Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte finally received his desired long-term deal but what should fantasy football owners expect from him in 2012? Forte has been a very productive running back for the Bears in his career, but I suggest his numbers might decrease in 2012 and fantasy owners should consider a few factors before ranking him on your draft boards. A new offensive coordinator and new additions to the offense will contribute to what I believe will be lower production from Forte in the upcoming season.
Mike Martz is gone and Mike Tice is the Chicago Bears new offensive coordinator. Tice joins the Bears as a former head coach of divisional opponent, Minnesota Vikings. Martz was a dink and dunk coordinator while Tice was a deep ball head coach while he was in Minnesota. Tice coached QB Daunte Culpepper throwing to WR Randy Moss and QB Jay Cutler tossing the pigskin to Brandon Marshall could replicate his coaching style this season.
With the Vikings, Tice attempted 20 passes or more a season of over 40 yards down field, while the Bears attempted just seven such passes last year. A cog in the wheel for Tice calling the Bears offensive plays this season could be the porous offensive line, while might limit the number of seven step drops Chicago attempts this season.
Regardless, I think the Bears are going to feature a more aggressive offense which pushes the ball up the field vertically in 2012. In addition to Marshall, the Bears added rookie Alshon Jeffery and I expect Earl Bennett to play a significant role in the Chicago offense. Under Tice, the Vikings averaged over 7 yards per pass attempt and 65% of their offensive yardage came through the air.
The other addition which is going to take a toll on Forte’s production this season, is the signing of free agent RB Michael Bush. Forte is an exceptionally versatile back, but his value comes between the 20′s. When the Bears got inside opponents 10-yard line last season, Forte scored just once in 12 attempts. Enter the big, powerful Michael Bush.
I am downgrading Forte and he is going to become my 9th ranked running back for the 2012 season. No reflection on his talent, but his fantasy value has taken a hit this offseason.