2019 Arizona Cardinals Fantasy Analysis

Head Coach- Cliff Kingsbury

Offensive Coaching Philosophy- Aggressive

What to Expect- Kingsbury ran an Air Raid offense in college. It’s similar to the run and shoot the Houston Oilers ran with Warren Moon- 4 WRs and 1 RB.  It’s a spread offense out of the shotgun which uses all parts of the field- width and length.  It also entails getting the ball to RBs in the flat which should benefit David Johnson. The RPO (Read/pass option).is also a staple init and that takes advantage of Murray’s greatest strength- his speed.

 

Quarterback- Kyler Murray takes over for departed Josh Rosen.  Murray is a Russell Wilson clone.  He’s an electric playmaker with the ball in his hands and able to extend plays when the pocket breaks down. Just like Wilson he forces the defense to make a decision, come up to stop him or cover the receivers. His accuracy according to scouts is above average.  This scheme is a perfect fit for Murray’s talent.  The worries- he’s not the biggest guy in the world- both in height and build.  Of the two it’s the build that could be an issue.  He’s smaller and lighter than Wilson at about 5’10” 200 lbs. One hit could knock him out. Durability is an issue fantasy owners need to consider- both weekly and season long.  Most teams can’t absorb their starting QB being knocked out for one week and expect to win, much less for a lengthy period of time.  Behind Murray is Brett Hundley.  Hundley is not the escape artist Murray is.  If Murray goes down- the Cardinals offense will most likely take a huge hit.

 

Running Back- David Johnson is one of the most electrifying backs in the league.  He cuts on a dime and is excellent at catching passes. His soft hands plus his experience playing wide receiver in college gives him tremendous value- especially in ppr leagues.  Unfortunately the Cardinals offensive line is horrible.  The Air Raid offense should help Johnson- it can’t be any worse than last year under Mike McCoy.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight Ends- Expect a multiple receiver attack most of the time.  Larry Fitzgerald is the most well-known, however, he’s getting up there in age. Fitzgerald was never fast, but got by with great routes and his athleticism in the end zone.  He’s still a good red zone target, but Father Time is undefeated.  If you’re going to pick a Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk is the guy to place your bet on.  He had a decent year in 2018 despite the Cardinals offense being an absolute train wreck.  If Murray stays healthy, these two should develop a solid connection.  Chad Williams has yet to impress, Kevin White is not the same player he was out of college.  Leg injuries have slowed him down.  The Bears would not have cut their former first round pick if they thought he had anything left.  White simply can’t stay healthy.  The Cardinals added a pair of rookies in Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler.  Isabella is short 5’9”, but can fly.  Butler is 6’5” 227 lbs and is big red zone target.  Neither were thought of highly by a few scouting reports I read.  Remember too that four WR sets really divides the stats.  It’s always better when teams use more two WR sets- higher probability that your WR gets the reception.. At tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and Charles Clay will man the position when the Cardinals use a more traditional formation. Neither should be a factor in fantasy leagues.

 

Offensive Line- Poor.  This is one of the worst offensive lines in the league.  It’s hard to know how good Josh Rosen is because he was under constant pressure last year.  Nonetheless GM Steve Keim shipped him off to Miami one year after taking him in the 1st round. Keim is putting his job on the line by picking Murray. Murray’s greatest strength is his quickness and elusiveness.  He can cover up some of the holes here, but can he survive 16 games?

 

Schedule- Good    The Cardinals NFC West opponents have decent defenses, but nothing daunting like the Steel Curtain from the 70’s.  In addition, all of them can light up the scoreboard meaning there are some shootouts possible. The rest of the schedule looks favorable. 

Bye- Week 12

Playoff Schedule- weeks 14-17  OK- not great. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, @Seattle, @LA Rams.  The Browns defense is legit.  They could be problematic.  The Legion of Boom is no longer in Seattle, however the Seahawks signed Ziggy Ansah to help with the pass rush.  Aaron Donald is always a concern when playing the Rams.

 

Sleeper- Kyler Murray (current Fantasy Pros rank #22 QB)

Undervalued-  None

Overvalued- David Johnson (current Fantasy Pros rank #6 RB   # 8 player Overall).  DJ could do well, but #8 overall is too rich for my blood.

Bust- None

Bottom Line- It all comes down to QB Kyler Murray.  If you believe in his talent AND that he can stay healthy for 16 games then he offers more upside than most QB’s taken in the low 20 range.  His upside is vintage Russell Wilson with the rushing yards he’ll gain and the havoc he’ll create on broken plays- aka backyard football.  He’ll have to overcome a terrible offensive line and try to develop chemistry with his new teammates. If you grab Murray you MUST get another decent QB.  Prediction- he’ll do well, but I’m not sure he can stay healthy for the entire season. If he gets hurt- the whole offense takes a hit- none more so than the aforementioned Fantasy Pros #8 overall ranked player- RB David Johnson.