Why Justin Forsett Is a Value Pick in Fantasy Football This Year
Running backs are by far the toughest position to draft with any consistency in fantasy football every single year. It's not close.
In recent seasons, runners drafted as a top-12 back overall typically finish as a "RB1" (top-12) just 50% of the time, according to historical bust rates. This means that -- for every running back drafted in the RB1-RB12 range in average draft position (ADP) who returns value by finishing inside the top 12 at the end of the year -- one running back simply won't.
This leaves us with a dilemma. Everyone needs running backs in fantasy football, so how can we find safer bets? Of course, no running back can be perfectly safe -- but given relative cost, some backs can seem more protected against "busting" than others.
As it stands right now, Justin Forsett is the 13th running back off the board according to My Fantasy League ADP and is the 12th back taken on average according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Coming off a late breakout season at age-29 and averaging the ninth-best per-game PPR output last year (15.3 points), Forsett may have the safest floor of any running back who is being drafted in between 20 and 35 overall on average.
Age-29 Breakout in 2014
In retrospect, running backs rarely (if ever) breakout late in their career like Justin Forsett did. After bouncing around on a total of five different teams in eight years, Forsett has made a home in Baltimore. Let's go back and quickly re-visit what his 2014 season looked like.
Here at numberFire, we use an advanced statistic called Net Expected Points (NEP). Essentially, NEP quantifies what we see on the field by using historical data and adjusting for game-flow and situation.
Below are Forsett's 2014 rushing statistics and advanced metrics. Overall ranking among the 15 backs with 208 or more rushes (13 attempts per game) last year is in parenthesis.
|Name||Att.||YPC||ruYds||ruTDs||Rush NEP/P||Success Rate|
|Justin Forsett||235||5.39||1266||8||0.10 (2nd)||43.16% (8th)|
And here are Forsett's 2014 receiving statistics and advanced metrics. Overall ranking among the 22 backs with 50 or more targets (3.1 targets per-game) on the season is in parenthesis.
|Name||Tgts||Rec.||Yards||Y/R||reTDs||Rec NEP/Tgt||Success Rate|
|Justin Forsett||59||44||263||5.98||0||0.14 (21st)||54.54% (21st)|
As far as rushing goes, Justin Forsett was pretty unreal last year. He became one of 27 running backs since 1958 to average more than 5.3 yards per carry while seeing at least 230 attempts on a season. That's unbelievable company.
On the ground, Forsett finally got the chance to prove his ability last year -- and he was pretty dominant. Forsett and Arian Foster were the only two backs to have seven-plus runs of 30 yards or more last season (Foster had eight and Forsett had seven).
Forsett's major downfall last year, as seen above, was in the passing game. He caught 44 balls last year which was tied for the ninth-most among running backs last year -- but he failed to hit pay-dirt through the air once. However, this was basically all opportunity-based. Forsett only saw five red zone targets last year, finishing sixth on his own team for targets inside of the 20-yard line.
But, as we're about to find out below -- Justin Forsett's receiving and PPR floor is about to change drastically with more volume.
Marc Trestman's Effect on Fantasy Backs
Looking at the new Baltimore offensive coordinator, 4for4's T.J. Hernandez outlined Marc Trestman's historical effect on offenses.
Trestman has been either a head coach or an offensive coordinator in the NFL for a total of 10 seasons. His starting running backs have averaged at least 15.1 touches and 3.1 receptions per game in nine of 10 seasons when he's calling plays.
Two things here. First, a coach's impact on players is often overstated and deals with small samples for the most part -- but it's fairly safe to say Trestman identifies one back in his offense and rides him primarily. It's a major boon to Forsett's fantasy value that the Ravens spent only fourth-round (125 overall) draft capital on USC product Javorius Allen, meaning he has little to no immediate competition for touches on the team.
Second, Marc Trestman loves to throw. A lot. His offenses have never finished worse than 16th in pass attempts. Plus, Trestman's offensive units have finish top-10 in pass attempts in six of 10 seasons he's had play-calling duties.
All of this leads up to one major thing: Forsett may see a slight dip in rush attempts per-game, but his PPR floor is heavily elevated just due to the volume influx quarterback Joe Flacco and company will likely enjoy this year. Last year, Baltimore threw 555 times which was good enough for 17th most in the entire league and Forsett averaged "only" 2.8 receptions per game.
For what it's worth, numberFire's early projections have Forsett pegged for 54.8 receptions (3.4 catches per-game) on the season -- which may just be Forsett's floor this year.
There's some well-placed skepticism surrounding the Ravens offense this year. There is no doubt about that. Rookie Breshad Perriman will seemingly have a lot on his plate in year one as Baltimore's "X" receiver while Steve Smith Sr. will look to turn back the clocks one more time in his age-36 season.
Of course I would also be remiss without mentioning Justin Forsett is set to turn 30 in mid-October this season. But, unlike current and soon-to-be 30-year-old backs -- Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte -- Forsett doesn't cost a first round pick in PPR-leagues. Instead, Forsett's average draft position has been hovering near the mid-to-late second round.
Also helping Forsett's case: he has just 741 career touches on his career odometer. Adrian Peterson owns 2,279 career touches and Matt Forte has a lofty 2,260 touch-mark tread on his tires.
Perhaps Forsett is being drafted a full round and a half later than both Peterson and Forte on name value alone or on age and offense-related concerns. Maybe it's all three factors. But as of right now in early-July, Justin Forsett is a pretty stark value in fantasy football leagues.