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Fantasy Eulogy - Farewell Matt Forte


On March 5th, it was announced that Matt Forte would finally ride off into the sunset after a 10-year NFL career, culminating in the signing of a one-day contract so he and teammate Devin Hester could retire as Chicago Bears.

Forte may have been a recent Chicago Bear great, but to Fantasy Football Managers, he's the Mick Jagger of PPR - a player who exemplified consistency and well-rounded offensive production out of the backfield for the better part of a decade and yet, will likely go down as a rather underappreciated back for his time, much like he was for the most part during his playing days.

So what is Matt Forte's lasting legacy to football and for fantasy football owners in his retirement? Let's take a trip down memory lane as we remember Forte's decade-long career.

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Underappreciated But Not Forgotten

Forte came to the Bears with the 44th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft as a former Third-Team AP All-American out of Tulane University. During his rookie campaign of 2008; Forte rushed for 1,238 yards and eight TD, in addition to accumulating 477 yards and four TD on 63 receptions over the full course of 16 games on his way to an All-Rookie Team selection. That 63 receptions, 316 carries, and 1,715 yards from scrimmage all set Chicago Bears Rookie franchise records. Then in 2009, Jay Cutler became the new starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and would remain so until about 2016, a year after Forte had become a member of the New York Jets. Regardless of the team success that they did or didn't achieve with each other, it is impossible to deny the fact that Cutler to Forte was a devastating offensive combo. In an era where Jay Cutler had receiving weapons such as Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett, he chose to go to Matt Forte time and time again. Between 2009 and 2014 Forte averaged 542 yards and two TD per season receiving on 63 receptions per year. During that time period, he wasn't just deadly in an aerial assault either. In that same 2009-2014 stretch he achieved 1,000+ rushing yards and 5+ rushing TD in four of the six seasons, averaging 1,078 yards and 5.5 touchdowns on the ground per year for Chicago.

Even his last season as a Bear through his two seasons as a New York Jet, from the age of 30 to 32, demonstrated his impressive capabilities of well-rounded offensive production. Through just ten starts on average per 13 starts per season from 2015-2017, Matt Forte was still able to average 697 yards and four touchdowns rushing as well as 315 yards receiving on 37 catches a year. Overall, Forte achieved five 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, six seasons of 50+ receptions, and an absolutely incredible nine of ten total seasons with 1.000+ total yards from scrimmage with a strikingly-low two Pro-Bowl appearances.

Among other things, Forte has acumen in video games and came in second place as a competitor in the 2008 Rookie Madden Bowl. He also was one of many NFL players to put "The League" curse to the test: the belief that professional football players who appeared on the FX sitcom "The League" were doomed to experience misfortune in some form or another such as Antonio Gates, Jay Cutler, Sidney Rice, and Chad OchoCinco. Forte appeared on the show in 2013 and still went on to have 1,846 total yards from scrimmage the next season in 2014. Despite his occasional injury-vexed past, he even played the full 16-game season that year. So at least in Matt Forte's case, the curse of "The League" seems to be busted.

Overall, Matt Forte was a remarkably consistent, top-tier dual threat RB in his prime and produced years of unprecedented PPR production for fantasy owners for nearly a decade. Several young players look capable of picking up where Forte left off in terms of overall offensive production for running backs: Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, Duke Johnson, Le'Veon Bell, and Christian McCaffrey all were among leaders in RB receiving yards for 2017. But as far as the prototype for a dual-threat back in an era of non-stop passing offense, no one tops Matt Forte. It's hard to appreciate a year-by-year sure thing for high-volume rushing and receiving production until the guy that constantly brought it is gone.

Although his last couple of seasons weren't up to his career standards, he gave everything that he had to an organization that made many of the wrong moves at the wrong times. If this causes him to be lost in the shuffle within the discussion of the best RB of the 2000s, so be it, but it won't take away from what he did for fantasy football managers each and every year at Soldier Field no matter what he was asked to do with the ball. So arrivederci Matt Forte, good luck to you in all of your future endeavors, and thanks for ten innovative years of offensive effort.

 

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