Expect Jay Cutler to focus on turnovers, not passing yards in 2016

Jay Cutler is a polarizing figure not just for Chicago Bears fans, but also fantasy football owners. On one hand, Cutler is blessed with above-average athleticism and extraordinary arm strength. But on the flip side, Cutler often displays a penchant for turning the ball over, and in 10 NFL seasons, the embattled quarterback has been voted to only one Pro Bowl (2008). Cutler again faces the daunting task of putting up big fantasy numbers while operating in a run-heavy, conservative offense.

Jay Cutler

ESPN Fantasy Projection: 3,804 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions

Over or under: I’ll take the under on all three. Look, Cutler has thrown for more than 3,800 yards only twice (2008, 2014). Why will 2016 be any different? The Bears’ goal is to limit Cutler’s mistakes and run the football. Translation: Don’t expect him to air it out much. Now, injuries at running back could force the Bears to alter their plans, but right now, the coaching staff wants to prioritize protecting the football. On paper, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White and tight end Zach Miller look like respectable targets, but all three have durability issues.

The Bears don’t need Cutler to light it up to be respectable. They need him to be smart. Coach John Fox wants Cutler to keep them in tight games. When Cutler takes too many chances, the Bears become vulnerable. So, sorry, I envision Cutler more in the range of 3,500 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. But I do expect only 11 or 12 interceptions.

Who else could see time: Brian Hoyer is the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback. Hoyer is certainly serviceable, throwing for 2,606 yards and 19 touchdowns for Houston in 2015, but he’s not winning you a fantasy championship. I would expect modest production from Hoyer in the event Cutler is lost to injury. But he’s an upgrade over Jimmy Clausen, who completed nine of 17 pass attempts for 63 yards against Seattle in his lone start last season.