Welcome to another edition of the Fantasy Faceoff, where we take a look at some of the more interesting player profiles in the world of Fantasy Football by matching them against one another in order to determine the best draft day value.
In today’s matchup we will take a look at a pair of quarterbacks who both had their 2011 season derailed by injury, playing in only 10 games each.
As we delve into this discussion we must first take a look at each quarterbacks statistics from the 2011 season.
PLAYER GP COMP ATT YARDS TD INT COMP % RATING
J. Cutler 10 182 314 2,319 13 7 58.0 85.7
M. Schaub 10 178 292 2,479 15 6 61.0 96.8
Putting up similar statistics during their abbreviated 2011 seasons, Cutler and Schaub both look to bounce back in 2012 to lead their respective teams towards a playoff run. Which signal caller will turn in the better fantasy performance in 2012? Let’s find out.
First we will look at the Bears quarterback and his fantasy prospects in the 2012 campaign. After suffering a broken thumb trying to prevent a Chargers TD in week 10 last year, Cutler missed the rest of the season sending his owners to the waiver wire looking for a suitable replacement.
Leading up to his injury Cutler had the Bears on a 4 game win streak, tacking on a fifth win against San Diego during which he was sidelined. During this 5 game span Cutler averaged 222 yards passing per game, coupled with a 1.4 TD per game average. Modest fantasy output to say the least.
On the season the Cutler posted a 232 YPG average while throwing 13 TD’s versus 7 INT’s. Again, modest output from a fantasy QB, taking into account that many pre-season rankings had him listed as a QB2 in all formats. There are many reasons that one can point to in order to explain why Cutler put up these mediocre statistics during the 2011 NFL season, poor offensive line play and the loss of Matt Forte to mention a couple. But the fact remains that his production pre-injury was average at best as it relates to fantasy numbers, although there is hope for improvement in 2012.
This hope comes in the form of the return of a healthy Forte and the free agent acquisition of former Miami Dolphin receiver Brandon Marshall, with whom Cutler played in Denver a few years back. This reunion has been pointed out in many circles as a reason for a fantasy renaissance for both Cutler and Marshall, and rightfully so as both enjoyed their best professional seasons while together during the 2008 campaign with the Broncos.
But even if this renaissance does take place for the QB/WR tandem, how much impact will it have on Cutlers fantasy value in 2012? Certainly his numbers should improve as Marshall provides an option at the receiver position that Cutler has lacked up to this point and the return of Forte, with new contract in hand, will help as well. So in summation of my analysis on Jay Cutler’s fantasy prospects in 2012 I look for him to improve upon his statistical output since being in Chicago, however I do not feel he will reach his career best output during the 2008 season of 4,526 yards and 25 TD’s versus 18 INT’s, mainly as a result of poor offensive line play that will struggle to protect him and provide him the time needed to get the ball to Marshall and his other weapons downfield.
Just as we have for Cutler above, let’s now look at Matt Schaub and his fantasy prospects for the upcoming season. Like Cutler, Schaub had his 2011 season cut short due to a Lisfranc injury to his foot during the Texans week 10 tilt with Tampa Bay. Schaub also mirrored Cutler in the fact that he too was putting up only mediocre fantasy numbers at the time of his injury averaging 248 YPG and 1.5 TD’s per contest.
These numbers reflect a season in which Schaub saw his completion percentage fall off about 5 points when compared to his career best season in 2009 and was a contributing factor in his inconsistent fantasy play. During the aforementioned 2009 season, Schaub posted 4,770 yards with 29 TD’s versus 15 INT’s leaving him as the number 4 scoring QB in fantasy land. Can he return to this lofty perch in 2012? It’s certainly a possibility but just as with Cutler, I do not feel as if he will attain quite the same statistical level that he did in 2009.
In the final comparison both quarterbacks are coming into the 2012 season looking to put a forgettable season behind them, and as far as I’m concerned both have an excellent shot at doing just that. With the return to form that Cutler and Schaub seem to be in line for, I give the edge to Schaub as it relates to his fantasy football prospects during the 2012 season. Historically Schaub has been the better fantasy option and I do not see Cutler getting enough out of his reunion with Marshall to surpass him at seasons end.
One stat that was telling to me in my research for this column was the fact that Cutler has put up only 6 300+ yard games since 2009. Compare that to Schaub’s 18 games in that same category and we can conclude that Schaub is a much better option to put up a quality game for you on a weekly basis. Schaub has also put up three more games with 2+ TD’s than Cutler over that span.
So my advice is to take a serious look at Matt Schaub as a QB1 if you have decided to wait on drafting a quarterback in the middle rounds, and definitely go after him as a QB2 if he slips to you on draft day. While he and Cutler are in a similar situation this season, I feel that Schaub is a better bet to reap fantasy rewards for his owners.