Last July in Cardinals training camp in Glendale, Arizona, Cardinals running back Andre Ellington was already a standout amongst his teammates. Ellington is exactly who the Cardinals have been seeking after years of frustrating draft picks and veteran misses in free agency at the running back position.

With an improved passing offense with Carson Palmer the offense finally paced at the same level as the defense. The team went 10-6 on the season and still did not make the playoffs. There were plenty of positives from the season though and Ellington was one.

But there have been positives before from the likes of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower in years past. Both never could muster another successful year as a Cardinal.

The fact of the matter is, Arizona has failed to produce a 1,000 yard running back in eleven of the last fourteen years. Edgerrin James did it twice in 2006 and 2007, and Beanie Wells barely surpassed 1,000 yards in 2011.

Too see Andre Ellington ranked as high as a top ten fantasy running back is a bit shocking. I could see a fairer range from 13th to 16th. That’s expecting quite a leap from Ellington and the Cardinals utilization of a running back. After all, Bruce Arians comes from Indianapolis where they didn’t involve the running back consistently.

Though Rashard Mendenhall is out of the picture with retirement, it remains to be seen if the Cardinals will platoon Mendenhall’s carries. There’s no doubt that Ellington will play a larger role but does an increase translate to the same deadly average per catch or rush as a year ago?

We’ve seen running backs with big play ability stem that ability with an increased role. Running backs like Reggie Bush actually had their value diminished with more plays on the field. It’s similar to a sixth man in the NBA. Some players just don’t shine as starters but excel with 20-25 minutes a game as a sixth man.

A player like Patty Mills for the Spurs showcased this last year. As a starter he surely would not have the flash and quick scoring ability he showcased against the Miami Heat.

Another alarming consideration for Arizona is their quarterback. Carson Palmer went unscathed from an injury last year. But his track record in Oakland and Cincinnati is littered with injury history. It’s no secret that he is not the most mobile quarterback and is susceptible to big hits.

If an injury were to occur, the Cardinals do not have the best fill in options at quarterback. Their depth consists of rookie Logan Thomas and journeyman Drew Stanton.

For those that have owned Larry Fitzgerald over the years, know how well the Arizona Cardinals have planned at the backup quarterback position. Quarterbacks such as John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, and a few others have dragged down the Cardinals fantasy football weapons in the past.

Ellington can certainly reach top ten fantasy status, I just don’t believe that it’ll happen this season. Ellington was not a known threat going into a season ago, but now he is. Look for defenses to plan to swarm him and force Palmer to make the necessary over the top throws.


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