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A Match Made In Chicago

Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler is not a team player. During his three years with the Denver Broncos he was probably more well-known for his bad attitude than his performance on the field. A good football team needs its quarterback to be a leader. I don’t know which leadership

went to, but blaming losses on your defense, interceptions on your wide receivers, comparing yourself to your franchise’s most beloved player and demanding to be traded are not good ways to lead a team. He’s a great talent, don’t get me wrong, but a leader he is not, and that’s reflected in his career win-loss record as a starter, which is 24-29.

Lucky for us in fantasyland, you don’t need to win games or excel as a leader to be a great fantasy quarterback. What helps is great a big arm, athletic ability and a pass-heavy offensive system.

Cutler has a serious cannon. Brett Favre and Matthew Stafford do give him a run, but he has arguably the best arm in the NFL.

As a senior at
High School in

, he quarterbacked his football team to its first state championship, while also snagging 9 interceptions as a safety. He was also All-State in basketball and honorable mention All-State as a shortstop on the baseball team. In addition to that, at the NFL combine four years ago the former Vanderbilt star ran a 4.76 40-yard dash and benched 225 pounds 23 times (a huge number for a quarterback). 

Big arm. Check. Athletic ability. Check. Pass-heavy offensive system … ?

Let me reintroduce Mike Martz. Remember him? He was the offensive genius behind the curtains of the ‘Greatest Show on Turf.’ He also helped a quarterback who’d spent the past few years stocking shelves at a grocery store and playing football in the Arena League become a St. Louis Rams legend.

Between 1999-2005, Martz’s high-flying St. Louis offense ranked in the top five in total pass yards seven times and passing touchdowns three times. As the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions from 2006-2007 his team’s passing offense, led by the forgettable Jon Kitna, ranked second (‘06) and third (‘07), averaging 4,212 pass yards per season. After that he went to

San Francisco
and he took a passing attack that ranked dead last the year before and turned them into an above-average aerial unit (13th). The 49ers rewarded his efforts by letting him go once Mike “We’re gonna run the football” Singletary was named head coach. Martz then took a year off from football, and on February 1, 2010 he got a new job, as the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.

As for Cutler, he has been in good situations before. Playing for the Broncos he had loads of talent around him and a head coach that played to his strengths.  This resulted in some big years: 3,497 yards, 20 touchdowns, 14 interceptions (2007) and 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns, 18 interceptions (2008). Cutler was on the cusp of fantasy greatness before leaving

. But then things all came crumbling down last year in

. Cutler threw a league-high 26 interceptions, saw his completion percentage drop significantly and was sacked 35 times. Despite an overall poor performance, there were some positives. Cutler put up 3,666 passing yards and threw a career-high 27 touchdowns. 

He will be going into his fifth NFL season and at 27 years old, he’s in the prime of his career. He still has that big arm and Martz knows how to use it. Chicago’s receiving corps, while not stellar, are young, talented and very deep, which is important because the Bears will be spreading the ball around a lot  Add to that uber-talented tight end Greg Olsen and sticky-handed running back Matt Forte, and Cutler has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal. I fully expect Cutler to have more than 600 passing attempts by season’s end. Look for a spike in pass yards and a probable increase in touchdowns with Martz calling the plays. His ceiling is around 4,400 pass yards, 34 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Unless he gets injured, the floor is also relatively high. I would draft him before Eli Manning, Brett Favre and Matt Ryan

His current average draft position is around 80, so wait until the seventh round (10-team league) and try to snag him. With games against the Patriots, Vikings, Jets and Packers to wrap up the season, his fantasy playoff schedule is not favorable. Up to that point the schedule is pretty soft so grab him in the middle of your draft, enjoy the ride, and try to sell high before your league’s playoffs.

2010 projection: 3,995 pass yards 32 TD, 24 INT

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