Fantasy Football Sleepers And Busts: Matt Forte And Travaris Cadet
Jake Ciely (@allinkid) of RotoExperts.com checks back in with his weekly series of 2015 Fantasy Football Sleepers and Busts. He also updated his 2015 Fantasy Football Rankings yesterday, so give those a read too.
We've hit all of the skill positions this offseason in the ongoing 2015 Fantasy Football Sleepers and Busts. It's time to circle back to running backs. How quickly things can change. Just three weeks ago, Ameer Abdullah had a ninth-round ADP. Now it's jumped to the end of Round 6/early Round 7 in non-PPR and late Round 4/early Round 5 in PPR. I like to think I had plenty to do with that.
Yea… probably not.
This week, we're going way deeper at running back for the sleeper and way up the list for the bust. If you want to check out any of the previous Weekly Fantasy Football Sleeper and Bust pieces, just click away.
Sleeper: Travaris Cadet, NE
How's this for a sleeper? Cadet is undrafted both in non-PPR and PPR leagues. In fact, even if you play Best Ball, Cadet is still sitting there come Round 18 in non-PPR and Round 20 in PPR. That is actually a bit confusing. Cadet's value is in the receiving game. Why would drafters wait even longer in PPR? Here's why it makes no sense.
First, Cadet is in a nice position. Looking at the Patriots backfield, we have LeGarrette Blount and then a quagmire. Cadet, James Develin, Jonas Gray, Brandon Bolden, James White and Tyler Gaffney could all make noise. The Patriots won't keep seven running backs, so some of this will clear up through preseason. However, Cadet won't be one of the cuts. I doubt that the Patriots signed him without confidence in Cadet making the team. Gray showed some upside and desire to run hard last year, so we have three options already with Blount, Cadet and Gray. Bolden is a strong special teamer and good passing game option. He has a leg up for the fourth spot but will fight White and Gaffney. The Pats could keep an extra option for Week 1 with Blount suspended, but Cadet appears to be a lock.
Second, with Cadet on the team, he immediately becomes a favorite to replace Shane Vereen. Cadet does need to improve his pass protection, but he has the most passing game potential of any running back on the depth chart. He was buried in New Orleans but still managed 38 catches, 296 yards and a touchdown last year. The Patriots are very running back friendly in the passing game. Vereen had 77 targets, 52 catches, 447 yards and 3 TDs last year. In 2013, over just eight games, he had 69/47/427/3. Someone needs to replace Vereen, and Cadet is a terrific option.
Even if Cadet struggles to improve in pass protection and shares opportunities with Bolden, they could see 100 targets between them. Let's say Cadet gets 50 targets. Finishing with 35 or so catches and around 300 yards with 2-3 touchdowns doesn't sound like much, but it would have Cadet knocking on the door of Top 50 RB status in PPR leagues. That's rosterable, and in deep leagues (again, we're going deeeep this week) or best ball formats, Cadet will likely give you a couple nice games with potential for much more if he becomes Vereen's full-time replacement. He certainly shouldn't be undrafted.
Bust: Matt Forte, CHI
No one in the NFL has more carries than Matt Forte since he came in the league. Well, Chris Johnson technically does at 1,897 to Forte's 1,817, but Johnson isn't on a roster… and that should add a bit of concern. Sure, Forte is a better player, but that level of work is a killer. Okay, let's talk about an area where we don't need a caveat: total touches. Forte leads everyone, even Mr. Johnson, in touches since 2008 with 2,260. Johnson is second with 2,193, Steven Jackson is third at 2,042 and Adrian Peterson is fourth at 2,005. Those are the only four running backs with over 2,000 touches. Note that two running backs are done (CJK and SJax) and the third is coming off nearly a full season of "rest"… and a cyborg… or something.
Here is the more concerning part. When talking about running backs with at least 1,000 carries since 2008, Forte ranks just 15th in yards per attempt (4.24). He checks in behind players such as Frank Gore, Fred Jackson, Michael Turner and Maurice Jones-Drew. Over the last three years, Forte again leads in touches but ranks just 20th in YPA at 4.32 for players with at least 200 carries. Last year, Forte dropped to his worst YPA (3.9) since 2009. It also marked the second straight year that Forte had over 360 touches, and it was his second highest amount (368) since his rookie season (379).
Let's talk Fantasy Points per touch (FPPT) as well. Going to our first group (1,000-plus carries), Forte ranks 13th in FPPT since 2008 (using standard Yahoo! scoring) at 0.66. He's 18th in the second group at 0.67 - consistent but still behind names like Pierre Thomas, Daniel Thomas and LeGarrette Blount. Both Thomas'? Ugh.
Why am I throwing all of these numbers at you? It's not to give you high school math flashbacks. The issue is that Forte is more of a volume Fantasy player than people realize. He's a rather good option; he's just not elite or going to produce without heavy work. In fact, in 2012 when Forte had just 292 touches, he finished as RB12. Granted, he missed a game, but he's also missing Marc Trestman this year. Trestman loves using his running backs in the passing game (partly why I'm so high on Justin Forsett), and Forte had 95 and 130 targets the past two years. His career high in the other five seasons? Just 76.
It's actually quite simple when looking at Forte. He's a running back with an enormous amount of career work, he's a high-volume running back and his touches will drop significantly. That why I ranked Forte as my RB12 in non-PPR and RB8 in PPR… and I'm pretty sure I still wouldn't spend that price.
Main image photo credit: Guy Harbert
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