The Chicago Bears have bolstered their backfield with the free agent signing of former Minnesota Vikings running back Chester Taylor. Rumours have circulated over the past week that the Bears were after Taylor, who provides the team with a solid player to pair with incumbent Matt Forte while providing the added benefit of stealing a productive player from a division opponent.
Taylor, who has served as Adrian Peterson’s backup in Minnesota for the past three years, will sign for a reported $12.5 million over four years. He has hit the dreaded 30 year old mark for running backs but does not have a history of overuse. He topped 300 touches in 2006 but does not have another season with over 200 touches in his eight year career.
Forte was not able to duplicate the success he had as a rookie in 2008. Although part of his troubles were due to hamstring and knee injuries, the Bears entered the off-season desiring an upgrade at the position.
With Taylor, they acquire a player who was coveted by many teams for his versatility and was likely the second most sought after running back behind former Jet (and former Bear) Thomas Jones.
The Bears backfield is now fantasy kryptonite with a pair of players featuring similar skills. Because of that, predicting their roles in 2010 will not be an easy task.
Both players are excellent receivers with Forte having caught 117 passes over two years and Taylor having four seasons of 40 or more receptions, including each of the last two years.
Although neither player is exceptionally shifty, they can both make defenders miss once they get past the line of scrimmage. Both players check in around the 215 pound mark so determining who gets the goal line work is also difficult, although Taylor runs with slightly more power.
Looking ahead to fantasy drafts in 2010, with Mike Martz now running the offense in Chicago, fantasy owners are going to want to get a piece of the Bears offense, likely driving up the stock of both Forte and Taylor.
Expect a committee approach with Forte retaining his starter role and assuming a larger share of the workload and Taylor spelling him and perhaps assuming the role of receiving back on third downs.
However, given Martz’ propensity for passing, Forte will still accumulate plenty of receptions. Based on that, both players are far more attractive in points per reception leagues than in standard performance leagues.
At this point, Forte checks in as a low end RB2 with upside and Taylor as a RB3 with upside. However, the smart fantasy owner who wants a piece of the Chicago offense should prefer quarterback Jay Cutler over both players.