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2011 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Cardinals

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Cardinals had the chance to take a quarterback in the NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick but passed and took cornerback Patrick Peterson instead. In Round 2, they went with running back Ryan Williams. In Round 3, it was tight end Rob Housler.

Round by round, pick by pick, the Cardinals passed on a quarterback. It was an odd decision given 12 quarterbacks were drafted this year, and Arizona's roster currently consists of esteemed passers such as Derek Anderson, Richard Bartel, Max Hall and John Skelton.

The prevailing thought is the Cardinals will sign or trade for a quarterback once the lockout is over, and the potential candidates headed to Arizona include Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton and Donovan McNabb. But until that happens, the Cardinals' Fantasy outlook is somewhat in limbo.

Larry Fitzgerald remains an elite Fantasy option, and he's worth drafting toward the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3 no matter who is throwing him the ball. But his value could improve if he gets a proven quarterback with good arm strength and accuracy.

The other Fantasy options worth drafting in Arizona include running backs Williams, Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, wide receiver Steve Breaston and Housler. But until the quarterback position is settled the Cardinals will remain a team in transition.

Impact rookie ... Ryan Williams, RB

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Derek Anderson
John Skelton
Max Hall
Richard Bartel
Running Backs
Ryan Williams
Beanie Wells
Tim Hightower
LaRod Stephens-Howling
Wide Receivers
Larry Fitzgerald
Steve Breaston
Early Doucet
Andre Roberts
Tight Ends
Rob Housler
Kicker/DST
Jay Feely
Cardinals DST

It was a surprise that the Cardinals drafted Williams out of Virginia Tech with a second-round pick. The Cardinals already have Wells and Hightower on their roster, but Wells has never blossomed and has been prone to injury, while the hard-running Hightower was plagued by fumbles last season. Williams was a productive back for the Hokies, rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman in 2009 but was limited by a hamstring injury last season, finishing with 477 yards and nine touchdowns. Still, he averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Williams might be injury prone like Wells, but he will give the Cardinals a powerful rushing presence. He's expected to have a chance to start, and he should be the best running back in Arizona this season. He is worth drafting with a mid-round pick in standard leagues. We still recommend taking Wells with a late-round pick since he could rebound from last season and still perform well enough to hold off Williams. And Hightower is also worth drafting with a late-round pick, especially in leagues where receptions count.

Keeper-league target ... Rob Housler, TE

The Cardinals drafted Housler out of Florida Atlantic University, and many analysts believe he could have gone higher if he played at a more prominent college. He has the chance to start right away and is a good receiver with 39 catches for 629 yards and four touchdowns in 2010. The Cardinals have not used the tight end much in the Ken Whisenhunt era, but they also haven't had a tight end of this caliber before. Consider Housler a sleeper in deeper leagues, but he's not worth drafting in most standard formats. In keeper and dynasty leagues, Housler is worth a late-round selection, and he could develop into a potential standout depending on who the Cardinals get as their quarterback.

Late-round flier ... Steve Breaston, WR

Breaston remains a free agent during the lockout, but he's expected to return to the Cardinals. Breaston struggled last year in his first season as a starter in place of the departed Anquan Boldin. A knee injury limited his play, and he finished with 47 catches for 718 yards and one touchdown. He posted better stats in each of the previous two seasons, and that was as the No. 3 option. If Breaston does return to the Cardinals he would likely remain the starter opposite Fitzgerald, and his Fantasy value would further be determined by who is throwing him the ball. If he goes somewhere else then his value will be determined by where he signs and what his role would be. In any case, Breaston is worth a late-round pick based on his potential (132 catches for 1,718 yards and six touchdowns in 2008 and 2009). And if he goes undrafted then he is someone to scout because he could be a bye-week or injury replacement.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
CAR @WAS @SEA NYG @MIN bye PIT @BAL STL @PHI @SF @STL DAL SF CLE @CIN SEA

The Cardinals have a tough schedule ahead of them. They have to play three games at 1 p.m. ET, which is never easy for West Coast teams, with matchups at Washington, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Arizona also has tough home games against the Giants, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Now, the good thing for the Cardinals is they play in the NFC West, which means some favorable matchups, and they also get Carolina and Cleveland at home. The matchup with the Browns could be great for Fitzgerald since it comes in the Fantasy playoffs in Week 15. Hopefully by then we'll know who his quarterback will be.

Training camp topics

2010 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Tim Hightower 174
Beanie Wells 121
Larry Fitzgerald 90
Steve Breaston 50
LaRod Stephens-Howling 39

Once the Cardinals add a quarterback, getting him up to speed with the offense will be the biggest thing to watch. He will have to quickly develop a rapport with Fitzgerald and the rest of the receivers and prove he can be successful.

The Cardinals also have to establish a depth chart at running back. Our depth chart would be Williams, Wells and Hightower. We're big fans of Williams this season, and he has the chance to post solid stats in his rookie season.

Breaston and Early Doucet need to show they are healthy after injury-plagued seasons in 2010, and the Cardinals need to establish Housler as a threat early in training camp. There is potential for this offense to be successful with the right quarterback.

Now, if the Cardinals are unable to land a new passer and are stuck with Anderson, Hall, Skelton or Bartel, then it could be another long season in the desert. We hope that's not the case in 2011.

Injury update

Early Doucet (hernia; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Adrian Wilson (groin; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Jamaal Charles' ankle is sore after three-touchdown night
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said he felt good during the 41-14 win over the Patriots, but admitted afterward his injured ankle was sore, reports ESPN.com. "I'm ready to get off it and ice it up," he said.

Charles got 21 touches and scored three touchdowns, two receiving, in his first action since spraining his ankle Week 2. He'll play the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday.


Stephen Gostkowski barely sees the field
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:30 am ET) Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit two PATs and attempted no field goals in the Week 4 loss at Kansas City. He plays the Bengals on Sunday night.

Julian Edelman quiet on MNF
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) After three straight strong outings, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was held to 23 receiving yards in Monday's loss at Kansas City. Edelman caught four of his eight targets and is up to 26 grabs this season.

Edelman cut his route short on Tom Brady's first interception, and he was unable to hang onto at least one catchable throw. Edelman will try to bounce back Sunday night against Cincinnati.


Rob Gronkowski notches third touchdown
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:24 am ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski drew just three targets in Monday night's loss in Kansas City. He hauled in an 18-yard pass in the first half and a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, his third score this season.

Tom Brady wasn't able to get the ball to Gronk, who saw double coverage. But rookie Jimmy Garoppolo found Gronkowski for the late score.

Gronkowski's 31 yards marked a season low, and he has not cleared 50 yards in any game. He'll play the Bengals on Sunday night.


Brandon LaFell only bright spot for Patriots
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:14 am ET) Brandon LaFell led the Patriots in every receiving category in Monday's 41-14 loss to the Chiefs. He caught six of his 10 targets for a career-best 119 yards and a touchdown, producing his first 100-yard game since Week 5 last season when he played for Carolina.

A 6-3, 210-pounder, LaFell showed his strength late in the third quarter when he caught a slant and shed a tackle en route to a 44-yard score. This was only his third career 100-yard game.

LaFell will try to keep it going Week 5 when New England hosts the Bengals.


James White sees first NFL action
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Patriots rookie running back James White was active for the first time Week 4, and he ended up receiving six touches as the game got out of hand. With the Chiefs winning big in the fourth quarter, White entered and ran three times for 21 yards while catching all three of his targets for 15 yards.

White plays the Bengals on Sunday night.


Stevan Ridley used sparingly in blowout loss
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley carried five times for 28 yards in the 41-14 defeat at Kansas City. He was targeted once without a catch.

Ridley faces the Bengals in Week 5.


Shane Vereen gets 13 touches
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) With the Patriots in comeback mode all night, running back Shane Vereen was on the field a lot in Kansas City. He ran eight times for 26 yards and caught all five of his targets for 41 yards.

Vereen established season highs in touches and receiving yards. He'll play Cincinnati on Sunday night.


Jimmy Garoppolo impresses in garbage time
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Patriots rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo replaced Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of Monday's blowout loss and played well, completing 6 of 7 throws for 70 yards and a touchdown. It was Garoppolo's first action this season.

Garoppolo's first NFL throw was a 5-yard completion to Julian Edelman. On the same drive he found Brandon LaFell for 37 yards, then tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 13-yard touchdown.

Garoppolo and the Pats host Cincinnati on Sunday night.


Cairo Santos goes for 11 points
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos converted both his field-goal tries in the win over the Patriots, hitting from 22 and 31 yards. He added five PATs for an 11-point night. Santos visits the 49ers on Sunday.

 
 
 
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