Fantasy Football: Could Jay Cutler Be a Difference Maker Down the Stretch?
Prior to suffering a groin injury in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 1,630 yards in six full games, with multiple passing touchdowns five times and over 260 yards in four of those five games. He threw his seventh interception of the season prior to leaving the game against Washington, but five of his other six interceptions came in just two games.
Cutler missed last Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers with his groin issue, but he practiced on Thursday and has been cleared to start on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. As long as Cutler remains on track to return to action this week, should fantasy football owners be high on him as a crucial time of the season gets going?
The Lions are around the middle of the pack against opposing quarterbacks so far this season (15.1 fantasy points per game, ESPN scoring), but they have allowed multiple passing touchdowns to the position in four of their last five games and they allowed at least 274 passing yards in five straight games (over 300 yards three times) from Week 3-Week 7. Cutler’s own performance back in Week 4 (317 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions) was part of that five-game stretch.
After that Chicago’s schedule has a couple of mediocre matchups (Week 11-Baltimore Ravens, Week 12-St. Louis Rams), followed by three matchups in four weeks against teams that enter Week 10 in the bottom 10 of the league against opposing quarterbacks (Week 13-Minnesota Vikings, Week 14-Dallas Cowboys, Week 16-Philadelphia Eagles).
Cutler’s injury came at a bad time for fantasy owners as Week 8 and Week 9 both had six teams on a bye, which seems to have led to him being dropped in a lot of leagues. As of now he is still available in 58 percent of Yahoo! leagues, even with a dramatic recent boost in his ownership percentage as positive reports regarding his health have surfaced.
Just how effective Cutler will be on Sunday is a question, as he will be just three weeks removed from an injury that had been expected to sideline him for at least four weeks. Even if he does not have his normal mobility for a game or two as he works his way back to full strength, I think Cutler can help a lot of fantasy owners make a playoff push over the next few weeks and will be a viable low-end QB1 during some critical weeks.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.