NFC West: Matt Cassell

Fantasy impact: Kolb and the Cardinals

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
12:00
PM ET
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals after checking out ESPN's 300 highest-rated fantasy players for the 2011 season:

Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells became more valuable from a fantasy standpoint once a knee injury knocked out Ryan Williams for the season. Wells figures to get most rushing attempts for Arizona if healthy.

Larry Fitzgerald was only the sixth-ranked receiver from a fantasy standpoint, trailing Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks and Calvin Johnson. I could see Fitzgerald's touchdown total spiking now that Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall are not his primary quarterbacks.

Kevin Kolb ranked only 18th among fantasy quarterbacks, just ahead of the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez. He's already shown an eagerness to force the ball to Fitzgerald, with encouraging results.

The No. 18 ranking seems a bit low for a quarterback with Fitzgerald at the ready, but in looking at the names above Kolb on the list, the ranking seems about right.

Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Matt Cassell and Matthew Stafford rank ahead of Kolb.

Unranked Cardinals sleeper: Rookie tight end Rob Housler. The third-round draft choice needs seasoning as a blocker. He has flashed ability as a receiver through two preseason games. Crowding at the position will hurt him, however. Todd Heap and Jeff King give the Cardinals veteran options. They have a combined 16 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons.

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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
2009 NFL Franchise Player Pos. Team Salary
Julius Peppers
DE Panthers $16,683,000
Matt Cassel
QB Patriots $14,650,000
Dunta Robinson
CB Texans   $9,957,000
Antonio Bryant
WR Bucs   $9,884,000
Karlos Dansby
LB Cardinals   $9,678,000
Max Starks
OL Steelers   $8,451,000
Leroy Hill
LB Seahawks   $8,304,000
Terrell Suggs
LB Ravens   $8,304,000
Brandon Jacobs
RB Giants   $6,621,000
Darren Sproles
RB Chargers   $6,621,000
Oshiomogho Atogwe
FS Rams   $6,342,000
Bo Scaife
TE Titans   $4,462,000
Shayne Graham
K
Bengals   $2,483,000
Michael Koenen
P Falcons   $2,483,000

Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe knows how to maximize risk. He has an NFL-high 32 forced fumbles and interceptions over the last three seasons.

Still, I went to St. Louis last week thinking Atogwe was taking an unnecessary gamble by declining to sign the Rams' one-year, $6.342 million franchise offer.

Hadn't Atogwe seen Leroy Hill take a lesser deal after the Seahawks rescinded their unsigned $8.3 million franchise offer? What if the Rams' priorities changed unexpectedly or Atogwe suffered an injury?

The NFL's other unsigned franchise players -- Julius Peppers, Dunta Robinson and Terrell Suggs -- play premium positions. Peppers and Suggs are pass rushers. Robinson is a cornerback. The NFL values those positions at a higher level. Safeties? Only punters, kickers and tight ends have lower franchise-player values.

There's much to admire about Atogwe's approach. He continues to participate fully in the Rams' offseason program, from organized team activities (OTAs) to minicamps. He isn't publicly complaining about his contract situation. The Rams have noticed. They probably will reward him with a long-term deal at some point.

It's just that Atogwe arguably could have it both ways by signing the contract. The money would become guaranteed and the Rams still would consider a long-term deal. At present, the Rams are free to rescind the tag and Atogwe is free to skip training camp and the regular season without incurring fines. Both scenarios appear unlikely, but circumstances can change unexpectedly.

The Rams are rebuilding whether or not Atogwe shows up. As much as they value him, their long-term future doesn't depend on a safety. Atogwe seemingly has more to lose. I raised these issues with Atogwe. A transcript of our conversation follows.

(Read full post)

Around the NFC West: Cardinals fold in cold

December, 22, 2008
12/22/08
10:04
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals looked anything but playoff ready during their 47-7 defeat at New England.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals refused to blame the weather for their poor performance.

More from Somers: Despite holding out players with an eye to the playoffs, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt says Arizona needs to beat Seattle in the regular-season finale.

More still from Somers: In his view, the Arizona defense has lost its desire.

And this from Somers: Matt Cassel and Matt Leinart faced different obstacles in the meeting of former USC quarterbacks.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals took one look at the snow and decided they couldn't beat the Patriots.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Cardinals fullback Terrelle Smith as saying an 8-8 record would be unacceptable for Arizona.

Also from Urban: A look at Leinart's experience.

More from Urban: Whisenhunt uses the word "unacceptable" to describe his team's performance.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals-Patriots outcome was as easy to predict as the weather.

Also from Tulumello: Leinart struggled upon replacing Kurt Warner, but he did throw a long touchdown pass.

More from Tulumello: The Cardinals needed more than an hour to get to the stadium after getting stuck behind a snow plow.

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