Arizona Cardinals’ Fantasy Football Outlook

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May 14, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) looks on during organized team activities at the Cardinals Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

When an owner thinks of the Cardinals in terms of fantasy football value, most simply can’t get past the garbage that the team trotted out at the quarterback position in 2012. Let’s face it, I am sure most Cardinals fans would love to forget the trade that brought in injury-prone Kevin Kolb from the Eagles back in 2011.

Kolb clearly never lived up to that second-round pick the Cardinals gave up after missing seventeen games in two seasons. Behind Kolb, the mish mash of Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, Richard Bartell…well, why don’t we just forget about that whole mess.

While Carson Palmer is getting up there in years, and will never revert back to his days with the Bengals, he’s better than anything Arizona has had since Kurt Warner retired. In the 2012 season as a Raider, Palmer quietly heaved up over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Yes much of that came from garbage time.

But if I have to remind owners of one thing, it’s that garbage time is gold in terms of fantasy value. Now don’t think I’m hyping up Palmer to be a QB1 and an every-week starter. He’s not, even though I can see him putting up those kinds of stats against bad defenses and in come-from-behind games.

When you have a certain wide receiver named Larry Fitzgerald in your arsenal, anything is possible. In standard twelve-team leagues, Palmer is currently going as the 23rd quarterback off the board. He could easily be a mid-tier QB2 if it wasn’t for the major question marks surrounding the offensive line.

New coach Bruce Arians is expected to run an up-tempo passing game, so nabbing Palmer at his current spot could bring back some value. He’s going to be throwing a lot, but the offensive line must keep him upright for him to succeed. And, unfortunately, this offensive line has been the Achilles’ heel for the Cardinals for a few years now.

With Palmer now under center, this receiving game looks much more enticing than it did last year. Fitzgerald had one of his worst seasons in 2012, snapping his five-year streak of 1000 yards or more.

Again, most of that goes back to the quarterback position and the fact that defenses gunned for Fitzgerald every game. Looking at his current ADP (Average Draft Pick), owners are expecting a major bounce-back year. He’s currently ranked 8th overall amongst fantasy receivers, and is currently being drafted at the end of the second round.

For leagues that allow six points for all touchdowns, Fitzgerald’s value climbs even higher since double-digit scores isn’t out of reach. Palmer and Fitzgerald could make a strong 1-2 punch in this offense.

Another reason Fitz could be in for a big year, besides Palmer, is the growth of Michael Floyd. After being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Floyd failed to live up to the hype after posting a mere 45 catches in his rookie season. News coming out of offseason practices say Floyd looks more confident and has been keeping Andre Roberts from working with the first string offense.

Roberts is serviceable, but he lacks the talent Floyd has. If he can keep up that momentum going into Week 1, Floyd will be one of this year’s top sleeper picks. Palmer has to throw to someone besides Fitzgerald right?

Aside from last year’s quarterback situation, myself and other fantasy owners would like to forget the once promising, yet disappointing Beanie Wells. I had owned Wells in the past and I still regret it.

The Cardinals’ running game got a makeover after finally ridding themselves of Wells and bringing in former Arians pupil Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall’s NFL and fantasy value has seen a decrease since he knocked out 1,274 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns with the Steelers back in 2010.

Injuries also plagued him last year. Even though Arians is committed to Mendy as a three-down back, I’d still temper expectations. Mendenhall is currently dealing with tendinitis in his surgically-repaired knee, something that could continue to linger. As of now, he is currently ranked as the 30th running back behind guys like Chris Ivory and Shane Vereen.

That values him as a mid-tier RB3. Owners shouldn’t expect him to surpass his current ranking. Between his injury history and that pesky offensive line, don’t overvalue him in the hopes he can regain his 2010 form.

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