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2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kevin Kolb, Welcome To Relevance

After a complete team restructuring following last year's debacle, is it safe to say that Arizona Cardinals could actually make an impact on the 2011 fantasy football season?

So football is back. Hey, that's great. But you know it really means? That's right, fantasy football is back! The quintessential sport of beer-drinking, trash-talking armchair quarterbacks everywhere. And you know what else? The Arizona Cardinals might just be relevant this year. If so, it would certainly be a breath of fresh air after the Anderson/Hall/Skelton/Bartel debacle that crippled the 2010 team for all intensive fantasy purpose.

But now that shameful chapter is over -- hopefully -- and we've got our new man, Kevin Kolb. Certainly, the supposed franchise savior will offer an improvement from last year's circus, but where does he really stand in the grand scheme of things. Let's take a look.

Yahoo! Sports:

  • 83rd ranked overall player
  • 14th ranked quarterback
  • Notably ranked behind Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, and Josh Freeman
  • Projected for 3,666 yards, 18.6 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 98 rushing yards, .7 rushing touchdowns, 7.7 fumbles (most out of any QB)

ESPN:

  • 110th ranked overall player
  • 18th ranked quarterback
  • Notably ranked behind Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Stafford, Freeman, and E. Manning
  • Projected for 2729 yards, 26 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 146 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown

CBS Sports:

  • 18th ranked quarterback
  • Notably ranked behind Mark Sanchez, Stafford, Cutler, Bradford, Flacco, Freeman, and E. Manning
  • Projected for 3651 yards, 22 touchdowns, 16.7 interceptions, 90.7 rushing yards, 0.5 rushing touchdowns, 4.8 fumbles (fourth most)

SB Nation's Fake Teams:

  • 20th ranked quarterback
  • Notably ranked behind Kyle Orton, Sanchez, Stafford, Cassel, Cutler, Bradford, Flacco, Freeman, and E. Manning

As you can see, the predictions are all over the board but relatively consistent in their mediocrity. Looking around fantasy, the general consensus seems to be that there are four tiers of quarterbacks.

Tier A is your bona fide studs; the guys that are guaranteed to go in the first few rounds and give you 25 points a game. Think Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Michael Vick.

Tier B is the solid performers. Quarterbacks you could definitely win a fantasy championship with. We're talking about guys like Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, or Ben Roethlisberger.

Tier C is where it gets murky. These are either the guys you grab after its been seven rounds and you frantically realize you still need a quarterback, or the guy you take as a back-up, gambling that they'll explode a la Josh Freeman or Matt Cassel last year.

Tier C is hit-or-miss. You could conceivably win a championship with Flacco, Stafford, or Bradford as your quarterback. Or your season could go down in flames. There's really no middle ground.

Tier D doesn't need to be explained. Hey there Alex Smith.

Right now it seems like Kolb is getting slotted into Tier C, which makes sense. Kolb is inherently risky. There's so little out on him right now, you just don't know what you're going to get.

Still, there's no question he has the potential to end the season somewhere in Tier B, if only for one reason: Larry Fitzgerald. As we all know, the three-time All-Pro receiver is a monster when given the opportunity. Hell, back in the days of Kurt Warner it seemed like half the offense was built around the play "just throw it real high to Fitz."

That action was sorely missed last season, but it just might be making a comeback. We already saw it during the Cardinals' first preseason game. It was the one play that everyone was talking about, if only because it looked so damn familiar. Kolb threw it up there, and Fitz went and got it, just like he used to.

A great quarterback can make an average receiver look good. But couldn't the reverse be true as well?

If it is, Kolb might just surprise some people.

Maybe I'm just a desperate homer, but I think Fitzgerald's guidance, coupled with Kolb's experience in a West Coast offense, will result in a moderately surprising season that could reward loyal Arizona fantasy owners. By all means, take a late round flyer on the guy. It could pay dividends.

SB Nation Arizona 2011 Fantasy Football Prediction: 3,422 yards, 26 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 212 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

Additional note: Where the hell did all those fumble predictions come from? The guy has just seven fumbles in 19 career appearances, and now he's supposed to lead the league? Is there something I'm missing here?

For all your fantasy football needs from around the NFL, visit SB Nation's fantasy hub and blog Fake Teams.