Fantasy spin: Cardinals release RB James

(Photo by Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com)

Veteran RB Edgerrin James was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday. (Photo by Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com)

Edgerrin James, one of the greatest fantasy running backs in the last decade, has been released by the Arizona Cardinals.

The writing was on the wall for James after the Cardinals took Chris “Beanie” Wells with the 31st overall selection in the first round of the NFL Draft. Now the veteran will look to join the third team of his 10-year NFL career.

NFL.com Steve Wyche reports that a number of teams already have contacted James’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, so James might not be on the free-agent market long. However, it’s clear that his best fantasy seasons are in the rearview mirror.

James did rush for an average of 1,191 yards with a combined 13 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the desert, but his numbers tumbled in 2009. He finished with just 514 yards and three touchdowns and lost the top spot on the depth chart to Tim Hightower for six games.

At best, James will land in a backfield committee. While his individual value is limited, he could affect the stock of the running backs on the team that signs him. Fans of Pierre Thomas should hope James doesn’t land with the Saints.

With James out of the mix, Wells and Hightower will fight for the right to open next season as the Cardinals’ top runner. I see the Ohio State product as the current favorite and a better option in fantasy circles, but the back who earns goal-line carries could have an advantage.

This battle is one that fantasy leaguers need to watch closely this summer.

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