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2024 Player Outlooks: Arizona Cardinals

By HC Green | 6/13/24 |

QB Kyler Murray
(2023 QB Rank: No.13, 21.5 FPts/G)

Most expected the Cardinals to be bad last year, and they were. They just werenít quite bad enough to get a shot at Caleb Williams... or Jayden Daniels... or Drake Maye. Whether Arizona wouldíve actually pulled the trigger on one of those rookie signal-callers is purely speculation, whereas the reality of the situation is that Murray will once again lead the Cardinals, albeit with a shiny new weapon in the form of Marvin Harrison Jr, who was selected fourth overall (after those three QBs).

Last season, Murray was working his way back from a torn ACL suffered on Dec. 12, 2022, and he missed the first nine games recovering. He returned in November and led the team to a 3-5 record down the stretch, which included wins over playoff teams Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The numbers were decent but unspectacular: 1,799 yards passing, 244 yards rushing, and 13 total TDs -- projected over a 17-game schedule that comes to 3,823 yards passing, 519 yards rushing, and 28 combined touchdowns.

Those look like plausible numbers for Murray, who should be feeling better athletically after another full offseason to train, and getting those games under his belt shouldíve knocked off any rust. Still, there are always going to be durability concerns for the 5-foot-10, 207-pound quarterback. Beyond his ACL injury, weíve seen Murray get banged up every year. Itís not always to a level that he misses time, but what makes him special is his ability to extend plays, and that exposes him to hits.

He has some nice ascending weapons with Harrison and Trey McBride, and a second year under OC Drew Petzing should help as well. Murray looks like a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback for 2024. Just be sure if you draft him as QB1 that you have a capable backup as insurance.

RB James Conner
(2023 RB Rank: No.13, 15.5 FPts/G)

One of the NFLís preeminent bruisers in the backfield, Conner submitted his most productive season in 2023, at least in terms of yardage, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career and averaging a robust 5.0 yards per carry -- that was much more than the 4.2 YPC he averaged during his first six campaigns.

His exploits as a pass catcher slipped significantly, however, with 27 grabs being the lowest number since his rookie year (when he was coming back from a cancer diagnosis and only had 32 total touches). He found the end zone nine times, which is undoubtedly a solid number on its own, though after scoring a whopping 18 TDs in 2021, Connerís 17 combined scores the past two seasons feel a bit disappointing.

Production on the field is only part of the story with Conner, though, as the veteranís health is always front and center. Across his seven NFL seasons, the Pitt product has never appeared in every game, and he has missed four games in each of the past two years. Conner turned 29 back in May, inching ever closer to the 30-year-old mark that often signals the end for NFL backs, so donít expect his durability to improve in 2024. Despite some concerns, heís a fringe top-20 back.

RB Trey Benson
(2023 RB Rank: N/A)

Selected near the top of the third round in this yearís draft, Benson was the second running back off the board after Jonathan Brooks. At 6-foot, 216 pounds, he has good size, excellent speed, and is difficult to bring down on first contact. Under Mike Norvell, Florida State used Benson as their lead back but didnít saddle him with heavy usage. Thatís good news on two fronts as he has experience in a committee backfield and should be fresh.

In addition to his big-play ability, the former Seminole is also a solid receiver, though there is some question as to how that fits into Arizonaís scheme. Last season, Connerís 27 receptions led all Cardinals RBs, which tied with TE Zach Ertz, who only played in seven games, for fifth on the club. That begs the question as to how much Arizona will use Benson in that capacity.

Benson, who has drawn comps to former Chargers RB Melvin Gordon, should be the complement to Conner when heís healthy. If/when Conner misses time, though, it remains to be seen how the Cards view him in terms of a full-time workload. As your fourth or fifth back, the rookie holds appeal.

WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
(2023 WR Rank: N/A)

With WRs Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, two of the teamís top-three wideouts in terms of receiving yards, both gone, there is an opening atop the depth chart. Enter Harrison, who was the consensus top receiver in this yearís draft. The Ohio State product enters the NFL amid tremendous hype -- some considered him the top overall prospect in this yearís class -- and checks two boxes for fantasy owners: heís a rookie receiver, which is always tempting, and heís the son of a former prodigious producer.

In terms of talent, Harrison has elite athleticism, a proven ability to outfight defensive backs and make last second adjustments for balls, and route-running acumen that belies his youth. Heís on another level as a prospect even from the likes of highly touted receivers like JaíMarr Chase or former Buckeye teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. If thereís a weakness to his game, itís strength, and doubtless teams will try to jam him at the line to slow him up.

Stepping into a situation where heís going to function as the No. 1 receiver is a lot of pressure, but Harrison is well suited to it, displaying a dedication to his craft passed down to him from his Hall-of-Fame father. Pairing him with Murray, who is so good at extending plays, should lead to some big-time off-schedule production. Thereís an argument to be made that Harrison belongs among the top-10 receivers drafted. While that might be a tad rich, heís a legit top-15 option right now.

WR Michael Wilson
(2023 WR Rank: No.63, 8.7 FPts/G)

With Brown and Moore gone, Wilson is the top returning receiver for Arizona. A third-round pick a year ago, the 6-foot-2, 213-pounder experienced an uneven debut season, averaging 43.5 yards per game -- he did finish on a high note with a season-high 95-yard effort versus Seattle in Week 18.

A year ago, his size made him stand out among so many small receivers. Thatís no longer the case. Harrison is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. Newly signed Zay Jones is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. Chris Moore, another offseason addition, is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. Wilson should still have a leg up on the likes of Jones and Moore, players that have bounced around, thanks both to his talent and familiarity with the offense, but he should still be viewed as a work in progress. The best course of action here is to stick Wilson in your watch list and see how many targets he gets behind Harrison and McBride.

WR Greg Dortch
(2023 WR Rank: No.77, 7.2 FPts/G)

As mentioned, the receiver room in Arizona has undergone a complete overhaul. A season ago, Hollywood Brown (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) and Rondale Moore (5-foot-7, 181 pounds) gave the team a pair of speedy, undersized options, opening the door for Wilson and, to a lesser extent, Zach Pascal, to see the field due to their size. It also froze out Dortch, who is similarly built at 5-foot-7, 175 pounds, and he fell from 52 receptions in 2022 to 24.

Fast-forward to now, and Dortch is the outlier as a small, possession-based target with a good shot at locking down the slot job this season. Dortch has produced when given the chance, and he has more history with Murray than anyone else on the roster. Those in deeper point-per-reception formats might want to consider Dortch in the final rounds as a depth flier, or at least add him to their watch list in case he becomes a popular check-down target for Murray.

Trey McBride

TE Trey McBride
(2023 TE Rank: No.9, 10.7 FPts/G)

Nobody made bigger strides offensively for the Cardinals last season than McBride. After five games in 2023, the Colorado State alum had eight receptions for 79 yards and no touchdowns. He’d finish his second NFL campaign with 81 catches, 825 yards, and three scores. In the eight games he played with Murray, McBride posted a 53-538-2 line; if you project that over a 17-game schedule, that works out to 113 receptions, 1,143 yards, and 4.25 TDs.

Injuries played a part in McBride’s rise to be sure -- Brown, the team’s No. 1 receiver, didn’t catch a pass after Nov. 26 -- and the arrival of Harrison as what the Cardinals hope will be a true WR1 puts a slight damper on the third-year tight end’s outlook. Still, other than Harrison, none of Arizona’s receiving options look as promising as McBride, and despite an influx of talent at the position around the NFL, it’s hard not to view him as a top-five fantasy tight end for 2024.

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