Fantasy football value to be found in the desert

      June 5, 2012 @ 18:11:36 PDT


Why is it that after every vacation I find myself needing another vacation? I wish I had a fun tale or two to share, but I lead a rather mundane life.

My return was met with a mountain of catch-up and a host of projections that continue to work through. I spent some time further analyzing the Arizona Cardinals' backfield only to make the determination that Beanie Wells is rather undervalued by virtue of Ryan Williams being overhyped.

Spin around the news world and you'll see what I'm talking about. Quotes about how well the Cards' one-two punch will be litter the desert sports talk sites.

Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Studly potential

Wells underwent a minor knee scope and may need to take it easy early in training camp. He should be perfectly fine by the time the late preseason games roll around. Williams, on the other hand, is recovering from a devastating patella tendon rupture in the third contest of the 2011 preseason.

Look at some recent patella tendon injuries from the running back position ... it isn't a speedy recovery, if one comes back at all. The dreaded ACL tear has nothing on this gruesome derailment. Correll Buckhalter and Cadillac Williams come to mind. Williams' career was never the same again, and Buck returned only to suffer the same injury the next season (2004 and '05). It wasn't until the 2009 campaign before he looked even remotely close to his pre-injury form.

From 1994 to 2004, according to the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Denver, 79.1 percent NFL players with patella tendon injuries returned to play at least one game in their careers. The average was 45.4 games played, ranging from one to 142 following surgery. Technology has advanced since the study was conducted, although it remains a horrific setback that usually robs players of their explosiveness.

Williams may return to shine down the road, but it won't be in 2012. His late-season value could be marginal for fantasy purposes; I don't see him having any notable worth in the first half of the year. He isn't out of the woods yet, so a tempered workload in the first month or more of the season is likely.

Wells is coming off his best pro effort (245-1,047-10) and will be only 24 years old throughout the 2012 season. His knee scope was to clean up the joint by removing debris. He will have the ability to rehab at team facilities this offseason. Beanie played through the condition in 2011 and broke through for fantasy owners.

Arizona's offensive line was upgraded through the draft and free agency. Their quarterback play should be so-so, regardless of the starter, and they added Michael Floyd in the passing game. Wells could see more lanes and almost no competition for touches, at least early in the season. The coaching staff may ride the hot hand if Wells is in top form, which would allow them to keep Williams in a limited role to assist his rehab and long-term prognosis.

You should be more worried about Wells' inconsistency and lack of involvement in the passing game than Williams cutting into his workload. The fourth-year back scored 60 percent of his touchdowns in his first four games of the '11 season and found the end zone in back-to-back weeks only once the rest of the way.

Land him as an ideal third back with RB2 potential in standard-scoring formats. Expect Wells to come on the cheap because of the injury risk you are assuming. Don't be surprised if he rips off 1,300 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a high-end projection (275-1,150-9 is more reasonable).

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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