Here’s the issue: Backup Josh McCown is simply throwing the ball as well as possible right now. It’s not about which quarterback has the stronger arm or throws with more velocity. It’s about which quarterback gives his team the best chance to win.
Right now, it’s McCown. He is accurate, confident and effective. He may not be able to put the MPH on the 30-yard out that Cutler can, but check back to McCown’s 25-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery at the end of the half Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
It was simply a perfect pass and Cutler could not do it better and he probably couldn’t do it as well.
McCown is at the top of his game, while Cutler is coming back from ankle and groin injuries. He has not been hit since he played in the Bears’ Week 10 loss to Detroit.
Prior to that game, Cutler had been rehabbing from a groin injury and it appeared the Bears put him back in the lineup too soon. They dispute that, but he injured his ankle in that game and went back on the shelf.
For some reason, Trestman wants Cutler back in the lineup. If his rationale for the decision is that the move gives the Bears a better chance to beat the Browns Sunday, then he is making the move for the right reason.
However, that judgment would seem to be off, and it seems quite likely that the Fantasy production from Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett will diminish.
It could also have a negative impact on running back Matt Forte. The Browns may gamble that Cutler’s accuracy and timing will be off and they can best stop the Bears by putting the majority of their effort into stopping the versatile Forte.
Of course, a fully healthy Cutler could be just what is needed to help the Bears against the Browns. The Bears just ripped up the weak Cowboys defense. The Browns are much better than the Cowboys at stopping their opponents, and it just may be that Cutler’s arm strength makes the difference.
But only if his timing is perfect and he is fully healthy. It seems that any quarterback who has missed as many games as Cutler – he missed five full games and had to be relieved in two others – is not going to be at the top of his game right away.
This is the wrong time of year to help the No. 1 quarterback feel good about himself or help him get a new contract.
The assignment in Cleveland would be tough for any quarterback. There is little margin for error, especially when Cleveland quarterback Joe Haden is capable of shutting down Marshall or Jeffery. This could be a move that Trestman, Cutler and a lot of Fantasy owners come to regret.
Cutler certainly has a chance to play well, but it’s an uphill battle.
RGIII benching a power play by Shanahan
You almost certainly know what’s going on in Washington right now.
The season has been a disaster and Mike Shanahan knows there’s nothing he can do to turn this season around or salvage his relationship with owner Daniel Snyder.
He knows that his future in Washington does not look bright, so he might as well get out of town while the getting is good.
That’s why he is playing Kirk Cousins at quarterback this week and for the rest of the season. He knows benching Robert Griffin III will anger Snyder and push him into a coaching change. He wants to be fired, he wants to be paid in full and he wants to move on.
If Shanahan had any concerns about RGIII’s health, he would not have rushed him into the lineup at the start of the season. Instead, Shanahan started RGIII when he was untested, unprepared and not fully healthy.
RGIII has never been at his best this year after last year’s ACL surgery, and you wonder if he will ever be at the top of his game the way he was in his rookie season.
For Fantasy purposes, giving Cousins a chance to play could work out very well for Alfred Morris. Cousins is a very accurate passer, and if he comes out looking comfortable and puts his passes on his receivers’ numbers, Morris should have his best game of the year against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons’ run defense is shaky at best, and they lack the strength at the point of attack to handle a power back like Morris. He could come close to 200 yards in this game and he could be a real difference-maker in the Fantasy playoffs for his owners.
Cousins’ presence in the lineup should also be good news for wideout Pierre Garcon and tight end Logan Paulsen. Garcon should get the most targets and he is certainly dependable. Paulsen has been playing quite a bit since Jordan Reed has been out with a concussion, and he has caught TD passes in each of the last two games.
There’s an excellent chance he’ll find the endzone again this week in the Georgia Dome.
While there’s a ton of controversy in Washington surrounding the head coach and the starting quarterback, Fantasy players who are considering Morris, Garcon, Paulsen and Cousins will be rewarded with their play against the ineffective Falcons’ defense.
Gronkowski injury presents opportunity for Vereen, Edelman, Amendola
There is a real difference between the Patriots at this time of the season without tight end Rob Gronkowski than there was at the start of the year.
When Gronkowski was missing week after week at the start of the season as he recovered from arm and back surgeries, the Pats were halting on the offensive side of the ball as Tom Brady looked nothing like a Hall of Fame quarterback.
However, his game has picked up considerably and the Patriots will have a fighting chance against the Dolphins this week even without Gronkowski, who was felled by a brutal torn ACL and MCL in the Pats’ Week 14 victory over the Browns.
The Patriots have been ruined by injuries throughout the season. Once they lost Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo on defense, it made the Patriots much too fertile for opposing Fantasy players.
They were making up for it in the second half of the season with explosive offensive performances, but much of that seemed to be due to Gronkowski.
However, Brady is not going to curl up in a fetal position because Gronkowski is not in the lineup. He’s going to look to running back Shane Vereen and wideouts Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
Vereen has been establishing a toehold in the New England offense, but he will go from role player to potential star because of the Gronkowski injury. He caught 12 passes for 153 yards against Cleveland and he is a big-time Fantasy weapon.
He has to be for two reasons. Bill Belichick does not trust his other running backs. That means Vereen gets to be the starter.
But his pass receiving ability gives Brady an option that he did not know he had just a few weeks ago. Vereen has shown he can make the difficult catch, and that means that he figures heavily in the gameplan.
So does Edelman, who leads the team in receptions with 76. The Patriots would like to see him stretch the field a bit more, because he is barely averaging 10.2 yards per catch.
The Patriots also need Amendola to step up. While he caught the winning one-yard TD pass against Cleveland last week, he really had a poor game with four catches for 36 yards. He has exceeded the 100-yard mark twice this year and just once since Week One.
That’s not why the Patriots brought him aboard. He needs to do a lot more, and this is the time for him to do it. The Patriots need a big game following the loss of their superstar tight end, and Amendola is one of the three key players who are going to have to produce.
A bit of an apology here. To this football writer, the Dolphins appeared dead in the water when they lost five of six games from late September through early November, culminating with their loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs in Week 10 to the Bucs. Not only had they just lost to a winless team, the franchise – and the offensive line – were in the crosshairs of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying controversy. I didn’t think quarterback Ryan Tannehill or anything else with the franchise was strong or talented enough to reverse the trend.
That was wrong. Tannehill has turned the situation around and the Dolphins have won three of four as they prepare to host the Patriots in Week 15. The Dolphins have an excellent chance to survive this game, and Fantasy players should look for big games from Tannehill, tight end Charles Clay and the elusive Brian Hartline in this game. If you have to pick a Dolphins running back, we prefer Daniel Thomas over Lamar Miller, who is recovering from a concussion.
We’re not saying to go ahead and start Kendall Hunter, but this may be the week you want to avoid playing Frank Gore in the San Francisco backfield. Gore will do anything he can to help the Niners, but his ankle problem is bad. He won’t complain and he will find a way to play, but he is not going to be able to change directions and it’s tough to run against the Bucs, who rank 9th against the rush. Look for linebacker Lavonte David to find a way to shut down the San Francisco running game.
Adrian Peterson may miss Sunday’s game as a result of the foot injury he suffered in Week 14 against the Ravens. You already knew that, but here’ something you may not know. Backup Toby Gerhart is not in the best of shape, either. He’s got a bad hamstring, and while he will play, the hamstring could be an issue in this game against the Eagles. While Philadelphia is vulnerable against the run, we are not going to recommend third-stringer Matt Asiata. The Eagles are 29th against the pass, so this may be the week that Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings put up decent numbers, even with the Vikings starting Matt Cassel at quarterback.
LOVE ‘EM, HATE ‘EM IN WEEK 15
There’s no doubt that you will be playing LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson against the Minnesota Vikings. However, you need a sneaky weapon to win your Fantasy playoff matchup. That edge will come from Eagles tight end Zach Ertz against the Vikings’ soft pass defense. Ertz did nothing in the snow against Detroit, but in the indoor environs in Minnesota, we see a 5-115-2 day for Ertz. LOVE HIM.
Mike Glennon is completing 60.6 percent of his passes and he has a 15-7 TD-interception ratio since he became Greg Schiano’s starting quarterback with the Tampa Bay Bucs. He is smart, athletic and fairly accurate, but he will be in over his head vs. the resurgent 49ers.The defense will clamp down on him and hold him to 150 passing yards and he won’t throw more than one TD pass. HATE HIM.
It’s clear that if the Chiefs are going to be a factor in the NFL postseason, quarterback Alex Smith will have to lead the way. Smith should have an excellent matchup against the Oakland defense this week, and he will throw for at least 250 yards and three TDs. LOVE HIM.
Carson Palmer has been much better in the last six games than he was in the first seven. He has thrown one interception or less in five of his last six games. However, Palmer has a sore elbow and the Cardinals have a difficult matchup this week at Tennessee. The Titans are desperate and they will hold Palmer to less than 200 passing yards and will intercept him at least three times. HATE HIM.
Photo Credit: Curtis and Renee Dunn