Everyone loves a good fantasy sleeper. He’s a guy that everybody passes on, and you scoop him up late in the draft and get a ton of return on your investment. For those of you wondering if that could be Arizona Cardinals running back Stepfan Taylor, the short answer is no.
It’s not a slight against Stepfan Taylor. Last year as a senior for the Stanford Cardinal, he rushed for 1,530 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 41 receptions for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He’s more than capable of being the starter in Arizona. As for his fantasy value, there are things working against him.
The running back situation in Arizona is a bit cloudy to say the least. Rashard Mendenhall is currently slated as the starter and Ryan Williams is his backup. Both players, however, are having knee troubles, and it could cost them both playing time.
It’s the perfect storm for Taylor to step in and score you some points, right? Wrong.
While the two in front of him may not be there for very long, Mendenhall is still slated to play come opening day and Taylor would be a no. 2 that would get minimal reps. Whenever Mendenhall needs a breather, Taylor would step in.
Let’s just say that Mendenhall does go down for the season or misses significant playing time due to knee injuries. Then Taylor would step in and shoulder the workload. With the state of the Cardinal’s offensive line, however, I hope he has strong shoulders.
In 2012, the Cardinals were statistically the NFL’s worst rushing team. They averaged a league-worst 75.3 yards per game on the ground. A lot of that can be attributed to a less-than-stellar offensive line. To remedy that, they drafted Jonathan Cooper in April’s NFL Draft. This past week, Cooper broke his leg and could possibly miss the entire season.
Two more things that work against Taylor’s fantasy value is Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer. Over the years, head coach Bruce Arians has gotten more and more pass-oriented with his offense. In 2012, his Indianapolis Colts threw 59 percent of the time, but they still averaged about 27 rush attempts per game. With a quarterback like Palmer and a weapon like Fitzgerald, you’ve got to believe Arians will be airing it out.
There’s no doubt that Stepfan Taylor is a talented enough running back to challenge Mendenhall for the starting job in Arizona. But just because he’s good enough to start on their team, doesn’t mean he’s good enough to start on yours. Play it safe and don’t take a chance on Stepfan Taylor for your fantasy team.