|By Matt De Lima, Monday, August 26, 2013|
QB Carson Palmer - Quality Backup
For the first time since 2007, Carson Palmer passed for over 4,000 yards a year ago. That's an admirable feat considering his teammates over in Oakland. He will have a better array of weapons, including Larry Fitzgerald and the promising Michael Floyd. New head coach Bruce Arians will certainly take more chances with the passing game. While with the Colts, he had Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton all playing very well. Palmer is a low-risk backup that can be selected toward the end of your draft. If you have an excellent QB1, Palmer is someone who can outproduce his draft value and possibly garner some trade interest with a hot start.
RB Rashard Mendenhall - Quality Backup
Rashard Mendenhall left during the first half of Arizona's Saturday night preseason game against the Chargers after suffering a right knee injury. Listed as questionable, Mendenhall did not return. Whether just a precautionary decision or something more serious will be revealed following the game. Before the injury, Mendenhall rushed six times for 47 yards. Before this injury, he's dealt with other phyiscal woes, all of which makes him an increasingly risky pick. Still, if he avoids missing significant time, Mendenhall has decent value with an ADP in the low 30's or those willing to take a shot despite the downside.
If the Cardinals had a better offensive line, fantasy owners might be higher on Rashard Mendenhall. In fact, the Cards have only produced one 1,000-yard rusher since the 2008 season. Just two offseasons ago, Mendenhall was coming off his best all-around season. The former Fighting Illini runner can contribute on all three downs and has been named the starter over backup Ryan Williams by new head coach Bruce Arians. Mendenhall should see around 250 touches this year, making him a decent value considering the public's low expectations and his fifth round average draft position. He would nicely fit as your RB3 or flex.
RB Ryan Williams - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Back to back season-ending injuries have derailed the young career of Ryan Williams. Now entering his third season, there are no expectations from the fantasy community. His main competition, Rashard Mendenhall, has a very different running style. Williams doesn't have game-breaking speed, but he can make defenders miss in the open field to extend runs while also catching passes out of the backfield. Williams will begin the season as a change-of-pace backup and that role could slowly expand as the season wears on.
RB Andre Ellington - Dynasty Only
Former Clemson running back Andre Ellington battled with injuries throughout his collegiate career, but did show flashes of brilliance when healthy. If he can find a seam, he has the home run hitting speed which the Cardinals lack in the backfield. Ellington must prove himself durable enough to earn more than a minor role in the long-term. Dynasty leagues are where he has most of his value since there does not appear to be an immediate fantasy impact in his future.
RB Stepfan Taylor - Dynasty Only
A steady, between-the-tackles runner, Stepfan Taylor grinded out the tough yards for the Stanford Cardinal. It's unlikely he sees the field much as a rookie, but this backfield lacks a permanent fixture. It is possible that the stars align and Taylor eventually sees a RB2 role in the near future. Given the Cardinals' work-in-progress backfield, he's an intruiging late-round dynasty pick you would need to stash for a season or two in order for him to blossom.
WR Larry Fitzgerald - Stud (low risk)
Well-documented poor quarterback play decimated Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy value last season. Although his target numbers were in line with his career totals, the former Pittsburgh Panther failed to eclipse 800 receiving yards and his four receiving TDs were his lowest total. Things can only get better from here on out; however the question is by how much? Carson Palmer is certainly an improvement from the cavalcade of nonsense that played under center in Arizona last season. That said, the jury is still out on Palmer despite his big improvements a year ago. Fitzgerald is a high-upside WR2 that still has elite WR1 talent and ability.
WR Michael Floyd - Sleeper (undervalued)
The opinions vary on Michael Floyd. For much of his rookie season, his playing time was just as inconsistent as his production. He will now be pushing for a lot more snaps and has the potential to breakout in his second season. Larry Fitzgerald should see double coverage constantly, leaving Floyd and his strong upper body to compete one-on-one in man coverage. There are some unknowns and uncertainty too. While it would be valid to assume a better season due to the addition of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer, will that actually push Floyd into fantasy relevancy? It is possible, but Floyd might become a bit of a reach as a WR2 or even WR3 if his average draft position continues to climb.
WR Andre Roberts - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Andre Roberts likely fits in the slot alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. He is coming off a career-high season in 2012 with personal bests across the board. On the off chance that the Cardinals' aerial attack really takes off, Roberts could have T.Y. Hilton like potential. Considering Roberts caught 64 passes in a down year for the Cards, there's some decent deep league value here. This former Citadel alum will be a free agent next season, so he will want to play well in his contract season.
TE Robert Housler - Sleeper (undervalued)
Due to a struggling offensive line, the Cardinals have often asked their tight ends to stay in-line to block. Rob Housler does have some athletic potential though. After being groomed in the past two seasons, Housler has potential. There are some red flags: He has not proven to be an asset in the red zone yet and he's never even scored a touchdown. With so many young, promising tight ends available late in drafts, Housler could be overlooked, allowing you to draft a boom-or-bust pick late in your draft.
PK Jay Feely - Bye Week Fill-in
This 13-year journeyman is playing for his fifth team. Jay Feely kicked the second-best field goal percentage of his career a year ago after converting 25 of 28 field goals. Arizona doesn't figure to have one of the better offenses in the NFL, so it is unlikely that Feely will be able to exceed Top 15 status at his position.
Arizona Defense - Solid/Safe Pick
Arizona's defense and special teams derives much of its value in the return game. Between Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, this team could put together a highlight reel in any given game of long INT touchdown returns or a dazzling punt return. On defense, there are some great pieces like Calais Campbell, but there has been some turnover. Vets like Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are gone and it may take time for some of the Cards' new additions to come together on the field. The whole unit will have their work cut out for them in a blossoming NFC West.