The Cardinals are going into this season ranked as my 19th best team. I have them winning 7 games this year and finishing 4th in the NFC West and 10th in the NFC. Below is my in-depth breakdown of the team by position, staff, and fantasy worth.
Coaching: C; I like Kliff Kingsbury and his air raid offensive style. I think that Kyler Murray is the perfect player to run in it. I just haven’t seen enough NFL success from him that would be worthy of anything higher than a C. He didn’t even have a winning record as a coach of Texas Tech (35-40). I won’t hold that against him, but I am weary to give him a higher grade than C for now.
QB: B-; I really liked Kyler Murray’s rookie season. Sure, there were some errors in his play, but every rookie quarterback makes mistakes. This is especially true with such a pass-heavy offensive scheme. He was really good as a rookie and showed great promise.
RB: C+; I like Kenyan Drake, but I feel he is starting to be a little overrated. He is very quick and agile, but he isn’t the top 10 back that some people project him to be. He had a very good 5.2 yards per carry with 80.4 yards per game with the cardinals, and I think that he will keep up that level of production. He isn’t a franchise back, he is just a flashy player. Behind him, Chase Edmunds is a below average second option. He isn’t bad, and he showed decent potential in the snaps he played, but he will never have starter potential.
WR: A+; This is my favorite wide receiver group in the league other than Kansas City. They really have it all. Hopkins is a very physical receiver with a plethora of all-pro traits, Larry Fitzgerald should be a good second option. He has lost some of his step, but he still has terrific route running and great hands, and Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella show criminally underrated talent. I really like this group because of it’s top skill, versatility, and depth.
TE: F; I definitely don’t like this tight end group. Maxx Williams as a starter is definitely questionable as he only had 12.6 yards per game. It doesn’t get much better after him. I don’t think this tight end group will hurt the Cardinals that much due to their air raid scheme, but it is still a hole nonetheless.
O-line: D; I really don’t think that this line got enough attention over the off-season. If you want a young quarterback to thrive, you need to get him a good line. This is especially true with the type of offense that the Cardinals will run. I don’t like the pick of Isaiah Simmons over an offensive lineman. Jedrick Wills Jr was still on the board for god's sake! I won’t harp on them too much for missing one of the most refined tackles in the past few years because they managed to steal Josh Jones later. Not a replacement for Wills Jr, but it makes up for it a little bit.
D-line: C-; The Cardinals defensive line is pretty lacking. 3rd round sophomore defensive end Zach Allen hasn’t shown too much as a starter. I’m hoping he elevates his play, but I doubt he turns into a star. The interior of this line really worries me. Jordan Phillips and Corey Peters are very below average starters. I really think the run stopping will be bad. Chandler Jones kind of makes up for this line as he is an elite pass rusher.
LB: B+; I like this linebacking Corp. Jordan Hicks is severely underrated right now. He was one of the best linebackers before he went down with an injury. Hopefully he will be fresh this season. I really like Isaiah Simmons as a rookie. I think he will be an instant playmaker and a future all-pro. I would’ve taken an offensive tackle, but that is neither here nor there. He is still a great player. Devon Kennars is a bit of a weakness on the outside, but the two superstars more than make up for it,
DB: C-; I don’t really like this secondary. Patrick Peterson has regressed and is no longer one of the best cornerbacks. He is still decent, but he is not the pro bowler he once was. Byron Murphy Jr is an ok second corner. Definitely not a star, but he can work. I don’t like the safeties on this team. Jalen Thompson is a hole at strong safety. He is only going into his second season after being a 5th round pick. I think Buddha Baker is ok, but he is not great. Overall, the secondary is below average.
Overall: B; I think that the Cardinals can be a bit overrated. I don’t think they are going to be in the playoffs this year due to all the holes around their roster. The team is really young, and it seems like it is a step away. I’m not ruling out success, but it seems unlikely that they would jump from 5 wins to playoffs in such a brutal division. I mean BRUTAL. For six games they will have to face top teams. I just can’t see them winning more than 3 of them. I like the team, but it isn’t ready to make the playoff jump just yet. Think of them as the 49ers two years ago. Just some pieces away.
Fantasy Value: Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins show insane fantasy potential. I really like them as options so long as you don’t draft them too high. I think that Kenyan Drake is going a little too high in leagues. He is good, but I doubt he produces 1st round numbers. I really like Christian Kirk as a sleeper. I don’t think that Andy Isabella will get enough targets to be a good option, but Kirk might. He is definitely a risk, but I could easily see him jumping up as the Cardinals second receiver. He could be a deadly bench player. Could be worth the risk. Wouldn’t get the Cardinals defense for obvious reasons.