Breaston's Intriguing Value

By Zack Cimini

When the Cardinals decided to resign Kurt Warner it was highly approved by fans and teammates, regardless of his age. Reason being is that Kurt Warner led one of the most dynamic passing attacks last season, which only got better in the playoffs. No one on the offensive side of the football could be happier than Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. Fitzgerald has been a top commodity since coming into the league, but was being held down a bit because of restraints on the offense. That included poor options at quarterback (Josh McCown, John Navarre, Shaun King, Matt Leinart, etc.). It took a solid year for the chemistry to build between him and Warner.

Once things got going for the offense everyone knew what would happen for Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. They’ve been a dynamic duo even with the lack of talent surrounding them. The big surprise for the Cardinals came in the play of Steve Breaston. Breaston came into the 2008 season as a quiet option that no one really knew if he would pan out. After a non existent rookie season he got his shot when the Cardinals decided Bryant Johnson wasn’t worth resigning. Johnson, remember was actually a first round pick the same year the Cardinals selected Anquan Boldin in the second round. In other words he was a bust. Still, the Cardinals knew they had a strong enough cast as a 1-2 punch to be okay.

After Breaston beat out Jerheme Urban it solidified his chance to become a big part of the Cardinals offense. One of the keys to playing with Kurt Warner is having an offense that utilizes a spread formation, which bodes well for a third receiver option. The first quarter of the season the Cardinals made it known that they planned to run the football. That didn’t work and led to the benching of Edgerrin James in favor of Tim Hightower. Hightower was also ineffective so back to the option of dropping back forty times a game. Breaston fed off of the teams willingness to throw the ball and exploited his matchups thanks to double coverage most of the time on Fitzgerald and even Boldin.

Breaston finished with over 1,000 yards receiving to go along with three touchdowns. All gigantic numbers for a guy that wasn’t on any fantasy radars going into the season. For those thinking that he benefited because of the attractions of Fitzgerald and Boldin, can look at the four games Breaston started when Boldin was hurt. In those games he scored two of his three touchdowns and had nearly 300 yards receiving. So if Boldin does sit out or hold out for a lengthy amount of time deep into the season, Breaston has the background of being able to get the job done as a starter.

There are two factors that do worry us. The drafting of Chris Wells may get the Cardinals rededicated to a ground attack. Their air attack may have been the biggest catalyst to their success last season, but in the playoffs it was Edgerrin James reemergence that opened up the big plays. It makes the Cardinals offense almost unstoppable, but will limit the amount of balls that can go around. The other is Kurt Warner’s durability combined with his age. He is coming off a season in which he started every game for the first time since 2001; a season in which he played four extra games including the playoffs. That gets you to thinking that may have been all she wrote. He did think long and hard about retiring but decided to give it another go. Not to long into the off-season Warner also underwent hip surgery, which might be routine but is of high concern for a 38 year old quarterback.

The dimensions of this offense are built for a quarterback of Kurt Warner’s caliber, but if he does go down all players lose two to three notches of fantasy value. Fitzgerald would drop from the number one receiver to possibly the bottom ten. Breaston’s value almost would be non existent. Matt Leinart may think he is ready and could be, but would be a management type quarterback if having to be inserted. The offense would be toned back tremendously.

If Warner can repeat his numbers of last season, Breaston will be the steal of many drafts. His yardage would hover around the same but touchdowns should increase to a respectable range.