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2014 Draft Prep: Jay Cutler will have a career season

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Here's a question for you. How would you feel about a quarterback who passed for 4,450 yards, 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions? My guess is you would like that a lot.

What if that quarterback had more than 360 Fantasy points? To put that in perspective, Andy Dalton was third in points last season with 353. You'd probably like that number in the majority of leagues, too.

Well, that's what Jay Cutler is capable of this season if he plays 16 games. And health is really the only knock on him. The prediction here is Cutler will have the best season of his career. He's a tremendous value pick based on his Average Draft Position at No. 82 overall as the No. 12 quarterback off the board.

Cutler and Josh McCown combined for those passing stats last year. When you factor in their rushing stats, the duo scored 366 Fantasy points in a standard league, which would have made them the No. 3 quarterback behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

Now, it's difficult to say Cutler will replicate those stats on his own, and he's been injury-prone the past three years. He played in just 10 games in 2011 because of a thumb issue, missed one game in 2012 with a concussion and was limited to 11 games last season because of groin and ankle problems.

But he's healthy now and the Bears are committed to him. He signed a seven-year, $127 million deal this offseason with $54 million guaranteed. On top of that, they let McCown sign as a free agent in Tampa Bay without bringing in a top backup since Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen are the other quarterbacks of note on the roster.

The Bears have faith in Cutler and so do we. The big reasons why are his receiving corps -- led by Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett -- and coach Marc Trestman.

Trestman's offense helped Forte finish as a top-three running back in standard leagues, and Marshall and Jeffery were top-10 receivers. Cutler and McCown combined for a standout campaign, but now we want to see Cutler stand on his own.

When he was healthy last season, Cutler was awesome with six of 10 games (he was hurt early in the Week 7 game at Washington) with at least 20 Fantasy points. He opened the year with 20 or more points in five of six games and he should continue to thrive this season.

Cutler has been a solid Fantasy quarterback in the past -- he has three top-12 finishes on his resume from 2007 to 2009 -- but this could be the best year of his career. His best season was 2008 in Denver when he passed for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He finished with 312 Fantasy points as the No. 5 quarterback. He's been trying to reach that plateau again ever since.

With the Bears, Cutler's best season was 2009 when he passed for 3,666 yards, 27 touchdowns and 26 interceptions, but this year he should shatter those stats. He's going to be one of the best buys on Draft Day.

In my leagues, I like waiting for quarterbacks, and Cutler is usually my fallback option on Draft Day. I'll let other owners reach for their signal-callers early while I horde running backs and receivers, but I know a big reward is waiting for me when I snag Cutler later.

It might not work out how I hope, and Cutler's injury history speaks for itself, but if Cutler stays healthy and plays like we think he can, he could be the biggest difference-maker in all leagues.

His best year is going to happen in 2014.

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Player News
Browns CB Gilbert: 'I can make an incredible amount of plays'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Browns rookie cornerback and top draft pick Justin Gilbert is hoping to get a chance to show what he can do down the stretch with his team in the thick of the playoff race.

"Within this six-game stretch, I think I can make an incredible amount of plays on the defensive end," he told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Not if he doesn't play. Gilbert was in on zero reps in the Week 11 loss to Houston. He has been a disappointment all season as undrafted free agent K'Waun Williams has wrested playing time away from him.


Saints RB Travaris Cadet sidelined Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Saints running back Travaris Cadet did not practice Thursday due to a hamstring injury. The passing-down back could be in jeopardy of missing Monday's game against the Ravens.

Pierre Thomas practicing again, Khiry Robinson still out
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:28 pm ET) Saints running back Pierre Thomas (shoulder, rib) practiced on a limited basis Thursday, while running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) remained sidelined. Each has missed four straight games.

Thomas has a chance to play Monday against the Ravens.


Patriots RB Gray accepting of new backfield mate Blount
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) Blossoming Patriots running back Jonas Gray is not complaining that his team has signed LeGarrette Blount despite the fact that the latter will provide competition for reps.

Gray exploded for 201 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in a Week 11 defeat of Indianapolis.

"I wasn't necessarily surprised," Gray told the Boston Herald. "In this business, not a whole lot surprises me, especially given where I've come from. I just prepare the same way. It doesn't really matter who we sign or who we bring in here. I believe in Bill (Belichick) and whatever he's doing and I just come to work every day."


Ravens CB Jimmy Smith confirms Lisfranc injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:45 pm ET) Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has confirmed that the issue that resulted in his placement on IR is a Lisfranc injury and that he will be out for about six months.

Smith added that he first believed the problem to be minor and that he was surprised it required surgery, per the Baltimore Sun.


Bucs RB Doug Martin limited Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:39 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Thursday, reports the team's website. He has a chance to play Sunday at Chicago after missing three straight games.

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery back at practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) Bears receivers Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday, each putting in limited work, reports the Chicago Tribune. Both are on track to play Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Bucs LB Lavonte David nursing hamstring injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David was held out of practice Thursday due to a hamstring injury, reports the Chicago Tribune. He has 116 tackles and two forced fumbles this season.

The Bucs visit the Bears on Sunday.


Full practice has Bengals RB Bernard in good shape for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:11 pm ET) The full practice participation of Bengals featured back Giovani Bernard on Thursday will likely result in him being active for the Sunday game at Houston.

Bernard has been dealing with hip and clavicle issues that have kept him out of the last three games.


Vikings WR Greg Jennings still out with rib injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) Vikings wideout Greg Jennings missed his second straight practice Thursday with a rib injury, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His status is in doubt for Sunday's game against his former team, the Packers.

 
 
 
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