2018 Fantasy Football Team Previews

2018 Fantasy Football Arizona Cardinals Preview

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Over the course of the summer, I’m going to be taking a look at the offenses of all 32 NFL teams. We’ll be taking a look at the QB, RB, WR, and TE positions for each team. Enjoy!

The Arizona Cardinals aren’t awful, but they’re not… good. They went 8-8 last year despite losing David Johnson Week 1 and Carson Palmer mid-season. So, one might think the 5.5 win total posted on Bovada is a little low. However, they’re in the best division in football and lost head coach Bruce Arians, star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, and quarterback Carson Palmer. They drafted well, but franchises don’t rebuild in one year.

They also hired a new offensive coordinator, former Chargers HC Mike McCoy. It’s tough to use 2017 statistics because the offense is completely different, but they were in the bottom-10 of about any offensive metric as a unit last year. Former Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks certainly has his work cut out for him if he wants to take Arizona to the playoffs.


2018 Fantasy Football Arizona Cardinals Preview

Quarterbacks

The Arizona Cardinals are one of the few teams in 2018 who have a quarterback battle in camp. Steve Wilks said in April that Bradford signed on to be the starting quarterback, but “every position is open for competition” when asked about Josh Rosen. Sam Bradford likely plays for about half the season before going down to an injury, or being replaced by Rosen.

Last year, in only one game, Bradford played possibly the best game of his career. He lit up the New Orleans Saints, passing for 382 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s a perennial checkdown passer. He broke the record for highest completion percentage in 2016, but ranked only 16th in the league in total passing yards. He fits Arizona’s projected system pretty well.

Steve Wilks said it would be a “run-first” team, and catch-monster Larry Fitzgerald can soak up Bradford’s safe passes. Typically, a team will tire of dealing with a quarterback of Bradford’s style and look to replace him mid-season. This should be the case in Arizona. In fantasy football, don’t worry about drafting Sammy Sleeves.

Josh Rosen expectations

As for Josh Rosen, I’m a huge fan. He was the clear QB1 of this class, and would’ve gone higher if not for concerns about cold-weather playing ability and his brash personality. But, he’s in a domed arena, so it’s perfect conditions. Regarding his personality, people are blowing it out of proportion. At the end of the day, Rosen can play quarterback really well.

Teams can deal with off-the-field issues if you’re winning on the field, and Rosen will win on the field. Rosen has some of the best mechanics in the past decade and his mind for the game is already at an NFL-level. According to USA Today, Cardinals GM Steve Keim likes Rosen “more every day.” Although he may not play the entire season, Josh Rosen is going to make sure people know his name by the end of the season. He’s going to be awesome. 

Running Backs

Unfortunately, David Johnson’s season ended before it even began last year. He dislocated his wrist Week 1 against the Detroit Lions and never came back. So, Johnson enters the year on extremely fresh legs, ready to get back to work. He had one of the most prolific seasons ever by a running back, totaling over 2,000 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns. Johnson was incredible.

The definite #1 overall pick in fantasy football drafts last year, Johnson is one of the NFL’s best running backs. As I mentioned before, Steve Wilks wants to be a run-first football team. This heavily benefits Johnson. The great thing about Johnson is he has the tools for any situation. Down 20? DJ, as mentioned by PFF above, is an extremely good receiver. He can even line up in the slot. Up 20? DJ rushed almost 300 times in 2016. David Johnson is going to be the focal point of Arizona’s offense, as he should be.

As for the backs behind Johnson, Elijhaa Penny is likely to be the main goal-line back. Chase Edmonds provides relief when David Johnson needs a play or two off.

Wide Receivers

  • LWR: Larry Fitzgerald
  • RWR: Brice Butler
  • SWR: Christian Kirk

You know what you’re going to get from Larry Fitzgerald. He’s extremely durable, reliable, and talented. A 1,000+ yard receiver for three straight seasons now and with arguably the best hands in the league. He’ll retire sooner rather than later, but for now, he’s all in. Fitz wants a Super Bowl before he goes, and is certainly doing his part. He’s worked with countless quarterbacks and produced, which is why he remains trustworthy with Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen. Expect another solid, top-15 season from Larry Fitz.

Brice Butler, former Dallas Cowboy, will be lining up opposite Larry Fitzgerald. He’s a speed demon, running a sub 4.4 40 yard dash. Last year, he caught 15 balls for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bruce Arians said he “loves” the Butler signing. He projects as a deep threat and worth a look late in fantasy football drafts.

Watch out for Christian Kirk. One of college football’s most talented receivers, Kirk will be learning from one of the NFL’s best teachers, Larry Fitzgerald. Pro Football Focus illustrated his ability to soak up underneath routes, which bodes well with Sam Bradford’s style. There is no shortage of targets to go around in Arizona and Kirk could sneakily rack up 50-60 catches this year. He’s definitely worth a look in fantasy drafts.

Tight Ends

Arizona doesn’t use their tight ends a ton, so there isn’t much to say. Ricky Seals-Jones was a waiver wire hero last year, scoring 3 touchdowns in 2 weeks and averaging 16.8 yards per catch. He was awesome when targeted, but just wasn’t used that much. He’s definitely a player with tons of potential, but I wouldn’t trust him to start on my fantasy team.

As for Jermaine Gresham, he tore his Achilles in Week 17 of last year and likely will not be ready for Week 1.



Final Verdict

There is talent in the Arizona offense, but coaching changes + a lack of receiving weapons point to a down year in the desert.


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About Noah Spurlock

Noah’s from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and isn’t afraid to show love for his hometown teams. If there’s a Steelers or Penguins game on, he’ll be watching. He’s been playing fantasy football since he can remember and isn’t afraid to give out some hot takes. Follow him on Twitter @NoahSpurlockNFL!

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