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Dec 20

Fantasy Forecast: Expect Jay Cutler to shine in Sunday Night Shootout

Jay Cutler overcame the rust, jitters or Cutlerishness that caused two first half interceptions to lead the Bears to victory last week (Photo: USATSI).

Jay Cutler overcame the rust, jitters or Cutlerishness that caused two first half interceptions to lead the Bears to victory last week (Photo: USATSI).

Last week after much debate about whether or not rookie Head Coach Marc Trestman was making the right call in handing the keys of the offense back to Jay Cutler in his return from injury, the incumbent starter came out rusty and perhaps a little nervous. This week, Cutler says all of those issues are behind him and he’s not feeling the pressure this week. From a fantasy perspective though, if that was ‘bad’ Cutler, we’ll take it. If he is indeed fully prepared after a week back on the job, we’ll be even more pleased with the result.

Whether it was pressure, rest or coincidence Cutler was a different QB in the second half last week. While he was efficient to start the game, both of his interceptions came in the first half. He finished the opening salvo with a 13/19, 168, TD, 2INT line. In the second half he was an impressive 9/12, with three scores and 97 yards passing for a final line that produced 19.7 points for his owners good for the 12th highest total on the week. That ranking is more impressive than it seems, given that just three QBs who ranked as consensus top 12 players managed to score ahead of Cutler in a week that featured huge games from the likes of Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick and others.

The point: Cutler had a good week in a bad game. This week, I’m not certain that he’ll avoid mistakes against Philadelphia but with the media firestorm behind him and the rust seemingly shaken off, he should be able to produce better numbers this week.

Until last week, Philadelphia had done a nice job of keeping opponents out of the endzone but after watching a Viking attack led by Matt Cassel and Matt Asiata put up 48 points on the Eagles it is hard to see them shutting down the Bears who feature two of the strongest WRs in the league (both over 6’3″) a steady pass catching TE, and Matt Forte who has 66 receptions and over 500 receiving yards. The Eagles have allowed QBs to go over 20 points (ok, 19.98) in standard leagues in three of their last four games and they’ve seen seven different players pass for more than 300 yards against them this year, including Cassel (382) last week.

Knowing that the Eagles will be able to move the ball against Chicago’s own defense (LeSean McCoy should run all day, even with Lance Briggs back int he lineup), we might see a Sunday Night Shootout. Expect Cutler to be comfortable slinging it, if that’s the case, and take chances to both Marshall and Jeffery in the second half.

Cutler is my #3 ranked Quarterback this week, well ahead of ECR because I think a line somewhere around 25/37, 305-3TD-INT is a reasonable projection with the possibility for more depending on game flow.

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