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Week 13 Buy, Sell, Hold for Keeper Fantasy Football: Forte, Jones-Drew, Welker

Dave Major offers up late season keeper league fantasy football advice.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte

Nov 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) carries the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Chicago 42-21. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you should have a firm grip on whether you are a buyer or a seller. Is your season over, or is there still hope?

If your team is still reasonably alive, it’s time to start spending your future assets on a championship push. Standard re-draft owners don’t know the luxury you have. If their squad is bad, there’s not much they can do to paint over the flaws. Not everyone can afford a Peyton Manning or a Matt Forte.

Keeper owners, you should treat your team like a Major League Baseball franchise. When the season is wrapping up, and you have title hopes, send all your prospects and start spending picks. The time to win is now. It’s now or never.

And if the fire has extinguished on your dreams of lifting a trophy this year, then use your position to an advantage. Set yourself up for 2014 in ways that your opponents cannot. Sell off your old, busted veterans and inject some fresh blood. Take some risks on the young prospects that others can’t fit on their bench.

There is no time off for a keeper owner. You signed up for a year-round game. Always be working to improve your team.

Buy Matt Forte

To date, Matt Forte’s best season is still his rookie year of 2008. He set his career marks in rushing yards (1,238), total yards (1,715), and total scores (12) that season. Since then, he has never rushed for 1,100 yards, and only once has broken 1,500 total yards again.

Then Marc Trestman came to town. Chicago’s head coach is a two-time Canadian Football League Grey Cup champion, and was the CFL Coach of the Year in 2009. He also spent several years in the NFL. While Trestman served as quarterback’s coach and offensive coordinator for the 2002 Oakland Raiders,  Rich Gannon led the league in passing yards (4,689) en route to an NFL Most Valuable Player award.

Forte is currently on pace for his best season. Projecting his current numbers, he should rush for 1,237.8 yards and 10.2 rushing scores, while catching 81.5 passes for another 602.2 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. That’s a combination of 1,840 total yards and 11.6 trips to the end zone. He bears elite value in PPR leagues, but remains a top ten running back in all formats. Forte has only broken 100 yards rushing once this year, and has not scored a rushing touchdown since week nine. It’s a great time to introduce this blue chip to your locker room.

Sell Maurice Jones-Drew

We are only two seasons removed from Maurice Jones-Drew as the NFL rushing king. In 2011, he led the league in touches (386) and rushing yards (1,606). The 5-foot-8 back ran for 4.7 yards per carry and created 1,980 yards of offense.

Last year was abysmal, when the former UCLA Bruin missed the majority of the season with a Lisfranc injury. He started five games, and rushed for only 414 yards when all was said and done. That’s certainly not what Jones-Drew’s owners were betting on. He was taken 14th overall in 2012 re-draft leagues.

Jones-Drew is doing better this year, but is definitely past his prime. Of the 76 rushers to surpass 1,500 carries in NFL history, only 35 have made it to 2,000. He has made 1,741 attempts in eight seasons, and is on pace to rush 248.7 times this year. The three-time Pro Bowler is projected to finish the year with 784 yards rushing and 1,096.7 total yards. The only season worse for Jones-Drew was 2012.

In the past three weeks, the fantasy legend has scored three times. Many owners are blinded by the fantasy score, and pay little attention to actual statistics. Jones-Drew has only rushed for 148 yards during this stretch, for 3.0 yards per carry. It’s long past time to cut bait on this old horse. Someone may want him for the fantasy playoffs, and no one will come knocking for him in 2014.

Hold Wes Welker

Wes Welker made more receptions in six seasons (672) than any receiver in NFL history. From 2007 to 2012, he earned 80 more catches than the next closest receiver, Brandon Marshall (592). Welker walked away as a free agent in the offseason, after turning down lowball offers from the Patriots. New England chose to pay more money to Danny Amendola, who came to town with 196 career receptions and 17 starts in four seasons. Safe to say, they learned their lesson.

Over the first eight games of the season, Welker made 50 catches for 555 yards and nine touchdowns. That was enough for second in the league in receptions, and first in scoring.

In the three games since, Welker has averaged only five receptions for 41.3 yards. He has not scored since week eight, before Denver’s bye. Welker now sits at eighth in receptions and sixth in touchdowns. The 5-foot-9 receiver is on pace to catch 94.6 passes for 987.6 yards and 13.1 touchdowns. This Broncos team is likely to break a number of all-time offensive records. Hang on to the best slot receiver in NFL history.

Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys.com, and myfantasyleague.com.

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