It’s the kickoff of the 2016 NFL season, which means that the 2016 fantasy season has kicked off as well!
Week in and week out, I will be having a weekly fantasy column here at Revenge of the Birds with a Cardinals heavy focus called Murf’s Turf(because is it really a fantasy column if it doesn’t have a witty name?). I’ll analyze the upcoming fantasy matchup from a Cards perspective versus their opponent along with a few other tidbits and sleepers.
In short, if you own some Arizona Cardinals players in fantasy, this is the place to check each week.
In short, I’ll be looking ahead at the top projected fantasy performers on the Arizona Cardinals, as well as their opponent for the upcoming week, along with a few sleeper picks and other tips as they come along.
So, let’s begin by previewing the Cardinals and their Week One opponent: the New England Patriots. (Note: unless the matchup stands out, players like David Johnson or Gronk should be started every week, so I won’t be covering them.)
START OF THE WEEK: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
While the Cardinals’ defense would seem to be maybe the obvious pick here versus an inexperienced Garoppolo, I think it’ll be a closer game than most.
Bill Belichick defenses always seek to take a team’s most valuable asset on offense and remove it from the game. In this case, that asset would be David Johnson. Belichick’s defenses have all sorts of playmakers in the front-seven, although, with Rob Ninkovich suspended it may be more difficult.
None the less, I imagine Belichick will try to limit Johnson’s ability by clogging up the middle and trying to take away his special ability in space. Perhaps by spying him. The OTHER strength of the Cardinals is their deep threat ability, and Belichick could use his safeties (and new weapon in CB/S Eric Rowe) deep to try and take the deep pass away.
Which would leave the intermediate areas wide open for Larry Fitzgerald to work, as Arizona has so many weapons, it will be difficult to stop a technician like Fitzgerald. I think we might expect a big game this Sunday Night from Fitzgerald as the master offensive mind in Arians takes on Belichick’s defensive genius.
ARIZONA CARDINALS SELL: Jermaine Gresham
While I think highly of Gresham, there’s just the fact that Arians barely passes to his tight ends outside of the redzone. And in camp this year, Fells maintained his spot as a starter while Troy Niklas made headway into a starting role.
In a game that sure to be a slugfest, look for Arians to look more towards the athletic Fells if he does throw towards his tight ends
ARIZONA CARDINALS SLEEPER: Andre Ellington
Feeling a bit sneaky? Ellington may be worth a start in late leagues....IF he starts as the kick and punt returner. He’s been explosive this preseason and Arians loves finding mismatches.
With the Patriots keyed in on David Johnson, Ellington could have a sneaky nice game as a pass-catcher and change of pace back.
NEW ENGLAND START OF THE WEEK: Martellus Bennett
With Jimmy Garoppolo having his first NFL start this Sunday night, he’ll be very reliant on his tight ends as a security blanket.
NEW ENGLAND SELL: Patriots D/ST
I might be totally wrong on this and Palmer throws for a pick-six as the Patriots defense steps up behind Garoppolo and the Patriots find a way to solve the Cardinals offense.
But I just don’t see it behind a young, inexperience quarterback who hasn’t shown a propensity for awareness in the pocket so far on the field. Or without Rob Ninkovich on the field. When the Cardinals’ defense with Arians as a head coach versus rookie quarterbacks, they’ve flourished using complex and exotic blitzes to confuse quarterbacks and force turnovers.
And turnovers will put the Patriots defense in a difficult position. If Arizona can capitalize on Garoppolo’s inexperience, it could be a long day for their defense.
NEW ENGLAND SLEEPER: James White
This shouldn’t be a surprise to many who have followed the Patriots on offense, but they love throwing the ball to the running back.
The bad news: Dion Lewis is out for at least six weeks, and he’s their most explosive play-maker in the pass-catching game as a running back. While D.J. Foster has this ability and made the roster, White is the veteran and will be the security blanket for Garoppolo as he makes his first start.
I’d guess that while LeGarrette Blount will be the lead and goal-line back, White could have a good game and perhaps a receiving touchdown.
OTHER WEEK ONE GAMES:
-Tyler Lockett, SEA vs. Miami
Lockett is a dangerous deep threat, and the Dolphins’ secondary isn’t the best. He’s also a threat to score on special teams at any given point as well
-Anquan Boldin, DET vs. Indianapolis
Boldin is still going strong, despite being on yet another new team. While Calvin Johnson retired last season, the Colts were poor versus the pass last year and are missing their top corner in Vontae Davis. If the Colts try to key in on Golden Tate, Boldin could see a lot of targets and perhaps a redzone touchdown if he still has it in him.
With Davante Parker being a disappointment so far for Miami, Jarvis Landry will not only be asked to do maybe more than he is capable of, but will be facing Seattle’s defense as well. I’d imagine that if any receiver is to play well this week, it would be Kenny Stills, not Landry.
While I like Keenan Allen this season, he’s going to draw Marcus Peters and the Chiefs’ defense in week one with a weak offensive line for Philip Rivers. I think that Allen will have a good season. Just maybe not the best afternoon.
Alright, that will be it for Week One, feel free to ask any fantasy questions in the comments section below or find me at @blakemurphy7 on Twitter for any questions or advice. Best of luck to all as we begin the fantasy season for real!
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