Projected Depth Chart:
Quarterback: 1. Kyler Murray 2. Brett Hundley
Running back: 1. Kenyan Drake 2. Chase Edmonds
Wide Receiver 1. DeAndre Hopkins 2. Christian Kirk 3. Andy Isabella 4. KeeSean Johnson
Slot Receiver 1. Larry Fitzgerald 2. Trent Sherfield
Tight End 1. Dan Arnold 2. Maxx Williams
The Arizona Cardinals are led by second year coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was surprisingly hired 2 weeks after he was hired to be the offensive coordinator at USC. Kingsbury has a very similar system to former Washington State coach Mike Leach. Kingsbury uses a lot of 5-wide formations. He likes to run a lot of four verticals out of that formation. His offensive style is very aggressive. On every play, there is someone going deep. Receivers who can run a lot of different routes and are very fast are ones who thrive in this offense. That is why they took Andy Isabella out of UMASS in the 2019 NFL Draft. Isabella ran a 4.31 40 yard dash. He will be running a lot of the deep routes. For the run game, Kingsbury relies on a lot of outside zone runs. The running backs who thrive in this offense are the ones who are very agile and elusive. The running back also takes a lot of swings, screens, and tosses. This offense is a very fast, high powered offense that is designed to put a lot of points on the board.
Quarterback - The Cardinals are led by Kyler Murray, the #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Kyler was the perfect fit for Kingsbury's air raid system because he played in it in college. A lot of people really like Kyler going into his second season. Some even think he could become the sophomore sensation Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes were. If there was any quarterback to become the next sophomore sensation, it would be Kyler Murray.
Last year, Murray passed for 3722 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions on a 64.4% completion percentage. In college, Murray was considered an electric runner and he definitely showed flashes of that during his rookie season. In week 15 against the Cleveland Browns, he ran for a 35 yard gain, showing his potential and the reason he was the #1 pick.
Murray gets the benefit of throwing to all-pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins this season. With all of the weapons around him, he could definitely be a top 5 quarterback in fantasy this year. In my top 10 quarterback rankings, I have him at #4. This season, Kyler Murray will have a better understanding of Kingsbury's air raid offense. This will lead to Kingsbury trusting him with more attempts and a boosted completion percentage. These two things will combine to make Kyler Murray a great quarterback in real life and in fantasy.
Running back - Last year, it looked like David Johnson would return to his best form. He started off the season really well and looked like he would finish as a top fantasy running back. Johnson got injured against the Giants and never got another good opportunity after that. Johnson was benched for Chase Edmonds. Edmonds was then benched for Kenyan Drake when the team traded for him at the trade deadline.
The team continued to ride with Kenyan Drake as he became the workhorse towards the end of the year. Drake flashed his potential when getting touches when he got 22 and 24 carries in weeks 15 and 16. Those two weeks he had over 30 fantasy points each week and combined for 69 fantasy points. Drake also showed he was a capable receiver out of the backfield. In his 8 games with the Cardinals he averaged 3.5 receptions per game.
Kenyan Drake is coming off in the second round in fantasy this year and I think that is too much of a price to pay for him. He had years to prove himself in Miami and did not do that. There have been reports of Drake becoming the workhorse this year. I am not buying into those reports. Everyone thought David Johnson was going to be good last year. He was good for the first couple of weeks in the season but then vanished after he got injured. The same thing could happen to Kenyan Drake with Chase Edmonds and hometown kid Eno Benjamin. I am staying away from Cardinals running backs this year in fantasy.
Wide Receiver - Larry Fitzgerald still had some juice left in the tank last year as he played all 16 games and got 109 targets. Fitzgerald's days as a top fantasy receiver are over. Last year Fitzgerald finished as the WR35. He had some games where he would've been a solid flex option. Fitzgerald scored over 14 fantasy points 5 times against the Lions, Ravens, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Seahawks.
This year is likely going to be Larry Fitzgerald's last year. The Cardinals pulled off a trade this offseason that would send David Johnson and a second round pick to the Houston Texans for DeAndre Hopkins and a second round pick. Hopkins is a great compliment to Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. Hopkins will pair nicely with Christian Kirk's speed and he will take pressure off of aging Larry Fitzgerald.
As good as Hopkins is, there is no way I am taking him in the first round this year in fantasy. I have him ranked below late first round-early second round pick Tyreek Hill at #5. Everyone is back and there will not be enough targets to go around. Hopkins got 150 targets last year in Houston and unless Larry Fitzgerald does not play the entire season, there is no way he gets close to 150 targets. Hopkins is in a prime position to bust this year. One player who will benefit from Hopkins is Christian Kirk. He won't get as much attention from the defense which could open up a lot of one on one coverage deep shots for him. Christian Kirk is a great get in late rounds if he can finish the season healthy.
Tight Ends - This section will not be as long as the other sections as Kliff Kingsbury does not use his tight ends very much. In his last three years at Texas Tech, a tight end did catch a single pass. Last year tight ends were not involved very much. Charles Clay, their top tight end was the TE46 in fantasy. In Kingsbury's offense the tight ends are almost strictly blocking or running seam routes.
This year should be no different than last year. Even though Clay is gone, Maxx Williams and Dan Arnold will and should be on the waiver wire in almost every fantasy league for the year. Neither of these tight ends should be owned even in the deepest of leagues due to their lack of involvement in the offense.
Analyzing for fantasy:
Breakout: Kyler Murray
Busts: DeAndre Hopkins, Kenyan Drake
Sleeper: Christian Kirk
Deep sleeper: Andy Isabella
Do not touch: Larry Fitzgerald, Dan Arnold
I hope you liked this style of article. Comment on what you think I did wrong or should change. Part 2: Atlanta Falcons should come on Thursday with another article on college football tomorrow.