Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a while. With the NFL draft officially in the books, selections and trades have slightly altered the outlook of a few football clubs, which also, of course, impacts the wonderful world of Fantasy Football. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to return to Fantasy 32, a series of columns in which I highlight the fantasy significance of every team in football. Next up, the Arizona Cardinals.
After an embarrassment of embarrassments under center in 2012, the Cardinals at least upgraded a little bit at the quarterback position this year, right? Veteran Carson Palmer will likely be Arizona’s starting signal caller in Week 1. He threw for over 4,000 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 picks last season with the Raiders, a team that certainly lacked some big time targets on the outsides. Palmer was actually a lot more relevant in fantasy land than many people realized last season, finishing as the number 17 fantasy quarterback in 2012. You’re obviously not drafting him as anything more than a number two option, but Palmer’s value is a tad bit more intriguing. Unless, of course, that atrocious offensive line that led the league in sacks allowed a season ago (58) doesn’t keep him upright.
Umm, can we just skip this position? Okay, okay. Honestly, the Cardinals do have a bit of talent in their backfield. Ryan Williams has a ton of potential, but injuries have hindered him from reaching it thus far. And of course, the team went out and signed former Pittsburgh Steeler Rashard Mendenhall, a guy who was once a 1,000-yard, 7-10 touchdown guy. However, it seems injuries have also hurt his value, as he hasn’t been the same downhill runner as before. Still, the runners aren’t (entirely) the problem. Instead, it’s that mess of an offensive line in front of them. Perhaps Mendenhall can be a factor at the goal line, but let’s be honest, all fantasy owners are staying very far away from this situation.
Personally, it was very difficult for me to watch Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers of our past decade, struggle so much last year. The constant shuffling of poor quarterbacks killed Fitzgerald’s value, as the wideout barely finished a top 50 fantasy receiver. While it may not seem like much, going from a combination of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to a capable guy in Palmer should do wonders for Fitz. I don’t care if people think he is on the decline of his career, I still believe Fitzgerald is a top five receiver in the league, with the size, smarts and hands to kill opposing defenses. Also keep in mind, newly appointed head coach Bruce Arians typically involves downfield passing in his playbook. Oh yeah, he’s not an idiot. I’m sure he’ll look to make his best player the focal point of the offense. Don’t forget about Andre Roberts either. Last season, he had some strong outings while teams focused on Fitzgerald, actually scoring more touchdowns than him. Still, he is more of a waiver wire guy as the season progresses.
At the beginning of the year, this defensive unit was one of the best fantasy choices out there, ultimately finishing the season second in interceptions (22) with three touchdowns. Don’t forget about the dynamic special teams options in Arizona, mainly rising star corner Patrick Peterson, who had seven interceptions and four returned kicks for scores. Love Peterson for IDP leagues, but overall, they are a solid option, but more of a streaming defense to start the 2013 campaign.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.