2013 Team Outlook: Arizona Cardinals
QB Carson Palmer, ARI - Quality Backup
For the first time since 2007, Carson Palmer passed for over 4,000 yards a year ago. That's an admirable feat considering his teammates over in Oakland. He will have a better array of weapons, including Larry Fitzgerald and the promising Michael Floyd. New head coach Bruce Arians will certainly take more chances with the passing game. While with the Colts, he had Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton all playing very well. Palmer is a low-risk backup that can be selected toward the end of your draft. If you have an excellent QB1, Palmer is someone who can outproduce his draft value and possibly garner some trade interest with a hot start.
QB Drew Stanton, ARI - Not Draft Worthy
Drew Stanton was with the Colts back in 2011 and has limited experience with Bruce Arians' offensive scheme. Before that, Stanton played sparringly with the Detroit Lions from 2008 to 2010. The seven-year vet has no fantasy value.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, --- - Quality Backup
Rashard Mendenhall left during the first half of Arizona's Saturday night preseason game against the Chargers after suffering a right knee injury. Listed as questionable, Mendenhall did not return. Whether just a precautionary decision or something more serious will be revealed following the game. Before the injury, Mendenhall rushed six times for 47 yards. Before this injury, he's dealt with other phyiscal woes, all of which makes him an increasingly risky pick. Still, if he avoids missing significant time, Mendenhall has decent value with an ADP in the low 30's or those willing to take a shot despite the downside.
If the Cardinals had a better offensive line, fantasy owners might be higher on Rashard Mendenhall. In fact, the Cards have only produced one 1,000-yard rusher since the 2008 season. Just two offseasons ago, Mendenhall was coming off his best all-around season. The former Fighting Illini runner can contribute on all three downs and has been named the starter over backup Ryan Williams by new head coach Bruce Arians. Mendenhall should see around 250 touches this year, making him a decent value considering the public's low expectations and his fifth round average draft position. He would nicely fit as your RB3 or flex.
RB Stepfan Taylor, ARI - Dynasty Only
A steady, between-the-tackles runner, Stepfan Taylor grinded out the tough yards for the Stanford Cardinal. It's unlikely he sees the field much as a rookie, but this backfield lacks a permanent fixture. It is possible that the stars align and Taylor eventually sees a RB2 role in the near future. Given the Cardinals' work-in-progress backfield, he's an intruiging late-round dynasty pick you would need to stash for a season or two in order for him to blossom.
RB Ryan Williams, --- - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Back to back season-ending injuries have derailed the young career of Ryan Williams. Now entering his third season, there are no expectations from the fantasy community. His main competition, Rashard Mendenhall, has a very different running style. Williams doesn't have game-breaking speed, but he can make defenders miss in the open field to extend runs while also catching passes out of the backfield. Williams will begin the season as a change-of-pace backup and that role could slowly expand as the season wears on.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI - Stud (low risk)
Well-documented poor quarterback play decimated Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy value last season. Although his target numbers were in line with his career totals, the former Pittsburgh Panther failed to eclipse 800 receiving yards and his four receiving TDs were his lowest total. Things can only get better from here on out; however the question is by how much? Carson Palmer is certainly an improvement from the cavalcade of nonsense that played under center in Arizona last season. That said, the jury is still out on Palmer despite his big improvements a year ago. Fitzgerald is a high-upside WR2 that still has elite WR1 talent and ability.