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Matt Forte: The Trestman FPPRR Effect

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Dec 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Forte’s pass-catching prospects have been the subject of much fantasy football discussion this offseason. It’s high time we run him through the FPPRR Machine.

FPPRR is made possible through Pro Football Focus‘s compilation of route running data from 2008-2012.

Chicago Bears fans have had to endure a litany of poor play calling over the past decade under head coach Lovie Smith. From Ron Turner to Mike Martz to Mike Tice (really, Tice and Martz called plays in consecutive seasons) the Bears offense finished in the top half of the league in scoring only twice during Smith’s 9 year run.

Marc Trestman has taken over as the new Head Coach with Aaron Kromer as his offensive coordinator to end the suffering. If you aren’t aware of what Trestman will be bringing to the table this season, you need to immediately (well, after reading this) head over to C.D Carter’s piece on why the Bears could be a fantasy haven this season.

Be sure to check out another great Chicago offense item written by Charles Kleinheksel (@hospiceman) from the tremendous House RotoViz.

Using information from both gentlemen, I want to explore the range of outcomes that Trestman’s influence could have on running back Matt Forte, specifically in the receiving department.  To start off, let’s take a ride in the time machine to peek at what Trestman’s offense has meant for backs in the past.

Charlie Garner 2003 48 386 1 92.6
Charlie Garner 2002 91 941 4 209.1
Michael   Pittman 2000 73 579 2 142.9
Adrian Murrell 1999 49 335 0 82.5
Larry Centers 1998 69 559 2 136.9
Terry Kirby 1996 52 439 1 101.9
Derek Loville 1995 87 662 3 171.2
Eric Metcalf 1989 54 397 4 97.7


There are some serious crooked numbers in there. In seven of the eight seasons with Trestman as OC, he had a back top 90 receiving points. Five times they topped 100 points and in 2002, Charlie Garner topped 200 receiving points. To get a gauge on how ridiculous these numbers are, only 4 times over the past five years (Darren Sproles and Ray Rice each twice) has a back scored more than 150 points receiving. Sproles’ 185.7 points last season is the high for that time period. Three times a back has topped 70 receptions.

Matt Forte 2008 304.5 134.7 330 0.41 2
Matt Forte 2009 217 104.1 378 0.28 12
Matt Forte 2010 264.6 123.7 270 0.46 9
Matt Forte 2011 220.7 107 259 0.41 12
Matt Forte 2012 221.4 84 274 0.31 11


After catching 103 passes at Tulane, Forte has been an elite back in PPR formats for the start of his NFL career, catching 44+ passes every year. He’s never finished below RB12 overall, despite missing five games combined over the past two seasons. He’s the only running back along with Sproles and Rice to post four seasons of 100+ receiving points in the past five years. His FPPRR score has remained pretty steady, anything in the .40 area is really rare (which he’s bested three times). In his worst receiving season as a pro (2012), he was still the 11th highest scorer out of all running backs in terms of receiving.

I have a similar post coming that is in the same ilk as C.D.’s Tight End FPPRR history piece. Before that is done, I will let you in on what creates an elite perfect storm FPPRR season for running backs. Out of the 58 times over the past five years, any back who has topped 215 routes (only 13.4 per game) along with a .32 score (an average score for a season is .29) has a 98% hit rate with being at worst a top 36 running back that season. The same criterion has a 40% correlation to a top 12 back.

Again, these are receiving points only, so you can imagine what happens when a season like that is coming from a feature back on the ground as well.  You can see Forte has already achieved three elite seasons in his first five. He also has notched an above average season every year but one. In that season he ran the most routes ever in his career (378). If you remember our Jamaal Charles breakdown, you know that insane usage can balance the scales of FPPRR.

I don’t want to get overly excited, so let’s propose three separate outcomes. One that uses all of Forte’s career lows averages, and high marks (Route % is the percent of passing plays that Forte ran a route on).


Route % RT/REC YPR TD %
Low 51.8 6.6 7.6 0.02
Avg. 56 5.7 8.7 0.033
High 63.2 5 10.7 0.058


In the eight seasons that Trestman was an offensive coordinator, his teams called an average of 606 passing plays per season (factoring in sacks).  Since Forte has been a member of the Bears, they have averaged 546 passing plays per campaign and only 524 over the past three seasons.  If the Bears were to run 606 passing plays this season, here’s what Forte’s season could like using all of those low, medium and high marks.

Low 313 47 357 1 88.7
Avg. 339 60 522 2 124.2
High 383 77 824 4 183.4


All of the highs and lows coincide with his worst and best FPPRR scores nearly to a tee. In the worst case scenario, Forte would still produce more receiving points than all but 11 backs totaled in 2012. If all of the stars align, he could put together a Sprolesian effort. Considering Jay Cutler’s goo-goo eyes for Brandon Marshall, that is probably still a dream.  I am projecting his output to be slightly above the average line, but the addition Trestman appears to be extremely fruitful for Forte in 2013.

Matt Forte CHI 8 251 1130 5 62 539 3 214.9 276.9 245.9


*Stats provided by ProFootballFocus, NFL.COM and Pro-Football-Reference

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