Tuesday, July 22, 2014

4 Reasons Not to Draft Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler is the talk of the town this year (hasn't he been this way the last few seasons?), but I'm going to lay out a plethora of reasons to avoid him at all costs.

1. He doesn't have a history of success.

This should be the only reason you need, but it obviously isn't enough for most people.  Jay Cutler has only averaged more than 240 yards per game once in his career, and that was 6 seasons ago in 2008 with the Broncos. Over the last four seasons, Cutler has not broken 23 touchdown passes. He has also been injured each of those four seasons. Cutler has had only one season in his 8 year career where he was fantasy relevant.

2. He has a history of injury.

For all the grief that other players get about their injuries, Cutler hears very little of it. Cutler has been injured each of the last four seasons, and he isn't getting any younger. There's no guarantee that he will get injured, but he has a better chance than most other top quarterbacks.

3. He turns the ball over...a lot.

It's really impressive how often Cutler turns the ball over. Using the last four seasons in Chicago Cutler has played in 51 games and has turned the ball over 45 times (39 interceptions and 16 fumbles). He has thrown 74 touchdown passes in that same time frame. Cutler just doesn't have the points from production to afford those losses from turnovers.

4. What you see is what you get.

Cutler is an aged quarterback that isn't going to get better. Compared to quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck, RGIII, or even Cam Newton, the odds of Cutler improving are slim-to-none. Unfortunately for Cutler, what you see is awful. Averaging 14 points per game isn't going to win you any games when people like Tannehill are averaging more than that. Want to hear something scary? Tannehill's 3,900 yards and 24 touchdowns are more than Cutler has achieved since 2008 in Denver.

Before you talk about injuries, even if you project his stats for the whole season Cutler would have only reached 3,800 yards and 27 touchdowns last year. That puts him behind 14 quarterbacks in years and tied for 8th in touchdowns. Those touchdowns are less impressive when you consider that Cutler doesn't have the points from rushing that prop Wilson, Newton, Kaepernick, or Griffin up despite their low touchdown numbers.

In conclusion, please don't draft Cutler. I know it's appealing to think that Cutler will have a big season at that he will be a steal in the 8th or 9th round, but the truth of the matter is that he has never been that guy and he never will be that guy. It's not impossible, but it's better to take a risk on Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers, or even Alex Smith at the bottom of the draft.

2014 Quarterback Rankings

These point projections are based on the last three seasons where available. The injury risk is loosely based on past injuries, age, and number of hits taken over the last few seasons, and the potential is a ranking based on how likely they are to meet their projection. A 'C' ranking means that I believe there is a 50:50 chance they exceed or fall short of their projection. If you have any trouble understanding this, feel free to leave a comment.

1. Drew Brees: (5,229 yards, 41.6 touchdowns, 14.5 interceptions, 360 fantasy points, C potential)

It's hard not to like Brees at the #1 quarterback spot. If you're looking for consistent production with low volitility, Brees is your man. Other experts might suggest Manning or Rodgers here, but history suggests that Brees will beat them both, and if you're going to take a quarterback this early in your draft you should be looking for consistent production. Rodgers or Manning could have a better year than Brees, but they are each much more likely to fall short of his consistent 5,000 yards and 40+ touchdowns.

2. Peyton Manning: (5,076 yards, 45.2 touchdowns, 11.7 interceptions, 354 fantasy points, C potential)

Now you might be wondering how  Brees ended up with a higher fantasy projection than Manning. That difference actually lies in the lower fumble rate and higher rushing production from Brees. In the end, both players fall into a virtually identical fantasy projection. The difference? Manning is projected about 10 spots higher than Brees. Take the identical production a round later with Brees and avoid the volatility that comes from lower yards and higher touchdown production. There is really no reason to take Manning when you could get Brees or Rodgers a little later, even if you do like taking a top QB.

3. Aaron Rodgers: (4,471 yards, 35.8 touchdowns, 8.9 interceptions, 333 fantasy points, B potential)

Rodgers earns a higher potential because I feel there is a better chance that he exceeds this projection than falls short of it. The only real worry for Rodgers is the injury bug. He is a medium injury risk where Brees and Manning both have a low injury risk. The up-side for Rodgers is that he could easily outperform these numbers with 5,000 yards and 45 touchdowns well within his reach. His rushing production really sets him apart from the other top two, and he is being taken with almost the exact same pick as Brees. I'd still choose Brees for his consistency, but Rodgers definitely has a higher ceiling than either Brees or Manning. The Packers receiving corps just keeps getting better to boot.


4. Cam Newton: (3,660 yards, 21.9 touchdowns, 13.5 interceptions, 318 fantasy points, D potential)

The first player where I expect them to fall short of their projected stats with a D potential is Cam Newton. This could be a rough year for Newton, but I'm not going to go over that again. Despite all of the question marks surrounding his offense, Newton is still going to product significant fantasy numbers, because there's no way he runs for fewer than 500 yards and 5 touchdowns (my projections put him at 656 yards and 8.2 touchdowns, which are probably a little high). Regardless of the expected drop in production, Newton is still a great pick. The floor is much higher for Newton than is it for someone like Foles or Griffin, and he's a good enough quarterback to elevate the play of the receivers around him. With an ADP of 69 on fantasy pros, it's hard to not see the value in drafting Newton.

5. Tom Brady: (4,667 yards, 30.5 touchdowns, 10.3 interceptions, 299 fantasy points, B potential)

Brady had a rough 2013 campaign, but it's hard to not believe that improves this season. The defense should be better, the receiving corps should be better (could it possibly be worse?), and yet Brady is being drafted in the same spot as Nick Foles. If you're waiting until the 7th-8th round for a quarterback you're going to get great value, although Brady could rarely be gone in the 5th. I consider Brady and Newton to be very equal for the 2014 season.

6. Matthew Stafford: (4,823 yards, 28.7 touchdowns, 17.8 interceptions, 287 fantasy points, B potential)

Stafford has been quite consistent over the last few years, and there's no reason to expect things to change. Bush and Bell will keep catching balls out of the backfield. Megatron will keep being megatron. The only difference this year is that  Golden Tate and Eric Ebron are in Detroit. That's good for Stafford and that's why he gets a B potential. If you have personal reasons for not trusting Stafford, stick with them, but she should make a push for top-5 quarterback contention this season. The problem with Stafford is that he is being drafted in the 5th round while Newton and Brady are more in the 6th-8th range. It's hard to justify drafting him a round or two earlier when the production will be so similar. Stafford will probably be more consistent than Newton.

7. Andrew Luck: (4,015 yards, 23 touchdowns, 12.2 interceptions, 282 fantasy points, A potential)

One of the two quarterbacks with A potential, it's hard to not see Luck eclipsing these numbers. His offensive weapons are improving, his personal skill is improving, and while I doubt he sniffs the top-3 this season he could easily become the next Aaron Rodgers. Luck has rushing ability that is rare among top-tier quarterbacks (I have him projected to gain 334 rushing yards this season), but I just don't think he's going to reach the passing touchdown numbers that set Manning, Brees, and Rodgers apart. Going from a weighted average of 23 touchdowns to 40 touchdowns would be a big surprise. I worry about Luck's ability to get RedZone touchdowns with such a solid (say what you will about Richardson) rushing game in Indy. He is less likely to be throwing the ball inside the 10 than any of the top-3.

8. Robert Griffin III: (3,571 passing yards, 19.8 touchdowns, 10.4 interceptions, 286 fantasy points, C potential)

Griffin and Foles are really in the same boat. If they can play to their potential, they will easily be top-10 quarterbacks in fantasy this season. Unfortunately, it's hard to place your faith in a quarterback who was surrounded by so much controversy last year. If Griffin falls to you in the 7th or 8th round (and he's projected to), then there's no reason not to pick him up. It's safer than drafting Nick Foles in the 5th. I personally believe that Griffin will look more 2012 and less 2013. It's hard to argue with D Jax and Garcon. The weapons are definitely there.

9. Nick Foles: (292 fantasy points, D potential)

It's impossible to know what to expect from Foles. My rough estimate puts him at 292 fantasy points, but I don't trust that number at all. I think he is way overhyped, he lost DeSean Jackson to the quarterback above him in the rankings and I won't touch him unless he falls to me in the 9th+ round. Given that it isn't going to happen, I won't be drafting Foles this season. Why would I pick him over Brady, Newton or Stafford? If you believe in him, more power to you, but I promise he won't be worth the draft pick. If he beats Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Tom Brady in fantasy points next season (not including week 17), I'll give the first 100 people who post comments 1 LTC. Comments must be made before the first game of week 1.

10. Russel Wilson: (3,273 yards, 26 touchdowns, 9.4 interceptions, 272 fantasy points, B potential)

There is a significant drop in my mind from the 9th to 10th quarterback here, and I'd consider numbers 10 through 15 to be nearly identical in production and potential. Wilson gets the 10th spot because of his running and potential. If Harvin can stay healthy the passing game in Seattle will improve, and it's hard to argue with Wilson's 522 projected rushing yards. It's unlikely that Wilson will challenge for a top-5 spot, but it's equally unlikely that he will fall outside the top-15.

11. Matt Ryan: (4,509 yards, 28.4 touchdowns, 15.1 interceptions, 270.2 points, A potential)

I really like Matt Ryan for the coming season. There's no reason he won't be as good as he was at the beginning of the 2013 season before everyone on the offensive side of the ball got hurt. Back then he was putting up top-5 numbers. Unfortunately,  Julio Jones and Roddy White have been prone to catching the injury bug, and his ADP of the mid-60s is way too high when you can get a better player later in the draft. He should outpace the projection above easily, but he might not be worth the price you have to pay for him.

12. Colin Kaepernick: (3,250 yards, 22 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 272 fantasy points, C potential)

I don't trust Kaepernick as much as I trust Ryan or Wilson, but the production is likely to be very similar. I feel like Kaepernick's role in the 49ers offense has less room to grow than Wilson's, and that's why he's lower. Kaepernick is being drafted about a round earlier than Wilson.

13. Tony Romo: (4,222 yards, 30.1 touchdowns, 12.7 interceptions, 267 fantasy points, B potential)

I normally rank Romo higher, but I think he's past his prime. While he has proven to be quite tough, it's worrying that he and the rest of the offense always seem to be getting injured. I wouldn't necessarily shy away from taking Romo, but I think the days are past when he was the best draft-late and start quarterback. He's really more of a swap or backup QB in my book at this point. He could be part of a scary QB duo, though.

14. Andy Dalton: (4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 265 fantasy points, B potential)

I personally love Andy Dalton as part of a quarterback rotation. The Bengals have done a hell of a job getting the necessary pieces around him. You know AJ Green is going to have a great year. Gio Bernard is an exciting player to watch. Maybe I'm too high on Dalton, but I'm excited to draft him late and start him. He finished towards the top of the QB rankings last year, and I expect him to be higher in the pre-season rankings next year.

15. Philip Rivers: (4,246 yards, 29.2 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 257 fantasy points, C potential)

The very last player on the rankings has fallen a long way over the last few seasons. Rivers was a 2nd round pick a few years ago, and now he sits on the cusp of undrafted territory. If you're looking for someone to backup an injury-prone stud or you just like to carry two quarterbacks, I think Rivers should have another respectable season. I'd rather have Andy Dalton, but I wouldn't balk at drafting Rivers in the 12th or 13th round if he was available. He could get you a nice flex in a trade to the idiot who drafts Jay Cutler.

Speaking of Jay Cutler, you might be wondering where he is. Not here. You can find him towards the very bottom of the quarterback list below the likes of Ryan Tannehill and EJ Manuel. Seriously, I would never draft Jay Cutler, and I'll be posting again soon to explain why.