Tag:Matt Forte
Posted on: March 5, 2010 4:59 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2010 5:05 pm
 

Day 1 of free agency

NFL fans are already wondering how the first day of free agency is impacting Fantasy Football. I'm glad to offer some thoughts, one topic at a time:

1. Brandon Marshall visiting Seattle. This is potentially the biggest news of the day as it would mean a quality, sure-fire No. 1 receiver changing addresses. Marshall is a restricted free agent who can sign an offer sheet with the Seahawks but would cost the team its No. 6 overall pick if the Broncos don't match.

That said, the Broncos are probably begging the Seahawks to sign him to an offer sheet.

The prospect of Marshall in Seattle is good, not great. I don't think he'll be quite as effective as he was in Denver. Fine, he'd still have a pretty good schedule in the NFC West (including a game at Denver), but quarterback issues, offensive line issues and people taking coverage away from him would all hinder his output. I'd still consider him a No. 1 WR, but I wouldn't be over the moon about it.

Domino effect: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, all Broncos receivers and passers would struggle.

And now on to things that HAVE happened instead of speculation ...

2. Chester Taylor signs with the Bears. This is great for the Bears, bad for the Vikings and knife-in-the-eye brutal for Fantasy owners. By virtue of this signing, we've lost another potential 15-to-20-touch running back out of the player pool.

Matt Forte might not have been your favorite choice for a No. 2 Fantasy rusher this summer but at least he had upside to work a lot and accumulate a ton of yardage and maybe more than four touchdowns. That's out the window now -- the assumption is that Taylor will compete with Forte for the starting job but ultimately share the ball with him. Under that guise, it would be a shock to see either running back land more than 15 touches in a game but instead hover around 10 per game.

And then there's the Martz factor: Already potentially hurting Forte's value, the mere presence of pass-happy offensive coordinator Mike Martz scares me further. Martz was phenomenal with Marshall Faulk in St. Louis but couldn't muster the same kind of stats out of Kevin Jones in Detroit, then ran Frank Gore into mediocrity with the 49ers -- Gore had his worst year as a starter under Martz. Don't be shocked if there's a game or two this season where Forte and Taylor combine for 15 touches. 

I'll watch the backs in training camp and the preseason, but the biggest truth of all is that they've very much alike. Good size, great hands, able to block, no breakaway speed. It's going to be a mess. Taylor's Fantasy stock improves -- he's a legit No. 3 Fantasy RB, but so is Forte.

Domino effect: Vikings need a backup rusher for Adrian Peterson; if they don't add one, Peterson could be a beast -- as in, bigger than normal.

3. Nate Burleson signs with Detroit. If you take the financial aspect out of the deal, I like it a lot. I've been a Burleson fan for a while but strictly as him being a contributor, not a leading receiver. He's getting paid pretty well, but that doesn't matter in Fantasy.

What does matter is his presence across from Calvin Johnson in a high-powered Lions offense. On paper I like it a lot -- but I can't consider Burleson as anything more than a low-end No. 3 Fantasy WR. Could he get 900 yards and seven touchdowns? Yeah, and that would be great. But I think 700 yards and four touchdowns is more realistic.

Domino effect: Matthew Stafford has a real shot at 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. That would be great for him. Also, the Lions' run game could lose work with the passing game enhanced, but they're thin there anyway with Kevin Smith banged up.

4. More Bears: Julius Peppers signs. Again, I don't like the money involved, but I do think it's a good move for the Chicago defense. Their biggest problem last season was a consistent pass rush. They've got it now, and it should be ferocious because even if you double-team Peppers, you still have to deal with Alex Brown coming from the other side and Tommie Harris from up the middle. And Brian Urlacher blitzing. And so on. The Bears might be the best 4-3 scheme defense in the NFL in 2010. Peppers should also pressure opposing quarterbacks which typically results in interceptions. The biggest key to the Bears DST might be Devin Hester, who is believed to be returning kickoffs again. If that happens, and if he re-dedicates himself, then the unit could be Top 10 once again. That's where I have them ranked now.

Domino effect: Panthers DST is toast.

5. Jake Delhomme cut in Carolina. Matt Moore takes over, and he's OK as a No. 2 Fantasy QB but it's clear that the Panthers are heading in a youth movement direction. Not going to be pretty for them, and not going to be pretty for Steve Smith. He's a fine No. 2 WR but it's clear that this team will run the ball a ton in 2010. Good news for DeAngelo Williams (if he survives the offseason) and Jonathan Stewart (if he can stay healthy.

Domino effect: Jake Delhomme continues to be Fantasy repellent. Many are already pinning him to a backup role with the Saints.

For other Fantasy news from Friday, click here







Posted on: February 2, 2010 9:44 pm
 

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great


Marshall Faulk knows a thing or two about Mike Martz and his offense. After all, he was easily the most productive running back in Martz's coaching history.

Currently an analyst for NFL Network, Faulk sees Martz as a boon for the Bears, who hired Martz this week to coordinate their offense. Following five seasons of mostly uncreative, vanilla play calling from coordinator Ron Turner, Martz is expected to turn up the juice and give Jay Cutler a shot at maximizing his potential.

If Cutler lets him, Faulk says.

"This will be the first time that Jay Cutler will not have control of the decisions that he wants to make," Faulk said Tuesday from Super Bowl XLIV Media Day. "It will be a challenge to Jay. ... Mike will test his football knowledge. He'll test his willingness to want to get better in the NFL. He'll ask him to do some things that Jay might not feel comfortable with."

Faulk recognizes that Cutler's gunslinger tendencies don't mesh with Martz's offense, which is based on anticipation and putting a ball where a receiver is going to be. But it's something that can be taught, Faulk says. 

"He's a see-it throw-it guy, and when you have a talent that a guy like that has, you sometimes don't rely on your instinct to guide you," Faulk said of Cutler. "That's the part of the game that makes Brett Favre special -- Favre has that arm but he'll throw a ball into a window and wait for the guy to come there instead of throwing the ball after you see the guy because it's too late sometimes.

"Mike will ask him to be an anticipator. And Jay will struggle with it at the beginning but hopefully he'll look at Mike's resume, he'll watch film of Kurt and Marc and Trent Green and he'll [notice]. And it will even be harder with him because he kind of started to do that at the beginning of the year and he threw some picks. Hopefully Mike can get him to move forward beyond that and just accept what it is and to get him to be more responsible with the football."

As you might expect, Faulk's focus is at running back where Matt Forte inherits Martz. While Faulk is a staunch supporter of Martz -- "I'm biased," he said -- he's clearly the only NFL rusher that Martz has had incredible success with. With Martz in Detroit, Kevin Jones posted career-best totals but still never rushed for even 700 yards in a season. And in a 2008 campaign with the 49ers, Frank Gore had his worst season as a starter under Martz's tutelage. There were times in each of Martz's last two stops where he'd call games and seemingly forget the running back.

Forte was a major disappointment in 2009 in spite of totaling 1,400 yards -- a big part of his failure was not getting in the end zone much -- but Faulk thinks Forte will "love" Martz.

"[He needs to] understand and come to grips with the fact that a screen pass or a check-down is just like getting a handoff and breaking the line of scrimmage," Faulk said of Forte. "If you can fix that in your head and not expect to get 30 carries a game, then you can play and play well in Mike's offense."

But the real wild card in the offensive mix in Chicago is at tight end, according to Faulk. Greg Olsen, who had career-best stats in his first season with Cutler, might be the biggest benefactor of all from Martz's playbook. Faulk says Olsen "will be the best tight end that he's ever had."

"Getting a tight end involved, what you're able to do with a running back that can catch the ball and a tight end in that offense, it will be tremendous. It will be hard to stop. ... That combination inside will be tough to defend and it will really open up things on the outside. The Bears might not need a receiver [in the draft]."

But in outlining Martz's offense, Faulk says it all comes back to the quarterback, which is probably a big reason why Martz met with Cutler before the job was officially his. Martz claims he and Cutler had an "instant connection" upon meeting, and Faulk says that it will have to last if this football tandem will work properly.

"If the quarterback can call it and learn it, everybody else can call it and learn it because he has more on his plate than anybody else," Faulk said of Martz's playbook. "Everything is based on the quarterback. They're going to run what Cutler can handle; the offensive line coach, it will be on him to make sure they get the protections, the running backs -- protections and run plays, and the receivers coach will be pressed to make sure his guys are, what Mike likes to call 'in the right place at the right time.' In that offense, the quarterback is rarely wrong. Don't fool the quarterback -- he's expecting you to be at a certain spot. That ball will be thrown there. You have to be there. So the learning curve is based on Cutler and what his abilities are. He's a Vanderbilt guy, he should be able to digest it in a week."

After a year of great expectations gone wrong in Chicago, Faulk predicts a big turnaround -- at least offensively -- because of Martz. And he can back it up.

"I think this is a great move for Mike, going to Chicago," Faulk said. "He understands this may be the last chance for him to prove to people that he can get it done, which doesn't make sense because everywhere that he's been the offense has done well."

 
 
 
 
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