The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.
No one likes missing games, let alone a rookie who has quickly established himself as one of the more dynamic players on a team.
Yet, that's exactly what Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington had to do last Sunday as a left knee injury suffered in practice kept him on the sidelines during his team's 24-21 loss.
"It was tough," Ellington said. "Unfortunately we didn't win the game and I felt like I wanted to be out there and contribute what I know how to contribute, but it's behind us and we've just got to move on from it."
Part of the process is getting back on the field, and Ellington said he's ready to go Sunday when the Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams.
"I feel great just thanks to the rehab that I was getting," he said. "I got some time off, rested a little bit and I feel great."
Pyro's take: Ellington will be back to face the Rams who are giving up over 22 points a game to running backs. The DUKE has the ability to break the big run, but he has been held in check as of late. Andre should get between 10-12 touches in this game, but he is still a risky fantasy start as Mendenhall will get his share of carries as well as the redzone looks.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald didn’t have his best day ever against the Eagles but once again was a thorn in Philly’s side, with five catches for 72 yards – including a 43-yard touchdown that got the Cardinals energized on offense. Fitzgerald was covered, but quarterback Carson Palmer fit it in to Fitzgerald, who had a pair of Eagles’ defenders bounce off him so he could race to the end zone.
“They bounced off me, I saw the end zone, I think it was Mike (Floyd) down there got me a good block from the free safety to help chaperone me,” Fitzgerald said. “We needed that play to get us going. We were a little stagnant before that. We just didn’t have enough of those plays to get us over the hump.”
Pyro's take: Larry has not been all world as of late, but he has been finding the endzone. Over his last three games Fitzgerald has at least five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. The only problem is he has not had more than six catches or 72 yards. The last 100-yard game for Fitz came back in week 6. Although, #11 has found the endzone five times in the last three weeks, and seven times over his last nine games.
It is not going to be east for Larry in the fantasy playoffs as he has tough match-ups against St. Louis, Tennessee and Seattle who are 18th, 1st and 3rd against wide receivers.
Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin swears he wasn’t trying to rip out Andre Ellington’s hair, but he ended up with a handful of the running back’s dreadlocks during one particular tackle.
“Remember, I started playing when horse collaring was still acceptable,” Babin, a 10-year veteran, told reporters after the game. “It was one of those things that happened in the moment. I wasn’t trying to get his dreads. If I have to make a tackle, I’m going to make a tackle. That’s more important.”
He didn’t realize what happened right away.
“But they were stuck to my glove,” he said. “I was walking back to the huddle and said, ‘What is this?’ Sometimes that stuff happens.”
Pyro's take: I am a big fan of the DUKE, but if you have dreads or long hair I have no sympathy when it gets pulled. This is not like a chick fight where hair pulling is usually the first move, this is football and it is not about looking pretty out there.
I imagine that it must have hurt a lot to have a bunch of your dreads ripped out of your head, not to mention what it must have sounded like. You are an amazing talent, so hopefully this will make you run even faster in the coming weeks. Jason Babin shall now be known as the "Barber".
Ryan Williams’ name is above his locker, just like every other player in the Cardinals locker room, but the running back knows that some people would attach other labels if they could.
Like fragile. Unwilling to play through injuries. Resident of coach Bruce Arians’ doghouse.
“I’ve been labeled,” Williams said, “and none of them have really been positive. I don’t really worry about what people say on the outside, but what I do want to do is bring light to this offense.”
That’s impossible to do if you aren’t in uniform on game day. Williams, a second-round pick in 2011, has been inactive for all six games, a healthy scratch.
That’s fueled speculation the Cardinals will try to trade him before the league deadline of Oct. 29 at 1 p.m.
Maybe they will, but at present, the Cardinals aren’t pursuing a trade. There likely are several reasons for that.
Pyro's take: What a disappointment Williams has been, and it would only make sense for the Cardinals to trade the 23-year old running back. The Cardinals have a ton of depth at the running back position, and after all of Williams’s failed attempts to produce it would only be fair to him and the organization to ship him out of town. A change of scenery could help Williams, but even if he is moved he is a major risk to count on in fantasy.
Larry Fitzgerald, who has a hamstring injury, is questionable.
Head coach Bruce Arians said it is the same hamstring that Fitz has had bothering him for a while, but this week "it's a different spot" and the team "would wait and see at game time" whether he would be able to play or not.
Pyro's take: Fitz is going to be a game time decision, and that makes going with him a tough call, as the Cardinals are a late kickoff on Sunday and we won't know his status until well after the early games kick off. If you have a better option it may be smarter to go that route this week.
Andre Ellington still impressing, but Arians backtracks
Ellington played a season-high 30 offensive snaps against the Panthers Sunday, his number of plays increasing all the way from eight
in the season opener. The production was there too, with a team-leading 52 yards rushing on only seven carries (7.4 yards a try) and another 31 yards on four receptions.
Arians added he doesn’t want to overload a rookie like Ellington. “He’s a runner (and) we’ve kind of turned him into a receiver,” Arians said. “I think that’s his role as a future player, as a 30-down player. I don’t think his body-type is going to be the lead-dog runner.”
Pyro's take: The quotes this week are very interesting with Arians saying that "I don’t think his body-type is going to be the lead-dog runner.” This comes only a few weeks earlier when Arians said that Ellington is a guy who can "carry the load". Regardless, the fact remains that Ellington is getting on the play for more snaps each week, and is pretty much a lock to be on the field for at least 30 snaps a game going forward.
I know a lot of people, me included, are expecting that Ellington would take over for the Cardinals, but in reality he already has. The DUKE is more effective than Mendenhall rushing and receiving, and he has done this with half as many touches as Mendy. Ellington is going to continue to impress, and while he is not going to get 25 carries a game, he is going to make explosive plays.
Mendenhall accounted for 21 yards on 12 carries with a pair of fumbles. He also dropped a pass and scampered out of bounds late in the game as the Cardinals were angling to burn time off the clock.
"Rashard had a very tough day, and he can't play that way," Arians said, per Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic. "He can't run out of bounds. He's a veteran. And to run out of bounds at the end of the game, that was probably the worst mistake he made all day."
Arians openly suggested his so-called featured back needs to do more during the week to be ready for games.
"We need to practice him a little bit harder," Arians said. "I think we've been too easy on him in practice because of his injuries, and we need to hone him up more because he's not gaining anything."
Pyro's take: We have been saying all along that Mendenhall is not the answer in Arizona, and that you have better keep your eye on Andre Ellington. Well, after 2 fumbles and a horrible game for Mendenhall it was Ellington once again who looked like the more explosive back. Ellington finished the game with 29 yards on 4 carries and another 22 yards on 3 catches. It is only a matter of time, probably this week, when "The Duke" will start to see a minimum of 10 touches a week.
Rookie running back Andre Ellington continues to impress and it’s not like Arians only sees him has a third-down, change-of-pace guy. “This kid can carry the load,” Arians said.
Pyro's take: Well, we have been telling you about Andre Ellington for a few weeks now, and it appears he is going to get more opportunities going forward. Ellington had 4 carries for 20 yards, but added 2 catches for 42 yards including a nice touchdown catch.
Andre "Duke" Ellington is showing the explosiveness that made us a believer that he would become fantasy relevant. There is no other back on the Cardinals that has his agility or speed, and offenses in the NFL are looking for the Darren Sproles type of back that can be a game changer in the passing game, and Ellington fits that mold.
The Duke is not going to be the starter, but he is going to see more opportunities, and if he continues to play as he has through the first 2 weeks, he will become a bigger part of this offense before too long.
Rashard Mendenhall still was sporting a brace on the sideline during Monday's practice, but Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians no longer is worried about the "looseness" in his starting running back's knee.
"I did not let him go today, but he's more than ready," Arians said, via the team's official website. "And Ryan (Williams) is full speed, so we're fully healthy at running back."
Pyro's take: It looks like Mendenhall will be ready to lead the way for the Cardinals in the season opener against St. Louis. Mendenhall should have an opportunity for a decent game, but this will be his first true test since feeling looseness in his knee. He definitely has the support of his head coach and will be given every chance to succeed, but he is still a major injury risk this season.
In the third quarter, Rob Housler was forced to leave the game with what was eventually diagnosed as a high ankle sprain.
"I think I'll have a better grasp of it after the swelling goes down," Housler explained. He added that barring any setbacks he doesn't expect to miss much more than a few weeks, the typical time it takes to recover from that injury.
"Coming off the field, you always think you can play through a lot of that stuff," Housler said when asked if he knew how serious the injury was when it happened. "I wanted to be optimistic about it."
Pyro's take: This is rough new for Housler, who was going to be the starter for the Cardinals and still will be, but he is most likely going to miss at least 4 weeks and up to 6 weeks, which means he could miss 2-4 weeks to start the season.
This injury will definitely have him fall in drafts, but if you are in a deep league and have a solid starting tight end who is not on a bye until at least week 6, Housler could be a nice late draft pick with value.
In one reassuring sequence, Larry Fitzgerald caught four passes on the same drive, in the span of seven plays.
One was called back on a holding penalty, but it didn’t change the aesthetics or the overarching message:
We might be witnessing the return of a dominant Hall of Fame receiver.
There are times when Fitzgerald clearly feels the same way. Last week in Green Bay, a teammate said Fitzgerald was acting like a kid at Christmas, prancing about the sidelines and joyously saying, “We’ve got a quarterback!”
“I can not confirm that,” Fitzgerald said, grinning.
Pyro's take: Fitzgerald is an elite talent, and coming off the worst season of his career. He has every right to be happy as a kid on Christmas, as I will be if I can grab our 6th ranked wide receiver this season.
From the mouth of 2012 NFL coach of the year, and new Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians: "We'll be able to play him in multiple positions so that no one can find him. To be able to play in the slot and move everybody around, move the chains on third down and still hit home runs on first down, that's the thing."
Watch this video: http://bit.ly/154zO9w
And this video: http://on.nfl.com/14nggQ1
Pyro's take: Think of how much better Larry Fitzgerald is than Reggie Wayne, the benefactor of Bruce Arian's throw happy system last year in Indy. Think about how motivated Larry will be after the worst season in his Hall of Fame career. Think about Larry lining up in the slot, in the backfield, in motion and spilt out wide with a Carson Palmer locking in on him. Short routes, hitch routes, across the middle and deep - it's a gonna be a whole new ballgame for #11.
Larry Fitzgerald is skyrocketing up my tiers and I will happily take him somewhere in the third round in upcoming drafts. He'll be a top 5 WR this year, which is saying a lot, in a year where the WR position is as deep as it's ever been since I started playing fantasy football in 1998!
Rashard Mendenhall turned just 26 years old today.
Pyro's take: This might explain Arians blowing smoke up his ass in an interview on NFL.com earlier today. We'll see how things shake out over the summer, but all signs point towards Mendenhall getting another chance to live up to his former first-round draft status.
06/19/13, 05:45 PM CDT by Dawgmaticå
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is calling Rashard Mendenhall an every-down player and has gone on record saying "there's no doubt" he would be the RB1 if the season where to begin today.
Pyro's take: Arians went to a Super Bowl with Mendy back when they were in Pittsburgh together, so his statements aren't too much of a surprise. Considering that Arians doesn't like to use a backfield by committee, Mendenhall certainly has some nice sleeper appeal as a three-down RB.
06/19/13, 05:30 PM CDT by Dawgmaticå
By all accounts, the Cardinals' 2012 first-round pick (13th overall), Michael Floyd, has been outstanding this offseason and will end up starting opposite Larry Fitzgerald in Week 1.
Pyro's take: This comes as no surprise, as Floyd has all the tools necessary to become a stud in the NFL for years to come.
With Larry Fitz still drawing the most defensive attention and a much better QB situation this season (Carson Palmer), Floyd will have high sleeper value if you can get him in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Matt Jones to a one-year deal worth approximately $700,000.
Pyro's take: Considering Jones came so cheap, this is basically a no-risk/high-reward signing for the Bengals. With the unfortunate death of Chris Henry, and with Laveranues Coles likely on the way out, Cinci needed something to happen with their receiving corps this off-season. The signing alos leaves the Bengals with no interest in bringing in Dante Stallworth, though they'll still probably draft a receiver in the first 4-5 rounds.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner announced his retirement from the NFL after 12 seasons in the league. He played six years with the St. Louis Rams, one with the NY Giants, and five with the Arizona Cardinals.
Pyro's take: Warner left with one year remaining on a two-year, $23 million contract, so he must really be looking forward to leaving the game. He retires with 32,344 passing yards (26th all-time), 208 passing TDs (26th all-time), a 93.7 career passer rating (currently 6th all-time), an average of 258.8 passing yards/game (2nd all-time, P. Manning), and a career completion percentage of 65.5% (2nd all-time, C. Pennington). He also has two league MVPs and one Super Bowl ring to his credit.
Pro Bowl: Fitz pulls out, replaced by Steve Smith (NYG)
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will not be making the trip to Miami for the Pro Bowl this year due to various injuries he's been dealing with for awhile now. Fitz will be replaced on the team by Giants WR Steve Smith.
Pyro's take: Smith ended up 3rd in the NFC in receiving yards this year with 1,220 and 1st in receptions with 107. The third-year receiver is also the first Giants wideout to make the Pro Bowl since 1968.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN and a source close to the team, the Arizona Cardinals have scheduled a press conference for Friday so that quarterback Kurt Warner can address the questions of whether or not he plans to retire.
Pyro's take: If this really is the end for the former grocery store shelf-stocker, it's been quite a ride and a truly inspirational story. All the way from working for $5.50/hr. at the local Hy-Vee to becoming a 4-time NFL Pro Bowl QB, Warner ended up winning two league MVP awards and one Super Bowl with his former team, the St. Louis Rams. He is also one of just two QBs all-time to throw 100 TD passes for two different franchises.
Warner will retire with 32,344 passing yards (26th all-time), 208 passing TDs (26th all-time), a 93.7 career passer rating (currently 6th all-time), an average of 258.8 passing yards/game (2nd all-time, P. Manning), and a career completion percentage of 65.5% (2nd all-time, C. Pennington).
Kurt Warner to give retirement some serious consideration this offseason
Warner will be considering retirement this offseason but doesn not expect it to be a "long process."
"I have some ideas in my head. But you want to get away from the season a bit," said Warner.
Pyro's take: Warner took a nasty hit in the game, but x-rays confirmed merely a bruise. He also told Terry Bradshawn in an interview preceding yesterday afternoon's drubbing that when he does make up his mind, he won't flop about like his fellow QB-nearing-retirement, Brett Favre.