September 27, 2012 @ 15:46:00 PDT
Coming into 2012, most, if not all, fantasy analysts - including this one - dismissed Kevin Kolb as a system QB and had little interest in pursuing him for fantasy purposes. John Skelton had the strong arm to take advantage of Larry Fitzgerald, so naturally, he was the choice if you had to dip into this murky pool.
Of course, Skelton left his underwhelming opener after spraining his ankle, giving Kolb another chance to prove to the Arizona Cardinals that they didn't spend money for nothing, and that when inking him, they got their chicks for free.
(Are baby cardinals chicks? Oh, right, Dire Straits was talking about females, which, especially those of college age, ain't too shabby in the Grand Canyon State.)
Anyway, since coming off the pine, Kolb has guided the ship with three TDs and a rushing score with no picks to go along with 326 passing yards, despite losing a fumble in Week 2. He even fed Fitz well against a familiar squad last week (nine grabs, 114 yards with a 37-yard score on which they pounced on the Philadelphia Eagles' broken coverage downfield).
Kolb isn't lighting up the fantasy world, but he's improved in each outing. More importantly, he's showing that even after an abysmal tune-up performance, he's becoming more comfortable after a full offseason to digest this offense. He's managing the game effectively with increased no-huddle work, using short passes to dissect defenses. (That strike to Fitz was his only pass that traveled more than 30 yards Sunday.)
Much of it had to do with trying to counter the Eagles' pass rush, but the pace works for Kolb; he's sneaking some of Philly's West Coast tactics into a fundamentally different offense. Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Miller might incorporate these components every week if Kolb keeps up his momentum.
He's no Kurt Warner in terms of rapid recognition, but he's embracing similar fundamentals.
As noted in that Mike Sando examination, of course, one of Kolb's scoring tosses was almost intercepted, so it's not like the slinger is entering must-start territory or has even cemented Arizona's gig. The dinking and dunking speaks more to Arizona sustaining possession long enough for their fantasy assets to assume more point-accumulating chances. That was, obviously, a sore spot for them last year, as their defense was on the field a long time.
Arizona's front five has undergone repairs after losing Levi Brown (torn triceps) and will continue to make Kolb's quick-release game even more important, but the crisp pace could hide many of the O-line's issues, at least until they get things together. The other side of the ball has defined Arizona's success so far, yet their offense looks safer thanks to the increasing comfort of their current QB1. Skelton "earned" the starting QB gig by a whisker leading up to Week 1 and shouldn't be handed it back upon his return.
Remember, though, that Kolb's calmness is doing more for the Cardinals' real-life performance than it is for his fantasy upside, which remains limited to that of a matchup-slanted backup or low-end second starter (more comfortably a third). As byes approach, though, don't ignore someone who, in the next four weeks, faces the weak aerial resistance of the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings. Some of those pass rushes can agitate him, but not if he's still boasting a quick trigger ... and, heck, if he's still starting.
With Beanie Wells (toe) on the "new" IR, Ryan Williams will be the main carrier, which is a decent fit for Arizona's rapider progression. Andre Roberts has been the most involved secondary target so far, but his split with Early Doucet and Michael Floyd could change later in the year.
And as Keith noted, regarding Fitzgerald, it's hard to trade an elite talent unless you get a big haul in return. He'll be inconsistent, but he has proven time and again that he doesn't need a top-notch QB to tear apart defenses.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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