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Cutler delivering mixed fantasy signals

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Aug. 19, 2010 @ 1:15 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

This is the 41st in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at

Which Jay Cutler is going to make his fantasy presence felt in 2010?

Will it be the Cutler who stumbled out of the gate in ’09 with a ghastly four-interception debut against the division-rival Packers, setting the stage for a hugely disappointing season in which he registered a league-leading 26 interceptions?

Or will it be the Cutler who looked worth every penny of the two-year, $30 million contract extension he received last October in the Bears' final two games in '09, when he registered an impressive 8-1 TD-interception ratio in victories over the division-rival Vikings and Lions?

If you ask new Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the highly regarded choreographer of "The Greatest Show on Turf" as the head coach of the Rams, Cutler is more likely to perform like he did down the stretch last season.

Shortly after being hired by the Bears last season, Martz wasted little time praising the athleticism and throwing ability of Cutler, who turned 27 in April and showed enough in his previous tour of duty in Denver to be considered a perennial Pro Bowl signalcaller in the making.

"He has ('Greatest Show on Turf' QB) Kurt Warner's accuracy with a stronger arm," Martz said of Cutler, who despite his fantasy failings last season still managed to set team records for completions (336) and pass attempts (555).

Whether Martz, who expects his QBs to be fundamentally perfect, and Cutler, who had only four games in '09 without an interception and was an accident waiting to happen inside the red zone most of the time, can remain on the same page this coming season ranks among the fantasy football world's most intriguing story lines in 2010.

In practice sessions so far this offseason, the cannon-armed Cutler consistently pushed the ball downfield, with Bears receivers running more deep routes, no doubt catching the eyes of Cutler's prospective fantasy owners.

Clearly, there's no denying the potential for a more explosive Bears offense capable of racking up hefty fantasy numbers with Cutler, who has never missed a start dating back to college, quite possibly emerging as a consistently potent fantasy weapon.

However, there's also no denying that Martz's high-risk, high-reward philosophy could result in a continued barrage of interceptions guaranteed to make Cutler's prospective fantasy owners very unhappy campers.

One key to success will be Cutler's receivers — including emerging talents Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu — who at the very least have considerable upside heading into 2010, the lack of a bona fide No. 1 pass catcher notwithstanding.

Just as important will be Cutler's offensive linemen. That the quarterbacks in Martz's previous three years as an offensive coordinator ('06 and '07 with the Lions and '08 with the 49ers) were sacked an average of 3.6 times per game is a stat worth noting.

The bottom line?

Cutler may well be the top boom-or-bust candidate in 2010 among fantasy quarterbacks.


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