What Does John Skelton's Benching Mean for Cardinals, Fantasy Owners?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst INovember 18, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18:  John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field after a turnover on downs against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 18, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals' decision to bench starting quarterback John Skelton in favor of rookie Ryan Lindley in Sunday's 23-19 loss against the Atlanta Falcons further illustrates the myriad of problems for the Cardinals passing game. 

For fantasy owners, the musical chairs of quarterbacks in Arizona only waters down the value for the remaining relevant players on the Cardinals roster. 

Up 13-0 in the second quarter, Arizona pulled Skelton after the quarterback had completed just 2-of-7 passes for seven yards. He missed receiver Larry Fitzgerald on what would have been an easy touchdown, so coach Ken Whisenhunt pulled the trigger on the switch. 

In came Lindley, a sixth-round rookie from San Diego State, and the results weren't much of an improvement. In fact, things got much worse.

In two-and-a-half quarters of play, Lindley completed just 9-of-20 passes for 64 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He was sacked three times and his yards per attempt average finished at just 3.2.

Lindley also lost a fumble in second quarter that helped the Falcons get back into the game in their eventual victory.

Thanks to the miserable quarterback play, the production from the Cardinals' main fantasy names all but dried up. 

Fitzgerald caught just one pass on seven targets for 11 yards and zero touchdowns, Andre Roberts caught one pass on five targets for seven yards, and Michael Floyd caught two passes on four targets for 18 yards. 

The only player who benefited from Arizona's terrible quarterback situation was running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, who rushed 22 times for 127 yards and a score. 

The Cardinals welcome the St. Louis Rams—fresh off a big loss to the New York Jets at home in St. Louis—to Arizona next week. Quarterback Mark Sanchez was able to rebound against the Rams pass defense, but the Cardinals may not have that same kind of luck. 

Considering the short leash of Skelton, Lindley's performance Sunday, and the looming health status of Kevin Kolb and his ribs, the Cardinals are simply running out of answers behind center. Pulling Skelton for a rookie only complicated that mess.

Who will start next week against the Rams is anyone's guess, but it's clear that the fantasy value of any player on the Cardinals offense is going to suffer.

Fitzgerald is still a starting-caliber fantasy player, and Stephens-Howling has some flex potential, but avoiding the rest of this offense looks like the safest play for the rest of the 2012 season.