Engel: Offseason Notebook Feb. 7

Each week during the NFL offseason, we'll cover some of the latest NFL news, rumors and trends, and tell you how your fantasy football outlook for 2007 might be affected.

According to more than one report in the Arizona Republic, the impact of the hiring of new head coach Ken Whisenhunt is already being felt. There are early indications that he plans to emphasize and improve the ground game. He plans to add a blocking fullback to the schemes, and could use more than one ball carrier in an offense that will focus more on the run and should take some pressure off young QB Matt Leinart. Edgerrin James will still be the primary runner, but his top backup could get a decent amount of carries every week. That could be J.J. Arrington, or the Cards could re-sign free agent Marcel Shipp or conceivably bring in another veteran. Whoever backs James up, though, likely won't get enough work to be useful in most fantasy leagues.

Russ Grimm also came over from Pittsburgh, like Whisenhunt, and he will be the assistant head coach and offensive line coach. His presence can only be viewed as another positive for the Arizona ground game. James should certainly be viewed as a possible top No. 2 fantasy RB for 2007 after an up-and-down season in his first campaign with Arizona. His workload might not be reduced much, if at all, as the team just might run the ball overall more and give extra work to the reserves. It remains to be seen, though, whether James will be a dependable short-yardage runner. He has never been one in the past and Shipp stole some goal-line chances away from him in 2006. During training camp, we might find out if Whisenhunt and Grimm trust James enough near the end zone.