Matt Forte: Still a Fantasy Powerhouse

Even in Forte ends up in Dallas, his fantasy star will continue to shine

Make no mistake – Matt Forte is STILL a top 5 fantasy powerhouse

While Head Coach John Fox suggests he interested in a timeshare in the Chicago backfield, the reality is that Matt Forte is the only sane choice to be the sole feature back in the Windy City. Forte has gotten significant production as a tailback in both the running and passing games and will continue to shine as one of the game’s top fantasy keepers.

HC John Fox has exhibited his love for the split-carry system while coaching in the past at the Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart), and the Denver Broncos (C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman), but the situation in Chicago is much different. Forte has been able to contribute heavily as a versatile asset to both the running and passing games. Don’t expect to find any fantasy sleeper picks in the Bears backfield unless Forte goes down with an injury.

Forte is coming off yet another impressive season, as he picked up 1,846 all-purpose yards, and 10 total touchdowns. As a rusher alone, he broke 1,000 yards and 6 TDs in what was a disappointing 5-11 season for the Bears.

Chicago has 3 very mediocre running backs following Forte on the depth chart in second-year back Ka’Deem Carey, rookie Jeremy Langford, and former Falcons tailback Jacquizz Rodgers. None of these backs should receive more than 50 carries next season, leaving Forte with a ton of carries to deal with. More than just as a rusher, Forte could possibly even pick up more touches in the passing game in 2015 with the departure of Brandon Marshall.

Brandon Marshall, along with Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, was one of 3 major targets for QB Jay Cutler last season, and his targets will need to be picked up by the rest of the offensive unit. Matt Forte should capitalize on Marshall’s absence, and put together another successful season. Consider Forte a top-5 RB heading into 2015 in standard fantasy formats.


Eli Manning Ready to Shine in 2015


Eli is ready to build off of a very respectable 2014 campaign

Eli Manning wants to limit his turnovers for the upcoming season and his goal is very much in reach. Manning isn’t among the top fantasy keepers, but he had a very successful season, posting a 2.14 to 1 TD/Int ratio and there’s no reason to doubt that can improve upon those numbers and put himself in the conversation for an MVP award.

The Giants offensive unit has been significantly upgraded and will alleviate some stress for QB Eli Manning. New York just recently added pass-catching RB Shane Vereen whose contributions helped the Patriots secure the team’s 4th Super Bowl title. Vereen’s presence in the backfield will provide a safety outlet for Manning to turn to in high-pressure situations.

In addition to adding Vereen, the Giants will also benefit from the return of WR Victor Cruz if he can get healthy. Cruz has proven his ability to create separation and make big plays, as he broke 1,000 receiving yards in 2011 and 2012 (and reached 998 in 2013 in 14 games) and registered 19 total touchdowns. Following surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon, his ability to once again play at an elite level is questionable, but with a strong recovery, he could blow up for another strong year.

Manning will also be able to turn to TE Larry Donnell who could be one of this year’s fantasy sleeper picks. Donnell is not afraid to catch the ball over the middle and can be decent target in the red zone. He flashed signs of that potential during his 3 touchdown performance Week 4 in New York’s road win against the Washington Redskins. With the WR corps calling for most of opposing defenses’ attention, Donnell should benefit from the lack of attention.

The last important piece to Eli Manning’s successful season is the most important player in this offensive unit. Odell Beckham. Beckham exploded for a rookie season campaign that earned him the 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. The 22-year-old freak athlete went for 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 91 receptions. The stats prove to be very impressive, and even more so since he only played in 12 games, and he broke 100 yards in 7 of them.

With Cruz and Beckham operating in the same system together for the first time, Eli Manning should have little trouble finding open receivers. It’s not out of the question for Manning to keep his interceptions in single digits as he has suggested he can do, so long as his targets stay healthy and focused.

Cowboys Backfield Running on Empty


Unless Dallas pulls off a blockbuster trade, they will struggle with Darren McFadden

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is under the impression that his team’s running game will be even better than it was last season. despite the departure of the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray. It might be wishful thinking or something else, but the reality is that the Dallas rushing game is headed for disaster.

The Cowboys elected not to draft a running back in this year’s NFL Draft, failing to find a suitable replacement for DeMarco Murray who crossed divisional lines to play for the Eagles. Now it appears that Dallas will stick with Darren McFadden at the forefront, with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar handling backup duties.

McFadden is far from the the list of top fantasy keepers and can’t even be considered in the category of fantasy sleeper picks. His best days are long behind him and even in his prime, he was always terribly fragile. Despite all of this, McFadden sits atop the depth chart in Dallas and his numbers from 2014 prove he has no serious fantasy upside. McFadden rushed for a mediocre 534 yards last season with the Oakland Raiders, adding just 2 touchdowns, and failing to surpass 100 yards in any of his team’s 16 games.

Some of these problems might be alleviated with Dallas’s killer offensive line, as they heavily contributed to DeMarco Murray’s career year comprised of 1,845 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 12 100+ yard games. Murray was very well-protected, which led to 2014 being the first year he was able to participate in all 16 games.

Despite the ability of the Cowboys’ offensive line to increase running back production, I’m skeptical that they are done making moves to help improve their backfield situation. Adrian Peterson is currently still a member of the Vikings, and notably wants out of Minnesota, leaving a late offseason transaction a possibility that could help both sides.

Though the Vikings are currently in a state of commitment to their franchise RB, he has expressed his interest in a trade to the Cowboys, and they are making space for him. According to Yahoo! Sports, Dallas’ QB Tony Romo has agreed to restructure his contract, clearing up nearly $13 million in cap space. Adrian Peterson’s current contract is for 3 years, $46 million, and it would look very strange if Romo’s restructuring was not done in order to free up room for a potential acquisition.

Regardless of whether a deal strikes between the Cowboys and Vikings, it looks very promising that Dallas will make another push for Adrian Peterson.


Despite Rumblings, C.J. Anderson is the Man in Denver

C.J. Anderson

Even with no decent blocking, C.J. Anderson made his mark in the Mile High City

Broncos running back CJ Anderson’s spectacular 2014 season has him sitting atop the depth chart heading into the new year, but according to OC Gary Kubiak, he will have to earn the starting spot all over again. Anderson was certainly one of last season’s top fantasy sleeper picks, but there were reports of conditioning issues towards the end of last season. This may have contributed to his decline in production, but it still seems as though he may be the best man for the job.

Anderson started the 2014 season as the #3 RB behind Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball, and was given a chance to prove his worth after both backs went down with injuries. Anderson took over as the lead back in week 10, and put up 767 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns from there on out (8 games). With all 3 backs now healthy heading into training camp, there should be an open competition, but it’s hard to see anyone other than Anderson taking the starting spot.

Though his conditioning toward the end of the season may have put a damper on his strong sophomore season campaign, but his performance in the playoffs showcased his resilience. Anderson’s numbers were average, but there were two plays against Indianapolis he made where he extended drives by fighting through multiple tackles on fourth down. His ability to break tackles, in addition to his agility and cutting ability should secure CJ Anderson his starting role.

Anderson broke 1,000 all purpose yards as a second-year tailback taking over after multiple injuries at the position. With the opportunity to start for an entire season, he should easily break 1,000 rushing yards and at least 8 touchdowns.


Rookie Fantasy Forecast : Kevin White or Amari Cooper?

These top prospects are headed into very different situations

These top rookie prospects are headed into very different situations

College standout WRs Amari Cooper and Kevin White were both top ten picks in this year’s NFL Draft, but which one has the potential to develop into one of the top fantasy keepers for a dynasty leagues? Both receivers were outstanding in college, so you can’t really call them fantasy sleepers picks, but both players are coming into very different team situations. If last year’s NFL trends have any impact on the developments for this season, White should be very productive with the Chicago Bears offense, but Cooper’s chance for instant success with the Raiders will be much more hard to come by.

Cooper had a stellar season with Alabama last year, coming up with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, but his experience as a professional will be a much taller order. Alabama is a college football powerhouse, whereas the Oakland Raiders have been one of the worst team’s in the league for the past decade. The Raiders ranked dead last in offense last season, posting just 282.2 yards per game.

More specifically, Oakland’s passing attack ranked 28th in passing yards with 3,456 total, and 216 receiving yards per game. Cooper will have to deal with the young and inexperienced QB Derek Carr throwing to him, which might not bode well for his success. Though his first season might be rough, hopefully Amari Cooper and Derek Carr can grow together, and make each other better moving forward. Thankfully for Kevin White, he won’t have to wait to develop as a force in the NFL.

Like Amari Cooper, Kevin White also had an impressive 2014 season at West Virginia, as he racked up 1,447 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 109 receptions, and should be able to continue his success at the next level. The Bears did not have the greatest offensive season in 2014, but Kevin White should be able to help QB Jay Cutler get back to form. Chicago was a middle-of-the-pack passing team a season ago, as they ranked 14th in 4,035 total passing yards, at 252.2 yards per game. Kevin White will have big shoes to fill after the departure of Brandon Marshall, but he should not have too much trouble. White will find many open looks with WR Alshon Jeffery commanding the attention of opposing defenses.

Kevin White could certainly be in for a 1,000 yard rookie season, but Amari Cooper might not be so lucky.


Chip Kelly Turning Eagles into Dead Ducks?

Chip Kelly seems determined to dismantle his 10-win team

Chip Kelly seems determined to dismantle his 10-win Eagles team

Being a standout college football coach rarely translates into success at the professional level. There are notable exceptions of course, but it’s highly unlikely that Chip Kelly will ever be recognized with the likes of Jimmy Johnson or Pete Carroll. The Philadelphia Eagles are suddenly an organization in crisis and no amount of coaching genius (real or imagined) is going to help them recover.

LeSean McCoy is inexplicably in Buffalo, Jeremy Maclin is on his way to Kansas City and Nick Foles suddenly finds himself in a Rams uniform. Maybe coach Kelly’s next masterstroke will be calling on the Phillies to send over Cliff Lee to join his island of “Misfit Toys.”

There is no question that Kelly is doing things “his way,” even though each move seems to put Philly deeper into a hole that seemingly no coach could possibly dig his way out of. He’s scooping up players with serious injury issues (many of them former Oregon Ducks) and tossing away his best players without a second thought. The only ex-factor that might change the equation is DeMarco Murray. Even if Murray signs with the Eagles, there are no guarantees that he can succeed without the Cowboys offensive line.

Kelly started this self-destructive path when the Eagles sent all-star running back LeSean McCoy packing to Buffalo. This inexplicable “trade” was for linebacker Kiko Alonso, a player who has yet to recover from a torn ACL.

Then the Birds chased QB Nick Foles out of town to bring in Sam Bradford, a player who’s had two reconstructive knee surgeries on the same leg in successive seasons. Bradford, who hasn’t played in a regular season game since October of 2013, is now reunited with his offensive coordinator from the Rams, Pat Shurmur.

There is rampant speculation that this is nothing more than a move by Kelly to help Philadelphia trade up and grab Marcus Mariota, a kid with a lot of NFL fantasy potential, but the odds are stacked against the Eagles whether they land the former Ducks quarterback or not.


Fantasy Recap – Pleasant Surprises, Biggest Busts

Zac Stacy led may fantasy squads to the promised land

Zac Stacy may lead fantasy owners to the promised land

Since the season has come to a close, we can look back at the many surprises that made up the 2013-14 football season. Due to injury and inconsistency, many players had a tough time putting up the numbers that they were expected to produce. Thankfully for fantasy owners, there were some diamonds in the rough that filled the void left by the unexpected letdowns. The following players shocked many fantasy owners with either their impressive or downright awful play, making for another interesting season.

1. Zac Stacy, STL:

The Rams running back situation in St. Louis was a mess from the beginning, but Zac Stacy stepped up and thrust himself into the starting role. Originally third on the depth chart behind a less than impressive Daryl Richardson, and the troubled Isaiah Pead, Stacy wound up proving himself to be a more than capable every down back.

Despite only playing in 14 games, the late fifth round draft pick was able to rack up 973 rushing yards and 8 total touchdowns (7 on the ground). With the Rams picking second in the upcoming draft, they could provide Stacy with a little more running room by snagging OT Jake Matthews from Texas A&M. Stacy’s fantasy stock is on the rise heading into next season.

2. Josh Gordon, CLE:

Josh Gordon was one of the few bright spots for the Cleveland Browns this season. Along with 9 touchdowns, Gordon led the league with 1,646 receiving yards. Due to a 2-game suspension to start off the year, Gordon was only able to play 14 games, but made the most of his time on the field.

The second year wideout had some remarkable stretches during the 2013 season, including a 4 game streak of 125 yards and a touchdown or more, including back to back 200 yard contests. Despite having to deal with 3 different quarterbacks, Gordon was able to satisfy his fantasy owners with constant production, but next year has the possibility of being one with even more success.

With the 4th overall pick in the draft, the Browns will most likely draft a quarterback in Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Blake Bortles of the University of Central Florida or Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. Consistency at QB will allow Gordon to build rapport and give him the potential to beat his receiving totals of 2013.

3. C.J. Spiller, BUF:

Spiller had an unsuccessful 2013 campaign in comparison to his coming into the starting role in 2012. The 4th year running back saw a decrease in both rushing yards and touchdowns, but this isn’t necessarily a trend that will carry over into next season. Despite failing to break 1,000 yards, Spiller was able to get to an impressive average of 4.6 yards per carry. With fellow running back Fred Jackson being 32 years old, his role in the offense will most likely diminish which should allow Spiller to obtain a heftier workload.

At 26 years old, Spiller should be entering the prime of his career and should be expected to surpass 1,000 yards once again. The one concern that fantasy owners might have about C.J. Spiller is that he does not get the red zone carries, as they instead go to Fred Jackson, and it is yet to be seen if he can take over in that department.

4. Doug Martin, TB:

Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin was unable to stay on the field due to injury, not allowing him to build off of his powerhouse rookie season. Durability may be an issue for the young running back, but what is just as conceding is how poor his play was while he was still healthy. In 6 games, Martin was only able to muster up 456 yards and 1 touchdown, only breaking 100 yards once. He just did not look like the same player that rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns in his 2012 rookie season.

There is a lot of uncertainty following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in that they still have not made public who will be their starting quarterback for 2014, and the debacle with Doug Martin only makes their team situation that much more difficult. Expect Martin to come back strong for 2014 as Tampa Bay decided to shut him down for the season after he tore his labrum, allowing him more than enough time to get himself healthy. He should be taken as a strong RB2 with RB1 upside as the season progresses.


Denver Looking for Payback Against Bolts

Oh how familiar this scenario must look for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. It’s almost as if there is some type of deja vu going on here. The Broncos found themselves in this same exact spot last this time last year. They were 13-3 in the regular season and start off the playoffs in the divisional round because of a first round bye.

The pressure has got to be on the Broncos right?

Just think if the great Peyton Manning goes down two years in a row with an unbelievable team to a wild card team in the San Diego Chargers. This is not just an ordinary Chargers team though, no not so fast. San Diego is the only team to beat the Denver Broncos in that vaunted climate in Mile High Stadium.

Still with all this said the edge still goes to the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning is not going to take the Charges lightly. The Broncos passing game is just too overwhelming for the Chargers secondary. The Broncos will get back Manning’s favorite target in Wes Welker. This should provide an ample boost that Denver needs to outscore the Chargers.

This game could very well come down to a shootout between the two high powered offenses. If it comes down to this you have to trust in the guru Peyton Manning. Denver gets the slight edge in this game but they cannot overlook this Chargers team who has all the momentum in the world right now.


Breaking Down Panthers vs. 49ers Matchup

Can the Panthers shut down the 49ers offense again?

Can the Panthers shut down the 49ers offense again?

On Sunday the (12-4) San Francisco 49ers will travel to Carolina to take on the (12-4) Panthers. With the two teams having very strong defenses, a lot will ride on which quarterback, Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick, can consistently get their offense rolling.

One of the biggest concerns for the Panthers fans is the status of star wide receiver Steve Smith. The thirteen-year veteran is currently battling a knee injury that has limited his participation in practice this week. It is believed that Smith will play regardless of the severity of his injury, likely as the primary decoy for the Carolina offense.

The San Francisco 49ers are having much better luck at receiver than their Sunday opponents. After missing a majority of the season, Michael Crabtree has returned from his Achilles injury and has shown what the 49ers have been missing in his absence. The receiver hauled in 8 receptions for 125 yards in last weeks 23-20 Wild Card victory over the Green Bay Packers.

With both defenses among the top in the league, the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers will come down to which team’s offense can limit turnovers. With Panthers receiver Steve Smith likely to be a non-factor, and the 49ers Michael Crabtree coming back into form, the edge must go to the underdog San Francisco 49ers.


Hawks Percy Harvin Hopeful for Playoffs

Harvin hopeful for the playoffs

Harvin hopeful for the playoffs

It was just about a week ago that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said that the Seahawks might have to make a roster move sending Percy Harvin to season-ending injured reserve. Harvin returned from hip surgery on November 17th to play his only game of the season against his former Minnesota Vikings. The next few weeks weren’t so good for the 5th year receiver, and after missing the next four games, it looked like it was time to pull the plug on Percy.

However, with 2014 (and a playoff run) closing in, things might be taking a turn for the Seattle Seahawks and their essentially unused weapon. Harvin has been practicing this week as his team prepares for their first playoff game on January 11th, after a first round bye. Still dealing with a lingering hip problem, Harvin has been giving it a go in practice in hopes for a return. Pete Carroll said the young and dynamic receiver would do anything to play and is finally at a place where he has a chance.

Taking things a step further yet, Harvin apparently had an “amazing” workout with quarterback, Russell Wilson, on Monday. This was the deciding factor not to put Harvin on I.R. and to keep options open for the playoffs. After his throwing session, Harvin went on to tweet “go time once again.”

If it does prove to be “go time” for Harvin, the NFC had better look out. The Seahawks have proven themselves extremely dangerous on both sides of the ball, even without a multi-faceted threat like Harvin. The 25 year old out of Florida has proven himself both as a receiver and return man in four seasons with the Vikings.

He never went a season without 60 catches (until his 1 game 2013 season) and averaged over 10 yards per catch in each season as well. We’ll have to wait and see what happens over Week 18, but it would surely be perfect timing for the Seahawks if Harvin is able to suit up. The ‘Hawks will play the lowest winning seed out of the NFC Wild Card round on January 11th (between the Packers, 49ers, Eagles and Saints). In case you need a reminder, it is clearly PLAYOFF TIME IN THE NFL!