One of the best (and sometimes worst) things that comes along with a new NFL season, is a fresh start with your fantasy football teams. Whether you’re beginning a title defense, or you’re preparing for whatever embarrassing task lies ahead of you for a last place finish, the new season brings a certain excitement and feeling of hope.
As we head into draft season, I wanted to take a look at a few players on the Cardinals’ roster that will likely be impactful fantasy players. Before we dive into what I expect from a few of these guys, I want point out that I don’t condone taking a guy just because he’s on your favorite team. I am an advocate of picking with your head, not your heart. In fact, in one of my leagues, there are a bunch of Pats fans, and when it’s time for our auction draft I always nominate the Patriots’ players early so I can watch them spend all of their money. It works every time.
Cardinals Fantasy Expectations
Positive: I don’t want to get too excited about preseason football, but the Card’s defense has been pretty good so far. The Cardinals currently have a +7 turnover ratio and have 8 sacks through 2 games. Once again, I fully understand it’s preseason. What adds to my confidence is the Cardinals still have two of the league’s elite defenders (Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones), and what seems to be a much more aggressive defensive scheme. Also, Amos Jones is gone, which might give you a chance at getting some points from Special Teams.
Negative: Lacking depth at some key positions. The Cards have already seen a few defensive players go down this preseason, and could be one or two injuries away from fading into mediocrity.
Verdict: At the end of the day, it’s a Defense. There isn’t much risk involved, and I think the Cards D/ST will be a solid choice. They should provide consistent points for your team, and won’t really hurt you, which is what you want out of a D/ST.
Positive: In most leagues, DJ will be a top 3-5 draft pick once again this season. When he’s at his best, he’s a dual threat weapon that can carry both the Cardinals, and your fantasy team. Over the course of preseason and training camp, Johnson has not been shy about proving he is back. We have seen him post hype videos to social media, break off 40+ yard runs, and carry about 8 Saints defenders into the end zone.
Negative: The unknowns - We all know Johnson is coming off a season where he played less than 3 quarters, and we can only hope there won’t be any lingering effects. He is also playing in the first year under a new head coach, and a new offense. While we know Wilks loves a “ground and pound” style offense, we will have to wait and see how effective Johnson can be, as this is a far cry from the high-flying offense that brought him so much of the spotlight in his first few seasons. There is also the 2-back sets we have seen in the preseason with Chase Edmonds, which could lighten the load DJ will carry.
Verdict: Last year’s injury, and this season being a contract year mean Johnson has a lot to prove. I believe he will return to the backfield fresh, and hungry. In my mind, the available reward of taking Johnson with a top 3 pick, or spending a lot in auction drafts is certainly worth the risk. Even better, if you can get him at any sort of discount, jump on it.
Positive: Could be a steal in the draft. As mentioned, Mike McCoy has been running a lot two-back sets this preseason, which could mean touches for Edmonds. He has also been very impressive all camp, and has been getting rave reviews from the coaching staff and fellow players.
Negative: He’s behind one the elite RBs in the NFL on the depth chart. While he may take away some touches, there’s not much he can do to get more touches unless Johnson gets hurt.
Verdict: He might be worth using a really late pick to take him. If you have the roster space, he will be a good guy to stash away as a handcuff for DJ, and as a potential keeper you’re in a keeper league. DJ hasn’t signed an extension yet, so you might be able to pay a little bit now, to get a starter for next season.
Positive: I don’t really need to list anything here. He’s Fitz. The only time we ever question Fitz is at the beginning of each season. We question if he can continue to play at a Hall of Fame level as he continues to push further into his 30s. And, at the end of each season, he makes us question why would ask such a ridiculous question. He seems to be working well with Bradford, and Rosen has shown promise to step in if Bradford were to go down.
Negative: This offense may not need to rely on him as much as the Arians’ offense did. Williams and Kirk have shown growth, and could take away looks – especially with Kirk doing some damage out of the slot.
Verdict: Fitz has caught 100+ passes each of the past 3 seasons, and I think he’ll do it again. He will be a better pick in PPR leagues, as I see the young guys taking more of the big yardage plays away. For all those worried about Bradford getting injured - Fitz and his calming veteran presence may become a more valuable fantasy asset if Rosen were to be forced into the starting role.
Positive: He has shown promise and potential in camp and in the first couple preseason games. He is also currently slotted as the #2 WR in the Cards latest depth chart.
Negative: He is unproven, and didn’t show us too much promise last year. It is also a bit concerning that Wilks won’t make any definitive statements with regard to any of the WR’s behind Fitz. If he was really performing that well, he would have that WR2 position locked up by now.
Verdict: We should get a better picture of what to expect from Williams as the preseason progresses, but I don’t see any harm in using a late pick to take a chance. He could prove to be a good guy to have on the bench for certain matchups, or even a worthy FLEX option in deeper leagues.
Positive: Kirk has been steadily improving since the beginning of camp. The Cardinals felt he was worthy of a second round pick. He is coming from a big time college program, and shined in the SEC against elite defenses. Hopefully this means the NFL won’t be as big of a jump for him as it was for Williams last season.
Negative: He’s a rookie, and we don’t have a body of work to go off of. Similar to the analysis of Williams, you would like to see some separation between him and the other receivers. You would also like to see him pass Williams on the depth chart before drafting him in any format.
Verdict: I think there is more to like with Kirk than with Williams. He is more talented, and should see more targets, even if he sits behind him on the depth chart. I think Kirk and Williams share similar fantasy expectations, but if forced to choose, I would take Kirk.
If you think anyone else on the team might be a sleeper, or disagree with any of my evaluations, please let me know in the comments. Good luck to you all this fantasy season!