Fantasy Football: Quantifying Jay Cutler And the Trestman Effect

Jay Cutler, fantasy football
Jay Cutler, fantasy football
Mike DiNovo USA TODAY Sports

I’ve written a word or two (million) about Marc Trestman’s offensive scheme, seemingly designed to bring tidings of fantasy football joy to owners everywhere.

Trestman, the quarterback whisperer who has made top-flight fantasy options out of everyone from Rich Gannon to Josh McCown, had nothing but glowing compliments for Cutler’s ability and potential headed into the 2013 campaign. Trestman couldn’t have asked for better signal calling clay with which to mold his quarterback.

The Cutler-Trestman marriage fizzled at times in 2013, as Cutty was criticized for failing to read basic defensive adjustments and continuing a career-long habit of forcing throws into impossibly tight coverage.

I don’t disagree with the devastating charge that Cutler is a better “half field general” than a full field general.

Not even the whisperer could save Cutler from himself at times. I think backup quarterback Josh McCown is a better fit for Trestman’s scheme: in control, willing to check down, careful not to force throws when they’re not there. Age, I suppose, will make it easy on the Bears to move forward with Cutty.

Cutler and McCown, for what it’s worth, combined for 316.9 fantasy points last season. That would rank third behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

Efficiency has always been Cutler’s fantasy bugaboo, as seen through most of his up-and-mostly-down career in Chicago. He’s a guy who needs a lot of throws to post high-end fantasy numbers, not unlike his fellow bro, Matthew Stafford.

Questioning whether Trestman made his franchise signal caller a more efficient fantasy producer is worthwhile. I trust that the whisperer will have long-term success with the Bears’ talent-packed offense, but can he help Cutler do more with each throw?

Player/Year Aimed throws Fantasy points Fantasy points per aimed throw (FPAT)
Jay Cutler 2013 331 179.6 .54
Jay Cutler 2012 413 206.6 .50
Jay Cutler 2011 297 149.2 .50
Jay Cutler 2010 399 237 .59
Jay Cutler 2009 523 252 .48


I used Pro Football Focus’s stats detailing aimed throws to come up with fantasy points per aimed throw (FPAT). It’s hardly a perfect measure (or predictor) of a quarterback’s fantasy success, but I thought it was a decent way to gauge Cutler’s efficiency before Trestman, and in 2013.

Cutler didn’t approach his stellar 2010 FPAT of .59, which — as you’ll see below — would put him in some pretty heady company. It was good, however, to see a marked jump from the .5 mark Cutler had posted in 2011 and 2012.

Cutler’s FPAT increased despite a regression in interception rate. He threw a pick for every 27.6 aimed throws he attempted in 2013, down from an interception every 29.5 throws in 2012. Cutty posted an abysmal interception rate of one pick per 24 throws in 2011.

Perspective is king, of course, so here’s a peek at FPAT from the best (and worst) quarterbacks of 2013.

Player Fantasy points per aimed throw (FPAT)
Nick Foles .90
Russell Wilson .77
Colin Kaepernick .72
Cam Newton .71
Peyton Manning .68
Drew Brees .61
Philip Rivers .59
Jay Cutler/Josh McCown .59
Andy Dalton .57
Andrew Luck .56
Ben Roethlisberger .52
Matthew Stafford .51
Eli Manning .39
Chad Henne .38


Probably it’s something bordering on cherry picking to post the combined Cutler/McCown FPAT here. McCown’s crazy high FPAT of .66 — bolstered by his nuclear performance against Dallas on Monday Night Football — was done with a miniature sample size. McCown also racked up a healthy number of fantasy points on the ground.

A side note: Foles’ sample size is much smaller than the rest of the signal callers on the above list. It’s worth noting that ridiculous FPAT though. The guy scored almost an entire fantasy point every time he aimed a pass. That’s one of the more remarkable stats of the season.

The simple answer to the question of whether Trestman made Cutler a more efficient fantasy quarterback is yes. One of the many questions that remains about Cutler becoming an elite fantasy asset is whether his propensity for mistakes and his apparent inability to manipulate a defense has put a firm cap on his fantasy potential.

I’m afraid it has, though I hope it hasn’t.

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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.