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Will Matt Leinart Struggle in 2010? | NFL Fantasy Football Player Rankings

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals

Now that Kurt Warner has officially retired from the NFL it is Matt Leinart’s turn to start for the Arizona Cardinals. With this change fantasy football owners can’t help but wonder how this team will produce in the 2010 season.

This situation reminds me of when Joe Montana fell to injury and Steve Young took over as the 49ers starter in 1991. That season Young had the almost impossible task of taking over for a Hall of Fame quarterback and a loved player by local fans.

In Young’s first year as a starter he struggled to win games as teammates like Jerry Rice had a tough time adjusting to Young’s release (Young is left handed, Montana right handed).

By mid season Young suffered an injury and Steve Bono finished up the season and led the team to a respectable ten and six record.

The next year Young came back with a huge season as he threw for almost 3,500 yards and 29 total touchdowns. More importantly he led the 49ers back to the playoffs and went on to have a hall of fame career.

Leinart may never have the career that Young had, but he will have to deal with some of the same issues.

Warner’s popularity is at an all time high in Arizona as he turned their organization into a winner and finally gave the fans something to cheer about. Beyond that Warner is right handed and Leinart is left handed.

One would think that receivers like Larry Fitzgerald would be used to Leinart passing the football because they’ve spent years around one another. At the same time, it’s not like Young wasn’t on the 49ers for a few years and receivers like Rice still had a hard time.

Beyond the issues of popularity and finding rhythm with receivers, the hardest task for Leinart will be living up to the expectations of leading the Cardinals to a division championship.

This year the Cardinals will be favored to win the NFC West, but they might have some trouble doing that if Leinart should struggle like Young did in his first season.

Fantasy Football Projections for Fitzgerald and Leinart

It’s reasonable to believe that Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt will probably lean on his running game a bit more in 2010. Beanie Wells made good strides at the end of last year, and it would benefit Leinart to have a successful running attack that defenses have to respect.

That being said Leinart will have to put the football into the air at some point to win games, and he will need to succeed for players like Larry Fitzgerald to have a successful season.

At this time, I still see Fitzgerald as a top five fantasy receiver because his track record with Leinart isn’t that bad.

Still, Leinart’s progression as a quarterback will be one of the bigger stories of the offseason and the early portion of the 2010 regular season.

Look for Leinart as a decent backup fantasy quarterback with upside and you won’t be disappointed next year.

2010 NFL Fantasy Football Player Rankings writer Sean E. Douglas:

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