Fantasy Value: Should More Owners Target Jay Cutler And Brandon Marshall?
In 2006, Denver selected Jay Cutler with the 11th overall pick of the draft. 108 positions later, the Broncos chose Brandon Marshall, making him the 14th WR taken during the selection process. The tandem combined for a mere six starts as rookies, but pooled their talent immediately thereafter, and ignited their careers with two extremely productive seasons.
The duo connected on 206 passes, and generated 2,590 yards during those years. In 2007 alone, they hooked up for 102 receptions, an equally impressive 1,325 yards, and seven TDs. In 2008, the connected on 104 passes, for 1,265 yards and six TDs. Even though Cutler was just 12th among all signal callers with 476 attempts in 2007, he still managed to target Marshall a whopping 170 times, which led the league. It also helped Marshall finish fifth among all WRs with those previously mentioned 102 receptions, and sixth with the yardage total of 1,325 yards. The following year, Cutler generated the NFL’s third highest yardage total, (4,526), was second with 616 attempts, and was selected to his only Pro Bowl. Marshall ranked seventh among all WRs with those 1,265 yards in that same year, and his 104 catches were the NFL’s third highest total.
They will soon line up together once again, in a reunion that was created after Chicago traded two third-round picks to the Dolphins in order to obtain Marshall. The seventh year WR will now help revitalize a passing offense that ranked just 26th in 2011, in part because Cutler only performed in 10 games before a broken thumb abruptly concluded his season. Not only is he fully recovered, but his health will be in considerably less jeopardy this season, now that the offense will no longer be guided by Mike Martz, who can now add the Bears to the list of teams in which he has worn out his welcome. Newly promoted OC Mike Tice will be far less stubborn than his predecessor in his utilization of the Bears’ various weapons, and therefore the offense will be less predictable. Cutler will be allowed to roll out, rather than being continually cemented to the pocket. The chances of collective success for both Cutler and Marshall will be further enhanced by the fact that Jeremy Bates, who called the plays for Denver’s offense during Cutler’s lone Pro Bowl season, now serves as the QB coach in Chicago. And with the addition of Marshall, he inherits his most talented target since… well… Marshall.
Cutler’s ADP is 103, and he is currently the 14th QB being selected. That places him in the ninth round of 12 team drafts, and qualifies him as a bargain for those owners who choose to exercise patience when selecting their QB, and are looking for their second signal caller at that point of the process. While he does not reside among the NFL’s elite at the position, his current ADP still is somewhat lower than what can be justified, considering the changes that have occurred within Chicago’s offense. While you certainly should not reach for him, his proven track record with Marshall, combined with the change in offensive strategy, make him worthy of selection in the eighth round, and even in round seven, depending upon how your draft is unfolding. He is an is an outstanding option for you to secure as your No. 2 QB, who will generate No. 1 level numbers when he is utilized in the correct matchups. The belief here is that he will generate around 3,800 passing yards, and toss at least 25 TDs. He could even challenge his career best of 27 TDs.
Meanwhile, Marshall’s ADP is currently 32, and he is the 11th wideout being selected. While I will not suggest that he should be significantly higher, I do believe that he will deliver better numbers than several WRs currently being drafted before him. I have him ranked #8 among all WRs on my draft list, and further believe that his output will justify that ranking. Even though the potential for off field issues are admittedly a perpetual concern, the three time Pro Bowler is clearly Chicago’s most proven and most dangerous target, and his history with Cutler has been discussed here at length. If you do not consider his talent to be in question, then you should not overlook the situation that exists for him with the Bears, and how many elements are aligned toward helping him deliver monster numbers. When you are on the clock during the third round of your draft, as you quickly ponder your selection, remember that Marshall could very easily lead the league in targets, just as he did during his last season with Cutler. Plus, he will likely exceed 100 receptions for the fourth consecutive year, and accumulate over 1,200 yards for the second straight season. And he should score 7-8 times. Those numbers will deliver a surplus of fantasy points, and make him worthy of selection in that round.