By Adam Harris-
(CBS) Last year I wrote an article, ripping Jay Cutler's fantasy potential from week 10 on. I sighted reasons such as his remaining schedule, his statistical limits based on the Bears offense, and his defense's success as reasons why he wasn't going to be a top 15 fantasy quarterback in 2012.
I was right, and those who dealt Cutler when the Bears were 7-1 ended up very happy as the fantasy playoffs commenced.
This year, I have a completely different feel on the matter. Jay Cutler is a viable fantasy quarterback, and should be owned in all leagues, and starting in deep or 2-QB leagues.
Currently, Cutler averages 18.6 fantasy points per week, ranking him seventh in the NFL, and this going against opponents that don't allow much for a QB fantasy-wise. The Bears have played the Bengals who allow just 15 fantasy points per week for QBs, (13th best), the Steelers who allow just 14 fantasy points (ninth best), the Lions who allow just 14.4 fantasy points for QBs (11th best), and the Saints who allow 14.2 fantasy points to QBs (10th best). Cutler hasn't had cupcake opponents so far this year, yet he is the seventh best fantasy quarter back in the NFL currently.
Fantasy is, however, all about what lies ahead, as past performance cannot help you win in week 6. Cutler looks to be on the path toward consistent fantasy success as the year goes on.
Bears Head Coach Marc Trestman is completely different than Lovie Smith. The Bears are heading in the correct direction in the NFL, veering more towards the pass-happy offense. Jay Cutler is comfortable with his new head coach, and has rewarded the schematic freedom by throwing for 10 touchdowns and over 1,300 yards in just five games. That puts Cutler on pace for a 32 touchdown, 4,300 yard year.
That would be a 300 fantasy point season, which would have ranked him as the sixth best quarterback in fantasy last year. Those numbers don't count his limited mobility which adds another 16 points (one point per week). Those are certainly starting fantasy numbers for a quarter back.
The Bears remaining schedule is very favorable for fantasy owners who have Jay Cutler. For example, Cutler will face the Giants (T-30th vs QBs), the Redskins (28th vs QBs), the Packers (24th vs QBs), the Ravens (18th vs QBs), the Rams (21st vs QBs), the Vikings (22nd vs QBs), the Cowboys (DEAD LAST vs QBs), and the Eagles (27th vs QBs), all of which give up 19 points or more to fantasy quarter backs.
There are only two bad match-ups, the Lions (11th vs QBs) and the Browns (T-2nd vs QBs) for Cutler the rest of the way. Whether the Bears are good or bad, the fantasy season bodes well for Jay Cutler.
If I were a Jay Cutler owner, and assuming Cutler is your current back up, I would trade my QB1 for an upgrade at a weaker position. Cutler can be a QB1 for fantasy teams this year, and should be starting over the likes of Colin Kaepernick (QB-SF), Andy Dalton (QB-CIN), Robert Griffin III (QB-WAS), Joe Flacco (QB-BAL), Russell Wilson (QB-SEA), etc.
For example, if you owned Tom Brady (QB-NE), I would deal Brady to a team that needs a boost at QB for very solid WR like Victor Cruz. That is a fair trade for both sides and you can comfortably roll with Cutler the rest of the way. I would even look to trade a guy like Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB) to a team in need of a major face lift. You can get super star impact in return, and only lose about three to four points a week at QB.
Do not deal Cutler in these scenarios because you will not be maximizing your return. Cutler is an above average fantasy quarterback, but he will bring average talent in return because owners believe they already have a quarterback similar to Cutler, and wont be willing to give up much for him. Trading the upper echelon quarterbacks guarantees you the studly return and keeps your quarterback position justly filled with a current backup Jay Cutler.
For those that don't have Jay Cutler, I would consider dealing your top QB (except Peyton Manning (QB-DEN) and Drew Brees (QB-NO)) to the team with Jay Cutler for Cutler and help at RB or WR.
THIS TIME, it is safe to say Jay Cutler is here to stay in our fantasy world. He may break our NFL hearts, but this is an upside fantasy year for Jay Cutler.
Follow Adam Harris on Twitter @AHarris670 and ask him Fantasy Football questions. Also, listen to the Friday Fantasy Nerd Herd Hour on Friday nights/Saturday mornings with Joe Ostrowski.
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