After nearly beating the Steelers in the Super Bowl, the resurgent Cardinals returned to the playoffs in 2009 only to lose big in the divisional round to the future champion Saints. The success of the Cardinals has been a great story over the past two seasons, but they now find themselves in a time of transition.
Fantasy hero Kurt Warner has decided to retire, leaving the Cardinals with questions on offense for the first time in a few years. This team still needs to score, especially with a defense that gave up 90 points in just two postseason games. Warner’s poise, leadership and quick release made this team incredibly difficult to defend. His retirement, while inevitable, must keep Coach Whisenhunt up at night.
It looks like the offense will finally be handed over to Matt Leinart, but he’s just one of many players whose dynasty values are in flux right now. Let’s take a closer look at the Cardinals in today’s edition of the dynasty capsule.
Players in their Prime
Larry Fitzgerald WR
Any questions about Fitzgerald’s dynasty value begin and end with Leinart. If the quarterbacking is solid, Fitzgerald is a top 10 dynasty commodity. If the quarterbacking is suspect, his numbers will suffer a little accordingly.
Don’t sell, though. He’s a dominant talent who would put up 1,000 yards and eight to ten touchdowns with just about anyone at the helm. Dynasty owners will certainly take a repeat of his 1,092 yards, 92 catches, and 13 touchdowns each and every year.
Beanie Wells RB
Wells should be the biggest beneficiary of the Warner retirement. Coach Whisenhunt had to adjust his offensive philosophy to cater to Warner’s strengths of late, but he’d prefer to have a team that’s run oriented first.
The staff will want to protect Leinart to build his confidence and that means a heavy load for Wells. While his durability is a concern, he’s obviously much more talented than Tim Hightower. Wells should flirt with his first 1,000 yard season and double digit scores.
Matt Leinart QB
After three years of waiting, the reigns to the offense are Leinart’s again. There are major questions about his arm strength, leadership and maturity going into the season. If he can answer the bell, he’s a sneaky grab in dynasty leagues. However, the leash on Leinart will be short. This is surely his last chance at being the quarterback in Arizona. There’s a major buyer beware label on him, but this is his shot.
Steve Breaston WR
Anquan Boldin is gone and this former Michigan Wolverine is ready for prime time. Boldin was able to post 84 catches, 1,024 yards and four touchdowns for the Cardinals last year as the second option to Fitzgerald.
Breaston has shown he’s more than ready to vault into the starting lineup and was able to post 55 catches, 712 yards, and had three scores of his own as the third option last season. While the Cardinals won’t throw nearly as much, the added playing time will surely do wonders for Breaston.
Early Doucet WR
Doucet’s regular season numbers don’t scream Pro Bowl to anyone. After all, there were quite a few receivers who had at least 17 catches, 214 yards, and one touchdown last season.
Don’t get caught looking at those numbers, though. Doucet had 14 catches, 145 yards, and two touchdowns in the two postseason games the Cardinals played last year. It looks like this former LSU Tiger is finally ready to maximize his potential. With Boldin out of the mix, his time is now. He’s certainly a buy candidate in dynasty leagues.
Players with Falling Values
Tim Hightower RB
Hightower was one of the best waiver wire pickups in dynasty leagues the past two seasons. Unfortunately, time has likely run out on this former Richmond Spider. Last year, he was able to muster 4.2 yards per carry, but that's likely not enough...
While Hightower may be the starter for some games, Wells is clearly the best option on this team and his owners can only hope for the short end of a 70/30 split at best going forward. His long-term dynasty outlook isn’t stellar.
Andre Roberts WR
This rookie wide receiver is worth a roster spot in deep leagues. His stock fell a little when he went to Arizona and their roster full of talented wideouts, but this Mel Kiper, Jr. favorite from The Citadel has talent. I mean, really, has Captain Hairdo ever steered us wrong?
Derek Anderson QB
If Leinart fails early, Anderson should take over. We’ve seen enough from Anderson to know he’s maddeningly inconsistent, but anyone throwing to Fitzgerald would have value.
John Skelton QB
I love the Skelton pick in Arizona. He should make the team as the third quarterback and has virtually no chance of seeing the field soon, but he has great measurables. At 6’5” and 258 pounds, this small school product from Fordham has the frame and skill set to take a chance on. He was incredibly productive at the collegiate level, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards last season.
After taking control of the NFC West with a high-flying offense the past few years, the Cardinals find themselves in a pivotal time of transition. There are more questions than answers in Arizona this season.
Will the quarterbacking be good enough? Can they handle the loss of both Warner and Boldin in the same year? Will the running game be able to produce more? These questions and more will all need to be answered very quickly.
If they can find a way to build on their newly found winning tradition, there’s a lot to like from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. If they can’t, the desert sun will feel pretty comfortable compared to the hot seats they’ll sit upon.