There has been a flurry of AFC East news over the last few days and surprisingly, none of it involves New England. But the other three teams in the division have undergone changes that could shake up their offenses, so I’m here to give you the rundown and analyze the fantasy impact.
All stats are from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.
Miami Dolphins – Jay Cutler Signed, Jarvis Landry Under Investigation
With Ryan Tannehill suffering a partially-torn ACL in his left knee, head coach Adam Gase has lured retired quarterback Jay Cutler out of the broadcast booth and back to the field. Cutler, who agreed to a one-year deal worth $10 million plus incentives, will presumably be the starter going into the season. Gase previously coached Cutler as Chicago’s offensive coordinator in 2015, one of Cutler’s best statistical years.
The fantasy potential of the entire Miami offense should be reassessed, although I’m not sure that Cutler is much of a downgrade from Tannehill. Compare Cutler’s 2015 season under Gase to Tannehill’s 2016 season:
|Jay Cutler in 2015||Ryan Tannehill in 2016|
|Yards Per Attempt||7.6||7.7|
|Air Yards Per Attempt||3.83||3.86|
Air yards stats are from SportingCharts. All other stats are from Pro Football Reference.
Cutler was only slightly worse than Tannehill in every category, which explains why Gase viewed him as a solid replacement. And for those who are claiming that Cutler will sling the ball more than Tannehill, I beg to differ. Cutler’s 3.83 air yards per attempt in 2015 suggests that Gase plans to use Cutler in the exact same way he used Tannehill last year.
If there is any cause for concern, it’s Cutler’s 2016 performance and subsequent retirement. In five games in 2016, Cutler threw four touchdowns and five interceptions, dropping his passer rating to 78.1 and his completion percentage to 59.1. And since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury and being released by Chicago last season, he has likely enjoyed retirement with little to no conditioning. These concerns alone should slightly lower the stock of all the Miami pass-catchers, although Cutler apparently looked fine at his first day of practice. Cutler may not have an amazing season, but I expect his reunion with Gase to still yield decent numbers for the receivers.
The one thing that could have a significant impact on the Miami receivers is Jarvis Landry’s legal situation. Landry is currently under police investigation for possible battery charges related to an altercation with his girlfriend earlier this year. Since no charges have been pressed, any potential suspension for Landry would just be speculation at this point. Suffice it to say that if Landry misses time, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills would both be in the running for the No. 1 receiver role, while second-year receivers Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant would likely vie for Landry’s spot.
Meanwhile, the player least affected by all this news is running back Jay Ajayi. Miami was a run-first team last year – it had the second-fewest pass attempts in the league and ran the ball 45.9 percent of the time, sixth-most in the NFL. The team’s run-heavy philosophy isn’t likely to change regardless of what happens with Cutler and Landry, so projections for Ajayi shouldn’t change much.