Week 11 fantasy football: Being assigned the ideal group project team

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Can The Cardinals Contend Without Palmer?



By BRYAN RUBIN
College Contributor Network

Week 11 will be the ultimate assignment for the Arizona Cardinals and its new starting quarterback.

It's the first day of class and your professor just handed out the syllabus. After getting your hands on it you breeze past the university's academic integrity policy, and skip right to the assignment section. If you are going to suffer through a 16-week course on global environmental change, the least you want to know is how you are going to be graded. You can live with two papers and a midterm, but you swear under your breath when you see "Final Group Project" at the bottom of the list. With no friends in the class, nor any knowledge about geology, you think you are S.O.L.

But not so fast.

After the halfway point of the semester, the professor finally revealed the teams, and lucky enough yours is stacked. Not only did you get the kiss-ass who you first confused for a TA, but you also got the one graduate student in the class. One of your group members already even volunteered to make the PowerPoint. With a star-studded lineup, you just stepped into the right situation, calming your worries for now.

This Sunday, Drew Stanton will make his fourth start of the year when the Cardinals host the Detroit Lions. With Carson Palmer out for the season with a torn ACL, the offense is now in the hands of its backup quarterback.

However, with a loaded supporting cast and two-game lead in the NFC West, Stanton is also stepping into the right situation. The Cardinals have a stout defense (fifth-most fantasy points), but the question remains, can the Cardinals' offense continue to put up big fantasy numbers under Stanton moving forward? Unfortunately, I'm hesitant to say yes.

In an ESPN report on Wednesday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said that he expects little drop-off from Palmer to his new quarterback. Stanton, a former second-round pick in 2007 with the Lions, played for Arians in Indianapolis in 2012, and is now in his third year in the system. When Palmer had nerve damage earlier in the year, Stanton went 2-1 as the starter, throwing two touchdowns and zero interceptions. His only loss was against the Broncos at Mile High.

But as we know from the Alex Smith and Brian Hoyer types, game-managers might win you NFL games, but they do not win you fantasy football championships.

Before his injury, Palmer was getting into a groove (averaging 18.69 fantasy points per game) in Weeks 6-9, but it's hard to imagine Stanton putting up similar numbers.

The Cardinals' offense is based off big-chunk plays. While Stanton has proved he can unleash the deep ball, as shown here in a go-ahead 48-yard touchdown pass to John Brown in the fourth quarter last week, he is only completing 49 percent of his passes.

Larry Fitzgerald is finally coming on strong (over 100 receiving yards in two of his past three games), but was only targeted four times per game in Stanton's three starts.

Michael Floyd is also quickly falling off the fantasy map. In his last three games, Floyd has five catches for 47 yards. If he was falling out of favor with Palmer, I'm scared to see what happens with him and Stanton.

Andre Ellington has averaged 15.6 fantasy points every Sunday since Week 5 with Palmer at QB. But in games Stanton started, Ellington scored more than 11 fantasy points only once (Disclaimer: in his 26.40 point game versus Denver, Logan Thomas was the quarterback when he went off, not Stanton).

Brown, meanwhile, might be the most intriguing of the bunch. All three of Stanton's touchdown passes have been thrown to none other than the Pittsburgh State rookie, who is becoming a lethal deep threat. If you have him and are in the midst of bye week frenzy, I'd say Brown is actually a viable flex play, but if you are relying on him as a starter, I'd be worried due to his boom-or-bust potential.

Overall, Stanton is the kind of quarterback that you should be comfortable with as a starter for your NFL team, but not your fantasy team. With Detroit on the schedule this week and Seattle two times before the season ends, I don't want much to do with Stanton and in no way, shape, or form am I adding him to replace Palmer. If you had Palmer, chances are you have another QB on your roster. Whether its Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford or even Colin Kaepernick, obviously roll with them over the Cards' new QB.

Stanton has proved he can be a competent member of a team this season and has the tools around him to be successful. While your group has the potential to do well on the project and make the playoffs, there's a reason you didn't assign him as your leader. By giving him easy tasks (short to medium throws) and plenty of help (pass protection), Stanton can be a decent team contributor. Just don't expect him to get your group an A on his own.


Bryan Rubin is a senior at Syracuse University. He once ate Chipotle three times in one day and woke up at 3:46 a.m. on a Wednesday morning to make a roster move to his fantasy football team (while his friends were sleeping) to avoid wasting his No. 1 waiver claim. Follow him on Twitter: @bryan_rubin
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