Welcome to Week 14 of the NFL schedule. SB Nation Arizona is your source for all Arizona Cardinals-related fantasy football analysis. Need some last minute predictions, help setting lineups, or info on who to sit and who to start? We're here for you.
This week we take a look at the potential fantasy impact of newcomer John Skelton, along with regulars Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Beanie Wells, and Tim Hightower. We'll also take a gander at the high-flying connection between surefire Pro Bowlers Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd.
John Skelton: A completely unproven rookie quarterback takes the reigns from a struggling Derek Anderson. Haven't we been here before?
Yes, the John Skelton era was bound to come sooner or later, and Cardinal fans can only hope it works out slightly better than the short-lived Max Hall era. Fun fact: counting Matt Leinart, Skelton is now the fourth starting quarterback in Arizona since Kurt Warner retired. Think maybe the front office wasn't really prepared for the old man to leave?
A new quarterback always carries the benefit of ambiguity on his side. Hell, for all we know Skelton could be the second coming of Tom Brady. But, after all the ineffectiveness we've seen throughout the season, is there really any reason to think the pattern of incompetence won't continue. With the fantasy playoffs looming, stay away from the Cardinals situation at all costs.
Fantasy Prediction: 14-31, 164 yards, 2 interceptions, 0 touchdowns
Larry Fitzgerald: At this point I think it's safe to say that Fitzgerald has been an enormous fantasy bust. It may not have been his fault -- he, like many Cardinals, is a victim of circumstance -- but the former Pro Bowler has surely doomed a large number of fantasy seasons.
To further compound matters, Fitzgerald has come up short when it matters most. The past two weeks -- when fantasy owners make their playoff push -- have seen the wideout total nine combined points.
Now Fitzgerald has to get acclimated to his third quarterback of the season. There is little-to-no reason to believe the Fitz-Skelton connection will be any better than the underwhelming Fitz-Anderson or Fitz-Hall connections. If you're still alive in your league, and you have any better options, it might be time to bench the Cardinal (if you haven't already).
Fantasy Prediction: 4 receptions, 41 yards, 0 touchdowns
Steve Breaston: Breaston's woes continued last week, as his touchdown-less streak moved to six straight games. Similar to Fitzgerald, it has been quite a long time since the young Cardinal has turned in any kind of relevant or significant fantasy performance.
This week sure doesn't seem like it will provide the turnaround fantasy owners have been hoping for. Skelton and Breaston have had only a week together to develop any sort of connection, and it is likely that the fourth-year wideout will end up with yet another disappointing performance.
Fantasy Prediction: 5 receptions, 49 yards, 0 touchdowns
Beanie Wells: Wells again received virtually no action last week, touching the ball three times for 24 yards. To make matters worse, Beanie's failure to pick up the blitz resulted in devastation, and only strengthened Whisenhunt's distrust in the second-year back.
Wells' totals for the year: 86 rushes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. His numbers fall behind those of Joseph Addai, Ryan Torain, and DeAngelo Williams -- all of whom have played just six games this season. To call Wells a disappointment is an understatement.
The pattern of ineptitude should continue this week, as Wells has given Whisenhunt practically no reason to play him. Limited touches and limited results should be expected.
Fantasy Prediction: 4 carries, 16 yards, 0 receptions, 0 touchdowns
Tim Hightower: With the Cardinals' state of affairs swirling in disarray, Tim Hightower seems to have been the only beneficiary. As the quarterback situation worsens, coach Ken Whisenhunt is becoming more and more resigned to this squad's inevitable fate as a running team.
With Beanie Wells on the backburner, last week saw Hightower garner the most carries he had all year, to admirable results. The fifth-round pick out of Richmond ran for 81 yards on 15 carries -- good for 5.4 yards per carry.
The uncertain nature of John Skelton's promotion will result in a gameplan focusing heavily on running the ball against Denver's porous defense. A solid day should be expected out of the only viable option on the Cardinal offense.
Fantasy Prediction: 17 carries, 92 yards, 2 receptions, 11 yards, 1 touchdown
Kyle Orton: Some things in this world just don't make sense. Kyle Orton's 2010-2011 campaign counts as one of them.
Through twelve games, the former Chicago-castoff has thrown for 3487 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions. His 93.3 quarterback rating ranks seventh among signal callers who have started all of their team's games. I don't know how he is doing it, but the Bronco is having a fantastic year on a ridiculously dreadful team.
On the other side, the Cardinals secondary has been struggling mightily of late, giving up big days to Matt Cassel, Matt Hasselbeck, Brett Favre, and Josh Freeman in recent weeks. Orton will likely join that list after Sunday's game.
Fantasy Prediction: 27-38, 371 yards, 0 interceptions, 2 touchdowns
Brandon Lloyd: Remember what I said about Orton's 2010-2011 season? Yeah... that same thing applies to Lloyd.
A middling, journeyman receiver for most of his career, Lloyd has somehow exploded this year, far-eclipsing any yearly-highs he had previous posted. The eight-year wideout is leading the league in receiving, catching 60 balls, for 1153 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
The probable fantasy wavier-wire pickup of the year, Lloyd has saved many an owner's chances in a season of disappointing high-profile receivers.
Lloyd was put in check last week, only catching two balls for 31 yards. However, it should be noted that the last two times Lloyd was held under 60 yards receiving, he exploded the following week, amassing 169 yards and a touchdown in both contests. History will repeat itself again this week as Brandon matches up across a struggling DRC.
Fantasy Prediction: 10 receptions, 169 yards, 1 touchdown
Note: All point totals are based off of YahooSports.com's default fantasy scoring system