Matt Forte warms up before practice
Being in a Mike Martz offense usually turns mere mortals into fantasy football super-studs. Jon Kitna threw for 4,000 yards (twice!) in Martz's system. Then, of course, we have the Greatest Show on Turf - the St. Louis years that made Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce unbeatable fantasy kings.
Can Martz's magic extend to the Bears? It seems likely that Jay Cutler will benefit most. It's his second year in the system and his second year in Chicago. Expect big numbers from him.
Roy Williams would seem to be the next biggest beneficiary. His two best years came under Martz in Detroit (including his only season above 1,000 yards).
But Matt Forte is a trickier player to peg. He's shown flashes of speed, but nothing resembling dominance. To truly excel in a Martz offense, you have to catch a ton of passes.
In three years, Forte's numbers have been fine. He averages 1,078 yards rushing and 498 yards receiving. Just 8 TDs a year, though. That makes him a very average back. And as ESPN points out, Forte almost never touches the ball inside the 10.
In assessing his fantasy value, we need to ask several questions...
1) Will Martz call more running plays?
This is Mike Martz. No.
2) Has the offensive line improved?
While the line improved throughout last year, the Bears didn't add any major talent in the offseason and they lost Olin Kreutz. Expect the line to improve as the year goes on, but the Bears line is not terribly outstanding. And remember, the Vikings, Lions and Packers all have excellent defensive fronts. Those six games will be tough sledding for any Bears RB.
3) Can Forte add value as a receiver?
Last year, Forte dropped just two out of 66 catchable balls. That's pretty amazing. Given the generally sorry state of the Bears receivers, you'd think Martz would draw up more plays to get Forte the ball in space. But even short passes require heavy protection from the line. And unless Cutler can remain upright, it doesn't matter who's open.
Forte has the tools to become a breakthrough back. But it doesn't seem he has the trust of his coaching staff or the bulk on the offensive line to make the leap. There are probably better running back options with more upside.