Dynasty Spotlight: Skelton Key

One of the intriguing story lines heading into 2011 is the fate of Arizona’s current starting signal caller, John Skelton.

A rookie last year, Skelton only saw time as a starter after week 13 due to particularly poor play from Matt Leinart, Derrick Anderson and Max Hall.  A 5th round selection out of Fordham, Skelton did have some hype entering the draft as a strong armed, intelligent and high character prospect.  Eventually seeing the field in 2010, Skelton looked very much the rookie, with stats to match.

But always one to take great interest in a long-shot quarterback getting his first starts as a professional, I watched a large majority of Skelton’s snaps.  What I saw was enough for me to suggest an immediate addition to your roster.

Skelton’s stats, 60/126, 662 yards and a TD/INT ratio of 2/2 leaves much to be desired but one can’t expect stellar numbers out of the gate, especially for a rookie.  For a quarterback, the game doesn’t begin to slow down until late in their first season as a starter, and many times, well into their second season.  Each quarterback is different based on intelligence, time under center and a myriad of intangibles, but rare are those that have great success in a short number of starts.

What particularly intrigued me about Skelton was the comfort and poise that he exhibited.  He never looked flustered, out of control or overly confused – You might say he resembled the polar opposite of Matt Leinart. On display was Skelton’s strong arm and nice ball, he simply spins it very well.  It’s no coincidence that following the insertion of Skelton, all-world receiver Larry Fitzgerald returned to form catching 21 balls for 276 yards and 1 TD in his final three games.  Prior to Skelton, Fitzgerald’s last 100 yard game came in a week 9 tilt vs. MIN.

But what does the future hold for John Skelton?

Much like Carolina’s Jimmy Clausen, Skelton finds himself in a tough situation.  Skelton showed enough to provide hope for the future but head coaches and veteran players don’t often bank on hope, they need results.  It’s been reported, and denied, that Larry Fitzgerald has lobbied for a veteran signal caller.  Fitzgerald isn’t a malcontent and certainly is justified in his desire to have veteran leadership or ability at the quarterback position.  A team will only go as far as their QB can take them.  The question is now whether Arizona’s brass believes that Skelton can provide enough ability and leadership to be that quarterback in the near-term.

In short, it’s too much to ask for Skelton to put the Cardinals on his shoulders with only four games of experience, even with an entire off-season to prepare.  Unless the team is willing to lower expectations for 2011 and give Skelton a full year to gain experience, they must bring in a veteran.  Names such as Donovan McNabb, Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Hasselbeck could all provide near-term leadership and production.  Beyond veteran ability, the Cardinals also possess the 5th pick in the 2011 NFL draft and have been said to like both Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert.

But there is another scenario that could play to Skelton’s benefit.

If veteran leadership is desired, then another rookie QB selection with their fifth pick may not be in the cards (no pun intended).  It is possible that coach Whisenhut has seen enough from Skelton to believe that he could be the long term answer given more time, either behind a veteran signal caller or as the starter.  Arizona has also been linked to OLB Von Miller with their first pick, who would be an immediate upgrade to their defense.  But I would also advise our readers to consider the possibility that with two high profile receivers quickly rising on draft boards, that the Cardinals could opt for an immediate upgrade to their offense with a selection of A.J. Green or Julio Jones.  One of these receivers is nearly certain to be available when the Cardinals are on the clock.  An offense with Fitzgerald and A.J. Green/Julio Jones would be very intriguing for any quarterback in the system, veteran or not.

For Skelton, the odds are stacked against him for being the starter in 2011.  It’s far more likely that the Cardinals will bring in a veteran (my money is on McNabb) and allow Skelton to gain experience as his understudy.  But there does exist enough potential that Skelton must be rostered in every dynasty league.  If he is a free agent and you are in need of a QB, Skelton can be added in the late first round or early second round of your rookie/free agent draft should the Cardinals not select a QB in the first two rounds.  Be sure to rank him appropriately with the incoming crop of rookie QBs this year based on situation.

For John Skelton, the 2011 NFL draft will be the key to his future career.  It’s my belief that the last four games of 2010 were enough to dissuade the Cardinals from spending a high draft pick on the position.  We’ll update the situation further after the draft.

Jeff Haverlack

Jeff Haverlack

Senior Partner / COO at Dynasty League Football
Husband and father who devotes far too much time to Fantasy Football, research, statistics and content development.We created DLF to ultimately assemble the largest fantasy football community on the planet and want YOU to be a part of it.

You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff
Jeff Haverlack

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  1. Hot nikkels

    March 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I think Skelton is back to the bench to develop. The Cards will bring in a veteran free agent or trade for one when a CBA is reached IMO. If they don’t then Larry Fitzgerald will most likely hit the free agent market and pick his team of choice, but more importantly get the QB he feels will get him to another superbowl.

    Skelton is a nice stash in leagues with deeper rosters, but I don’t think he’ll have immediate value in 2011 or possibly 2012.

    • DLF_Jeff

      March 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      I agree. He’s in a no win situation unless Arizona can’t land a veteran or doesn’t draft a QB in the first two rounds during the draft. He’ll have a chance in 2012 if he plays behind a Bulger or McNabb.

  2. Sanh

    March 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Nay, I think Cardinals would sign Marc Bulger to be their stopgap QB to allow them to groom Skelton. Bulger and Warner are alike when it comes to QB skills. Remember, They did covet Bulger but Bulger went to Ravens due to a high contract offer.

    • DLF_Jeff

      March 29, 2011 at 5:53 am

      That’s the expectation, but something tells me that Bulger isn’t the answer this year. I still think the most likely path is to sign a veteran like Bulger or McNabb rather than draft a QB early … but only Whisenhut knows for sure at this point what is really desired.

    • Hot nikkels

      March 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

      I dont think Bulger threw a regular season pass last year. You never know, but I think Mcnabb would be a good fit for the Cards since his home and family are in AZ. Still, players like Mcnabb and Bulger are stop gap players at this point in their careers.

      I believe that the Cards are going to be in the mix for Kevin Kolb and will overpay to make sure they acquire him. What are the chances the Cards do whatever it takes to get the QB that will get Fitz to want to sign? Or is that no part of their thinking process? They’ve already been asking him about personel from what I read. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin.

  3. Brian

    March 29, 2011 at 7:51 am


    Bulger and Warner are equal in quarterback abilities? I couldn’t disagree more. Warner, possible HOF, Bulger stepped in and ruined the team, a journeyman backup for what the Rams did for him, nothing else, can’t hold Warner’s shoulder pads.

  4. Robert Bobson

    March 31, 2011 at 7:15 am

    There’s nothing possible about Warner’s HOF possibilities. Look up his playoff stats, he’s the most efficient QB of all time in the playoffs. One of his big knocks is that he played on super talented teams, but looking at the rams post warner, and now the cardinals post warner, there should be no doubt of his talent.

    Back to the subject at hand, I went all in on skelton last season, and picked him up in every league I was in with my 3rd round draft picks. I never expected him to start this season, and I find the fact that he did promising, particularly in dissuading the cardinals from taking a QB in the first round. For his future, I would not mind at all a Veteran McNabb-type QB landing in Arizona ( and McNabb lives in Arizona, so it’s a natural fit).

    Even if the cardinals draft a qb though, I don’t think it’s an end of the world disaster. If he has the talent, he will make it somewhere, at somepoint. In drafting him last year, I knew that he was a project pick. I think the fact that he started this year may cause some people to expect too much from him, too soon. They may get impatient with him if he doesn’t start this year, or doesn’t produce at the start of the season if he does start. I think people should be patient with him, because QB’s need a while to develop in general (usually) and he specifically comes from such a small school that I think more patience than normal needs to be exercised.

    • DLF_Jeff

      March 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

      I think Skelton is a decent bet for 2012 and I don’t believe that the Cards will draft a QB at 1.05. The second round is a possibility but I think they’re better served picking up a McNabb or Palmer though. But there’s also the possibility that nothing works out and Skelton gets to take his chances. I love his intelligence and his poise, I think he has a chance to be good.

  5. Palmer

    April 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    If they really want to help Skelton (and thereby help Fitzgerald) the Cardinals must address their run-game.

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