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2022 Player Outlooks: Arizona Cardinals

By HC Green | 6/14/22 |

Kyler Murray

QB Kyler Murray
(2021 QB Rank - No.5, 25.5 FPts/G)

When he’s on top of his game, Murray is one of the league’s preeminent dual threats, which in turn makes him a potential top fantasy producer. At 5-foot-10, 207 pounds, the diminutive QB has shown a tendency to fade down the stretch over his first three seasons. These winter swoons tend to begin with some sort of injury -- in 2020, it was his shoulder, and last year an ankle -- so it’s fair to have some level of concern about his durability despite missing just three games in his career.

While there are quarterbacks out there capable of delivering enough value with their arm that their running is just a bonus (e.g., Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes), Murray is more in line with Lamar Jackson where running is vital to their QB1 fantasy status. Unfortunately, Murray hasn’t been used the same since he suffered the shoulder injury against Seattle in November 2020, going from almost 10 carries per game over that season’s first nine games to just 5.8 rushes per contest in the 23 games since.

On the plus side, the Cardinals made some moves to fortify the passing game, adding former college teammate Marquise Brown from the Ravens to join a receiving corps that already featured DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green, and drafting Trey McBride in the second round to potentially give Murray three quality tight ends to work with. While he’ll be without Hopkins during his suspension, the hope for fantasy owners is that gains in the passing game help offset Murray’s downturn in running.

Murray is absolutely a top-10 fantasy quarterback, but he’s arguably the most volatile one apart from perhaps Jalen Hurts. As such you’ll need to balance his top-three upside against what have been lengthy stretches of QB2 play over the past two seasons.

RB James Conner
(2021 RB Rank - No.9, 17.2 FPts/G)

Plucked off the scrap heap before last season on a one-year, prove-it deal, Conner went from designated short-yardage/goal-line back to primary ballcarrier when Chase Edmonds got hurt. He handled the role admirably, finishing second to Jonathan Taylor (18) in rushing TDs (15), and was rewarded with a new three-year deal that cements his status as the lead back in Arizona.

For all that, there are still significant questions about Conner’s ability to hold up as a bell cow over an entire season -- after five NFL campaigns he’s still never appeared in every game in a season and has missed a combined 16 games during that stretch -- as well as a lack of explosiveness. Conner managed just 3.7 yards per carry last year, and he finished below 4.0 in five of his final six games, so his style is more about wearing you down than delivering big plays.

One thing working in Conner’s favor is the depth chart, which is light on proven commodities or threats to usurp his touches from week to week. He’s a capable receiver as well, which allows him to stay on the field regardless of down and distance. Conner has the whiff of a midrange or low-end RB2, though he carries significant injury risk.

RB Darrel Williams
(2021 RB Rank - No.32, 11.5 FPts/G)

Williams did little and less during his first three seasons with the Chiefs, but with the backfield thinned by injuries he stepped into the void to register 1,010 total yards and eight TDs in 2021. While those are solid numbers, KC elected to let him walk and he drew little attention on the free-agent market before settling on a one-year deal with the Cardinals to back up Conner.

There’s redundancy between Conner and Williams, who is also more of a grinder with just two carries of more than 20 yards among his 237 career rushing attempts. Williams has the look of a true reserve and not a change of pace; that likely limits his fantasy appeal to being a handcuff for Conner owners in larger leagues, though he’d be a priority in-season addition if Conner goes down.

WR DeAndre Hopkins
(2021 WR Rank - No.20, 14.7 FPts/G)

Injuries short-circuited Hopkins’ 2021 campaign. It started with a hamstring issue that cost him three games and ended with a torn MCL in Week 14 that required surgery to correct. In between, the five-time Pro Bowl selection struggled through one of his least productive seasons. He and Murray never seemed to get fully on the same page, and if you take his numbers over the 10 games he played and extrapolate them out his 17-game pace was a pedestrian 71 receptions and 973 yards -- his strong work in the red zone was the silver lining of his effort last year.

Any hope of a bounce-back season for Nuk will have to wait until Week 7 to commence, however, as the veteran was handed a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs in early May. He’ll be allowed to take part in training camp and the preseason, but once the calendar flips to Week 1 he’ll be on the shelf. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for fantasy owners that will, at best, be getting 11 games out of Hopkins for 2022.

The addition of Marquise Brown is another potential hurdle for Hopkins once he’s back on the field. While there’s no doubt Hopkins is the more accomplished player, he turned 30 during the offseason, is coming off an injury-filled 2021, and will have to watch Brown and Murray build up their chemistry for a month-plus. At this point you’d have consider Hopkins’ full-year value as a borderline WR3/WR4, though if your roster is strong enough to weather his absence it could be a late-season boon.

WR Marquise Brown
(2021 WR Rank - No.24, 14.3 FPts/G)

In three seasons with the Ravens, Brown averaged 65 receptions, 787 yards, and 7 touchdowns, with his catches and yardage going up each year, culminating in last year’s 91-1,008-6 performance. Despite working as their No. 1 receiver, Baltimore was willing to flip Brown, who still has two years remaining on his rookie deal, for a first-round pick on draft night. He’ll step into the WR1 role in Arizona while Hopkins is suspended, and then we’ll see how things shake out between the tandem.

One thing working in Brown’s favor is that he and Murray were teammates at Oklahoma, so they won’t be starting from scratch in terms of familiarity. Having those six games without the incumbent WR1 around should also help facilitate any learning curve Brown might face transitioning into Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Brown feels well suited as a high-end WR3, but if he gets off to a great start don’t hesitate to sell high if you can acquire someone more bulletproof in return.

WR Rondale Moore
(2021 WR Rank - No.80, 7.9 FPts/G)

Moore turned 72 combined touches as a rookie into 511 yards and a touchdown. The undersized wideout rarely did anything beyond the line of scrimmage in terms of running routes, but after a year in the system we could see an expanded role. He has excellent speed and elusiveness, and he’s more likely to deliver fantasy upside than another wideout down the depth chart like A.J. Green. Moore should be a watch list candidate in most formats, but those in deeper leagues might consider taking a late-round flier on his unique skill set.

TE Zach Ertz
(2021 TE Rank - No.10, 10.6 FPts/G)

Ertz was a nice acquisition for the Cardinals, posting a 56-574-3 line in 11 games after coming over from the Eagles. That earned the veteran a three-year deal with the club. Entering his age-32 season, Ertz may be on the downside of his career, but he’s still a reliable volume target that has topped 70 receptions in six of his last seven seasons.

There will be competition for snaps, however, as Ertz is joined in the tight end room by second-round pick Trey McBride and Maxx Williams, who’d put together a couple of big games before suffering a torn ACL in Week 5, which led to the Ertz trade. Neither player is likely to overtake Ertz, but they could siphon away production. That leaves Ertz as a borderline top-10 option with some downside.

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