Well after Week One the fantasy projections for the Cardinals...sort of entered a black hole with the news that David Johnson went down with a wrist injury that required surgery and would be out 2-3 months.
Between that and a poor performance from Arizona’s offensive line and Carson Palmer looking antsy and ineffective in the pocket, Arizona’s offense seems to look to undergo major changes entering their matchup with the Colts.
Likewise, Indianapolis has looked potentially like the worst team in the NFL after Week 1...and that’s saying something considering the New York Jets are nearly unabashedly “tanking” this season.
So what’s to expect from AZ vs. IND? Let’s find out:
Start of the Week: Arizona Cardinals Defense
While I nailed the defensive performance being stalwart for 3 quarters against Matthew Stafford last week (including a pick-6) the team struggled to rush the passer in the 4th quarter, only got one sack and gave up two late touchdowns to fall to the Lions. Perhaps their defense won’t be as advertised as a fantasy stud this year?
That said, Indianapolis is perhaps a bigger trainwreck than the Rams offense was last year. The Colts’ first opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, currently lead ALL defenses in scoring due to playing the hapless Tolzien-led Colts offense. It was so terrible, the Jacoby Brissett experience might be beginning sooner rather than later. So maybe there aren’t MULTIPLE pick-sixes but it stands to reason that if the Cardinals defense (with Robert Nkemdiche expected back) had their moments against Stafford and the Lions’ weapons, you’d expect them to dominate the Colts with Patrick Peterson on T.Y. Hilton.
If Arizona’s defense does NOT put up a strong performance this week, it’ll be time to question just how many Cardinals players will have fantasy relevance moving forward as they play tougher teams given the poor offensive showing.
Sit of the Week: Frank Gore, RB
Gore’s been a workhorse in the NFL for, well, what seems like forever. Yet last week he split carries with Marlon Mack and lost out on any goal-line carries.
Gore’s been a thorn in Arizona’s side when he was with the Niners but despite a likely run-heavy offense coming, with AZ planning to load the box and force the Colts QB to throw.
So the question: why not T.Y. Hilton here if he’s going to have Patrick Peterson on him?
More on that in a bit.
Cardinals Start: Carson Palmer, QB
I know what you’re thinking after last week. But Palmer’s been resilient and before last year, the Cardinals had never dropped multiple games on the road in the Arians era. The Colts defense is plum bad and the Cardinals will likely get a short field or two, and without David Johnson there’s less reason to run the ball in the red zone.
Speaking of running the ball, the Cardinals can’t this year. Mike Iupati and Jared Veldheer seem still reeling from their injuries last year and Evan Boehm has gotten very little push. Maybe Alex Boone joins the lineup at some point but for now the Cardinals will likely need to move to a dink-and-dunk vs. big play offense. Still—with how poor the Colts are overall, if you have Palmer don’t hesitate to start him at least for this week against a team that might be the worst in the NFL we’ve seen in the last couple of years.
Another name to look at is Jermaine Gresham. Arizona looked his way several times in the red zone against the Lions and I think he could haul in a score in addition to Fitzgerald getting a red zone look.
Colts Start: T.Y. Hilton, WR
So, the question you’ve been waiting for—why not bench T.Y. since he’s going up against Patrick Peterson?
Given Golden Tate’s 100 receiving yards last week, it’s clear that while Patrick Peterson travels around, it’s difficult to know which WR he’ll be guarding week-to-week even against a clear #1 due to the matchup.
Arizona might put Peterson on Donte Moncrief leaving Hilton not a guy who can play, but potentially a guy who might not be in a “bench at all costs” situation. I’d consider playing him this week as long as you recognize that without Andrew Luck, his upside is significantly smaller than it’s been in years past.
Cardinals Sit: Chris Johnson, RB
Johnson’s currently listed behind Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington and looked downright slow in the preseason, with two fumbles.
I highly doubt that he gets much action this game, as Arizona will be going full RBbC (or Running Back by Committee) meaning Williams will get the carries on the ground and Ellington likely on 3rd down through the air. Johnson’s role in this game might be to simply pass-protect against any blitzes the Colts may send to keep Carson Palmer uprights. Until he shows that Arizona is committing to him as their top back like they did in ‘15, he’s best a late stash only in deeper leagues.
Colts Sit: ...Pick A Name?
Outside of starting Marlon Mack and maybe T.Y. Hilton, the Colts seem putrid as a whole and Arians is preparing their defense for playing both Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett (who’s a runner). I would expect a similar putrid output of offense and the Colts defense to struggle as well.
You’d hope that Indianapolis can figure things out because Andrew Luck can’t be happy with how quickly this team seems to have returned to their 2011 ways without a starting quarterback.
Weekly Cardinals RB Split Projections:
Williams—14 carries, 1 pass
Ellington—8 carries, 3 passes
Johnson—4 carries, 0 passes
So, what are your thoughts?
Sound off in the comments section about if you think I didn’t mention your fantasy sleeper for today!