Fantasy Fins: How trading Jay Ajayi makes Jay Cutler far more valuable

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler (6) calls a play against the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on November 5, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

A number of big-name NFL quarterbacks won’t be under center the rest of the season due to injury. And whether you owned Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck or even Ryan Tannehill in your fantasy league, you may still be looking for a permanent replacement.

Jay Cutler could be that quarterback.

Wait, wait … don’t hit that “Back” button yet. I’m serious this time.

While the trade of running back Jay Ajayi to the Eagles is — on the surface — a major blow to the Dolphins offense, it could actually make Jay Cutler considerably more important — and valuable — in fantasy terms.

Just look at last Sunday against the Raiders. In Miami’s first game since dealing its All-Pro running back, Adam Gase and his offense took to the air in a big way. Though the Dolphins lost — obviously no real issue when it comes to the fantasy world — Cutler set season highs in completions (34), completion percentage (81.0), passing yards (311), passing touchdowns (3) and QB rating (121.3).

[RELATED: A three-touchdown Jay Cutler game is a terrible thing to waste]

And with the running back committee of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake still waiting for someone to take the lead, there’s little reason to think the Fins won’t continue to air it out. Even if he spreads it around to various receivers (seven different players caught passes against the Raiders) — making those receivers, backs and tight ends less reliable fantasy-wise — it all helps Cutler’s bottom line.

The Dolphins’ second-half schedule even plays in Cutler’s favor. After Monday night’s tilt against the Panthers and their sixth-ranked pass defense, Miami faces Tampa Bay (ranked 30th in the NFL) at home, they’re at New England (32nd), home against the Broncos (OK, No. 4) and Patriots, at Buffalo (26th) then Kansas City (28th), then home against the Bills in Week 17. Those opposing pass defenses average out to the 25th best pass defense in the league. Cue “Smokin’ Jay” and his cannon arm.

You may not like his style, his attitude or the something-less-than-passion many argue he displays on and off the field. But Cutler is clearly Gase’s guy, and whether the Dolphins are chasing the playoffs or just playing out the string, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to throw the ball.

As of Friday night, Cutler was owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues. By comparison, more people (18 percent) owned Texans rookie Deshaun Watson, who is on IR and out for the season after tearing his ACL.

And there is something personal in that 17 percent. He’s not flashy. He’s not new. He rarely makes or even attempts the spectacular play. He often looks apathetic on the field. He may not even be particularly likeable.

But Cutler has been a big-time QB in this league. He’s thrown for over 4,500 yards in a season (granted, it was in 2008, for an 8-8 Broncos team). He’s made a Pro Bowl (again, in 2008).

Is he the same quarterback he was then? No.

But if Adam Gase continues to ask him to throw the ball 40-45 times a game, with the skill players he has around him, he’s capable of putting up some big numbers. And to a fantasy owner without a legit starting quarterback, that can make Cutler a valuable commodity.

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