Jay Cutler: Long-Term Fantasy Advice for Owners with Injured Bears QB

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass against the Houston Texans during the game at Soldier Field on November 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Considering the state of the Chicago Bears right now, where the defense is putting up points at a better rate than some offenses, they might be the one team in the NFL that can afford to lose their starting quarterback and not miss a beat. 

We shall see just how good they really are on Monday night against San Francisco without Jay Cutler, who is still recovering from a concussion he suffered in last week's game against Houston. 

For fantasy owners, the nature of concussions makes it impossible to predict what Cutler will be able to provide the rest of the season. Based on his current level of production, if you had Cutler as your No. 1 starting quarterback, odds are good you weren't faring very well in your league. 

However, if you play in a league where you can start two quarterbacks, Cutler's injury takes on a lot of meaning for you. 

With the fickle nature of concussions and Cutler's play, here is our fantasy advice for owners who have Cutler on their roster and aren't sure what to do with him the rest of the season. 


Keep Him on Bench 1 Week After He Returns

Since we still don't know Cutler's long-term prognosis, it is impossible to give a definitive date of return. 

But when Cutler does pass all his tests and is eligible to return, assuming that happens at some point this season, it would be wise of fantasy owners to keep him sitting on their bench for at least one more week. 

Cutler has one thing going for him: He is consistently inconsistent. Already this season he has had four games with at least two touchdown passes and five with one or fewer. He has been held under 200 passing yards five times, including last week when he only played the first half. 

Until we see Cutler return to game action and get a feel for where he is at, how the Bears plan on using him and the matchup, it would be in fantasy owners' best interests to keep him sitting on the bench. 


Play the Right Matchup

In addition to being cautious with Cutler's health, you have to look at what the opposing defense is doing at the time of the matchup. 

After the 49ers game, the Bears have to play Minnesota twice, Seattle and Green Bay at home, Arizona and Detroit on the road. The Seahawks are one of the most physical teams in the NFL, so that would be a poor matchup for Cutler. 

Arizona and Detroit rank in the top 10 in pass yards allowed, and the Cardinals just picked Matt Ryan off five times, so you might want to avoid using Cutler in those games.

That leaves Minnesota and Green Bay. The Vikings' defense has really unraveled after starting the season on fire. They have allowed 80 points in their last three games with 764 passing yards, nine touchdowns and one interception to opposing quarterbacks. 

The Packers gave Cutler all sorts of problems in Week 2, when he threw four interceptions, completed just 11 passes, and questions emerged about his ability to hold the locker room together. 

As is always the case with Cutler, find the matchup that he can exploit, but don't go into a game expecting huge results. 


Embrace the Unknown

If you haven't already done so, understand that Cutler is never going to be the consistent fantasy producer his big arm and big-play capability suggests he can become. For lack of a better, less annoying cliche, Cutler is what he is. 

That is not to say that Cutler is all bad. Look at his performances against Dallas and Tennessee this season, when he went a combined 37-for-50 with 504 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. 

It is because of numbers like that we keep coming back to Cutler and getting sucked into the allure of what he can do, rather than focus entirely on what he can't do. There is a feeling of excitement with the great unknown. 

However, fantasy football is rarely a time where you can take a chance—you need a sure thing in this game—but having someone capable of posting big numbers is worth the risk.