2014 Fantasy Football Sleeper Candidate: Jay Cutler
Entering his ninth season, Jay Cutler has all the weapons and makings of a fantasy breakout star. Granted, he’s already considered a household name and top-tier quarter. However, I would argue otherwise. In his eight seasons at the position, he’s cashed in only three, full healthy years; two with the Denver Broncos, one with the Chicago Bears. Yes, at points he’s played behind guys like Jake Plummer, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, but the majority of the time it was a result of his own demise.
The man is injury-prone. He’s clearly talented, but he has trouble staying healthy. And when he is healthy, he tends to force some balls in places they don’t belong. Henceforth, in the 104 regular season games he’s played in, he’s thrown 112 interceptions. Come on, man. Do the math, that’s more than one a game.
Cutler needs to be better than that, and he absolutely can be. He has both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey on the outside–arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the league in terms of overall athleticism, size and skill. With rookie receiver Marquess Wilson going down with a fractured clavicle, veteran Santonio Holmes has also been brought in. There could be worse options at receiver than him, that’s for sure.
Starting only 11 games last year as a result of injury, Cutler still managed to flash his turnover ways, fumbling four times and throwing for 12 picks. He did throw for 19 touchdowns though, indicating that if he’s able to play a full season, 30 or more touchdowns is a very realistic possibility.
The outlook: Cutler is a frustrating fantasy option at quarterback. His annoying turnover rate is consistent and tends to overshadow his play in games and overall numbers. While the interceptions may turn owners off, his weapons and stats from last year suggest a big year, if healthy. There is a risk-reward factor here, but for me, as long as Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey are out on that field, I’ll take almost any quarterback with that offense.
I’d take him in the first five rounds but closer to the fifth. Cutler is the type of quarterback you draft if you want to stock pile your running back position or wide receiver position (this includes Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski) in the first few rounds. For fantasy owners considering taking him any earlier, think long and hard. There’s a reason he’s still discussed as a sleeper/break-out player at age 31.