Cedric Benson vs Matt Forte: What have you done for me lately?

Remember when Cedric Benson was the Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears? He was a running back that everyone had given up on and we all chuckled when he was signed by the Bengals. He then proceeded to put up very average numbers over the 2008-09 season for the Bengals, finishing with 747 yards (3.5 ypc) and two scores. That same year, the new kid on the block in Chicago, replacing Benson, rushed for 1,238 yards (3.9 ypc) and eight touchdowns to become the next up-and-coming fantasy football star. That kid was Matt Forte out of Tulane University.

Fast forward to the 2009-10 season, where the roles were reversed. Forte hit a sophomore slump, finishing with under 1,000 yards and only four touchdowns, while Benson barreled his way to 1,251 yards (with a solid 4.2 ypc) and six scores.

Now, as we all prepare for the 2010-11 fantasy football season, it seems that no one cares about either of these players beyond one season ago. Just a few notes on the two players…

  • Cedric Benson has never played a full 16 game season.
  • Matt Forte has never NOT played a full 16 game season.

  • Cedric Benson has 37 receptions, 296 receiving yards and 0 receiving touchdowns over the past two years.
  • Matt Forte has 120 receptions, 948 receiving yards, and 4 receiving touchdowns over the past two years.

  • Cedric Benson has had four “average” seasons as an NFL running back.
  • Matt Forte has had one “average” season as an NFL running back (sophomore slump?)

I just find it odd at how these two players are looked at going into this season. Someone feel free to change my mind if you want/can. Until then, I’m hoping to snag Forte as a sneaky, mid-round pick in my league drafts.

Update: Just found a blog that shares my pseudo-optimism in Matt Forte this year. In his post Don’t Nap on these 10 SLEEPERS!, John Charles of Fantasy-Football-First.com writes about Matt Forte:

Analysis: This time last year some were making the debate that Forte was worthy of the # 1 pick. He had a disappointing season in which he finished #18 for fantasy running backs. He averaged 10.2 points a game. Would you take 10 points a week out of your RB2 position? I would. I think he improves on that a bit this year and could average 12 points a game which should put him in the top 15.

Strategy: Fantasy football owners have a short term memory so the thought of Forte being a first round bust last year will be fresh in their minds. Mock Drafts have him going in the 4th-6th round and being the 21st running back selected. I am targeting a 4th round steal and it might be hard to pass him up in the 3rd round.