Bears have faith in rookie Forte

The Chicago Bears have been known as a defensive-minded team in recent seasons. In fact, the Windy City has been a virtual fantasy wasteland.

But this team now fields several potential sleeper candidates, none more attractive than rookie Matt Forte.

Forte’s fantasy impact

In his fantasy look at the Bears, NFL.com fantasy editor Michael Fabiano projects Matt Forte as a solid sleeper candidate. More …

» Read more from Fabiano
» Top 100: Where did Forte land?

Forte found immense success at Tulane, and the Bears coaching staff has absolutely gushed about his skills and abilities this offseason. Now comes word that the team doesn’t plan to add a veteran running back like Shaun Alexander or Kevin Jones, even after the recent release of Cedric Benson.

“We don’t have any plans to do that,” head coach Love Smith said. “From Matt to Adrian Peterson to Garrett Wolfe, to P.J. Pope, Matt Lawrence, we like all of our players and those are the ones that we’re going with.”

The backfield competition is wide open headed into training camp, but I think Forte has to be considered the favorite to win the top spot on the depth chart. He has all the tools to be a three-down back at the NFL level, not to mention a much more intense work ethic than Benson ever had with the team. I like Forte so much that I have him listed ahead of Jonathan Stewart on our current running back rank list.

That could change as the summer months pass, but for now it seems Forte has a better shot at a true featured role.

The Bears have also been very impressed with the development of Devin Hester as a wide receiver. In fact, the Chicago Tribune reports that Hester and Brandon Lloyd have looked like the team’s most “legitimate” wide receivers in minicamp. Hester saw limited time in the offense last season, but he seems to have blossomed.

Receivers coach Darryl Drake even thinks Hester can be the best wideout he’s ever coached. The one downfall is that Hester’s time at the position could be at least somewhat limited due to his responsibilities as a return man on special teams. But with no real playmaking receivers on the roster, Hester’s value is on the rise.

The final player fantasy footballers need to watch is Greg Olsen. He showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, and his role is almost certain to increase with Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad both out of the mix. I think Olsen has a chance to be mentioned in the same breath as fellow Miami Hurricanes Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, all of whom thrived at the tight end position at the pro level.

Olsen of course still has much to prove on the field, but I’d take a chance on him in the late rounds as a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy tight end.

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