Fantasy Football Offensive Evaluation: Arizona Cardinals

The first season post-Kurt Warner turned out to be a disaster for Arizona.  Three years after getting to the Super Bowl, they were the worst team in the worst division in 2010.  They finished 5-11 and 26th in the NFL in scoring after being one of the top offenses under Warner.  The Cardinals tried to turn the reins over to Derek Anderson, but he was right next to Jimmy Clausen going for the title of "NFL's Worst QB" and the Cards went nowhere.

The biggest move they made was getting rid of Anderson, and going outside the organization again in an effort to get a franchise QB that could right the ship and get them back to the playoffs.  Considering that the NFC West is still the NFC West, that could happen as soon as this season.  Will that happen?  Will the Cardinals return to being a top 10 offense like they were in 2008?  Or did they just waste a lot of money on the wrong guy?

Quarterback

Kevin Kolb

The Cards gave up a proven cornerback, a 2nd round pick to get Kolb from Philadelphia and then gave him a $65 million contract.  Kolb isn't the first backup on one team to be paid like a franchise QB on another team, but will he be one of the successful ones (Matt Schaub) or one of the other kind (AJ Feeley)?  

Kolb was named the starter in Philadelphia last season, but made the mistake of getting hurt and opening the door for Michael Vick to do what he did.  At least in the long term, it hasn't hurt Kolb financially or career-wise.  Now he's in Arizona with one of the leagues best wide receivers and absolutely nobody of note backing him up.  It would take an injury or a seriously terrible showing for Kolb to lose his job to anybody else in Arizona.  I'm not 100% sold on Kolb.  He is, however, probably the 2nd most talented QB to come through Arizona in awhile.  I am going to predict something like 60% completion, 3,400 yards, 22 TDs, 15 INTs.  He's going to have some really nice games and a few duds and he'd make a good fantasy backup QB but not someone I'd start.

The rest of the offense after the jump...

Running Back

Chris "Beanie" Wells

It's sort of funny how quickly I forgot about Chris Wells college career at Ohio State.  Being a running back in Arizona for two years can do that to a guy.  He was a stud at Ohio State and rushed for over 1,500 yards in his sophomore season.  He missed three games his junior season because of injury, but was just as explosive as he was the previous year.

Wells went 31st overall in the 2009 draft and was high on many fantasy draft boards that ignored the fact that Arizona backs almost never do anything.  Wells rushed for 793 yards and 4.5 YPC in his rookie season, not too shabby, good as your third RB option.  However, he got sparse carries last season and didn't have a very good sophomore season.  Not long ago, it looked like Beanie Wells would be long forgotten in Arizona when they drafted running back Ryan Williams in the 2nd round of the draft.  But Williams is out for the year, Tim Hightower went to Washington, and the Cards have few other options but Wells.  He's leaped up draft boards in light of this news and many are expecting a big season from Wells.  If you can draft him as your third RB option, I love it.  Anything more, and you're taking a big risk.  Will this be the Wells that was so dominate at Ohio State, or the one who did nearly nothing last season?  I'd only take that chance at the right price, and I wouldn't make him a starter just yet.

LaRod Stephens-Howling

With Wells history of injury, Stephens-Howling could find himself in a more prominent role in 2011.  He led the league in kick return yards last season, so if your league places emphasis on return yards, then you should know about Stephens-Howling.  He's got big play potential.

Wide Receiver

Larry Fitzgerald

Well, you should know about Larry Fitzgerald by now.  If you don't, shame on you.  Okay, maybe not shame on you, maybe you are new to fantasy football and that's why you came here; looking for help.  Well, here's the help: Larry Fitzgerald is the NFL's first man-made machine, an android that was allowed to play in the league thanks to several loopholes in the last collective bargaining agreement.  They were able to keep the clause in tact through the lockout and Larry "Android" Fitzgerald is still allowed to play in the NFL.  Not only that, but the Cardinals gave the robot $120 million this season... what a robot needs with all that money?  I have no idea.

Fitz had 90 catches for 1,137 yards with Arena League quarterbacks throwing to him last season.  With Kolb in Arizona, he could return to being a 100 catch, 1,400 yard, 10 TD guy again.  He's pretty unstoppable and it shouldn't matter as much that the Cards have no other great wide receivers like they used to have.

Early Doucet

He has 595 career yards through three seasons, but Doucet is going to be asked to carry the biggest load of his career.  The former third round pick out of LSU steps in for Steve Breaston and gets to play opposite Fitz-bot.  In his biggest game of last season he caught 6 passes for 71 yards and a score against Seattle.  Early could get 50-60 catches and 700+ yards, but that's on the high side.  Just monitor the situation, but Fitz-bot is the only WR worth owning in fantasy.

Andre Roberts

Second-year player Roberts will try to beat out Doucet for playing Fitz'bots second fiddle.  He was mostly a punt returner in 2010, but became a bigger part of the offense as the season went on, catching 5 passes for 110 yards against Dallas in week 16.  Keep an eye on Roberts, especially in return yard leagues.  He's got big play ability.

Tight End

Todd Heap

Cardinals aren't known for having serious fantasy tight end options, but Heap will try to challenge that notion this season.  With uncertain options for Kolb outside of Fitz-tronics, Heap could become a favorite go-to guy.  Heap isn't a 70-catch, 800-yard TE anymore, but maybe returning to his home state of Arizona and into a potentially more prolific offense, he can return to being a fantasy option.  Keep an eye on Heap as the season goes on.  Otherwise, the Cardinals don't have anything interesting in this spot.

follow me on twitter @casetines to hear what other NFL players are actually animatronic.  

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