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With the lockout over, camps and pre-season games finally under way all I can say is welcome back NFL. However, with the extended lockout came a free agent signing frenzy like never seen before. Many players have new homes, some in new positions, and some in new schemes. The breakdowns below will help to show who went where and how it will impact their fantasy value as well as who stayed put and what to expect from them too. In addition, many teams have new defensive coordinators and you can read about them in the 2011 Coaching Changes article. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also follow me on twitter @IDPSteve. Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).
Defensive Line: The Cardinals play a 3-4 defense and normally that means I tell you that there is no value to be had on the DL. However, that is not the case with the Cardinals. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett both finished last year as solid DL2 options. This year Campbell is a guy that I have my eye on and would not be surprised to see him bust through and into the top 12.
Linebacker: The fantasy play at LB for the Cardinals is second year LB, Daryl Washington. Washington will be lining up at the very productive WILB position and this year he she be a three down linebacker and end up being a solid LB2 with upside this year. Running at SILB next to Washington should be Stewart Bradley. Bradley signed in FA and while Paris Lenon is currently starting over Bradley, I do not see that continuing. No matter who nails down the starting SILB gig I would not expect much more than LB4 type numbers. If you are in a dynasty big play league then keep your eye on O’Brien Schofield. Schofield is not going to be anything like Cameron Wake was for the Dolphins last year but that does not mean that he cannot be fantasy viable in the near future.
Defensive Back: In the secondary there are some concerns considering that SS Adrian Wilson has a torn bicep that he is going to try to play thru. Wilson hopes that he can rehab the injury and still play this season. He might be able to play but as deep as the DB position is you will not catch me taking the risk of drafting him, even as a late round flier. If you want a sleeper then look at backup Rashad Johnson. Johnson could be a nice sleeper pick but the player that will probably benefit most fantasy wise if Wilson is limited or cannot play due to the injury is Kerry Rhodes. What is funny is that Wilson is the fantasy football darling while Rhodes seems to get no respect, at least not recently. In past years when he played for the NY Jets Rhodes had been a top target for fantasy owners. Then his responsibilities changed and he quickly fell out of favor with fantasy owners. Last year Rhodes changed scenery and moved to Arizona and that change allowed him once again to put up top fantasy numbers. He ranked 6th in points scored by a DB and was just two points shy of being top 5 and just four and a half points from ranking 3rd. I would not necessarily bank on Rhodes putting up those types of numbers again but he should present very good value in drafts. The safety position is not the only spot in the secondary that the Cardinals should have viable fantasy players this year. At CB two new guys, rookie 1st round selection Patrick Peterson and free agent acquisition Richard Marshall should both be able to put up at least DB3 type numbers this year. Marshall has proven in the past that he can put up top-notch fantasy numbers and Peterson’s numbers will be inflated by the “rookie corner” rule. For those that do not know, the rookie corner rule is simply that rookie corners tend to get “picked on” by opposing QBs, and that helps to inflate their fantasy production.
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