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Fantasy Football Maniaxs


January 31, 2010 8:45 AM

Kurt Warner Retires: Fantasy Football Impact on Cardinals Players

kurt warner helmet.jpgArizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner has retired from the NFL. Unlike Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre, it is likely that Warner will stay retired. With his retirement will come a shake up of the Arizona Cardinals offense.

There are far reaching consequences if things remain how they are. The retirement will not impact seasonal leagues too significantly as it was announced early enough. Players' values will fluctuate and stabilize by the time seasonal drafts come around.

 This is not the case with dynasty leagues.

People who can make accurate assessments of player values can take advantage of sell-high opportunities and buy-low offers.

 

The biggest impact obviously is to Warner himself. Unlike other quarterbacks who retired for lack of work, Warner has a job with the Arizona Cardinals. Because of this job availability, he is not being forced to retire, thus more likely to stay retired. It is probably too late to trade Warner now. It is safe to drop him from your dynasty leagues.

 

The successor to the Cardinals QB job is Matt Leinart. Leinart was a great college prospect winning the Heisman Trophy and a national title with USC. His NFL career has been less than glamorous. He started 10 games in 2006 as a rookie throwing 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In 2007, he was pulled for Warner because he had difficulty running the two-minute offense.

 

This past season Leinart had significant playing time in two games; Week 12 at Tennessee and Week 17 at home versus Green Bay. Both Tennessee and Green Bay are solid pass defenses and moving the ball fairly well could have been a positive sign of things to come. Unfortunately, Leinart went 34-for-52 for 316 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions in those games.

 

The completion percentage was decent at 65.3 percent but the yards per attempt were low at 6.07 per attempt. If you assumed that because of the tough matchups his numbers would suffer, consider this: If you increased his YPA production by 20 percent to 7.22 per attempt, it would still only put him even with Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco at 14th overall. This does not include Leinart's 0-2 TD to INT ratio he accumulated in those games. Leinart's relief efforts do not encourage me to believe he will be a top notch QB like he was expected to be when he was drafted into the league.

You may wish to play it safe and hold him for a season to see if he defies the odds and succeeds. It is a prudent option to take the wait and see approach. It also could be very wise to sell him high now while some owners inflate his potential production. Warner owners could be a prime candidate to buy Leinart for more than he is worth.

 

As for the Cardinals wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald's value remains unchanged. Even if Leinart fails, Fitzgerald should still produce. He is also young enough that he should survive and be productive long after the uncertainty of the Cardinals QB position is resolved. I also feel Anquan Boldin's value remains unchanged as well. He still has injury issues. Just like the rumbling of last year's rumor mill, there still is the possibility of Anquan being traded. With this uncertainty surrounding him already his dynasty value does not take a hit.

If you are in a PPR league, you can reduce Boldin's value a little bit. It is unlikely that both Fitzgerald and Boldin will produce multiple 80+ reception seasons in a row. Over the next few weeks when talking with your fellow dynasty owners, pay attention to their opinions of the Cardinals. If you get a sense that either receiver's owners are a little down on them because of Leinart, go ahead and take a chance on acquiring them cheap. If you are trading for Fitzgerald in a PPR dynasty league his natural value is a heck of a lot. Expect to give up at least a top 10 running back and a wide receiver.

 

One Cardinal whose value should increase is RB Chris Wells. In his rookie season Wells rushed for 793 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Last year he was caught in a RBBC role. It might be likely that he will be in a committee again. Since the Cardinals will not be relying on Warner next year, it is likely they will run the ball more giving more opportunities to Wells to gain yards. His touchdown ceiling still is around 10 total touchdowns.

 

The presence of an elite receiving staff and fellow RB Tim Hightower, who will vulture a few touchdowns, keeps his TD ceiling low for a couple of seasons. Before Warner's retirement Wells was a solid bet to be at least a good RB2 production for several years. Last year Wells ranked 26th in fantasy points scored in yardage leagues. Look for this young man to climb the rankings and end up in the top 15 RB in 2010 and beyond. Wells is a definite buy at running back. If you can get him without overpaying too much, do it.

By Chad Samuels,  analyst at Fantasy Football Maniaxs

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