Drafting Jay Cutler has never been something that fantasy managers have openly found appealing. Maybe some drafters see him present in round 14 and say, "what the heck, sure, I'll draft him now." Maybe six weeks into your season you are sitting on an injured QB1 and see Cutler on the waiver wire and so you put out a minimal claim and snag him. More often than not, you haven't approached a draft with Cutler in mind. That needs to change and here's why.
For starters, taking a simple peek at his 2011 TD:INT ratio we see that it lands at 1.86; the caveat being that he only played in 10 games, but nonetheless this is his highest career ratio. I think this ratio is a decent indication of a players value because stars like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Matthew Stafford all have ratios above 2.5 (Rodgers leads the league with a 7.5). Cutler's ratio puts him above Cam Newton (1.24), Ben Roethlisberger (1.5), Philip Rivers (1.35), Eli Manning (1.81), Michael Vick (1.29), Andy Dalton (1.54), and Josh Freeman (0.73) to name a few. Keep in mind, this is only one statistic. I'm not trying to overstate this ratio because if you take someone like Eli Manning who tossed 29 TDs at 6 points a shot in fantasy leagues (174 points) and threw 16 INTs at -2 points a pick (-32 points), we still see a differential of 142 points compared to Cutler's 13 TDs (78 points) and 7 INTs (-14 points) for a difference of 64 points. Obviously, we would still prefer Manning's production over Cutler's. However, Cutler maintained this ratio throwing to players like Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Roy Williams, and Earl Bennett ; while Manning had Hakeem Nicks and breakout stud Victor Cruz. This gets me to my second point.
Cutler has been reunited with Brandon Marshall , his previous pass catching partner in Denver. No one will argue the fact that Marshall has been a consistently good-to-great receiver who (only the past 5 years) has never dropped out of the top 7 for targets and has had 5 straight 1,000+ yard seasons which has garnered him WR1/WR2 spots on fantasy rosters since 2007. Fantasy owners may want to take notice when you combine Marshall's consistent talent with the fact that his top two yardage seasons came with Cutler at QB. To add more quality depth at the WR position for Cutler, the Chicago Bears drafted Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina in the NFL draft. So far he has been impressive showing great ability to grab high passes according to new offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
Mike Tice's promotion from offensive line coach should show some immediate results in the passing game. Mike Tice is famously known as the coach who implemented the "Randy Ratio" to appease Randy Moss ' appetite for the ball. Tice started his first full season of head coaching for the Minnesota Vikings in 2002 with Moss as his WR1. From 2002-2004, his stats appeared as follows: 2002 (106, 1347, 7), 2003 (11, 1632, 17), and 2004 (49, 767, 13). This proves that Tice has a knack for getting WR1's the ball. Marshall is clearly not Moss, but he none the less fills a position of desperate need for the Bears and satisfies a glaring WR1 hole that Tice has shown he can utilize; thus having obvious positive implications on Cutler's value.
I'm not advocating you significantly overvalue Cutler and take him early, what I'm saying is that he might surprise you and end up in the top 10-12 QBs. If you decide on drafting everything but QB early on, Cutler should be a target for your team later in the draft. If pass catching RB Matt Forte stays active, but supplemented accordingly with Michael Bush , and the offensive line can hold up under pressure to protect Cutler, I suspect a career year in the works for the QB. The early word from Chicago is that Mike Tice is attempting to implement a simpler offense which will naturally give players more confidence due to a lack of confusion. This new scheme should place a higher emphasis on tight ends in the passing game, which just happened to be the position that Tice used to play. Cutler has never been in a better position (bonafide WR1, top tier RB, impressive rookie WR, simpler offense, new OC with strong history in regards to playmakers in the passing game) and I'm predicting 4,000 passing yards, 28 TDs and 15 INTs for him this upcoming season. That would be good enough for roughly 300 fantasy points and a top ten status.