. The problem with Jones is no one knows when he’ll be ready to play. Jordan could be a one-year solution once he’s let go.

  15. John Hansen says:

    Adam needs his own blog!

  16. JOOCE says:

    wow benson is a dog, but him getting dumped makes me feel even worse about this offense. at least this might have been a situation where the 2 backs push each other and complement each other. now their backfield and their offense is that much thinner. I’m staying away from this entire offense, including forte, unless the value is ridiculous.

    you have to believe that they’ll add another back…

  17. PackFan says:

    Many teams seem to be going to the running-back-by-committee approach because it’s difficult to keep a single featured back healthy and effective for 16 brutal games. I don’t think the Bears are going to be comfortable placing their entire running game in the hands of a young dude from Tulane without having a contingency plan. Forte is listed at 6-2, 222 which is a bit tall for a running back, especially with probably 2 new starters on the offensive line, and Tait moving from left to right tackle. Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe? I think they bring in somebody like Kevin Smith at least. One thing for sure, they’re going to be scouring the waiver wire just as much as many of us will be this fantasy season.

    If you’re a defensive coordinator facing the Bears, who scares you the most? Who do you make a point of shutting down? The 2nd year tight end Greg Olsen is a guy I’d want to keep an eye on, as is the potential of Devin Hester at wide receiver. I’m not sure Brandon Lloyd, Marty Booker, Mark Bradley, Rashied Davis or rookie Earl Bennett are going to scare me too much until they prove otherwise, especially when Rex Grossman and Kyle Ortman still have some issues of their own to iron out.

    They have to face the Viking & Packer defenses twice, and have dates with the Colts, Panthers, Bucs, Jaguars and Eagles. Ouch! For my nickel, I guess I agree with TPWaller … I might make him my 3rd back – maybe.

    As for Cedric … maybe this is the wakeup call he needs. But then again, maybe the 4th kid picked in the draft 3 years ago has enough jack in the bank where he can hire a driver, and fade away into civilian life to start spending more of that bonus money.

  18. Stork says:

    John- Love your FF insite, second to none. But it’s time to cut bait on the psychoanalysis of athletes. Marshawn Lynch is the primary suspect in a hit & run probe. One in which neither he nor his attorney have cooperated. I’d say that puts him well in the same hemisphere as someone with a DUI allegation or two.

  19. John Hansen says:

    You’re entitled to your opinion, and thanks for the compliment. I won’t get into whether his lawyer is cooperating or not, but I’ll say this: I’m not optimistic on Lynch long-term because he’s on the cover of our magazine; I’m optimistic because I wanted to be on the cover previously, when I could have picked any other player in the league.

  20. jbeau says:

    Stork…think you ‘gots ta chill’ a little bit man. Guilty until proven innocent. Ring a bell. John was merely saying that he caught a good vibe from Lynch. I am Not saying Lynch is innocent…don’t really care honestly…sick of these guys wasting talent and boatloads of money. Just don’t think your “psychoanalysis” comment was on point.

  21. PackFan says:

    One thing about this site … John lets his ‘boys have their say, whether they agree with him all the time or not, and to that I say Thanks! It is fun to have this discourse and as I see it, not only is it entertaining, but one way or the other, we’re all getting ready for draft day … or draft days for some of you crazies.

    No matter what my opinion is of Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte or the others covered here … I’m much more aware of them than I ever was before I started reading about them. Come draft day, we’ll all have decisions to make, and we’ll make ‘em … They’re not going to be John’s picks – they’re going to be ours …

    The more information and opinions to mull over, the better. Thanks Again!

  22. bjchapin1 says:

    A name that the Chicago Sun-Times threw out today as a potential signing off of the scrap heap (along with Kevin Jones) is Ron Dayne. My initial feeling was to laugh, but that signing would actually make some sense. Dayne Train actually was fairly productive these past two years, and a bruiser back would seem to add another dimension to the Bears running game. However, this type of signing would seem to really hurt Forte’s FFL value.

    One note on Forte before people spend something like a 3rd or 4th round pick on him….he really was a one-year wonder at Tulane (he had 624, 655, and 859 yards rushing his first 3 years). His senior year stats look robust at first glance (361/2127/5.9/23td), however he played against teams in the mediocre CUSA and his stats were really padded by two games against cupcakes (303yds/5td vs SE Louisiana and 342/4 vs SMU). He rushed for 14/47/3.4/1 against Miss St and 16/73/4.6/0 against LSU, the only BCS conference teams he faced. I like his potential, but it would be a huge gamble for the Bears to go into the season with a rookie, a journeyman special teams player (other AP) and a midget (wolfe) at RB, which would not be suprising to see a vets like Dayne join the team.

Leave a Reply