By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Arizona Cardinals sign Sam Bradford to a 2-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: Larry Fitzgerald has to catch passes from someone, right? The Cardinals, with exactly zero quarterbacks under contract, decided Sam Bradford would be the rightful successor to the recently retired Carson Palmer. Bradford, fresh off yet another injury-marred season, signed a two-year deal that officially makes him the Jesse James of NFL Quarterbacks. If you’re too young to get that reference — and really, we all are — Google it.
Bradford was once the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft. We know he has talent, and he’s flashed it from time to time — between 2015 to 2017, he had the second highest completion percentage in the NFL. In 2016, he set the record for completion percentage in a season. That record has since been broken but I digress.
The Cardinals are seemingly in no-man’s-land in the NFL. They have a top 10 defense and should be able to compete with a competent QB in place. They have superstars in WR Larry Fitzgerald and RB David Johnson to support their QB. But they have limited funds under the cap and an abysmal offensive line. So they’re more interested in bringing in a veteran who knows how to get the ball out quickly and can utilize the options at his disposal to keep the chains moving. Bradford is mister dink and dunk so he certainly fits the mindset.
A full, healthy season of Bradford could get the Cardinals to 8-8. He could have 3,500 passing yards and 23 TDs and owners of Fitzgerald and Johnson will be ecstatic. And that’s really what this is about. Even in Bradford’s healthy seasons of 2015 and 2016, he finished as QB24 and QB22. Maybe he’s a backup QB, but with his injury history, you’re leaving him on waivers. Fitzgerald, over the last three seasons, has finished as WR10, WR10, and WR5. Bradford’s job is to keep feeding the ball to Fitzgerald. Out of the slot, we’re fully open to Fitz catching 100 balls for 890 yards because this is a PPR league and those are the only kinds that matter. With Bradford at the helm, that’s likely to be the case.
For Johnson, he’ll be a big recipient in the passing game. In 2015 while with the Eagles, Bradford completed 128 passes to running backs. In 2016 with the Vikings, 82 passes went to RBs. During Johnson’s 2016 breakout prior to his wrist injury that kept him out for the better part of 2017, he had 120 targets and 80 receptions. Johnson is a check down specialist’s wet dream.
I will never try to predict how many games Bradford will play in a given season. But I’ve also seen Fitzgerald be a top 10 option at WR with Drew Stanton as his QB, and I’d take Bradford on crutches over Stanton. I will probably have Fitzgerald ranked inside the top 15 just because it’s Fitz and every year I seemingly bet against him, he just gives me the finger for being an agist. Johnson is unquestionably a top 5 option at RB. But with the emergence of young RBs like Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt to go along with Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott, it’s hard to love Johnson’s situation more than theirs, no matter the talent he possesses. Johnson is my RB4 going into 2018 — I reserve the right to change this when my rankings come out in June — and with or without Bradford, that’s not going to change. You just need to be prepared for if, well, when Bradford suffers his inevitable injury.