The Arizona Cardinals boast a fearsome defense along with the rest of the NFC West. But it seems that their defense will lose one of its most prominent pieces for 2014. Cardinals LB Daryl Washington was suspended today for yet another violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. So, how does this affect the fantasy football world?
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim released a statement following Washington’s suspension that it’s simply the “next man up” for the team. In this case, the next men up at inside linebacker will most likely be Kevin Minter and Larry Foote.
Minter was drafted in 2013 but didn’t see much playing time. With the departure of Karlos Dansby to the Cleveland Browns and now Washington’s suspension, Minter will now get his opportunity to make his presence known. Foote signed with Arizona this offseason following his release from the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is close to the end of his career, but he will help by providing a veteran presence to the Cardinals LB corps. Keep an eye on both Minter and Foote in IDP leagues this coming season.
Washington’s suspension also downgrades Arizona’s DEF/ST in standard leagues. The Cardinals were the fifth-best defense in fantasy last year, and the loss of both Dansby and Washington is disconcerting. The two of them combined for 9.5 sacks and six interceptions (two of which were returned for TDs) in 2013. While Arizona will still have a stout run defense, it’s unsure whether they will remain a top-five fantasy defense in 2014 without their two star LBs. As of right now, I wouldn’t reach for the Cardinals’ defense in this upcoming draft until the last round or two.
In summary, watch Minter and Foote as potential LB options in IDP, and don’t reach for the Cardinals’ defense in your draft based on their 2013 performance.