Jay Cutler: Last-Minute Fantasy Replacements for Injured Bears QB

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass against the Houston Texans during the game at Soldier Field on November 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While it's unlikely that a ton of fantasy owners outside of deep leagues were still using Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on a weekly basis, if you were, desperation time is afoot.

According to the Bears' official Twitter feed, a concussion will force Cutler to miss Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers, and Jason Campbell will start in his place:

LM: #Bears have announced that QB Jason Campbell will start Monday night's game at San Francisco.

— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 16, 2012

For fantasy owners, that means it's time to hit the waiver wire. And if you're in a league where Cutler was a weekly starter, you'll quickly find that there are no Andy Daltons or Carson Palmers available to save the day. 

Instead, what you'll be looking for is a steady performance that keeps your team afloat and doesn't cost you a matchup. In other words, you're looking for the exact opposite of Matt Cassel

With that in mind, here is a look at a few guys that should be solid deeper league replacements for Cutler in Week 11.


Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles)

The moment that many fans have clamored for is finally here, as rookie Nick Foles will get his first NFL start on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

And for those hoping for the end of the Michael Vick era with the Eagles, you should get a good start to the argument. Washington has been consistently torched defensively all season—particularly against the pass.

Through 10 weeks, the Redskins gave up 301.7 passing yards per game, which is good for No. 30 in the NFL. What's more, Washington gives up 16.2 percent more production than a replacement-level defense would through the air against similar competition, according to Football Outsiders

In short, Foles has just about the best set of circumstances humanly possible to make his first start. Considering he looked fine against the Dallas Cowboys last week, there is no reason to think Foles will fail on Sunday.

Starting a rookie is never ideal, but if you were starting Cutler, it's likely you are in an extremely deep league or your team was already in desperate straits.

Stats Projection: 275 YDS, 2 TDs, 1 INT


Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)

Oft-derided, especially among fans longing for Robert Griffin III in St. Louis, Sam Bradford has actually emerged as an underrated fantasy option the past few weeks. 

Obviously, the biggest factor in Bradford's favor is the return of Danny Amendola. The Rams signal-caller has looked like a completely different quarterback when his security blanket is in the lineup, and it showed last week against the San Francisco 49ers.

Bradford put together one of the best games of his young career, completing 26 of 39 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. While that game ended in a comical 24-24 tie, it proved that Bradford has the chops to be a viable fantasy option against elite opponents.

Luckily for fantasy owners, he won't have that problem this week against the New York Jets. While certainly not a bad defense, the Jets have struggled mightily in recent weeks to keep points off the board.

In their past three contests, New York has given up 28 or more points. When factoring in that two of those games were against the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins, it stands to reason that Bradford should have a solid fantasy day.

He won't be a week-winner or anything like that, because New York is good at limiting yardage, but don't be shocked to see Bradford hit the three-touchdown mark.

Stats Prediction: 180 YDS, 3 TDs


Byron Leftwich (Pittsburgh Steelers)

While the Steelers would certainly rather take on the rival Baltimore Ravens with starter Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup, Byron Leftwich's presence could provide a unique opportunity for fantasy owners.

Sure, Leftwich showed massive amounts of rust last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. The former Marshall star completed just seven of 14 passes for 73 yards, which is good for a whopping two fantasy points in standard scoring.

However, Leftwich's struggles were not the only ones holding Pittsburgh back. Facing a surprisingly stout Chiefs defense, Roethlisberger also flailed in the first half, and the Steelers had just 249 yards of total offense for the game.

Leftwich likely won't face the same difficulty against the Ravens. Coming into Week 11, Baltimore ranks No. 26 in the NFL in total defense and has particularly struggled since losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb to injuries. 

While the two teams' familiarity with each other lends itself to a close game, Leftwich won't hurt the Steelers' receivers' value and should have a solid game of his own.

Stats Projection: 220 YDS, 2 TDs, 1 INT