Arizona Cardinals – 2019 A Look Inside

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Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Joe Zollo, Tim Murphy, Chris Molina, & Chris Tyler

02_NFLDraft

 

The Cardinals, sitting with the 1st overall pick, bucked all traditional methods of team-building when they submitted their selection. Just one year after trading up in the 1st round to select QB Josh Rosen, GM Steve Keim pulled the trigger and selected yet another QB, Kyler Murray. Nothing untraditional about taking a QB in the first, but the Cardinals selecting a QB in the 1st round in back-to-back drafts certainly is. They then took arguably the best cornerback in the draft with the first pick in the 2nd round, Washington’s Byron Murphy. They proceeded to select not one, not two, but three wide receivers to grow with their new quarterback. Then, after producing the worst performance of an offensive line in the league last year, they waited until the 6th round before selecting someone to help turn that around. Some highs, some lows, but all in all, the Cardinals had a good draft. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

03_Projected

 

When you look at the Cardinals projected lineup, an injury to Murray or David Johnson could propel the Cardinals to yet another top 3 selection in 2020. But their receivers, outside of Larry Fitzgerald, are in either their first or second year in the league, so expect Fitz to garner a ton of targets as a result. Johnson will be a workhorse in both the running and passing games, so draft with confidence. If Mr. Irrelevant, TE Caleb Wilson, can stretch the field in Phoenix the way he did at UCLA, the Cardinals could have a dynamic weapon at TE to overtake Ricky Seals-Jones and Charles Clay. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

04_Upside

David Johnson finished as RB11 last year (in Club Fantasy scoring). Hard to believe as the Cardinals offense was largely ineffective, right? Don’t let last year dissuade you from drafting this stud running back in 2019. Over his last three seasons, Johnson is top 10 in targets, receptions, and receiving yards among running backs, and he missed 15 games in 2017. Last season, he tied with Tarik Cohen for the most receptions by running backs that exceeded 20 yards downfield (4), and tied with Kenyan Drake for the most touchdowns on such receptions (2). Johnson also led all RBs by a country mile in yards per route run when lined up in the slot (5.31).

I bring this up because Johnson now sits as the lead back in an Air-Raid offense. As the name suggests, new HC Kliff Kingsbury will be throwing the ball often and roughly 18% of those passes have gone in the direction of RBs. When you take into account that three of the (expected) top four receivers for the Cardinals will either be in their first or second year, I expect that 18% to go up just a smidge. 1st overall pick Kyler Murray and his elite athleticism will help keep defenses honest and running lanes should not be hard to find this year for Mr. Johnson. He totaled 308 touches a year ago with little efficiency due to a shaky offensive line. I think the touches will dip a little — likely in the 260-280 range — but he will end up with a higher efficiency. DJ has top 5 upside and you should be ecstatic for him as your RB1. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

05_Downside

As much as I like him, and despite how well I think he’ll do in his career, it’s Kyler Murray. Kingsbury can plug in any Air-Raid he wants but the Cardinals’ front office didn’t do nearly enough for an offensive line that gave up 52 sacks last year. Marcus Gilbert is fine, but just not a real solution to a very pressing problem; a pressuring problem if you will (ah-thank you). And yes, I get it, that’s Josh Rosen and this is Kyler Murray, a significantly more mobile quarterback. Murray’s also significantly shorter. I’m not sure that when those defensive linemen come crashing through with their giant defensive linemen hands and crazy long defensive linemen arms that, Murray is getting clean passes off.

Also take into account the historical value of a rookie QB for fantasy purposes. Baker Mayfield was wildly exciting last year. I know he didn’t start every game, but he still finished outside of the top 15 of all Fantasy QBs — QB16 to be exact. In fact, only six rookie QBs have finished in the top 15 of fantasy points over the last 10 years, and one of them was Dak Prescott. There’s no comparison there or anything, just thought you should know.

I’m not saying don’t take Murray with a late round flyer pick, he definitely has the potential to be a threat. David Johnson is the best dump off back a rookie QB could ask for, and he’ll be there to help Murray out of some jams. He’ll have Larry Fitzgerald, the immortal one, there to provide direction. He’ll have Christian Kirk as a deep threat in that vaunted Air-Raid offense. There’s weapons there. Just temper those expectations, because he still has to beat out Brett Hundley for the starting job, and even that’s not a guarantee. Lol j/k he’s starting– draft him late as a QB2. – Tim Murphy

06_TrustFall

The Arizona Cardinals scored 225 points (14.0 per game) last season. That was good for 32nd best in the entire NFL. So, who can you trust for your fantasy team next year? Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald finished last season as WR28 (176.08 total points; 11.74 per week). That means, on any given week, he was a reliable flex-play option that had WR2 upside, despite having only 69 receptions and a career low in receiving yards (734). His previous three seasons he had over 100 receptions for a 1000+ yards each year.

These career worst numbers that Fitzgerald put up last year, while still finishing as the WR28, was a byproduct of the atrocious Cardinals offense. QB Josh Rosen only had 11 touchdowns and 2,200 yards passing. RB David Johnson– and the entire running game honestly– suffered as a result of vanilla playcalling. The Cardinals brought in a gifted offensive mind from Texas Tech (new HC Kliff Kinsbury) to construct the 2019-2020 offense, the Heisman trophy winner from Oklahoma (number one overall pick, QB Kyler Murray) to run the offense, and rookie wide receivers Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler to improve the receiving core.

It is safe to say the Cardinals offense will be on the field more. Which will lead to more passes thrown, more chances in the red zone, and create a better overall offense. It is also safe to assume that last year was Fitzgerald’s floor– he should see more targets, receptions, and red zone opportunities this year from Murray. The quality of those targets will assuredly improve as well, given Murray’s excellent accuracy. It’s not hard to see why one should feel confident with Fitzgerald as the most trustworthy option on the Cardinals. He was the WR28 last year, with a current ADP of 108.4 (11th round in 10-team leagues), and is the 40th WR off the board in Sleeper mock drafts. Courtland Sutton and Devin Funchess are two of the wide receivers being taken just above Fitz, and they were the WR49 and WR56, respectively, last season. Let that sink in before passing on this all-time great. – Chris Molina

07_Rookie

To be the first overall pick in any sports draft is a big deal. It pretty much means that a team is counting on you to help them turn around their organization. Kyler Murray has the talent and players around him to help him achieve this goal. I’m a little iffy on the enigma that is Kyler Murray — ultimately, I don’t think he’s ready yet to command a ship — but that is a different article for a different day.

Murray is in a great place, to say the least. Pairing him with a future Hall-of-Famer in Larry Fitzgerald, a young stud in Christian Kirk, and stud rookie Andy Isabella, will help him out in the pocket and when he gets flushed out. When wide receivers and tight ends are out of his range, he has a great check down in running back David Johnson. The offensive line in front of him is a question mark, but there is no shortage of talent around Murray. His new head coach, former Texas Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury, has been wanting Murray’s talents for a long time. That tells me he has something cooking. Overall, Murray himself worries me, but the stars have aligned to help him succeed. – Chris Tyler

08_Sleeper

 

Honestly, there is an abundance of options on this Cardinals squad. Two TEs that have untapped potential and a multitude of WR talent even has me wondering who they will keep and who they will cut. I have chosen to go with a guy guaranteed to make the roster and most likely fill the 2nd WR slot behind Larry Legend— Christian Kirk.

The second-year man out of Texas A&M showed flashes of great potential to become a viable receiver in the NFL. He had 590 yards and 3 TDs on 43 receptions in 2018, and I do not see why that number doesn’t go higher. He will have a highly touted QB in Kyler Murray throwing him the football and, while this may seem like a bad thing, he isn’t even the number one option in the offense. Your sleeper isn’t going to become your WR1, but Kirk has WR3 upside and could be a consistent flex option in 2019. – Joe Zollo

09_IDP

 

Remember this rule of thumb when playing in an IDP League– never pick a guy because he is the “best cover corner in the NFL.” Sorry to say, that guy is not going to get you enough fantasy points. If he covers and tackles and forces turnovers, then we have a different story; but I am not going to draft Patrick Peterson. While Peterson is arguably the best CB in the NFL, he has never had more than 55 tackles since his rookie year, and has had no more than 3 turnovers in a season outside of 2012.

If you are looking for a guy to draft in the Arizona secondary, take Budda Baker. The 3rd year man out of Washington had 102 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble in 2018, placing him as the 7th best DB in fantasy football last season. This will not be a guy who you immediately think of, but is someone you can count on to produce.

Lastly, the biggest sure thing on the team is Chandler Jones. If your league lists him as an LB, I would stay away. But if he is listed as a DE (like he should be) then he is a viable DL1. He hovers around 50 tackles and will conjure up double-digit sacks with multiple turnovers. That is exactly what you want from your DL, not to mention he has only missed one game in the last four seasons. – Joe Zollo