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Redbirds in the spotlight: A look at Yahoo’s Arizona Cardinals fantasy preview

Yahoo’s fantasy experts recently released their Arizona Cardinals team preview. How are the Redbirds looking from a fantasy perspective in 2020?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals
Does Kenyan Drake have any more 4-TD games in store in 2020?
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know about you, but one thing keeping me going here in COVID-Land is the promise (hope?) of an NFL season in the fall. Our Cardinals have a lot of positive momentum, and the season should be an exciting one.

That’s as true in real life as it is in fantasy football. Kyler Murray’s second season, a whole season of Kenyan Drake, shiny new toy DeAndre Hopkins, a healthy Christian Kirk, another (final?) season of Larry Fitzgerald… yeah, the Redbirds have no shortage of impact players both on the field and on your stat tracker.

As a long-time fantasy player, I’ve come to like playing on Yahoo the best. I just think they have the best platform, projections, rankings, and analysis. So when they started doing team-by-team previews several weeks ago, I eagerly waited for their Cardinals preview.

Well, the day finally came yesterday. How did the Yahoo experts (Matt Harmon, Andy Behrens, and Scott Pianowski—some of the best in the biz) do in breaking down Kyler, Nuk, Fitz, and the rest? Let’s dive in and find out.

Kyler Murray: Top-5 QB?

Expert Take: All three experts agreed that Kyler will be a top-5 fantasy QB in 2020. They pointed toward the Hopkins acquisition, his second year in Kliff Kingsbury’s system, and his considerable rushing ability. Two of the experts (Harmon and Pianowski) did comment that Kyler’s draft cost might be a little rich for their blood, which is understandable given the crazy depth at QB this season. But all in all, the experts are high on Kyler’s fantasy potential in Year 2.

Reaction: It’s hard to disagree with the expert consensus. Kyler was already a top-10 QB last season even with somewhat underwhelming passing numbers. Those numbers figure to go up, and there’s no way we’ve already seen his ceiling as a rusher after just one season. Looking at the QB landscape, the only two guys I’d for sure take above Kyler are Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, who have only produced some of the greatest all-time fantasy seasons at the position. If you wanted to take Dak Prescott over Kyler, I wouldn’t argue, but otherwise, there’s no one else I’d rather have. I get waiting on QB most seasons, but it’d be hard for me to pass him up as a Cardinals fan.

Kenyan Drake: 2nd-Round Pick?

Expert Take: Again, the experts are in consensus that Drake should be off the board in the first two rounds. Check the quotes: “Drake’s setup suggests the potential for 1,500-plus yards from scrimmage and 8-12 touchdowns” (Behrens). “Around the Round 1/Round 2 turn, Drake is a legitimate play-to-win pick” (Pianowski). “He’s an ideal Round 2 selection” (Harmon). They all seem fairly high on Drake as a fantasy RB1 as a workhorse back in last year’s #2 rushing offense by DVOA.

Reaction: I have to disagree with the experts a bit here. Drake indeed looked awesome after he was traded to the desert last season, but I’d be hesitant to spend that much draft capital on a player who has never had more than 170 carries in a season even going back to college. It’s a fun exercise to simply double Drake’s numbers from his eight games in a Cardinals uniform last season, but it’s never that simple. Is he really ready to become a 300+-touch bellcow back just like that? Maybe. But those 1,500+ yards and double-digit TDs are a big ask. Chase Edmonds will still be involved and Kyler will poach a few running scores as well. I’d be interested in Drake in Round 3, but I’m out in the first two rounds.

Christian Kirk Over Larry Fitzgerald?

Expert Take: None of the experts seem very high on either Kirk or Fitz as picks around the 10th round or so, given the Hopkins acquisition and the many mouths to feed on this offense. As Harmon said, “I don’t see myself hunting for either with much gusto.” But they all agreed they’d take Kirk over Fitz if they had to roster one as a bench WR type: “I’d give a slight edge here to the third-year pro over the 37-year-old legend” (Behrens).

Reaction: I agree that it’s tough to get too excited about either Kirk or Fitz, but if Kyler throws for, say, 4,200+ yards, Hopkins can’t get them all. He’ll probably clear at least 1,200, but that leaves nearly 3,000 yards for the rest of the team. That is to say, there’s more than enough room on this team for a second 1,000-yard receiver—something we’ve seen only once in the desert in the past decade (John Brown’s 1,003 yards in 2015). Although I wouldn’t put it past Fitz to give us one last hurrah, I think there’s a decent chance Kirk breaks out across from Hopkins in 2020. He’ll definitely be a late-round target for me in drafts this year.

Hot Take: Hopkins Not a Top-5 WR?

Expert Take: A feature of all the team previews is a “#FantasyHotTaek”, where one of the experts offers a particularly spicy prediction. For the Redbirds, Harmon predicts that perennial top-5 WR Hopkins won’t return to that perch in 2020 with the team change and the uncertainty of the offseason: “If Hopkins has a great year but finishes as WR6-9 with the Cardinals offense still thriving as a whole, it wouldn’t be shocking.”

Reaction: It’s hard to argue against Harmon here—although it’s a loaded question. It’s always a feat to finish in the top-5 of your position, especially one as deep as WR, and Hopkins would still have a nice season if he finishes in the 6-9 range like Harmon predicts. And it’s probably a given that his numbers will come down anyway, as Hopkins is used to a 30%+ target share. Last season, Fitz led the team with a target share just a hair over 20%. Hopkins will be above that this season, but I doubt he gets to 30% in Kingsbury’s offense. The Cardinals will take a 90/1,200/8 season, top-5 positional finish or no.

Over/Under: 6.5 Wins

Expert Take: The final part of each team preview is a quick look at the team’s Vegas over/under prop bet. Pianowski thinks we’ll clear the over of 6.5, but he doesn’t like the -164 moneyline (you’d have to bet $164 to win $100). He’d rather bet an exact win total or wager on a potential playoff berth.

Reaction: The 6.5 number seems low to me—we “won” 5.5 games last season (ties are weird) and are undoubtedly improved. We also don’t have a particularly tough schedule, and you could argue that each of our NFC West opponents lost more talent than they gained in the offseason. If I felt safe enough to enter a Vegas casino (and I certainly do not right now), I’d pound the over. I might also chuck a few bucks on a playoff appearance, but I wouldn’t feel nearly as confident about it.

Final Thoughts

It’s always interesting to see what national writers are saying about your favorite team, whether it’s fantasy or reality. Overall, I thought the Yahoo team was mostly on the money about the Cardinals’ fantasy prospects. I’d just urge a bit more caution when it comes to drafting Kenyan Drake so early.

What do you think, RotBers? Do you plan on drafting many Cardinals on your fantasy teams? Have any spicy takes for us? Let us know in the comments!