Fantasy spin: What happens if Cutler is traded?

(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

Jay Cutler had 4,526 passing yards, 200 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns in 2008. (Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

The ongoing saga of Jay Cutler and his tumultuous relationship with coach Josh McDaniels continues to dominate the headlines around the National Football League.

Despite the fact that the Broncos have stated their desire to retain their franchise quarterback, reports continue to swell of a potential move in the weeks leading up to April’s NFL Draft. If a trade were to be consummated, the fantasy implications would be enormous.

Cutler, who ranks fourth on NFL.com’s current quarterback rank list, is coming off a season with 4,526 passing yards, 200 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. Numbers like that make him a real asset in fantasy football.

But what if Cutler were wearing a new uniform in 2009?

Well, let’s start off with what it would do to the value of the Broncos’ prominent offensive skill position players. Unless the team added a veteran like Jeff Garcia, the new starter under center would be Chris Simms. A prominent role in a pass-laden offense would certaintly increase his value, but Simms wouldn’t be more than a No. 2 fantasy option.

Without Cutler and with a significant league-imposed suspension looming over his head, Brandon Marshall would no longer be seen as a surefire No. 1 fantasy wideout. Eddie Royal would also lose a little of his luster.

Regardless of who is at the helm, Tony Scheffler’s value is destined to fall in an offense that uses tight ends as blockers more often than pass catchers.

The three teams that appear hottest on Cutler’s trail appear to be the Buccaneers, Jets and Lions.

A move to Tampa Bay or New York would hurt Cutler’s value, but not to the point where he wouldn’t remain a No. 1 fantasy quarterback. Neither team has the same level of talent in the pass attack as the Broncos.

The Jets will become a more run-based offense under new coach Rex Ryan, so Cutler doesn’t seem like a fit. The Men in Green also lack the necessary weapons in the pass attack — the team’s No. 2 wideout is currently slated to be either Brad Smith or Chansi Stuckey.

The Bucs have some weapons in Derrick Ward, Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow, but Cutler would still lose some of his luster.

If I had to pick the team to acquire Cutler out of the trio, I’d choose the Lions.

This is a team that’s clearly in a rebuilding mode, but it has the parts in place for Cutler to find success. Kevin Smith would have more value, both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield, as opposing defenses would have to focus on stopping Cutler and the pass in their game plans.

Coordinator Scott Linehan has run some explosive offenses in the past, and there’s little doubt he’d use Cutler’s cannon arm to the fullest. On a team that went without a win last season, Cutler would likely have to throw the ball a ton in an attempt to erase second-half deficits for much of the season.

And how nice would it be for Calvin Johnson to have a quarterback like Cutler?

He produced monster numbers last season with a combination of quarterbacks that included Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and Daunte Culpepper. The thought of what Johnson would do with Cutler is enough to make the mouths of fantasy leaguers water.

It’s rare for such a talented, franchise quarterback like Cutler to be traded. But with more questions than answers in this Mile High soap opera, fantasy footballers should be sure to monitor the situation until a resolution is met.

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