Fantasy impact of Matt Forte signing with the Jets
The New York Jets and former Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte have agreed to a deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Terms of the deal are not yet known.
New York’s leading rusher in 2015, Chris Ivory, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jets’ No. 2 option in 2015, Bilal Powell, is also an unrestricted free agent. The Jets had a clear need at the position.
Forte operated as an every-down back during his tenure with the Bears, and depending on how the remainder of the offseason plays out, he could be in line for a lot of touches in 2016.
In addition to the potential volume increase for Forte, the union with the Jets makes sense from a schematic standpoint. Forte should find success running the football in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s spread offense, and he will be a major factor in the passing game.
Just two seasons ago, Forte caught 102 passes in Marc Trestman’s offense; the Bears targeted running backs on 125 passes that season. In 2015, the Jets targeted a running back on 114 pass attempts.
Forte, who is entering his age-30 season, was slowed by injuries in 2015. He finished with a career-low 898 rushing yards and just 389 yards receiving. However, Forte was still one of the NFL’s most effective backs in a per-snap basis. He finished as the No. 12 running back overall among qualifiers who played at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps, and according to Nathan Jahnke, no running back earned a higher PFF grade from Week 12 on.
One area where Forte will not benefit from is the blocking in front of him. In 2015, the Bears finished as the fourth-best run-blocking unit, while the Jets finished 28th. Forte has never been the most elusive running backs, so this could certainly be an issue in 2016.
Forte benefits from having Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker commanding defensive attention, but it will be important to keep an eye on the team’s quarterback situation going forward. Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to move the offense in 2015, and he is a strong fit for Gailey’s offense, but he is currently an unrestricted free agent. If the Jets can’t re-sign him, this will negatively affect the offense and Forte’s value.
Forte is still an excellent running back, and he is likely to be featured more in the passing game than he was under Adam Gase in 2015, but his ultimate value will likely be determined by his role in the offense. Given the Jets’ salary cap situation and roster needs elsewhere, it seems likely that he will be handed a featured role in 2016. He can be trusted as a high-upside RB2 who will flirt with tail-end RB1 territory in PPR leagues.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL.