Aug 23, 2007
by Jim Coventry, Keeper league Blogger
Jay Cutler (QB, Den) came into the NFL as a highly regarded QB prospect and the fantasy community, for the most part, bought into the hype. Believing that Cutler may be a great QB may be a very reasonable assumption, especially after he threw for 1,000 yds and 9 TDs in five games last year as a rookie. Before you decide to make Cutler the QB of your keeper franchise, I am going to point out a few things to make you think your decision through completely. When all is said and done, you might decide that Cutler is your man, but at least you can say why you chose him.
Although any coach can lose his job at any time in the NFL, it’s hard to see Mike Shanahan losing his job anytime soon. That said, I probably just cursed him and he will get fired in week five! If Shanahan is the coach for awhile, then that may not end up being the best thing for Jay Cutler, because Shanahan prefers to have a run-heavy offense that leaves the QBs usually ranked in the middle of the pack for fantasy. Last year was the first time in quite a few years that the Denver rushing attack was not what is commonly expected. The Broncos made it a point to go out and solve that problem by bringing in Travis Henry (RB, Den) to tote the rock for a few years. A Bronco QB can reasonably expect about 3,500 yds and 22 TDs, which are fine numbers, but not ones you would want from a franchise-type fantasy QB.
Cutler’s performance last season may have been a poor indicator of what he will do in the near future. During the first two games that he played, there was no real film to study on him, when he averaged 155 YPG, 2 TDs, & 1 INT against Seattle and San Diego. By the time these games were over, the remaining teams on the schedule were not able to stop any passing offense. Against Arizona, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, Cutler was able to pile up some very nice stats to end the year, averaging 223 YPG, 1.7 TDs, and 1 INT. A casual observer might have looked at the stats and decided that Cutler really turned the corner after his second pro game, but as I pointed out, it may have been little more than a very favorable schedule.
Other than Javon Walker (WR, Den,) Cutler has question marks at the positions he has to throw to- Tony Scheffler (TE, Den) is only a second year player and he is far from a sure thing, while Daniel Graham (TE, Den) was not the best TE on his team the last couple of years. Brandon Stokley (WR, Den) is a very nice slot receiver, but his durability has to be called into serious question. Brandon Marshall (WR, Den) has talent (what player doesn’t,) but he is still a project the Broncos are working on. Rod Smith (WR, Den) is obviously on his last football legs.
I always have to remind myself, in keeper leagues, player talent only means something if a player has tools around him and a system to help him become a great player. Cutler might be one of the most talented QBs in the league one of these days. The question that you have to answer is whether the Broncos will produce a top-5 QB in the near future.