Welcome To Your Former Life, Matt Forte
As fantasy owners, we spend the offseason obsessing over free agency, the draft, and how depth charts will be affected by the time September finally rolls around. One often overlooked aspect of the offseason is the change in play callers. John Paulsen gave us a snapshot of what we can expect from the 2015 coaching carousel.
My recent examination of Marc Trestman’s history as a play caller, and his positive fantasy impact on running backs, particularly in PPR leagues, got me wondering how Matt Forte’s production would be impacted with new Offensive Coordinator, Adam Gase, calling the plays.
Matt Forte, With and Without Marc Trestman
Matt Forte’s career, up to this point, can be separated into two distinct categories: life with Marc Trestman, and life without Trestman. Over the last two seasons, Forte’s only two years with Trestman at the helm, Matt Forte has been an absolute workhorse, and a fantasy stud. Here’s a look at Forte’s average output between 2013 and 2014:
In both seasons with Marc Trestman as the offensive coordinator, Matt Forte finished the season in the top 3 at his position in receptions, touches, and PPR fantasy points.
Here’s how Forte fared before Trestman took over the Bears’ offense:
The arrival of Marc Trestman in Chicago lead to a significant increase in every major statistical category for Matt Forte, including a 65% increase in receptions, a 20% increase in total touches and 38% increase in total PPR fantasy points.
Between 2008 and 2012, Matt Forte surpassed 60 catches and had double digit touchdowns just once, and that was in his rookie season. Maybe not coincidentally, Forte’s best season prior to Trestman’s arrival came in his one year without Jay Cutler. In his 2 full seasons as a starter in Denver, Cutler’s top pass catching back hauled in just 35 balls.
With Cutler under center in Chicago, Forte’s receptions steadily declined, until 2012 when he caught just 44 balls, suggesting Trestman was able to coax Cutler into taking the checkdown when it was there, rather than forcing the ball downfield. Time will only tell if Adam Gase will ask Cutler to do the same.
Adam Gase, Offensive Coordinator
Adam Gase has spent just two seasons as an offensive coordinator, both with Peyton Manning as his quarterback. Having Manning under center could have a major impact on a coordinator’s overall philosophy, but it’s still worth noting how Gase used running backs in his offensive scheme.
Because Denver used a bit of a running back Frankenstein in 2014, I used the cumulative totals of Denver backs in games that they started, since we’re focusing on the utilization of the feature back.
The average Adam Gase running back would have tied for 4th in total touches, 5th in receptions, and 5th in PPR points in 2014. It’s safe to say that, at the very least, total fantasy points would take a hit without the benefit of a Peyton Manning lead offense, and the extra scoring opportunities.
Matt Forte in 2015
Adam Gase’s short stint as an offensive coordinator has yielded running back production almost identical to what we have seen from Matt Forte in his career without Marc Trestman calling plays. With Forte turning 30 this season, and a change in play callers, fantasy owners should expect a significant drop in production from the Bears running back, especially in PPR leagues.
Forte is certainly not in danger of losing his starting job, but he is in a contract year, and regardless of whether or not the Bears decide to extend his contract, Jacquizz Rodgers, and the similarly skilled Ka’Deem Carey, could eat into Forte’s receptions.
Trends from Forte’s past and Gase’s play calling history still point towards a top 10 PPR season for the Bears’ running back, but the days of top 3 PPR production and carrying fantasy teams on his back may be over for Matt Forte.