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NFL Fantasy Football Week 15 Predictions: Tim Hightower Carries Cardinals Against Clausen And The Woeful Panthers

Welcome to Week 15 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 John Skelton, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Beanie Wells, and Tim Hightower. We'll also look across the sidelines at the offensively inept performances of Steve Smith and Jonathan Stewart.

John Skelton: Yes, the rookie out of Fordham presented the Cardinals with the first semblance of decent quarterback play they have seen in quite a while. But before everybody jumps aboard the Skelton bandwagon, it would be wise to remember that we found ourselves in this exact situation a few months ago.

In Max Hall's first start -- within the plushy confines of University of Phoenix Stadium -- he accumulated 5.72 fantasy points while leading the Cardinals to a surprise win over the Saints. In his next start -- on the road against a bad team -- the Stormin' Mormon came away the proud owner of a -1.56 point day.

John Skelton's first start last week -- within the plushy confines of University of Phoenix Stadium -- saw the youngster total 6.74 fantasy points while leading the Cardinals to a surprise win over the Broncos. His next start, you guessed it -- on the road against a bad team.

Honestly, there may be three people total out there that find themselves in the fantasy playoffs and are even considering starting a Cardinals quarterback. If that is you, you're already too far gone. There's nothing I can do to help you.

Fantasy Prediction: 19-39, 171 yards, 1 interception, 1 touchdown

Larry Fitzgerald: As expected, the on-field relationship between Fitzgerald and Skelton was somewhat shaky on Sunday. But really, what would you expect when the two only had a week to figure each other's rhythm out?

Still, the rookie looked Fitz's way consistently throughout the entire game, targeting him eleven times. That has to be a good sign for desperate Fitzgerald owners looking to get any kind of return their investment.

Tread lightly though, as the Panther defense has been performing relatively well this season. The secondary is ranked tenth in the NFL -- giving up only 205.5 yards in the air per game -- and has kept Roddy White, Anquan Boldin, and Tampa Mike Williams in check in recent weeks. Start Fitzgerald at your own risk.

Fantasy Prediction: 7 receptions, 79 yards, 0 touchdowns

Steve Breaston: Once again, Breaston came away from Sunday's game with underwhelming numbers. The young receiver has now played five straight games without eclipsing the 100-yard mark, five straight games without catching at least six balls, and six straight games without hauling in a touchdown. Those that were hoping the former Wolverine was due for a breakthrough season have to be disappointed with his performance.

Breaston only caught two balls against the Broncos, and was targeted far fewer times than his counterpart. If the Fitz-Skelton relationship is still a newborn, the Breaston-Skelton relationship must be stuck in the womb.

This week shouldn't prove any different, as the Panthers young secondary has the tools to make it a long day in Carolina. Breaston will improve on last week's performance, but not enough to be trusted.

Fantasy Prediction: 4 receptions, 65 yards, 0 touchdowns

Beanie Wells: The good news for Wells owners: Beanie carried the ball more times against the Broncos than he had since November 21st. The bad news: that means he got a whopping six carries.

Yep, it was just another disappointing day at the office for Wells on Sunday. In what has become routine, Beanie locked in a meager 1.6 fantasy points -- his sixth straight under-six-point week, and the tenth he has posted for the year.

Nothing is going to change this week, as Wells continues to sink farther and farther on the depth chart as the months pass. I don't even need to tell you not to start him.

Fantasy Prediction: 5 carries, 23 yards, 0 receptions, 0 touchdowns

Tim Hightower: The Tim Hightower Explosion return to Phoenix last week, as Ole Reliable rushed for a career high 148 yards and two touchdowns against the struggling Denver front-seven. 

Tim's 18 carries marked the most touches the Richmond alum has received since November 2nd, 2008. With an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, it is clear that Ken Whisenhunt understands that he needs to rely on the running game to be successful.

As the pressures of the fantasy playoffs hang in the balance, Tim Hightower seems like the only pony to saddle up with from this struggling Cardinals squad. Carolina may have a good secondary, but the defense's struggles this season have come in trying to stop the run. Expect another big day from Hightower.

Fantasy Prediction: 20 carries, 112 yards, 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 touchdown

Steve Smith: This season has seen Steve Smith join Larry Fitzgerald in the "Receivers Who Were Once Dominant But Are Now Toiling Away With An Outrageously Bad Quarterback Situation" Pantheon.

The former All-Pro is on pace to end up with his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign. Smith has yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark the entire year, and after catching touchdowns in each of the Panthers' first two games, the veteran hasn't caught a single one since.

Stuck with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback -- who may be having the worst rookie year in recent memory: 55.0 passer rating, 1:7 touchdown/interception ratio, multiple benchings --- Smith has become a non-factor in every sense of the word. Stay away from this man for any intensive fantasy purposes.

Fantasy Prediction: 4 receptions, 61 yards, 0 touchdowns

Jonathan Stewart: Like many Panthers, Stewart is posting career lows this season. After rushing for over 800 yards and ten touchdowns for two straight years, the former Oregon Duck has only managed to collect 531 yards and just two touchdowns in eleven contests.

Still, things have been turning around of late for the young back. Over the last three games, Stewart has averaged a respectable 107.6 yards rushing and 12.30 fantasy points.

The Cardinals defense let Knowshon Moreno get his stats last week, a trend that has maintained itself throughout the season. Start Stewart without hesitation, as he really is the only offensive option the Panthers have.

Fantasy Prediction: 23 carries, 108 yards, 0 receptions, 1 touchdown

 

Note: All point totals are based off of YahooSports.com's default fantasy scoring system