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Dynasty Capsule: Arizona Cardinals

As part of the premium content package, we’ll be unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all Spring and Summer. This year, we’re going to also have a follow-up to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite portions – the dynasty sleeper. We begin our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals.

Quarterbacks

Kevin Kolb

To say last season was disappointing for Kolb would be an understatement. If you want to characterize it more accurately, you’d have to call it an epic disaster. After trading away the farm to the Eagles for the rights to Kolb, he spent the season looking either well below average or laying down on the trainer’s table. Getting just 1,955 passing yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and seven fumbles out of their new “franchise quarterback” wasn’t what the Cardinals thought they’d signed up for.

The confidence the Cardinals have Kolb is obviously pretty shaky. After all, they entered the Peyton Manning sweepstakes this offseason in hopes of luring him to the desert. Had Manning decided to sign with Arizona, Kolb would have likely been released and left looking for a job.

Kolb enters the season as the likely starting quarterback, but he’ll have to show great improvement for the Cardinals to feel good about him being entrenched there long-term. He has the weapons at his disposal to be successful, especially with the addition of rookie Michael Floyd joining uber-stud Larry Fitzgerald, so he just needs to regain his confidence and stay healthy for any dynasty league owner to feel confident about him being their QB2. That should be easy, right!?!

At this point, any dynasty owner would be foolish to trade him as they’d get mere pennies on the dollar for his services. If you own Kolb, he’s a “hold” for the moment and you just have to cross your fingers for what looks to be a minor miracle.

John Skelton

The Cardinals turned to Skelton last year when Kolb went on the shelf and he fared pretty well considering his lack of experience and small school pedigree. He’s an imposing figure, standing tall at 6’6″ and weighing 244 pounds and it seems as if he simply has the physical attributes to play the part.

While nobody had anywhere near the expectations they did for Kolb, Skelton posted very similar numbers with 1,913 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in just eight games last year. While those numbers aren’t anything to write home about, he showed at least enough ability to be in the mix to start this season. While he’s expected to lose the competition based much on the hefty investment the Cardinals have in Kolb, he’s at least worth monitoring and rostering in a deep league should Kolb fail to impress yet again.

Ryan Lindley

While Lindley may not possess the pinpoint accuracy of many other signal callers from the 2012 NFL Draft, he merits major long term sleeper status based on the situation he was drafted into.

When you watch Lindley’s play at San Diego State, you see a player with poor footwork, questionable decision making ability and an absolute cannon for an arm. It’s an odd combination on paper, but one all too familiar to NFL scouts. There are few questions about his ability to make every throw at the NFL level, but many about his ability to make them with any level of consistency – that’s one area you just can’t be poor in to be successful in the NFL. If you’re not accurate with the football, you won’t be seeing the field for long.

With the questions above him on the depth chart, it’s possible Lindley sees the field sooner rather than later. However, dynasty league owners who take him as a late round rookie flyer should hope he can sit back and work on his fundamentals so he doesn’t meet the same fate as so many other youngsters thrust into the spotlight too soon.

Many analysts believe Lindley will be an NFL starter one day, but that day needs to be far, far away. Sounds like a perfect dynasty league roster stash to me.

Running Backs

Chris Wells

With Wells, it’s always a case of good news and bad news.

On the good side, he set career highs with 245 carries, 1,047 rushing yards and ten touchdowns last season, finally turning in a campaign worthy of borderline RB2 status in many leagues.

And now for the bad news.

Wells again played hurt for most of the season and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after the year. His inability to consistently stay healthy has been maddening to his owners. While there’s no doubting his toughness or ability to play through pain, we have still yet to see what a completely healthy Wells is capable of in any given season.

As we enter next season, there are still more questions than answers with Beanie. Can he stay healthy? Can the quarterbacks in Arizona keep defenses from stacking the box? Can he hold off Ryan Williams and remain the lead dog in a committee attack?

Again, owning Wells is maddening – let’s hope he can build upon a fine season and provide a consistent level of production in fantasy leagues.

Ryan Williams

If you ever wanted to know how it felt to have your kneecap pushed up into your thigh, you now have someone to ask! Williams was a hot first round rookie draft prospect heading into last year until that gruesome torn patellar tendon injury derailed his season before it got started.

Going into this season, the Cardinals hope Williams has recovered and is ready to be a solid complement to Wells in what they hope is an explosive backfield. He’s already running and making cuts on his surgically repaired right knee, so that’s a positive sign considering his injury took place just last August.

If you own Williams, you simply have to sit back and hope for the best. You can’t trade him now since his value is in the tank. Perhaps he can make a miraculous recovery and return to show at least most of the form that made him a highly sought after commodity in dynasty leagues just one year ago.

LaRod Stephens-Howling

In return leagues, Stephens-Howling does hold some value. However, with the seemingly imminent return of Williams, his chances of getting any type of meaningful carries have dwindled. With Patrick Peterson taking care of the punt return duties, Stephens-Howling is simply the kick returner for the Cardinals – that’s not enough to merit a roster spot in most leagues.

Alfonso Smith

Smith had a chance to make a name for himself last season with all the injuries in the Cardinals backfield. Unfortunately, he looked pedestrian at best. His 3.4 yards per carry weren’t anything to write home about and he looked like the definition of ordinary at the position. There are many better young projects out there to take a run at.

Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald

There are few players who can perform at an elite WR1 level despite horrific quarterback play. These players have the elite talent, determination and skill that can make even the worst quarterback look like a pretty decent player.

Fitzgerald is one of those players.

In his eight year career in the desert, Fitzgerald has amassed 693 catches, 9,615 yards and 73 touchdowns, making him a WR1 in any league. When you consider he’s played many of those years with mediocrity at the quarterback position, it’s a pretty amazing resume.

Going into this season, Fitzgerald in squarely in the middle of his prime production years. He’ll turn 29 at the beginning of the year, but keeps himself in tremendous physical condition. In fact, his offseason workout camps are starting to turn into the new version of “Camp Jerry Rice.”

The play of the Cardinals quarterbacks will be the only thing that really determines if Fitzgerald’s season is good or spectacular. His owners have to wonder what it would be like if he had players like Kurt Warner around every year. Let’s just hope Kevin Kolb can right the ship because Fitzgerald is one of only a handful of players who could give Calvin Johnson a run for his money as the WR1 in fantasy leagues.

Michael Floyd

We’ve focused a ton of attention on Floyd this offseason and for good reason. After seeing his draft stock rise ever since the end of his last season at Notre Dame, he was taken in the first round of the draft by the Cardinals and put into a great situation.

Many said Floyd would benefit greatly from not being “the guy” at first and learning from a veteran receiver. He has the greatest mentor of them all in Fitzgerald. If things go to plan, Floyd will develop into a viable fantasy weapon as he learns the nuances of the game and the value of working hard from his new “big brother.”

Asking the Arizona quarterbacks to sustain fantasy viability for not one, but TWO receivers early this season is asking a bit much, but Floyd does have the talent to be an immediate contributor. After all, he caught 100 passes last season in college – that’s no small feat.

The Cards have been on an exhausting quest to replace Anquan Boldin with a viable receiving complement to Fitzgerald and it looks like they finally have their man.

Andre Roberts

Much like Skelton, Roberts was a small school prospect (The Citadel) who the Cardinals took a chance on. He’s improved in each of his two years and had a nice season where he posted 51 catches for 586 yards and two scores.

And now the bad news.

With the drafting of Floyd, the chances of Roberts ascending to the starting lineup have taken a huge hit. Should Floyd falter, Roberts would be in line for the job, but it’s clear the Cardinals are counting on the tandem of Floyd and Fitzgerald for the foreseeable future.

As it stands, Robert will most likely battle Early Doucet for slot receiver duties. It’s a battle worth monitoring as the winner will have significantly more value than the loser.

Early Doucet

As we mentioned, we’ll be providing in-depth analysis on sleepers from every team as part of the premium content package. Guess who we’ll cover first?

Demarco Sampson

Sampson was a bit of a training camp sensation last Summer, but failed to make an impact when the games counted, posting just three catches for 36 yards. He’ll likely be battling Stephen Williams for a roster spot this year. The Cardinals seem to like him, so it’s possible he makes the club again. He’s a deep, deep prospect and only really roster worthy in an incredibly deep league.

Stephen Williams

Williams was once like Sampson – a training camp sensation. Unfortunately, he’s shown very little to make anyone believe he has a viable future in dynasty leagues. As we mentioned, he’ll likely be in a battle for a roster spot this year. After once shining very bright as a prospect, the allure of Williams is almost non-existent.

Jaymar Johnson

Speaking of training camp stars, remember when Jaymar Johnson was the talk of Vikings camp? Yeah, it does seem like a long time ago.

Tight Ends

Todd Heap

Heap has been an absolute warrior in his eleven year career with the Ravens and Cardinals. The fact he’s made it through eleven seasons with the number of injuries he’s sustained is absolutely incredible.

There’s no doubt that Heap is in his twilight years and his 24 catches for 283 yards and one touchdown in ten games was a pretty big disappointment last season. Tight ends who can put up those types of numbers are a dime a dozen. While his stats should improve this upcoming year, he’s nowhere near the weapon he once was in dynasty leagues.

Rob Housler 

We like Housler as a prospect and enjoyed our recent interview with him. While it’s easy to look at his statistics and say he should have produced more given the time he spent on the field, it’s also equally easy to forget he’s still pretty young and came from yet another small school (Florida Atlantic).

While he should only be rostered in the deepest of leagues, Housler bears watching as Heap is aging quickly and the Cardinals are finally solidifying the second wide receiver position to open things up.

Stay tuned to the premium content section for our Arizona sleeper spotlight, which will come out in a day or two. We’ll then turn our attention to the Atlanta Falcons for our second installment of the off-season Dynasty Capsules.

Ken Kelly
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Stoney Curtis
10 years ago

Last year I traded Kolb, high on the hype, for a 2013 1st round pick. But, it’s hard for any QB to perform when he’s running for his life, or flat on his back. The Cardinals did little in upgrading their terrible O-Line woes, from last season. They might even be better off putting the pads on their current OL coach Russ Grimm(?). True enough, there is talent at the skill positions in Arizona; but much like last season it may be difficult from these players to have the opportunity in producing numbers.

Good work, thanks for the article. I would love to see a future ‘Dynasty Capsule: New England Patriots’ article. There seems to be a few RB & WR roles T.B.D. in Hoody-ville, this season…

Danton Goulet
10 years ago

Great article and I look forward to reading all the teams in their dynasty capsule articles. Great idea for us premium members!

Josh Gans
Reply to  Danton Goulet
9 years ago

Hmm..been a couple weeks..hope the Ravens arent too tough to write about! 😉

Chris Crane
10 years ago

My first post being a PREMIUM MEMBER = a prediction Lee Corso style! With their 1st pick in the 2014 draft the Arizona Cardinals select Arkansas State RB Michael Dyer….. and y’all heard it here first!

Skinny Elvis
10 years ago

Nice feature for premium subscribers. Good luck as you grow this site.

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