The 2-6 Cardinals are in Kansas City this weekend to take on the 8-1 Chiefs. Playing in Arrowhead Stadium is never easy, and with the Chiefs led by second-year QB Patrick Mahomes II, this team is an offensive juggernaut and just might be the best team in the league.
Let’s be clear about one thing: The Cardinals are going to lose this game. Probably by multiple touchdowns.
But that doesn’t mean your fantasy team can’t win. While the Chiefs have one of the scariest offenses the NFL has seen in years, their defense is… generous at best. They give up the second-most yards in the league and over 25 points per game. There are fantasy points to be had here, even for a pitiful offense like the Cardinals.
So let’s go through the Redbirds’ roster and see who deserves a spot in your lineup. Just because the Cardinals will be losing, doesn’t mean you have to lose your fantasy matchup too!
Note: All fantasy stats per ESPN standard scoring.
QB Josh Rosen
The Chiefs’ defense is ranked #27 against opposing QBs. That makes sense—since they’re usually up by multiple scores, opposing teams have to throw a lot against them. So should you use Rosen this week if you have Kirk Cousins or Deshaun Watson on bye? Not necessarily. In a standard 10-team league, there are probably better options on the waiver wire—guys like Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield, and Alex Smith. But if you’re in a deeper league (or a 2QB league—which are super fun if you’ve never played in one), Rosen should be serviceable. Plus it makes it easier to root for the Redbirds when they’re down big.
Projected Stat Line: 260 passing yards, 15 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 15 fantasy points
RB David Johnson
The Chiefs are even worse against RBs than QBs, ranked #31 in the league against opposing ball carriers. So Byron Leftwich should be licking his chops thinking of how he can use DJ. Even if the team falls behind by several scores, Leftwich should be able to use DJ in the passing game (something Mike McCoy never figured out—which got him fired). Barring injury, there’s almost no way DJ doesn’t find the end zone this week. There aren’t many safer starts this week.
Projected Stat Line: 65 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards, 1 TD, 17 fantasy points
WR Larry Fitzgerald
While the Chiefs defense is very exploitable for fantasy purposes, they’re actually somewhat stingy against WRs, ranked #12 in the league. It’s a lot easier to keep receivers in front of you when you know the opposing offense is going to be passing. So while Larry Fitzgerald owners should expect plenty of volume this week, they shouldn’t necessarily be expecting a huge day like he had against the 49ers. Still, Fitz should be a solid WR2/3 play with a relatively high floor. PPR owners especially should plug him into their lineups.
Projected Stat Line: 7 receptions, 75 yards, 0 TDs, 7 fantasy points
WR Christian Kirk
Kirk had obvious chemistry with Rosen in the preseason, and that has carried over to the regular season as well. In their last 4 games together, Kirk has averaged nearly 9 fantasy points per game. I expect that to continue against the Chiefs on Sunday. Owners needing a high-ceiling player should look to Kirk, who has the most big-play potential of the Cardinals’ receivers. I even like him a bit better than Fitz this week in standard leagues.
Projected Stat Line: 6 rec, 85 yards, 1 TD, 14 fantasy points
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
You’d have to be in a pretty deep league to even consider playing Seals-Jones this week. But if you are in such a league, the Chiefs are #26 in the league against opposing TEs, so I suppose you could do worse. He should be good for 30-40 yards if that kind of floor is appealing, and he has a decent shot at a TD during garbage time. He’s probably similar to the rest of the guys on the waiver wire in deep leagues (Antonio Gates, Chris Herndon, Nick Vannett, et al.), so might as well go with the Redbird if you’re in a bind.
Projected Stat Line: 3 receptions, 35 yards, 3 fantasy points
K Phil Dawson
I play in a league with several Cardinals fans that starts two kickers (don’t ask), and Dawson has been on the waiver wire all season. That’s what happens when you’ve only made 4 FGs on the year. If and when the Cardinals fall behind big, they’ll likely stop kicking FGs. There’s no reason you should play Dawson this week. (Unless you’re already out of the playoff chase and are starting as many Cardinals as you can. I have a buddy who usually does that around this time. I’m sure some of you do, too.)
Projected Stat Line: 1 FG, 2 XPs, 6 fantasy points
I’m actually surprised that the Cardinals DEF is projected for 4 fantasy points in standard ESPN leagues. I thought it might actually be negative—especially since opposing defenses have only scored positive points against the Chiefs once this season. The Cardinals probably won’t be the second. Stay far away unless you’re masochistic or are looking for a challenge.
Projected Stat Line: 35+ points allowed, 400+ yards allowed, 1 sack, 1 INT, -3 fantasy points
If you’re asking about Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham, Chase Edmonds, etc., you’re either in a 20-team league or shouldn’t be playing fantasy football and I can’t help you. (That said, for the record, I think someone besides DJ, Fitz, Kirk and RSJ will score a TD.) But most of your usual Cardinals will be usable against the Chiefs. We’ll take what small victories we can get.
So where are the fantasy players at? Do you have any Redbirds in your lineups? Let’s talk fake football in the comments.