Under ordinary circumstances loading up your fantasy football team with picks from your favorite real NFL team is a recipe for disaster. But if you’re pulling for the Chicago Bears in 2014 you might actually be onto something.
Last season the Bears made a dramatic break with their team history, changing overnight from a traditional defensive powerhouse kind of team to a fast-paced, offensive-minded squad, led by new head coach Marc Trestman.
Chicago finished the 2013 season with 6,109 total yards of offense (8th in the NFL), and scored 445 points (2nd in the NFL after the Denver Broncos.) Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett and even Jay Cutler are all solid fantasy picks this year, but I believe the single best fantasy option might be Bears running back Matt Forte.
Disclaimer: if you’re serious about winning you shouldn’t even consider taking a quarterback in the first round. That’s bush league. There are a ton of great quarterbacks around but only a few elite running backs, and the only ones who scored more fantasy points than Forte in 2013 were LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. McCoy will now be sharing the backfield with Darren Sproles so he should see less touches. You can make Charles your number one overall pick and I won’t argue with you, but I’m still going to go with Forte as number one in my pre-draft rankings. Here’s why:
The last time we saw Forte against the Packers he rushed for 110 yards and scored three touchdowns. It was his best fantasy performance of the season. In other words, he was peaking. Since then Forte has had seven months to learn Trestman’s offense – and he has excelled in the past at adding wrinkles and extra yards to creative plays. This means he could be in line for even more explosive gains.
Last season Forte had 289 carries, the highest since his rookie season. He had four rushes of 40 yards or more. He was also a major threat in the passing game, tallying almost 600 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
At 28 years old Forte is entering the prime athletic years of his life. He’ll be as fast and strong as he’s ever going to be and he also has several years of experience under his belt.
I also expect the Bears defense to be much improved in 2014. Injuries decimated the unit last year and they had an extremely difficult time getting off the field. With a healthy Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and the added plus of pass rusher Jared Allen I believe the Bears will do a much better job of creating turnovers and giving the offense better field position and a greater share of time of possession.
That means more plays for Trestman to work his magic; more touches for Forte, and ultimately more fantasy points. Go ahead and make him your number one pick – your team will thank me for it.