The Chicago Bears have hired Mike Martz to take over their offense. The presence of Martz, a long-time coach and coordinator at the NFL level, will have a major effect on the value of several players.
Atop that list is strong-armed but turnover-prone quarterback Jay Cutler.
Martz’s resume as an offensive guru is well documented. He led the “Greatest Show on Turf” during his time with the Rams, a unit that was loaded with fantasy superstarrs like Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Issac Bruce.
In seven seasons with the team, Martz’s quarterbacks threw for 3,400-plus yards five times. In 2000, Warner (11 starts) and Trent Green (five starts) combined to throw for an amazing 5,492 yards and 37 touchdowns.
He’s a perfect fit for Cutler, who was a major disappointment for fantasy owners in his first season in the Windy City. While he did throw for 3,666 yards and 27 touchdowns (eight in the final two weeks), Cutler also committed 27 turnovers.
With Martz at the helm and what looks like a very favorable schedule, Cutler is a virtual lock to throw for 4,000 yards and 25-30 touchdowns in 2010. If he can make smarter decisions and cut down on his turnovers, I can see him re-emerging as a No. 1 fantasy option.
If Cutler is going to see his numbers rise, well, then it only makes sense the wide receivers around him are in for a spike in value as well.
I’d expect Martz to utilize the speed of WRs Devin Aromashodu, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, all of whom will have a chance to post their best numbers at the NFL level. Aromashodu, who finished last season on fire, now figures to be one of the top fantasy sleepers of 2010.
Owners in PPR keeper leagues also have to feel much better about the immediate future of Matt Forte.
The biggest bust in fantasy football last season, Forte’s stock is back on the rise with Martz calling the shots. Faulk, Kevin Jones and Frank Gore were all prominent options in his offenses, especially in the passing game.
Faulk had some of his best statistical seasons at the NFL level under Martz, and Jones was on his way to a career season with the Lions in 2006 before injuries landed him on the sidelines. In 12 games, Jones was on pace for 89 receptions, 1,612 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns.
Overall, the top running back in Martz’s offense has always had at least some level of statistical success. Since Forte’s skill set fits the mold of the ideal Martz runner, I’d expect him to rebound from a poor 2009 campaign and become a reliable No. 2 fantasy option.
If there’s one player who won’t benefit from the Martz hiring, it’s Greg Olsen.
Martz has never had a history of using tight ends prominently in the passing game. Vernon Davis, the top tight end in fantasy football in 2009, saw just 49 targets and caught a mere 31 passes under Martz in 2008.
What’s more, no tight end in a Martz-led offense has ever caught more than 38 passes in a single season. If that trend continues, Olsen will be no more than a No. 2 fantasy tight end in 2010.