Sleeper in the Desert


By Zack Cimini

There is a running back that should be on all radars. One that did not play a full down last year due to a season ending injury in the pre-season. With a full year of recovery and at worst an expected split load, mark down this running back to keep a watchful eye on your fantasy draft day.

Out in Arizona the main cog for fantasy production has continuously came at wide receiver with Larry Fitzgerald. With quarterbacks over the years such as Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb, and John Skelton, Fitz has sidestepped the impossible to maintain fantasy stud status. This year the Cardinals believe they will finally take a post-Kurt Warner step forward.

In order for that to happen better balance offensively will have to occur. The defense has maintained its grit and kept the Cardinals in games. Offensively though the Cardinals are as stagnant as they come for a full four quarters. With a quarterback battle set to take place, the winner will be more interested in how they’ll be protected. Not just from the drop back position, but with a dependable reliable ball carrier.

Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells is a backfield tandem most do not circle or eye for probable fantasy points this upcoming season. Start paying attention. Both have had their injury woes through college and the pros, but it’s time for some good fortune to come to one of them.

Beanie Wells is still on the PUP list. The issue at hand has remained confidential, and Ken Whisenhunt has stated they do not expect Wells to even begin practicing for a couple more weeks. The fact that Wells has not participated in any drills has to raise concerns for expected early season fantasy performance. That opens the door for Ryan Williams to start the year off strong, and gain an advantage in the split backfield. Williams is going to sit out the first preseason Hall of Fame game against New Orleans, but is expected to get carries against Kansas City.

Arizona’s offense was putrid last season but still favorable in the running back department. With the distrust at quarterback they force feed the running back. An offensive trait Whisenhunt has carried over from Pittsburgh to Arizona. Over the course of the year from an injury standpoint, Williams is the home run threat versus Wells who is more of a power back.

If you use a draft strategy where you decide to jump on receivers or quarterbacks early, you’re going to be probing endlessly in desperation for a sleeper at running back. Williams should produce for you in deeper leagues and in standard leagues become a fantasy starter inserted a minimum of five to eight games. That’s even if Wells is fine and starts off the year with shared carries with Williams. Gamble on Williams and roll the dice for value for the long haul of the 2012 season.


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