Warner retirement big news for Beanie Wells

We all know where Ken Whisenhunt came from before landing the Cardinal head coaching job: Pittsburgh. Some expected him to immediately tinker with the Cardinal offense and make a concerted effort to run the ball more, but that wasn’t viable for a few reasons. For one, he didn’t have a marquee back, and the OL wasn’t all that great blocking for the run. Most importantly, he had QB Kurt Warner – and a dynamic duo at WR.

But it’s officially time for Whisenhunt to return to his roots because Matt Leinart is no Kurt Warner. It’s still questionable if Leinart is a quality NFL starter, or even a viable one.

Leinart threw 3 INTs in 2009, and 0 TDs, which isn’t exactly a great sign. But he did have a nice 21-for-31, 220-yard performance at Tennessee subbing for Warner, and he was poised, composed, smart, and aware in that game. Leinart has limitations, but they have nothing to do with him from the neck up. His limitations are the result of arm strength, and his tempo is also slow. He can’t make some throws, which restricts the offense at times, and his slow movement in the pocket usually results in bodies being around him, which usually doesn’t go well.

With Kurt Warner gone, its time for Beanie Wells to become a major factor in the Cardinal offense

With Kurt Warner gone, it's time for Beanie Wells to become a major factor in the Cardinal offense

The Cardinals have to be smart in how they work Leinart into the starting role, and that should entail spoon-feeding him the offense while looking to methodically pound the ball with the running game like we haven’t seen in Arizona in a long, long time. This is all great news for Wells, who looks special. There are certainly several questions about Wells, as we’ve mentioned many times. He has to stop putting the ball on the ground, has to improve his pass protection, and most of all he has to stay healthy. The sampling wasn’t all that huge in 2009 (176 carries), but Wells looked phenomenal in his rookie season. He didn’t seem to have any problems with the physical aspects of the game, a great sign, and his skill set looks special. He’s a big guy who can get to the perimeter with speed, and he can run downhill with power and show a good changed direction and ability to make people miss. In college we saw flashes of special ability, but then it went away at times, so it will be very interesting to see if he can maintain a high level of play if he’s getting 15-20 touches per game. Even though Tim Hightower will be in the mix, Wells should get that kind of workload in 2010, and he’s going to be one heck of a pick if he can deliver the goods we know he’s capable of delivering.

If he can stay on the field and clear up his other issues, we’re looking at a top-10 fantasy back in 2010, and it’s going to be very interesting not only to see if he can come through, but we see where fantasy players are comfortable selecting him. I have to believe he’ll be worth a 3rd round pick, maybe even more, given the upside potential.

Category: Fantasy Football

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9 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    John, I’d say the reasons you mention make Wells a solid #2 back, but not top ten. One of my golden rules of fantasy (which I admittedly violated with Selvin Young last season and Derrick Ward this season) is never draft a player who is “supposed” to set the world afire filling a role he never has before. That’s strike one. Strike two would be the likelihood of a timeshare with Hightower. Strike three would be the doubtful chances of getting Hightower as Wells’ handcuff, since Hightower would probably go no later than the 6th or 7th round. Wells could be as special as you say, I just doubt that Hightower will be 2010’s LenDale White.

  2. John Hansen says:

    Understood. I tend to be aggressive and “play to win” and Wells could rush for 1300+ yards and score 12+ TDs if healthy.

  3. MI-5 says:

    I was actually thinking about this yesterday, when reading about Warner in the Sunday papers. I agree that he could come though huge, and someone need to replace the Westbrooks and the Portis, who will no longer sniff the top 20 RB’s.

  4. MarkV says:

    I agree with the optimism, but currently see Wells as a sleeper, not a lock. It is good for those interested in Wells that Hightower did so well this year. For some reason most Owners do not pay that much attention to ‘end of season’ stats. The lack of attention to strong finishes had Ray Rice falling to the 6th round in all leagues I played. I think that could happen again with Wells. My early gut reaction is that Hightower will go first and Wells could fall to 5th or 6th. Another article here should be on the Jonathan Stewart potential next year. I think it is just as big as the D.Williams residuals fade. Finally I am worried about Olsen in CHI. Martz is notoriously anti-TE!

  5. Ozzzie S. says:

    I agree on Wells and had similar thoughts about the running game once Warner retired. I also have a rule when drafting and its drafting elite guys over avg. to good talents. Wells has shown flashes of brilliance and like John mentioned might be a top 5 talent right now in this league. While others are drafting LT, Portis, Thomas Jones I will take a chance on a young guy like Wells who could explode next year in a weak conference. I think he finishes inside the top 10 and at the worst is a rock solid #2 back.

  6. […] the Kurt Warner retirement means for Beanie Wells from a fantasy standpoint. [Fantasy […]

  7. MI-5 says:

    MarkV I think your a little to opitimistic on where Wells will go. Ray Rice was a back-up, the whole year before and a case could be made that he was 3rd on the depth chart in that 2008 season.

    Wells on the other hand, took over as the starter late in 2009, so their is no guessing who “the man” will be. I just don’t see Hightower being drafted before Wells, even in a PPR league.

    Wells will be gone by the end of the 3rd round in every league next year and the end of 2nd round in most leagues.

  8. FFRich says:

    I’d guess people will ‘over-pay” for Wells next year, pretty much based on many of the factors you pointed out. I don’t see his ADP even getting close to the 3rd round; it’ll probably be somewhere in the 12-18 range. I don’t question that Whisenhunt would love to pound the ball next year, but I’m not sure that will be realistic. They had a pretty average defense this year and many of their top players, on defense, are free agents that may not return. (B Berry has already retired) Also, will DRC be ready for the start of the season? It will be difficult to sustain a run first attitude if playing from behind. With Fitz, Breaston, Doucet (and whether Boldin returns or not), I believe, even with Leinart, their best chance for consistently moving the ball will still be through the air. And Hightower, at least at this point, is the much better option in the passing game. Assuming he stays healthy, (which isn’t a given with his history) I’d project Wells getting around 900-1000 yards and scoring 8-10 TD’s without getting much in the passing game; which will be a big detriment in ppr leagues. This would make him a big disappointment IF he does, in fact, get selected in the early to mid 2nd round. The good news is that Arizona is still in the NFC West and that division will still SUCK next year, so Wells will get at least a few “patsies”.
    Personally, I’ll be very pleased to see him being drafted in round 2.

  9. Baller says:

    Assuming I draft a stud RB in the first round next year, I won’t select another RB in the 2nd or 3rd round. I don’t care about how great I think such a player could be. I will select stud receivers instead and/or a QB. I play in leagues where only 2 RBs start. I have learned my lesson: draft one stud RB and then you can always fill the 2nd RB spot during the season. It’s posts like this that make me want to select a RB in the 2nd or 3rd round, but I will never do that again.

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