What’s Next For Both Matt Forte and Chicago Bears

Running back Matt Forte informed fans Friday morning that his time in Chicago has come to an end. He posted a photo and a nice message to Bears fans stating that the Bears plan to move forward without him.

Shortly after, Bears GM Ryan Pace released a statement on the team’s decision and what Forte has meant to the organization.

Pace isn’t wrong about Forte, especially as an all-timer. Forte ranks 2nd in franchise history in both career rushing yards and receptions. Walter Payton is the only player ahead of him in both categories.

This isn’t a shocker though. The writing was on the wall for Forte once he started splitting touches with rookie running back Jeremy Langford. When Langford had an opportunity to start while Forte was injured for 2 games, he proved to be more than capable of being a lead back. Langford totaled 145 rush yards, 179 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns in back-to-back wins against the Chargers and Rams. The Bears are also in a position where they need to dedicate resources toward improving other positions on the field, mostly on defense and along the offensive line. So what’s next for both the player and the team?

Forte may be 30 years old, but he’s still a very good, #1 quality back. He can give a team competing for a championship next season an upgrade in not just rushing, but also receiving and blocking as well. Forte’s strength has always been in between the 20s, although he has recorded 10+ touchdowns in 2 of his last 3 seasons. One would think he would be better suited on a team paired with a back who has a nose for the end zone, which makes the New England Patriots very attractive.

Bill Belichick should be licking his lips at the prospect of landing a multi-tooled running back with a history of endurance. The Patriots are already committed to Dion Lewis for 2 more years, but just for $2 million in base salary. They’ll be looking to replace LeGarratte Blount for 1st and 2nd down carries anyway and Forte gives Brady an excellent option in the passing game, where the Patriots thrive. Lewis is proven to have a nose for the end zone and would compliment Forte nicely when they threaten to score.

Other teams to consider as landing spots for Forte:

Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Stewart is already in their backfield, with 3 years left on his deal, but he hasn’t played a full 16 game schedule since 2011 when he wasn’t the starter. Cam Newton almost counts as another running back, but I’m sure the Panthers would rather preserve their MVP franchise quarterback. Forte gives the Panthers the receiving dynamic that Stewart doesn’t really possess.

Denver Broncos – The Broncos are very likely entering the post-Peyton era. Whether Brock Osweiler is the quarterback or someone else, the Broncos offense needs a dependable back who can catch the ball. CJ Anderson bounced back strong down the stretch, Ronnie Hillman was meh, and Forte would be a great upgrade over both for a team wanting to stay competitive after winning the Super Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys – Darren McFadden was okay, but the Cowboys won just 2 games with him as the full-time back in 2015. Tony Romo is going to need someone to keep him alive all season long too if Dallas wants to compete in 2016. That means a running back who can block and catch, and also keep defenses on their heels. McFadden and Forte could make for a formidable duo behind one of the best offensive lines in football as well, which would be reassuring in the event Romo gets broken again.

Meanwhile, Langford should be getting first crack as the Bears starting running back. His game is very similar to Forte’s, as he can run, catch and block, but he also has breakaway speed that Forte always seemed to lack. They also appear to like Ka’Deem Carey for depth after he run much harder in 3rd down spots in his 2nd season with the Bears. A veteran on the cheap or a late draft pick would be valuable to provide competition and stability behind Langford. Keep in mind that John Fox loves using two running backs and giving the ball to the hot hand in games. See DeAngelo Williams & Deshaun Foster/Stewart with Carolina, then Knowshon Moreno & Ronnie Hillman/Montee Ball in Denver.

Free Agent RB options that make sense for Bears:

  • Chris Johnson (formerly Cardinals)
  • Bilal Powell (formerly Jets)
  • James Starks (formerly Packers
  • Matt Asiata (formerly Vikings)
  • Alfred Morris (formerly Washington)

Check back later for potential late round running backs the Bears could consider drafting. 

For more, follow along on Facebook or Twitter. 

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Denver Police Troll New England Patriots Before Halftime

The AFC Championship has been relatively one-sided so far for Manning vs. Brady 17.

The Denver Broncos lead the New England Patriots 17-9 at halftime. Peyton Manning is 10/20 passing with 128 yards and 2 touchdowns to Owen Daniels. Tom Brady’s day has been less than stellar throwing 8/20, 87 yards and 2 interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Denver Police Department is having some fun at the Patriots O’s expense on Twitter.

 

Too early? I hope not…They may not like what they find.

 

For more, follow along on Twitter

Brady vs. Manning 17: Why This One Matters

If Fast and the Furious ever gets this many sequels, I quit.

I understand if you’re exhausted from hearing about this. It’s a storyline that’s been shoved down your throat for 2 decades, and both quarterbacks have their detractors. There’s a reason you’ve heard all the narratives for as long as you have though.

The last time neither Peyton Manning nor Tom Brady were in the AFC Championship was in 2011. Before then, it was 2006. Brady and Manning will be facing off for the 17th time this weekend, but it will be the 5th time in the playoffs with both winning 2 games a piece. Manning actually has an edge on Brady, having won 2 of their 3 matchups in the AFC Championship. This time could (and should) be their last, and it will be for a shot at Super Bowl 50.

When you bring up Manning and Brady, you’re talking about two of the best to play their position, the most important position in the most watched sport in the country. One year separates the two in age (Manning 39, Brady 38), and they are both in the Top 6 of career touchdowns, yards and passer rating. Manning ranks 1st, 1st, and 5th, Brady is 3rd, 5th and 6th. Brady’s 4 Super Bowl rings compared to Manning’s 1 are pretty glaring, but it’s still too fitting to see either of these 2 get another chance to play on the biggest stage in sports. Just a year ago, the Super Bowl drew it’s largest audience with 114.4 million people watching.

The numbers for both quarterbacks in their 16 meetings make up that of a solid regular season. Manning has completed 410 of 657 passes (62.4%) for 4,809 yards, 33 TDs and 22 INTs (87.4 QB rating). Brady has completed 367 of 553 passes (66.4%) for 4,013 yards, 31 TDs and 13 INTs (96.5 QB rating). Brady leads the series 11-5, with an 8-2 record against Manning at Foxboro and split 3-3 in Indianapolis/Denver. In the last 10 years though, Manning is 2-0 in the playoffs against Brady. Neither one has won against each other on the road since 2007.

Who has the most to gain with a win this Sunday though, with legacies mostly cemented going? Brady holds the record for most playoff wins (22) and has a 73.3 win percentage while Manning holds the record for the most playoff losses (13). Regardless the result of Sunday’s game, Brady will go down as one of football’s all-time greats as a winner because of his post season hardware. Manning will unfortunately be remembered as the greatest “regular season” quarterback who only came home with the ultimate prize once out of 15 chances, with a younger brother holding a second ring over his head…unless he wins Sunday and February 7th.

It’s amazing Manning has reached this point following his worst statistical regular season of his career and having to sit out due to injury. He’s had transform his game from being the dominant quarterback to “game manager”, and it worked great against the Steelers. With a Super Bowl quality defense, all Manning has to do now is hand the ball off, make the right checks evaluating the coverage, not turn the ball over, and make a play when it’s needed.

Brady self sack.gif

There are only 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings:

Eli Manning – 2

Ben Roethlisberger – 2

John Elway – 2

Jim Plunkett – 2

Roger Staubach – 2

Bob Greise – 2

Bart Starr – 2

Troy Aikman – 3

Terry Bradshaw – 4

Joe Montana – 4

If Brady wins one more, he joins club of his own with 5. If Manning wins one more, he joins the club and fans will remember that more than the 13 playoff losses. Ask Elway, who lost 8 times before winning his 2 rings back-to-back to end his career. Can Manning have his Elway moment?

I tried to think about where this rivalry stacks up in sports. It’s not quite Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird. Two all-time greats, yes, but there were 8 championships won between the two (Magic 5, Bird 3) and they had to do it against each other in the Finals. Ali/Frazier was a whole different level of competition, and disrespect for each other. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain though…

Russell is the greatest winner in basketball history with 11 championships and Chamberlain was statistically one of the best to ever play his position while winning his second ring late in his career. A big difference is that Russell and Chamberlain had to actually man-up on each other, but the legacy comparisons between them and Brady/Manning are certainly there.

Vote for your pick to win this weekend and check out more on Facebook or Twitter

NFL Week 11 Fantasy Mailbag

When you hear the phrase “down the stretch”, this is officially it. We’re all just a few weeks away from the Fantasy playoffs and every win really counts. Your lineup probably looks very different than it did to start the season, much like those of actual NFL rosters by Week 11. For instance, Peyton Manning…

It seems like yesterday when Peyton’s receivers were playing keep away with his record setting touchdown pass.

Peyton keepaway

Fast forward to last Sunday when Peyton threw more interceptions (4) than the number of yards he needed to break the all-time passing yards record (3). Next thing you know, he’s on the bench for Brock Osweiler, and Gary Kubiak says it only has to do with a plantar fascia issue and not based on merit. Politics and bad Broncos storylines aside, I’m glad I traded Peyton after Week 1 and picked up Cam Newton and Jay Cutler off waivers.

Cam Dance

 

Quick Hits

 

  • As one aforementioned AFC West quarterback seems to be riding off into the distance, a new one seems to have arrived in a big way. Derek Carr is coming off a streak of 3 straight 300+ yard performances and 10 touchdowns over that stretch. Not only is Carr a surefire Top 10 QB now, his Top 2 WRs become easy starts every week as well because of his maturation. Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree get a plum matchup at Detroit against a defense that has given up big numbers against solid receiver duos like Keenan Allen/Stevie Johnson (21-248-1), Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders (15-179-1), and Larry Fitzgerald/John Brown (9-131-2).

Carr to Crabtree

  • Helping Kirk Cousins achieve his perfect 158.3 passer rating last week against the Saints was his tight end, Jordan Reed. Reed’s health has always been a hinderance for his production, but he’s currently as hot as anyone in the end zone. Over his last 3 games, Reed has scored 5 touchdowns. He’s also the 2nd highest targeted tight end in the end zone and is getting plenty more opportunities than any of the other Washington WRs. Reed takes on a Panthers defense this weekend that has allowed 3 touchdowns in their last 3 games.

 

  • I’ve learned my lesson on Lamar Miller. No matter how juicy the matchup looks for other running backs on my team, I can’t leave Miller on my bench. Even if he’s being limited in the run game (only 103 yards rushing in his last 3 games), he’s racking up the points receiving with 7 touchdowns through the air over his last 5 games.

 

Mail Time!

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Danny Amendola should not be left available in any league at this point. Before his injury, Julian Edelman was getting 10 targets per game from Tom Brady. Amendola had 11 just on Sunday. He’s filling in the Edelman role and has returner duties as well for more potential points.

Between Danny Woodhead or John Brown to drop, I would feel better letting go of Brown for the time being. You’ve had at least 3 weeks of no production in a row out of the guy. Jaron Brown was confusing viewers the other night getting more looks than John actually. I’m sure he’ll get back on track with Michael Floyd dealing with a hamstring injury, but Woodhead is much more valuable to the Chargers’ depleted offense than Brown is to the Cardinals.

 

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I know the bad version of Andy Dalton showed up again Monday night, but the guy was and probably still is an MVP candidate this season. With that said, Russell Wilson’s matchup against the 49ers at home is too good to ignore. The Niners are allowing 327 pass yards per game on the road. If Wilson doesn’t show up for you this week, you can drop his ass. Quote me on that one.

 

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Flex: At this point, I can’t sit either Cooper or Crabtree with the way Carr is throwing. And he’s going to light up the Lions secondary this weekend too. While the running back hipster in me wants you go with Danny Woodhead, the upside for Michael Crabtree is too great this weekend to pass up. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers start running Melvin Gordon more to see what they have while they are out of the playoff race.

WR: Simply because Kamar Aiken is Joe Flacco’s only pass option, I like his chances for production over Donte Moncrief. TY Hilton will be closer to 100% this weekend and will garner more attention from Matt Hasselbeck. Moncrief also falls behind the tight ends for targets as they are Rob Chudzinski’s bread and butter for play calling.

 

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At least you’re in first place with a few weeks left in the regular season. If there are guys on your roster who are out for the season, you should already be working the waiver wire for the best available pickups. Let me know on Facebook or Twitter who’s in Free Agency for your league and we’ll patch up your lineup.

 

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The Broncos wide receivers probably got an upgrade with Manning going down. I anticipate Emmanuel Sanders’s possession game will be more helpful to Osweiler, especially this week against the Bears. Quietly, Kyle Fuller has played like one of the best cornerbacks in football recently and he’ll likely draw Demaryius Thomas. Go with old reliable Sanders over Jeremy Maclin, who hasn’t done much since Week 5.

 

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Flex: For the same reason I listed earlier, go with Aiken. While the Broncos will run more this weekend, the Bears are stout against the run. They’ve only allowed 3 touchdowns to running backs all season as well.

TE: If one person is doing well for the Packers during their current 3 game slide, it’s Richard Rodgers. He has 3 touchdowns in his last 2 games, 14 targets, 10 catches, and likely all of Aaron Rodgers’s attention in the red zone against a Vikings D that keeps WRs and RBs in check regularly.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.54.50 AMDude…Marshawn. And if Thomas Rawls is available, go handcuff him in case something absurd happens. But seriously…Marshawn.

Marshawn racoon

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

NFL Week 9 Fantasy Mailbag

The second half of the fantasy season starts tonight with an AFC North rivalry matchup between the Bengals and the Browns. It’s likely been a serious waiver wire week for you with bye weeks and injuries to Le’Veon Bell, Matt Forte, Keenan Allen, Steve Smith Sr., and the entire Niners backfield all included. Let’s take a look at the best top waiver wire picks from this season. Coincidentally, a few will be featured in tonight’s game on NFL Network.

Quarterback – Andy Dalton, CIN

15 TD / 4 INT, 1,992 pass yards, 2 rushing TDs

Dalton TD

Any reason to recount that A-Dalt touchdown, I’ll take it.

In the first handful of weeks, people waited for Andy Dalton to fall apart and he didn’t. There was also a stretch of 4 games with potentially tough passing matchups (Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle and Buffalo), and Dalton averaged 319.5 yards and 2.25 touchdowns against them. Having AJ Green and Marvin Jones healthy and Tyler Eifert playing to his potential are huge factors for that and why his success should sustain.

RB – Dion Lewis, NE

229 rush yards, 2 TDs / 32 catches, 349 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Dion TD

When you’re a running back in Bill Belichick’s system and you get on his good side, your numbers are going to benefit greatly from it. Dion Lewis was expected to be Shane Vereen’s replacement, but he’s he’s Shane Vereening better than Shane Vereen could (if that makes sense). In the 6 games Lewis has played, he has had more with double-digit touches than Marshawn Lynch, has scored touchdowns than Adrian Peterson, and more 100+ total yard games than Frank Gore and Justin Forsett.

WR – Allen Robinson, JAX

34 catches, 586 yards, 6 TDs

A-Rob TD

As Blake Bortles’s stock has risen, so has A-Rob’s. You can’t really sit him when he’s averaged 5.5 catches, 93 yards and 1 TD over the last 6 games. Robinson also leads all receivers in receptions of 20+ yards with 14.

TE – Gary Barnidge, CLE

40 catches, 567 yards, 6 TDs

Barnidging

Oh you didn’t draft Gronk? No worries because Gary Barnidge was available for EVERYONE after the first 3 weeks of the season. 30 years old and playing better than the rest of the tight ends in the league, Barnidge has scored touchdowns or caught for over 100 yards in every game since Week 3.

Mail Time!

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QB – That’s a really nice problem to have. While Philip Rivers is going to continue throwing it more than anyone with crazy high volume, but Ben Roethlisberger has the better matchup with better weapons to throw to as well. The Raiders are allowing 312 pass yards per game, 2nd most in the league.

WR – I’m not as jealous as this group as I was your QBs. I feel the most comfortable about Eric Decker against the Jaguars. Ryan Fitzpatrick being a little banged up means he’ll go to his possession option more which is Decker, and he has scored in 5 of his last 6 games. Then I go with Stefon Diggs despite facing a tough Rams defense. Diggs has earned the starting spot as the Vikings downfield playmaker. Not only do I hate Hilton’s matchup and quarterback (at the moment), the MRI he had on his foot and missing some practice doesn’t give me much optimism.

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Time for the “Reverse Rivers”…which isn’t as suggestive as you think, ya sicko!

Philip Rivers is going to throw a ton on Monday Night Football with the San Diego run game being weak and the Bears only giving up 2 rushing touchdowns all weekend. He’ll be without Allen, but he has to chuck it out of necessity. In games that Rivers has thrown at least 37 passes, he averages 381 yards and 2.4 touchdowns. The gameplan for the Bengals tonight should be very run oriented anyway as the Browns are giving up more rush yards than anyone in the league.

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Does Los Angeles count since they’ll be receiving the Rams soon?

I really wanted to pull the Lee Corso “Not so fast, my friend!” but I can’t, in my heart of hearts. Tavon Austin is the one decent option if your league counts return yards and you need a spots start out of someone. Austin has 6 total touchdowns with 2 coming on the rush, and 141 yards running too.

But Todd Gurley is the only viable option out of St. Louis and in a big big way…

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WR – Neither option is great and they are both going against incredible pass defenses, but I lean toward James Jones simply for the Aaron Rodgers factor.

QB – Big Ben for the reasons I listed above.

…and Todd Gurley is the realness. He’s the best running back in the league right now and if he stays healthy, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend!