Most likely, you guys are going to be sick of hearing me say this;
Quarterback is insanely deep in 2013.
There are about 12 ideal guys who fantasy owners would feel comfortable having as their starting signal caller, but then there are also a handful of players who have some upside toward the end of the list. Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton are two of those guys. Some fantasy owners must plan on either selecting one of these guys as a backup quarterback (especially if you own RG3), or they may even grab two of these guys and just play the matchups. So, Cutler or Dalton? Who’s the better option?
Making the case for Cutler
Cutler is definitely a sleeper of mine this season. Why? I mean, you look at Cutler over the years and think of a mediocre guy with a cannon of an arm, but has lacked the decision-making ability as well as number of attempts to post awesome fantasy numbers. Over the last two seasons, Cutler has only attempted 748 passes. To put that into perspective, Matthew Stafford tossed the ball over 700 times last season alone. The lack of usage has limited Cutler’s fantasy prospects, but the fantasy gods may have bestowed a gift upon the 30-year old gunslinger. New head coach Marc Trestman is calling the shots now, and has been known to sling the ball around quite a bit. I don’t expect him to suddenly change his offensive approach in his first year in Chicago, which could spike Cutler’s numbers. During his time as head coach for the Montreal Alouettes, Trestman loved to throw the ball. His starting quarterbacks have posted attempt totals of 604, 654 and 644 over the past three seasons. Sure, it’s only the CFL, but the fact that he has been slinging the ball around so much needs to be addressed. Also, take a trip back to the 2002 NFL season where Trestman was the offensive coordinator for the Raiders. Quarterback Rich Gannon posted the highest completion percentage (67.6) of his career under his offense, and also threw just 10 interceptions, his lowest in any 16-game season. Taking a look at Cutler, this should help him as a more efficient passer, sporting a career completion percentage of 60.8. Cutler will continue to target Brandon Marshall early and often (194 last year), but if second year guy Alshon Jeffery can emerge this season after already bringing in an athletic tight end in Martellus Bennett and, of course, a deadly pass-catcher in the backfield in Matt Forte, this may become a very formidable offense.
Making the case for Dalton
Dalton scored the most fantasy points out of any quarterback outside of that top-12 a season ago, but in all honesty, I’m just not very excited about him. It’s not about the situation, though. He has a superstar wideout in A.J. Green, two athletic tight ends and a dynamic rookie running back. And after coming off of his best statistical season, why don’t I like Dalton as much? Quite frankly, I just don’t think he is a very strong passer. To be successful, he’ll have to find Green downfield often, but the fact of the matter is Dalton isn’t that great of a deep-ball passer. In 2012, he posted a completion percentage of 26.3 when throwing the ball 20 yards or more. That number was good for 30th in all of football. From watching him play, I can see that Dalton displays poor footwork and makes some horrid decisions at times. And while he is still only entering his third year and has room to progress, it’s a bit discouraging when Dalton’s offensive coordinator states that “he [Dalton] has to get better in every phase of the game.” Dalton will have to show me something in his third year to warrant my fantasy attention.
I’m going with the veteran in this debate, and siding with Cutler. Maybe I’m a bit high on him, but at age 30, I honestly believe we could be in store for his best statistical season. I believe Trestman’s intermediate offense will take less pressure off of that atrocious offensive line, as well as Cutler. But hey, unless you are really confident in the rest of your starting lineup, you are only starting these guys if your QB1 goes down or is on a bye. But for those of you planning on waiting on quarterback and just streaming two guys all year, Cutler may be my first choice in that regard.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.