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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
Bills place Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Dan Carpenter on injury list
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) The Bills placed DE Mario Williams, DB Leodis McKelvin and K Dan Carpenter on the non-football injury list, the team announced on Thursday. 

All three players can return from the list at any time, once they are medically cleared to play. The team didn't release any details on their injuries. 


Veteran LB Keith Rivers retires after signing with Cowboys
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:50 pm ET) Four months after signing with the Cowboys, veteran linebacker Keith Rivers has announced his retirement.

Rivers, who played with three different teams over the last four seasons, managed just 16 tackles in 12 games for Buffalo in 2014. Several injuries derailed his career after he had been selected in the first round by Cincinnati in 2008.


Falcons' Lamar Holmes on crutches, placed on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:07 pm ET) Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes arrived at training camp Thursday morning on crutches and with his right foot in a protective boot. 

Holmes is recovering from a broken foot and clearly doesn't appear ready to start practicing with the team when camp opens on Friday. 

Holmes will open camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The team placed him on PUP Thursday afternoon.


Falcons' Jake Matthews, Jon Asamoah cleared to practice
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:03 pm ET) The Falcons had two offensive linemen cleared to practice on Thursday. 

Left tackle Jake Matthews, recovering from offseason foot surgery, will be able to participate in the team's first practice of training camp on Friday. His reps may be limited, however.

"It feels good," Matthews said, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I'm ready to go. I'm cleared to do anything. When we start tomorrow, I will be out there and playing. I'm excited. It's been awhile." 

Right guard Jon Asamoah was also cleared to begin practice. He suffered an ankle injury in the offseason. 


Darren McFadden, Rolando McClain open Cowboys' camp on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) The Cowboys opened training camp with two contributors on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 

Running back Darren McFadden is still returning from a hamstring injury and will open camp on PUP. McFadden signed with the Cowboys in the offseason after spending the first seven years of his career with Oakland. 

In addition, linebacker Rolando McClain was also placed on PUP, as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. 

Both players can be taken off PUP at any time during camp, after they're medically cleared. McClain will have to serve a four-game suspension for substance abuse policy violation, however. 


Bengals sign rookie WR Desmond Lawrence
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) The Bengals signed rookie free agent wide receiver Desmond Lawrence on Thursday, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Lawrence played in college at NC A&T. He spent part of OTAs as a free agent with Detroit. 


Dolphins' Branden Albert avoids PUP, says knee is fine
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Dolphins offensive lineman Branden Albert's surgically repaired right knee feels fine, he reported after a walk-through to open camp on Thursday. 

Albert ruptured his ACL and MCL last November. 

"It's been a long road. I'm just happy I'm not on that PUP list and I can be involved with the team. I'm not off on the side no more like a stepchild," Albert said, per the Palm Beach Post.


Ravens' Lardarius Webb fails conditioning test
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:12 pm ET) Ravens' cornerback Lardarius Webb wasn't on the field for the start of training camp on Wednesday, because he failed the team's conditioning test, per BaltimoreRavens.com.

Webb isn't the first Ravens' veteran to fail the test under coach John Harbaugh. "It's always a big deal," Harbaugh said. "It was a big deal when Jacoby [Jones] didn't pass it. It was a big deal when Haloti [Ngata] didn't pass it. It's always a big deal."

Harbaugh said that, while Webb was in good shape, "it's not the kind of anaerobic shape he needs to be in to come out here in practice. ... He's a little behind that way, certainly. And he's going to have to make up the ground."


Ravens' Breshad Perriman leaves practice with apparent injury
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:06 pm ET) Ravens first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman didn't make it through the first practice of training camp. 

Perriman left Wednesday's practice with an apparent knee injury, after he fell on his right knee while making a catch. 

Perriman was limping but left the field under his own power. 

"It's not serious. It's all sound," coach John Harbaugh said, per ESPN. "He'll be back as soon as his knee feels a little bit better. It could be as early as tomorrow or a couple of days at the most."


Packers' Jared Abbrederis goes down to injury in first practice
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:49 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis left the team's first training camp practice with an undisclosed injury. 

Abbrederis tore his ACL in the fourth practice last year, but this year's injury didn't appear to be related to that.

"The way he fell, I don't think it was his knee," coach Mike McCarthy said, indicating that Abbrederis may have landed hard on his tailbone, per the Journal-Sentinel.


 
 
 
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