Value. It’s all about value. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. You can’t open a draft strategy piece or general player analysis piece these days without hearing it, which is refreshing, but it also makes it harder to win your league when everyone is trying to employ the exact same strategy. I’ve talked about a key element of auction strategy (it applies for snake drafts as well, but please, do an auction) which is comprised of assembling a target list before the draft, so you have a general idea of who you believe best represents a “value” given what they are projected to produce and how the general public values that same player.
I get asked to appear on radio shows and podcasts quite frequently for fantasy updates in the build up to fantasy football season. While I ramble on poetically about the potential of Shane Vereen in a point-per-reception format annually, or speculate on the relevance of James White in New England often, the question every good host (and listener) wants the answer to is, “who is the one player that represents the best value, regardless of position, that has the potential to be a key reason why you win your league?”
It’s a great question and the name I keep circling back in point-per-reception leagues to is Justin Forsett. Fantasy owners are hesitant to fully invest in a repeat of his breakout campaign for several glaring reasons, which include his diminutive stature (5-foot-8, 197 pounds), age (30-years-old), struggles near the goal line, and inherently fluky circumstances (Ray Rice incident), which enabled him to not only win a starting job, but eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing plateau for the first time in his career. Fantasy owners who think that Forsett won’t repeat his numbers from a year ago are correct, he won’t. He’s going to exceed them in Marc Trestman’s offense.
In case you forgot, Matt Forte set a single-season record for receptions by a running back last season with 102 for 808 yards and four touchdowns. Forsett doesn’t profile as a truly dynamic receiver out of the backfield, like Forte (who will exceed 100 receptions in a Trestman system), but there is plenty of Kevin Faulk in his game, so to speak. He’s more than capable as a check down option, as evidenced by the 44 receptions for 263 yards he racked up last season. There is a strong probability that Forsett will come close to doubling his reception total, which is a huge boost to his fantasy value.
Despite being a virtual lock to rank among the positions leaders in receptions and benefitting from a stellar offensive line, which led him to average 5.4 yards-per-carry (1,266 yards with eight touchdowns) last season, fantasy owners simply aren’t that interested.
According to the average draft position data on MyFantasyLeague.com, he’s currently being selected as the 17th running back off the board (fourth round) in point-per-reception leagues. Forsett is an absolute steal. If you don’t believe me (and you should by the way), I have Advanced Sports Logic’s revolutionary “The Machine” to back me up. According to the system’s projections, Forsett grades out as the 10th-best running back in fantasy football, statistically, this upcoming season.
Fantasy owners are inherently risk averse in the pre-season. Why take a risk when you don’t have to. A large majority of fantasy owners will look at Forsett and see more question marks than answers and gladly let someone else “waste” and early round pick. If you ignore all of the noise and just evaluate the numbers, it’s hard not to overlook just how good he projects to be this season, and how much of a value he is considering where he’s going in drafts right now.
On the surface, Forsett is one of the most polarizing running backs in fantasy news, but the potential impact of an offensive mastermind like Trestman calling the shots should not be underestimated. He won’t enable you to win your league single-handedly, but Forsett represents elite production at a discounted rate. If he’s not one of your prime “value” targets going into your leagues draft, he should be.
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