The Chicago Bears have shown their cards after starting the season 0-3. Jared Allen was shipped off two days ago, followed by Jonathan Bostic as Rookie GM Ryan Pace sheds ill-fitting pieces left over from the Phil Emery era. These two moves have opened up a TON of cap space for the rebuilding Bears, but I don’t think we have seen the end of the wheeling and dealing.
Rumors surfaced immediately about Matt Forte being on the trading block after the Allen and Bostic news broke. An abundance of sources are being cited left and right; some claiming Forte is definitely on the block, while others are claiming he isn’t. I might not have the sources, but I can look at this from a pure business sense and tell you that it makes sense for the Bears to move Matt Forte.
First, Forte is 29 years old (turning 30 in December) and is in the final year of his contract. His resume boasts five 1000+ rushing seasons and he holds high marks in the passing game. From the Bears point of view they are in total rebuilding mode. It makes no sense for the Bears to invest in Forte when their path to relevance only leads into his declining years.
Second, his contract extension, or lack thereof, was an early sign. I have to hand it to Matt Forte for the way he handled the off season media blitz surround his potential contract extension. He stayed out of it for the most part and didn’t hold out. That doesn’t mean he didn’t vocalize his disappointment. In an Interview with NBC 5’s Mike Adamle, Forte says this about his future, “I’ve come to the realization that this might be my last year here, so I’m gonna make it the best year I can possibly make it. So if I’m a free agent at the end of the year I might have to go somewhere else.”
Lastly, the Bears have no reason not to try to trade Forte before the deadline. From a business standpoint he is worth nothing to them once he explores free agency. Trading him for a draft pick is the best they can do in the position they are in. Ryan Pace has already shown that he is in full-on rebuilding mode and his plan has to include stashing draft picks.
Where does Matt Forte Get Traded?
Dallas Cowboys – This was one of the first teams involved in the trade talks as the rumors swirled. As a Bears fan I like this destination simply because Jerry Jones is most likely to give the most if a bidding war was to take place. Jerry doesn’t like to lose. Looking at their team depth chart, the Cowboys don’t really have a need for Matt Forte. Joseph Randle is running well behind that stout offensive line, Lance Dunbar covers the pass catching role while Darren McFadden subs in for change of pace. They also have Christine Michael in the wings. Not saying a deal couldn’t get done between these two teams, but it would be complicated from the Dallas Cowboys stand point when looking at the running back depth they already have.
Baltimore Ravens – This is a popular pick for a potential Matt Forte trade. Justin Forsett is struggling early this season with only 124 yards through 3 games. There is also no denying that Joe Flacco would benefit from Forte’s pass catching abilities. We also need to discuss the obvious link between Matt Forte and Marc Trestman. Trestman is the offensive coordinator in Baltimore now and must be lobbying to trade for Forte. Forte has had his two most productive seasons when Marc Trestman was running the Bears offense as the head coach.
Carolina Panthers – The Panthers running back woes are very similar to those in Baltimore. Jonathan Stewart has only 170 yards through 3 games. Unlike the Ravens, however, the Panthers are off to a great start this season at 3-0. A Matt Forte trade to Carolina actually makes a lot of sense. Stewart is unproven as a lead back after multiple seasons of splitting time with DeAngelo Williams. Carolina could use Forte’s talents and leadership after the good start. When Kelvin Benjamin went down the Panthers lost a major offensive play maker. Greg Olsen is the lone threat right now with Ted Ginn Jr. being the only other worthwhile target.
Arizona Cardinals- This is my very own dark horse trade destination. Chris Johnson appears to have earned the starting role in Arizona, even after Andre Ellington returns. His game last week against the 49ers was impressive with 110 yards on the ground and 2 TD’s. That being said, I still like Matt Forte in this offense, and the timing seems to make sense. Carson Palmer is playing great despite his age (35) and Larry Fitzgerald is off to a good start with 333 yards and 5 touchdowns despite being 32. My point here is that Arizona’s chance for a Super Bowl is on the clock. Putting Matt Forte in the mix instantly makes them an offensive juggernaut.
Welcome to Statistically (in)Significant, the place to find great stats that probably only matter at the water cooler (or bar). Each week I'll dig through the stats of the week gone by and deliver you some choice conversation starters.
1005 Rush Yards
Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL on the season for both rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage. His 1250 yards from scrimmage put him in exclusive company with Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson as the only rookies to reach that mark in the first 9 games of the season. Those are pretty big names to be compared to, but so far, Elliott looks like he belongs. His play puts him on everyone's MVP list after an off week by Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.
5-4 First Place Lions
Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. In typical Detroit Lions fashion, they moved up to first place in the division while watching the three other NFC North teams lose with various levels on incompetency. The Packers were perhaps the most shocked of the afternoon. They found themselves down by 21 and Rodgers did not throw a TD in the second half - a stat that you normally see when the Packers are winning, not losing.
28.60 Fantasy Points
Marcus Mariota abused the Green Bay Packers yesterday, putting up 4 passing TDs after letting Demarco Murray throw one of his own. Mariota is on an amazing streak of games since their Week 5 win in Miami (the team was 1-3 going into that game). Over that time he is averaging 25.4 points per game, has at least 2 TDs in each of those games, only 3 INTs and is 4-2, taking his team back to .500. The Titans finish the season at home against Houston, a game that could certainly decide the division if they keep playing well.
4th & Goal
Isn't it fitting that the team in Sunday night's rematch of Super Bowl XLIX ended up with a team at the goal line trying to score a TD to keep from losing the game. And of course, that that team, being on the goal line and having a bruising running back, chose to throw the ball. And that team lost. It's like poetry. It was a great way to cap perhaps the best Sunday we've had all year. There's been lots of talk about weak prime time games, we got two classics back to back yesterday.
25-23 Bayou Backbreaker
The early games did not lack for the dramatic either. The Broncos and Saints played a good game in New Orleans. Brees struggled early but looked like himself in the 4th quarter when he threw what looked like the go-ahead touchdown late in the game. Looks, of course, can be deceiving. The extra point was blocked and then Will Parks scooped it and 85 yards later he scored the go-ahead two-pointer for the Broncos. This may be the first time I've seen a game losing touchdown scored, but hey, it still counts for fantasy football!
-Two NFC South receivers sat out. Sitting out isn’t usually the end of the world because you have a chance to get someone else in the lineup, but missing Julio Jones (turf toe) and Michael Thomas (foot) definitely had an effect on some team’s fantasy playoff outcome. Both guys are questionable to start in Week 15, so keep your eyes peeled to those injury reports.
-Two top flight RB’s went down very early in their game. Matt Forte exited the game early with a knee injury, paving the way for Bilal Powell to have a monster game that by all rights should have gone to Forte owners, but hey, “them’s the breaks”! Melvin Gordon was carted off the field with a hip injury and is currently anywhere between being just fine and inches from his deathbed. I suspect he’s more week-to-week and will not be a good bet for Week 15’s lineups. Forte plays on Saturday night, so at least you have plenty of time to plan for alternates if he does not play.
-Jeff Fisher was fired as the Rams head coach, just a few games shy of breaking the all-time loss record for head coaches. The Rams were abysmal this season, handing the 49ers their only victory, they left their #1 overall pick on the bench far longer than anyone thought reasonable and they just can’t seem to figure out this thing called “offense”.
-Ryan Tannehill exited Sunday’s game with a suspected ACL tear. While he seems to have escaped a full tear, he will not be playing any more games in the regular season. He’s out of the mix as a QB2 and this is a downgrade for Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker, who now have to catch passes from career-backup Matt Moore. I don’t see much of a change for Jay Ajayi who should have success against the Jets and Bills, provided that Moore is not awful.
-Aaron Rodgers hurt his calf on the third play of the game, apparently. He didn’t seem too affected by his injury, if so, because he ripped the Seahawks apart much like in the playoffs two years ago. Unlike two years ago, his team held the lead. Rodgers should be just fine going forward, but I suppose it always something you need to keep an eye on.
-Matt Stafford made it 8-4th quarter comebacks on Sunday, but at the expense of his middle finger on his throwing hand. This is an injury he’s expected to play through, but just take note that this is similar to Derek Carr’s injury, and he hasn’t been the same since.
-Darren Sproles and fellow backfield mate Wendell Smallwood both exited the game on Sunday due to injury. Smallwood wound up going to the IR for the remainder of the season, but is a hold in dynasty formats. Sproles is in the concussion protocol and needs to get cleared. If he sits on Sunday, then Ryan Mathews is worth a look.
-Teams need to start focusing on their extra points more, particularly not getting them returned for 2. Arizona arguably lost the game on Sunday due to not making a single extra point in two attempts, one of them being returned the other way for 2 points. That’s a 4 point swing in a game where they lost by 3. In overtime. Yep, it’s been that kind of season for the Cardinals.
-Bryce Petty started and won a game! Granted it was against the hapless 49ers, but this is yet another young QB getting starts and wins before #1 overall pick Jared Goff can get his first. Goff has to go to Seattle this Thursday night, so I really think that RG3 has a better chance at a win this week.
-It might have been NBC trying to stir the pot, but the image of Ezekiel Elliott standing next to Tony Romo on the sidelines in the 4th quarter of the Cowboys game really sticks with me. You know those guys were thinking “Why the hell am I not out there?” I have to say, I agree with them. Despite an 11-2 record, the Cowboys have no business thinking they will win games in December and January when they can only complete 1 out of 9 passes to Dez Bryant and are relying on Cole Beasley and Lance Dunbar for late game heroics. I’m all for keeping Dak Prescott in at QB, but you must keep his weapons around him (and keep them finely honed, not rusty). Of course, now it also seems like he can’t beat the Giants.
Atlanta is a city full of losers who will never win at anything. Seriously, is there another city so synonymous with choking? Ya got the Braves of the 90's that couldn't win shit with arguably the 3 best pitchers of their era, the Hawks who once signed Joe Johnson to a max contract, and the biggest joke of them all, the Falcons who just blew a 17-point halftime lead to a Jay Cutler led Dolphins team at home. Last week's Las Vegas sports book's wet dream ended many survivor pools nationwide and widdled mine down to the final 62.
This week's column is gonna be short and sweet since I have lost my lust for life after the Falcon implosion. Very tough slate of games on the week 7 schedule, with not a single team favored by 7 or more. The safest pick in my opinion is the Dallas Cowboys traveling to a winless 49ers team who will be given 3rd round pick QB C.J. Beathard his first career NFL start. The Boys need a win bad to keep pace with the surging Eagles. I expect them to beat the 9er's like an Ezekiel Elliot ex-girlfriend.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!