This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter@NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Arizona Cardinals Rumors and News visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The Arizona Cardinals were living the dream and fantasy football owners were trying quietly not to jinx it. Whether we need to blame fantasy football league managers or not, something went awry and now Carson Palmer (knee) is out for the remainder of the 2014 NFL season.
Suddenly the fate of an 8-1 start is in the hands of Drew Stanton. The same could be said about the fate of many team's fantasy playoff hopes. Palmer was leading the way for a good Cardinals team, which naturally prompted many to take the dive and ride Palmer's success in fantasy football, as well.
Unfortunately, Palmer is down for the count and if you're in a deeper league, Drew Stanton might be all that was left on the waiver wire. If for whatever reason you're suddenly stuck with Stanton or at least wondering what the rest of the year holds for him and the Cardinals, join us as we break down his fantasy value down the stretch:
Stanton, So Far
Stanton has actually been decent for the Cardinals as a starter, going 2-0 in his first two games in relief of Palmer. His lone blemish is a blowout loss on the road to the Denver Broncos. You can hardly knock him for that, especially since he got concussed and couldn't even finish the game.
More impressively, Stanton hasn't thrown a single pick in three starts and has three touchdowns in four total appearances. The pill that is tough to swallow is Stanton's accuracy and yardage totals to this point, as he's completed just 49.5 percent of his passes on the year and wasn't able to complete even 55 percent of his passes in any of his three starts. As for the yardage, Stanton did offer promise with a solid 244-yard outing against a solid San Francisco 49ers defense, but in his other two starts he couldn't top 167 passing yards.
Stanton definitely isn't without weapons. Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown can all ball in the passing game and running back Andre Ellington can be magical as a dump-off option, as well. His supporting cast and system aren't the problem in the least. The question is whether or not Stanton can improve upon shaky accuracy, continue to avoid turnovers and somehow morph into a reliable, competent starting fantasy quarterback.
What to Expect
The skinny here is that Stanton has the weapons and system to potentially thrive, while what we've seen to this point does not scream "elite" in any shape or form. With that being said, there is absolutely potential to be had here. Stanton was previously just helping Arizona get by until Palmer made his eventual return. Now that this is his team for the rest of the year, Bruce Arians and co. are undoubtedly going to maximize his upside by taking more shots down the field. In other words, the training wheels shall come off.
Stanton has made some nice plays down the field and actually tossed a big touchdown to John Brown right away in relief of Palmer last week. He doesn't have to be the most accurate passer in the world if he can just pick things up a little bit, keep avoiding the turnovers and connect with his receivers down the field.
There is hope here for borderline QB1 upside in any given week, but hoping and expecting are two different things. As it stands, Stanton is still a replacement level talent and he's been an NFL backup for the majority of his career for a reason. He lacks consistency, but he still has an NFL arm, solid athleticism and he doesn't really play like a backup. He's got some swagger and he's not afraid to step up and deliver throws in the line of fire.
None of that means you can trust Stanton in fantasy football, but it at least leaves the door open to him shocking us in the second half of the season. He can be added in all leagues as a tentative fallback option, but counting on him for reliable weekly production would be a mistake.
Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-week $500,000 fantasy football league this weekend. It's $10 to join and first place wins $40,000. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.
State laws prohibit residents of Arizona from playing FanDuel for money. For more info check FanDuel rules here.