It’s midseason and if you’ve been playing any Arizona Cardinals players outside of Larry Fitzgerald or you started Adrian Peterson two weeks ago...
It hasn’t been a good fantasy season for you.
With the news that Carson Palmer is out for the season, what does Arizona’s fantasy projections look like currently, and where will they be heading the rest of the season? Let’s take a look at the top five Cardinals in fantasy so far and moving forward:
- Larry Fitzgerald, WR ESPN Standard—110.4 points
In base ESPN leagues, Fitzgerald is currently ranked as the 4th fantasy wide receiver in the league, having 45 catches for 494 yards and 3 touchdown grabs.
Fitzgerald’s been a monster, especially in PPR leagues with two double-digit catch games.
2. (IR) Carson Palmer, QB, ESPN Standard—102.3 points
Palmer’s been a solid, if lacking upside, fantasy quarterback this year, and was 3rd in the league in yards before breaking his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London this last week.
Palmer’s hoping to come back in 4-6 weeks rather than the original projected 8, which might be a fantasy godsend IF the return of David Johnson makes an impact in the passing game. It’s a risk, but if you’re in need of a quarterback and Palmer has been dropped, he’s got a 50-50 shot to be worth the stash.
However, it’s worth noting that Palmer will be facing the Titans, Redskins, Giants and Seahawks defenses (for those of you who actually play in Week 17) down that part of the stretch, and there’s no guarantee Arizona’s offensive line will be better to protect him (or that Palmer won’t suffer any other setbacks this season).
Overall, if you are looking at Drew Stanton as a backup option, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. His stretch as a fantasy quarterback isn’t merely forgettable but downright revolting at times. Your best bet at this point if you were counting on Palmer is to bite the bullet and hit the waiver wire to stream a new QB each week or make a trade for another player’s second Quarterback.
3. J.J. Nelson, WR, ESPN Standard—63.6 points
Nelson’s advantage over the more heavily-featured John Brown is simple: touchdowns.
Nelson’s been dry the past few weeks but he’s still been a big-play machine who also gets looks in the redzone. With Drew Stanton at the helm, there will likely be more deep shots taken in Arizona’s offense than there has with the more conservative play Palmer has had of late, so perhaps Nelson could benefit.
However, I’d expect Arizona’s overall offensive output to decline rapidly, as this is a team that was shut out by the Rams and gathered only a single touchdown in Philadelphia (a late garbage time TD turned fumble out of the endzone by J.J. Nelson notwithstanding) it’s important to note that was all with Palmer at the helm and John Brown still hurting.
With Brown’s return, Nelson’s consistency has greatly diminished these past few weeks.
When Arizona can run the ball effectively, their offense is in balance. Bruce Arians’ offense has struggled to do that in every game but against the Buccaneers this year, and he actively chose to stop running the ball in the Rams game. Which leads us to...
4. Andre Ellington, RB, ESPN Standard—58.6
Ellington’s been a PPR darling before missing last week. Only 49 rushing yards on the season but he’s averaged 4 catches a game and has 42 yards receiving on average in each game he’s played in.
He took on the 3rd down check-down role from David Johnson and was a matchup problem for opposing linebackers. His presence was sorely missed in the Rams game on third down and it’s unknown if Stanton will utilize him and check down like Carson Palmer did as he has a habit of still looking deep and scrambling on 3rd down.
If Ellington’s role continues, he has value until David Johnson gets back on the field. PPR only at this point, and if you see that Johnson’s going to come back sooner rather than in late December, see if you can’t trade him for a position of need before his value plummets.
5. Adrian Peterson, RB, ESPN Standard—40.2 points
Truth be told, I did skip Jaron Brown here in terms of fantasy points total but I felt that this was a more important issue to discuss.
Adrian Peterson is now, with Palmer out, going to be the focal point of the Cardinals. Or at least he should. Drew Stanton throwing the ball 30-35 times a game is less a track record for success and more a track record in seeing just how much Cardinals fans will be willing to take.
I’d expect Arians to push the ball through Peterson the rest of the year and perhaps have a game plan similar to what they did against the Niners last year.
Stanton threw the ball 28 times, completing only 11 of them (two for long touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald) and David Johnson had 27 carries for 154 yards and another two scores.
If Arians follows up with this style of gameplan for the rest of the season, Peterson will be getting touches. But with Arizona’s defense as bad as it is, don’t be surprised if they struggle the rest of the year as teams load up the box to keep their rushing totals as historically bad as they’ve been for the majority of the season.
Honorable Mention: (IR) David Johnson, RB, ESPN Standard—7 points
Poor fantasy owners with the #1 pick this year. Johnson didn’t just go down, he went down in Week 1.
With a 12 week injury, Johnson’s got the potential to be back in a month around Thanksgiving but it’s unknown if his impact will be worth hanging onto should Arizona’s offense be inept without Palmer, or if he enters a workload share with Adrian Peterson.
Johnson’s a dual-threat weapon that might still be a fantasy savior in the playoffs, however, if Carson Palmer has a speedy recovery. But if you don’t GET to the playoffs having spent your #1 on a player who might not even play until your season is over, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
If you feel like Johnson could be dangled to a team that’s in contention, I wouldn’t mind that swing at all if you’re in dire straits for a few wins or are in a deeper, bigger league. But with Arizona’s defense looking as poor as it has been, too little, too late is what this story seems to be pointing toward at this point.
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