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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
Carson Palmer among notable players listed questionable for Week 3
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:09 pm ET) The Cardinals have nine players listed on the injury report for Week 3. Punter David Zastudil (groin) and linebacker Alex Okafor (thigh) were the only players officially ruled out for Sunday's game against the 49ers.

Deemed questionable were tight end Rob Housler (hip), defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (calf) and quarterback Carson Palmer (shoulder).

Linebacker Kevin Minter (quad), center Lyle Sendlein (ankle), running back Andre Ellington (foot) and linebacker Larry Foote (shoulder) were each ruled probable for Sunday.

Seahawks list nine on final injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:08 pm ET) The Seahawks have listed nine players on the final injury report heading into Week 3.

Only Tharold Simon has been ruled out for the game. Bruce Irvin didn't practice throughout the week, but is questionable for the game. 

Kam Chancellor, Cooper Helfet, Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, Zach Miller, Mike Morgan and Kevin Pierre-Louis are all probable. 


Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph expected to go
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) The Vikings should have their offensive playmakers for Week 3.

Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph are probable entering the game. Rudolph was limited in practice Friday, but Pattterson was able to practice in full. 


Vikings release final injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) The Vikings have released their final injury report before Week 3.

Chad Greenway, Rodney Smith and Brandon Watts will all enter the game listed as questionable.

The Sharrif Floyd, Phil Loadholt, Michael Mauti and Xavier Rhodes are all probable heading into the contest.

Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph are considered probable for Week 3. 


49ers list lengthy injury report for Week 3
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:53 pm ET) The 49ers have nine players listed on the injury report for Week 3. Center Marcus Martin, who's nursing an knee injury, was the only player ruled out for Sunday's game against the Cardinals.

Deemed questionable are cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), tight end Vernon Davis (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (knee).

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (back), running back Carlos Hyde (calf), defensive end Justin Smith (not injury related) and tackle Joe Staley (knee) were ruled probable for Sunday.

The Raiders list nine players on final injury report
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) The Raiders have nine players listed on the injury report for Week 3. Linebacker Sio Moore, who's nursing an ankle injury, was the only player ruled out for Sunday's game against the Patriots.

Deemed questionable are cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee). running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand), tackle Matt McCants (knee), linebacker Nick Roach (concussion), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee), defensive lineman Antonio Smith (back) and wide receiver Rod Streater (hip).

Justin Tuck, who is dealing with an illness, was the only player ruled probable for Sunday.


Dolphins issue lengthy injury list for Week 3
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:58 pm ET) The Dolphins have officially ruled out running back Knowshon Moreno (elbow) for their Sunday game against Kansas City. Also out are linebacker Koa Misi (ankle) and guard Shelley Smith (knee).

Listed as doubtful are defensive end Terrence Fede (knee), center Mike Pouncey (hip) and linebacker Jordan Tripp (chest).

Tight end Charles Clay (knee) and guard Billy Turner (foot) are considered questionable.

The probables are safeties Walt Aikens (hand) and Louis Delmas (calf), tackle Branden Albert (shoulder) and linebackers Jonathan Freeny (calif), Jelani Jenkins (shoulder) and Philip Wheeler (thumb).


Chargers issue injury report with seven probables
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) The Chargers have issued an extensive injury report for their Sunday game in Buffalo. Ruled out are running back Ryan Mathews (knee) and linebacker Melvin Ingram (hamstring).

Listed as questionable are safety Jahleel Addae (hamstring), wide receiver Keenan Allen (groin) and linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring).

The probables are cornerbacks Chris Davis (ankle) and Brandon Flowers (groin), linebacker Dwight Freeney (non-injury related), tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), defensive end Corey Liuget (ankle) and offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger (back) and Johnnie Troutman (back).


Keenan Allen 50-50 for battle with Bills
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:32 pm ET) A groin injury has Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen deemed as questionable for the Sunday game in Buffalo. He has been limited in practice the last two days.

Allen has 10 catches for 92 yards in two games.


Two Jets standouts absent from Friday practice
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) Two key Jets players were sidelined from Friday practice. Wide receiver Eric Decker (hamstring) and cornerback Dee Milliner (ankle/quad) did not participate.

Those limited Friday were linebackers A.J. Edds (hamstring) and Nick Bellore (hip), offensive linemen Nick Mangold (shoulder) and Willie Colon (calf) and running back Chris Johnson (ankle).

The team is preparing to play Chicago on Monday night.


 
 
 
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