With Leinart taking over, look for Cards to be more grounded

Will Matt Leinart establish himself as a reliable fantasy quarterback in 2010?

Before Ken Whisenhunt was hired as the Cardinals' head coach in 2007, he spent three seasons as the Steelers' offensive coordinator. Pittsburgh ranked among the NFL's top 10 in rushing offense each of those seasons, including a No. 2 finish in 2004.

In Arizona, Whisenhunt vowed to build the Cardinals similarly -- from the ground up. But five games into Whisenhunt's rookie season as coach, Leinart injured his shoulder, and the head coach went to Plan B.

To his credit, Whisenhunt looked around, realized he had Kurt Warner at quarterback and Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver, and any pretense of balance soon went out the window.

The Cardinals have been a pass-first team for the better part of three seasons, and they had their first Super Bowl trip to show for it.

But now Warner is in retirement and Boldin is in Baltimore, so don't be surprised if the Cardinals revert to Plan A. That means a healthy dose of Beanie Wells running behind a revamped offensive line, with a little Tim Hightower sprinkled in -- and not nearly as much fantasy value from the quarterback position.

That position figures to be manned by Leinart again, though Derek Anderson and John Skelton are also on the roster, and Marc Bulger's name keeps popping up, too (for now, Bulger is still a free agent).

Leinart presumably learned a thing or two from watching a future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback the past couple of seasons, but that still doesn't give him Warner's savvy or his arm strength.

Not that the new-look Cardinals need Leinart to be Warner. Instead, Whisenhunt likely will ask far less of the lefthander. Leinart will need to be efficient and mistake-free -- and hand off the ball to Wells a lot.

Bottom line: Leinart could very well establish himself as a reliable quarterback for Arizona, but don't confuse that with him being a reliable quarterback for your fantasy team.

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