2014 Fantasy Football Profile: Bears QB Jay Cutler
With ankle and groin injuries limiting him to only 11 games last season, Cutler was solid — not spectacular — in his first season running Marc Trestman's offense.
Excluding the October 20th matchup against the Washington Redskins in which Cutler threw only eight passes and was relieved by Josh McCown, his per-game average in the other 10 games extrapolates to a full-season pace of 4,149 yards, 30.4 touchdowns and 17.6 interceptions.
Missing five or more games twice in the past three seasons, durability has been a bit of a concern for Cutler, but I expect better production from him in 2014 assuming good health.
After all, the duo of Cutler and McCown, who signed with the Bucs this offseason, combined to score a total of 289.6 fantasy points last season. Only two quarterbacks — Peyton Manning (383.3) and Drew Brees (319.8) — scored more.
While he won't rack up elite rushing stats like Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick, Cutler's mobility is underrated. Over the past two seasons, Cutler has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 216 rushing yards per 16 games. Only 12 quarterbacks rushed for at least 200 yards last season.
Loaded with talented offensive skill-position players, the Bears have arguably the league's most talented wide receiver tandem as well as one of the league's best receivers out of the backfield.
One year after Brandon Marshall set the franchise's single-season receiving record (1,508), Alshon Jeffery recorded the second most in franchise history (1,421) in 2013. Marshall, who has seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, ended a nine-year drought of 1,000-yard receivers for the Bears last year and now the duo has given the franchise three 1,000-yard seasons in the past two years.
Running back Matt Forte had career highs of 74 catches for 594 yards last year and has averaged 57/486/2 receiving over his career. Tight end Martellus Bennett is buried as the fourth-best option in the passing game, but he is one of the better tight ends in the league and the team's third wide receiver, Marquess Wilson, is one of my favorite fantasy sleepers.
The Bears return all 11 offensive starters on an offense that finished second to only the Denver Broncos in scoring. While continuity from a personnel standpoint is important, continuity from a system standpoint can be equally as important.
"Going into my ninth year, I think this is only the second or third time I've been in an offense multiple years," Cutler said. "We're still in the learning process, but guys have much more familiarity with what the concepts are and the formations and everything, so that's definitely going to be a help; less thinking and able to go fast."
Based on average draft position (ADP) data (via FFC), Cutler is the 13th quarterback off the board going with pick 9.02, on average.
Unless you're drafting one of the elite three fantasy quarterbacks (Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Brees), it makes sense to wait on quarterback and Cutler has often been my target at the position. Not only is the position deep, but the gap between QB3 (Brees) and QB4 (Matthew Stafford) is larger than the gap between QB4 and QB12 (Tony Romo) in my fantasy football projections. (Cutler is my QB11.)
As an example, I'd prefer to draft a running back or wide receiver in Round 6 and Cutler in Round 9 than someone like Nick Foles, as an example, at his ADP of 6.05 and a non-QB in Round 9 when it comes to roster composition.
2014 Fantasy Strength of Schedule
Based on cumulative fantasy points allowed last year of their opponents this year, Cutler and the Bears quarterbacks have the sixth-most favorable fantasy schedule.
2014 Stat Projection: 378/594, 4,544 yards, 30 TDs, 14 INTs; (Rushing) 182 yards, 1 TD
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