This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The Arizona Cardinals play in the all too brutal NFC West. That means they’ll face the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. The St. Louis Rams aren’t necessarily a cakewalk, either, and they get them two times, as well.
The rest of the schedule isn’t necessarily easy, either, but life outside the NFC West never seems quite as difficult. Still, fantasy football owners drafting Arizona fantasy options probably want to know when they can count on their weapons this year.
All bets are off for the games within the division, but it’s worth taking a look at the entire schedule, anyways. While probably impossible to predict, let’s use logic to analyze the Cards’ 2014 regular season schedule and pick a fantasy winner to use for each contest:
Week 1 vs. San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers looked to get better on defense this offseason, but their secondary was abysmal last year. It’s a decent bet Carson Palmer gets the 2014 season started off right with a strong home opener.
Week 2 at New York Giants
New York drastically improved their secondary during free agency, so they should be much improved against the pass. Losing defensive tackle Linval Joseph could open the door to some suspect run defense. Even with this game being on the road, Andre Ellington looks like a strong play.
Week 3 vs. San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco shuts down the run pretty well but can’t seem to really contain Larry Fitzgerald. Carson Palmer should also be decent in this matchup, but Fitzgerald should be the guy to pace the Cards in fantasy production.
Week 4 on BYE Week
Week 5 at Denver Broncos
Denver made a ton of stellar additions to their defense this year, so hypothetically they’re going to be an even tougher out. Arizona will surely have to try to put up points to keep up with Peyton Manning, though, so it’s probably a safe bet Carson Palmer leads the way in fantasy production.
Week 6 vs. Washington Redskins
The Redskins have an awful defense and they really didn’t make enough key adjustments to make anyone think that will change. Larry Fitzgerald could have a battle on his hands with DeAngelo Hall depending on which version of the cornerback shows up, so rolling with Andre Ellington here is probably the way to go.
Week 7 at Oakland Raiders
Oakland seems like a scrub opponent, but this is still a road game and they’ve added a lot of solid pieces on both sides of the ball. Strangely, this might be one of those odds games that ends up being a lot closer than people think. Palmer takes on his former team, though, so I think he can have a solid outing.
Week 8 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Philly is awesome on offense, but not really so much on defense. Arizona gets them at home, too, so they can inflict their will in terms of tempo. Look for them to do just that and put up some points. Andre Ellington is probably the option to go with here, as he has the most pure upside.
Week 9 at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were terrible even when stud linebacker Sean Lee was healthy in 2013. Now he’s lost for the year with a torn ACL. Arizona should shred them, even with this game in Dallas. Versatile back Andre Ellington should be everyone’s favorite pick to freak out on the ‘Boys.
Week 10 vs. St. Louis Rams
The Rams still aren’t great against the pass, so Carson Palmer and the Arizona air attack should be on full display. It’s at home, too, so it could be quite a show. Palmer could be joined by several of his friends in the passing game as quality fantasy plays. He might take the cake, however.
Week 11 vs. Detroit Lions
Detroit is pretty solid from top to bottom on defense, but their main weak point continues to be their pass defense. Larry Fitzgerald could own at home in this matchup.
Week 12 at Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is studly on defense from top to bottom, which puts the Cards against the wall a bit. Especially on the road, I really don’t love any Arizona player in this matchup. However, with Richard Sherman concentrating on Larry Fitzgerald, this could be a good game for Michael Floyd to go nuts.
Week 13 at Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s pass rush is a big bowl of "meh," and they aren’t elite against the run or pass, either. They did make a strong effort to get better up front, though, so this may not be the game to expect Andre Ellington to move the heavens and earth. Arizona should throw quite a bit here, too, potentially making Carson Palmer the guy to use.
Week 14 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has a sick pass rush, but until they prove otherwise, can still get beat anywhere else. Beating them is still most likely going to happen through the air, though, as they are pretty strong up front. Arizona’s wide receivers would probably work here, but with this one at home, I’d give Carson Palmer the shot at best Arizona’s best fantasy option.
Week 15 at St. Louis Rams
The Rams get after the quarterback pretty well and can beat anyone on their own turf, but they still aren’t amazing against the pass. Larry Fitzgerald crushed them in Week 1 last year, and I expect him to do so again here.
Week 16 vs. Seattle Seahawks
The good news is this game is at home. There is no other good news. With that said, they will hopefully try to control the pace here, which could give running back Andre Ellington a shot at racking up solid numbers. Michael Floyd is a strong candidate to be the guy to use here again, but with this one being at home I’ll opt for Ellington’s upside.
Week 17 at San Francisco 49ers
Though they’ve made efforts to get better, the Niners’ main weakness is still through the air. Whether Arizona has to pass as they come from behind or not, it’s likely they’ll have to throw to compete. Besides, their running game can’t hope to go nuts on the road against San Fran’s vaunted run defense. All signs point to Larry Fitzgerald putting up mammoth numbers, just as he did against them in 2013.