2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Jay Cutler a lateral move for Dolphins pass catchers
Ryan Tannehill is likely out for the year, but the Dolphins have signed Jay Cutler, which is good news for their receivers. Or, at the very least, it isn't bad news. Heath Cummings explains.
The Miami Dolphins have signed Jay Cutler to a one-year deal, which is a pretty good sign of what they expect from Ryan Tannehill for the upcoming season. They probably don't expect much, in other words.
While Matt Moore is an acceptable back up, this is good news for the Dolphins pass catchers. Cutler had one of the best years of his career under Adam Gase, and knows the system he's walking into.
In 2015 Cutler threw for 3,659 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 games under Gase. His 7.6 Y/A matched the highest mark of his career, and his 92.3 QB rating was a career-best. I'm not sure you can expect efficiency quite that high again; then again, he only had Alshon Jefferey for nine games, and Eddie Royal was his second best receiver. Cutler has better weapons with the Dolphins this year than he did in 2015. Whether he's in as good of form is another question.
The bottom line is, my expectations for Cutler in Miami are remarkably similar to what I had for Tannehill. The same goes for his receivers. If anything, this is a slight downgrade for Jarvis Landry, simply because he was always Tannehill's security blanket. Cutler will be more likely to take shots down the field so it's a slight upgrade for DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Here are my updated expectations for the Dolphins.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
Breaking down the touches
While the number of plays has decreased the past three seasons in Gase's offense the pass/run split as remained pretty similar. The Dolphins threw the ball 54 percent of the time in 2016. Gase's offenses have thrown the ball 55 percent of the time over the past three years. At least we have one assumption we can trust.
Those passes have been distributed in a slightly different way each year, but the only real outlier is 2015, when tight ends were targeted on 24 percent of passes. In both 2014 and 2016, that number was near 15 percent. I could maybe see a slight bump with the arrival of Julius Thomas, but Thomas is more of a red zone threat than a target monster.
I'm bumping up the Dolphins play total in 2017 to 950, with that same 55/45 split in favor of passing. I'd expect about 2/3 of those targets to go to receivers, with the rest being equally distributed between the backs and tight ends. Here's a more complete breakdown:
- The 60 targets for Thomas may seem low, but the Dolphins only threw 73 passes to their tight ends last year and spread those 73 targets between four players.
- Jarvis Landry's target total would be his lowest since 2014, but he only had two games with more than seven targets in the team's final nine games of 2016 and, now doesn't have Tannehill peppering him with targets.
- Ryan Tannehill has averaged 43 rush attempts per year over his career and had 39 in 13 games last year. I would not expect Cutler to match that total.
I only left about 50 rush attempts and 80 targets on the table for the Dolphins, so there's not a lot of room for someone else to emerge without injury. I was watching to see who won the battle for the No. 4 WR role between Isaiah Ford and Leonte Carroo. With Ford's knee injury, it looks like Carroo should be that guy, but there haven't been a lot of positive reports about him either. It's really hard to find a possible sleeper on this offense outside of Kenyan Drake -- and only if Ajayi were to get injured.
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