Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley made his NFL debut last week against the Atlanta Falcons in place of the struggling John Skelton, and struggled himself by going 9-for-20 for 64 yards. But that was good enough to earn Lindley the first start of his career on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams as Kevin Kolb (ribs) made his return to practice on Wednesday.
Lindley was a sixth-round pick last April out of San Diego State, where he was a four-year starter and holds several school and Mountain West Conference records. Certainly no one anticipated he would play much, if at all, this season with Kolb and Skelton ahead of him on the depth chart but it seems the Cardinals have little to lose by starting him for the rest of the season if he plays well this week.
Fantasy owners may be wondering what to make of the Cardinals’ quarterback situation at this point. I think Skelton can be safely dropped, if he was even owned in most leagues by this point in the season, while Kolb can be held onto in deeper leagues since there’s a least a chance he will return in Week 13. Lindley is worth keeping an eye on in very deep leagues in case he has a good performance this week, but those outside of the deepest dynasty leagues can probably safely ignore him.
Fantasy owners are definitely most interested in how the Cardinals’ quarterback situation impacts wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is coming off a dismal game against the Falcons last week (one catch for 11 yards). He has had a disappointing season as a whole up to this point, with 52 receptions for 596 yards and four touchdowns as well as just one 100-yard game all season. So the move to Lindley even for a week is bad news for Fitzgerald’s chances to start to turn things around, but it’s safe to say any fantasy owner that has him has to continue starting him down the stretch and hope for the best.
But Fitzgerald did have 31 receptions for 363 yards and three touchdowns over a four-game stretch from Week 3-Week 6, all games Kolb started. So if Kolb continues to progress, is able to play in Week 13 and can hold up behind an atrocious Arizona offensive line, Fitzgerald could reap the benefits.
Arizona wide receiver Andre Roberts landed on the radar of fantasy owners early in the season with four touchdowns over the first four games, but with just one touchdown in his last six games he may have been dropped in a lot of leagues. He had his best game of the season in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins with Kolb starting (six receptions, 118 yards, two touchdowns), but he also had 18 catches over a three week stretch from Week 7-Week 9 with Skelton starting. All things considered Roberts is still worth hanging onto as a WR4 in 12 and 14-team leagues, but that could easily change as the fantasy playoffs approach.
Most fantasy football owners will not be greatly affected by Arizona’s quarterback shuffle as the season winds down, since Fitzgerald is by far the most fantasy-relevant player on the team and surely the only Cardinal owned in all leagues.