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Offseason Primers: Arizona Cardinals

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Cardinals made two important moves this offseason, and Larry Fitzgerald couldn't be any happier. They added an offensive-minded coach who likes downfield passing in Bruce Arians, and they traded for a capable quarterback in Carson Palmer.

Has Fitzgerald stopped smiling yet?

The Kevin Kolb experiment is over after he was cut this offseason, and the Cardinals are now going with Palmer after he was added in a trade from Oakland. Arians will do a great job of helping Palmer improve. After all, he turned Ben Roethlisberger into a star and helped Andrew Luck develop into a future standout in his past two stops as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, respectively.

2012 Touches Leaders
689 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
LaRod Stephens-Howling 127 (110 car., 17 rec.) 18.4%
Beanie Wells 89 (88 car., 1 rec.) 12.9%
William Powell 79 (60 car., 19 rec.) 11.4%
Larry Fitzgerald 71 rec. 10.3%
Andre Roberts 68 (4 car., 64 rec.) 9.8%
All Others 255 37.0%

The Cardinals still have to fix an abysmal offensive line that allowed 58 sacks, which were the most in the NFL, and that should be a tough task for Arians. But there are plenty of positives in the desert, and Fantasy owners should pay attention on Draft Day.

They also added Rashard Mendenhall, and he should return as a starting Fantasy running back. And Fitzgerald should rebound from a down year in 2012 thanks to Arians and Palmer. Arizona also has other quality receiving options in Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and Rob Housler, and we hope Palmer can maximize their talents, which would create more options for us to choose from.

Larry Fitzgerald -- Bounce-back candidate

2012 Target Leaders
608 pass attempts
Larry Fitzgerald 156 25.6%
Andre Roberts 114 18.7%
Michael Floyd 86 14.1%
Rob Housler 68 11.1%
Early Doucet 53 8.7%
All Others 131 21.5%

No one was happier with the addition of Arians and Palmer than Fitzgerald. He needs a change because 2012 was the worst season of his career, and it was predominately because of poor quarterback play. Fitzgerald was limited to 71 catches for 798 yards and four touchdowns, and he finished as the No. 41 receiver despite being the seventh-most targeted receiver (156) in the NFL. So it was clear the Cardinals were trying to get Fitzgerald the ball, but they weren't having much success. Now, the Cardinals have a coach who likes to get the ball down field and a capable quarterback, and that will only help Fitzgerald improve. He should be considered a low-end No. 1/high-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver on Draft Day, and we recommend drafting him with a pick in Round 4. If he bounces back as expected then he should be a steal. And something to keep in mind: Arians took Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis coming off a down year in 2011 and returned him to prominence in 2012. Of course, he had Luck on his side. We can only hope Fitzgerald has a similar outcome with Palmer in his future.

Rashard Mendenhall -- Bounce-back candidate, take II

I spoke with Arians at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix, and he hinted that Mendenhall would be the starter this season. "I prefer one guy," Arians said, and he gushed about Mendenhall since the two have a history going back to Pittsburgh. "Adding a player the caliber of Rashard, a proven back who can carry you to the Super Bowl, not only helps the football team but it helps your locker room. Obviously we have a good history together. I know how to use him. He's a heck of a player in all phases. He never has to come out of the game." Mendenhall struggled in 2012, his last with the Steelers, after coming back from a torn ACL in 2011. But he averaged over 1,000 rushing yards a season from 2009-11 before getting hurt. He will likely share carries with Ryan Williams, but Mendenhall has the potential to be a No. 2 Fantasy running back. He's worth drafting as early as Round 5 in the majority of leagues.

Michael Floyd -- Late-round flier

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Carson Palmer 155-163 overall
Brian Hoyer Undrafted
Rashard Mendenhall 39-44 overall
Ryan Williams 92-100 overall
Larry Fitzgerald 42-49 overall
Michael Floyd Undrafted
Andre Roberts Undrafted
Rob Housler Undrafted

Floyd, like most of the Cardinals offensive players, had a down year in 2012. He's hoping his second year in the NFL will go a little better. As a rookie last season, Floyd had 45 catches for 562 yards and two touchdowns. He was the No. 3 receiver behind Fitzgerald and Roberts, but his role is expected to expand this season. He closed 2012 on a high note with eight catches for 166 yards and a touchdown in Week 17 on 14 targets, and we hope he can build off that performance. Floyd is worth a late-round flier in all leagues this year, especially with the addition of Palmer, and he should be taken with a mid-round selection in dynasty leagues. We expect Floyd to eventually become a playmaker, but the passing attack in Arizona will have to improve for that to happen.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Chargers safety Eric Weddle 'highly disrespected' by contract talks
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Chargers defensive back Eric Weddle let his frustrations out Monday about his current contract negotiations with the team. Weddle, who is skipping the team's voluntary workouts this month, hasn't received anything from the team he wants to agree to, according to U-T San Diego.

"I feel highly, highly disrespected," Weddle said. "... It is what it is, but there is no reason for me to put out any more effort. We've come to them numerous times and said we want to be part of the team, we want to retire as a Charger. We've completely gotten pushed aside."

Weddle has missed just four games in his eight-year career with San Diego, totaling 229 tackles over the last two seasons. 


Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green not worrying about contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was on hand for the team's voluntary workouts Monday and isn't worrying about his contract, according to the team's website. 

Green, who is entering a contract season, wants to focus on the upcoming season, not money.

"I handle the part of playing. I'm not hurting for money," said Green. "I got my option. That's enough for now. I'm just focused on football. Next year will take care of itself."

Green is expected to earn $10.176 million in 2015. He also noted he wasn't healthy for much of the 2014 season.

"I was not out there like I need to. I was never 100 percent.  I felt like I never played like I should have," Green said. "Yeah, I'm a 100 percent."

Green had 69 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games in 2014.


Report: Six teams in the mix for Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) The Vikings are reportedly going to give it one more week of searching for a trade partner for running back Adrian Peterson, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

A source told the newspaper if Peterson is not traded by next week, the Vikings will keep him. Minnesota is still reportedly talking with the Cardinals, Falcons, Cowboys, Jaguars, Chargers and Buccaneers to get a possible deal done, according to the source.

Peterson was reinstated last week by the league for his suspension stemming from child-abuse charges. He is under contract with the Vikings for the next three seasons for $43.25 million, including $12.75 in 2015.


Report: S Johnson Bademosi, LB Craig Robertson re-sign with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) The Browns have reportedly re-signed safety Johnson Bademosi and inside linebacker Craig Robertson, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Bademosi totaled 12 tackles in 14 games last season while Robertson made 99 tackles with two interceptions and one touchdown in all 16 games.


Report: Fullback Will Johnson re-signs with Steelers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) The Steelers and fullback Will Johnson have reportedly agreed to terms, bringing the veteran back for his fourth season with the club, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Johnson, who was a restricted free agent, has played 47 of a possible 48 games in his career, totaling four carries for seven yards and 29 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns.


Report: Rams sign S Rodney McLeod, TE Cory Harkey to RFA tenders
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) The Rams have reportedly signed safety Rodney McLeod and tight end Cory Harkey to their restricted free agent tenders, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Harkey had eight catches for 55 yards and a touchdown last season while McLeod totaled 72 tackles with two interceptions in 16 games.


Report: Rams QB Austin Davis signs RFA tender, set to return in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Rams quarterback Austin Davis agreed to sign his restricted free agent tender and will be back in St. Louis in 2015, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Davis got his first chance to start in the league in 2014, starting 10 games for St. Louis. He threw for 2,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions after starter Sam Bradford went down in the preseason.


WR Kamar Aiken, CB Tramain Jacobs sign ERT with Ravens
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/20/2015) The Ravens have announced that wide receiver Kamar Aiken and cornerback Tramain Jacobs each signed their exclusive-rights tenders on Monday, reports the Baltimore Sun. 

Aiken's offer was for $585,000 while Jacobs' was $510,000. 

Aiken played in 16 games for Ravens last season, catching 24 passes for 267 yards. Jacobs played in three games in 2014, finishing his rookie campaign on injured reserve (thigh).


Giants CB Prince Amukamara (torn biceps) 'about 90 percent' recovered
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/20/2015) Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said he's "about 90 percent" healed from his torn biceps injury suffered in Week 9 that ended his 2014 season, reports the New York Daily News

Amukamara left the Monday night game against the Colts with the injury and did not return the rest of the season. 

In eight games last year, Amukamara recorded 45 tackles (37 solo), 11 pass defenses and three interceptions.


WR/KR Jeremy Ross signs exclusive right tender with Lions
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(4/20/2015) Wide receiver and kick returner Jeremy Ross has signed his exclusive right tender with the Lions, the team has announced.

Ross, a four-year NFL veteran, started 13 of the Lions' 16 games last year and caught 32 passes for 284 yards.

 
 
 
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