Bye weeks have a habit of making fantasy football owners nuts. While no fantasy owner should be rolling with whichever quarterback the Minnesota Vikings or Tampa Bay Buccaneers are starting, some owners are scrambling with Ben Roethlisberger and Robert Griffin III on byes in week five.
At first glance, Jay Cutler seems like a suitable fill in next week as the Chicago Bears host the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are typically involved in shootouts, Marc Trestmans’s Bears have the number two offense in the league right now with a 31.75 points per game average, and Brandon Marshall is due for a breakout game after being held to under 80 yards and scoreless in each of the last two games.
I’m not convinced Cutler is a worthy start next week, and not because of his three interceptions and one lost fumble in week four. Surprisingly, the Saints have allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points against to quarterbacks. Cutler only has two career games against the Saints, one with Chicago and one when a member of the Denver Broncos. Here is how he did:
DATE TEAM OPP COMP ATT YDS TD INT
9/21/08 DEN NO 21 35 264 2 1
9/18/11 CHI NO 19 45 244 1 0
AVERAGE 20 40 254 1.5 0.5
Not terrible numbers, but the low touchdown count is troubling considering how porous the Saints defense has been over the last few years. Since I don’t think two games is really enough data to determine a good idea of what to expect, I went back and pulled the numbers from every game Cutler has faced off against Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
DATE TEAM OPP COMP ATT YDS TD INT
9/16/07 DEN OAK 23 33 269 1 2
12/2/07 DEN OAK 16 32 214 0 2
9/8/08 DEN OAK 16 24 300 2 0
11/23/08 DEN OAK 16 37 204 0 1
11/1/09 CHI CLE 17 30 225 0 1
10/1/12 CHI DAL 18 24 275 2 0
AVERAGE 17.6 30 247.8 0.83 1
This paints a more troubling outlook for Cutler in week five. Again, yardage totals are decent, but the touchdown production is troubling. When you combine what Cutler has done against the Saints with his numbers against Ryan, Cutler has completed 18.8 out of 35 for 250.9 yards, 1.1 touchdowns and 0.75 interceptions. Cutler is currently averaging 252.5 yards per game this season, ranking 20th in the league, so it seems fairly safe to estimate that Cutler will finish week five with similar yardage.
If you are in a deep league, you could do worse for a bye week QB replacement. If you are in a shallower league, there might be some better options available. Philip Rivers is owned in only 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues and has the Oakland Raiders next week. Eli Manning is owned in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues and faces a Philadelphia Eagles defense that has allowed the 11th most fantasy yards to quarterbacks this season. Terrelle Pryor is owned in only 22 percent of Yahoo! leagues and will be a QB1 if he is cleared to play against a San Diego Chargers defense currently allowing the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Sam Bradford is owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues and has the Jacksonville Jaguars next week. I don’t even need a stat to tell you how bad the Jags have been.
Of course, you could always stick with Cutler, and hope that 250 yards and a touchdown or two will be enough to win your matchup.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.
Read more from Dustin here.