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Player Outlooks (2022)
QB Kyler Murray: On a per-game basis, Murray was excellent again last season with 22.6 fantasy points per game (trailing only Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Tom Brady). The problem is he had another disappointing finish, and that’s difficult to ignore considering how costly it’s been for the second year in a row—and when it matters most in the fantasy playoffs. Maybe the addition of college teammate Marquise Brown will take the offense to another level, but the downside we’ve seen late in the season gives the edge to others as high-end QB1 selections.
RB James Conner: Returning to Arizona on a three-year, $21-million deal to be the clear lead back in the desert, Conner should see increased touches both as a runner and receiver—the latter of which has always been an underrated part of his game. Coming off an 18-touchdown season, the issue for Conner has been durability, as he ended 2021 with an ankle injury, heel injury, and rib injury all popping up over the final month or so after being healthy for most of the season. Draft him as an upside RB2.
RB Darrel Williams: Patrick Mahomes reportedly wanting Williams back says a lot about everything he can do as a player, but he’s instead joining the Cardinals to be the clear backup to Conner—who has missed at least two games in every season since entering the league in 2017. While leaving the Chiefs could hurt, the LSU product will be a valuable handcuff on an offense that should create plenty of scoring opportunities.
RBs Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram: The young runners for Arizona seemed positioned to have a good chance for late-round value before the Williams signing, but now they’ll battle for the No. 3 job in camp. Benjamin would be a natural fit to fill the role Chase Edmonds leaves behind if the backfield losses Conner to injury at some point, while Ingram probably has higher early-down and touchdown upside.
WR Marquise Brown: Brown wasn’t lacking for targets with the Ravens (he ranked tenth in the NFL last season), but there is still reason to have increased optimism about his outlook going from the run-heavy Baltimore offense to the spread-it-out aerial attack of the Cardinals. At Oklahoma, “Hollywood” caught 75 passes for 1,318 yards and ten touchdowns as the top receiver for Kyler Murray in 2018, and the two already having a connection will only help them put up numbers in the competitive NFC West. We’re expecting a stronger downfield connection than the one he had with Lamar Jackson.
WR DeAndre Hopkins: Suspended six games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, Hopkins is in danger of also missing (or being limited) for Week 7 because the Cardinals play on a Thursday night. Many will draft Hopkins as high as the WR30 range because of his name recognition, but he was down to 57.2 yards per game in 2021 (after 87.9 in 2020), and there is a real chance his best football is behind him entering his age-30 campaign. We wouldn’t recommend Hopkins as a stash considering the price going around guys like Hunter Renfrow.
WR Rondale Moore: We loved Moore as a prospect coming out of Purdue, and it sounds like the Cardinals will try to get the ball in his hands more this season. Unfortunately, the team bringing back A.J. Green caps his ceiling and floor on a passing attack that will feature Brown and Hopkins, so Moore needs to take advantage of early opportunities to prove he should have extended playing time all year. We like him above the WR59 consensus, but he’s not ranked as high as he could have been had the offense not looked so crowded.
WR A.J. Green: The Cardinals could have easily let Green walk in free agency, but Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray liked him enough to bring back, which is notable. As just mentioned, the main concern is a crowded collection of skill-position talent limiting the ceiling of Green in his age-34 season, and Marquise Brown in particular might take some downfield opportunities from him. Still, the veteran is undervalued as an early-season FLEX option with shootouts against the Chiefs and Raiders to open 2022.
WR Antoine Wesley: Wesley stepped into a bigger role down the stretch last season with DeAndre Hopkins out, and he showed some above-the-rim ability, including a couple of touchdowns in a big Week 16 win versus Dallas. His familiarity with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense can make him a desperation play if one of Brown, Moore, or Green goes down before Hopkins’ suspension is up.
WR Andy Isabella: Limited to one target in eight games last season, Isabella is squarely on the roster bubble and might need a change of scenery to get his career on the tracks. At best, it looks like he’ll be the No. 5 wideout to begin the season for the Cardinals and is nothing more than a borderline dynasty stash.
TE Zach Ertz: Based on the number of targets he saw last season with Arizona (season-long pace of 125), a case could be made for Ertz ranking as a top-ten option at tight end. But the Cardinals weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders as Ertz became a bigger and bigger part of the offense—in fact, the opposite was true—and now it will be a very crowded group when DeAndre Hopkins’ suspension concludes, especially after the team spent a second-round pick on Trey McBride. Also, Ertz hasn’t aged as well into his 30s as some of his peers, including an average of just 6.3 yards per target over the past three seasons (compared to never dropping below 7.5 in any of his first six years).
TE Trey McBride: McBride caught 90 passes in his final college season, but his NFL outlook—at least early in his career—isn’t as rosy as it couldn’t been with a different team. Stuck behind Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams, the rookie will likely need to emerge as a touchdown threat on a loaded offense to return redraft value in 2022.
TE Maxx Williams: The fantasy value for Williams had started to increase last year with lines of 7/94 and 5/66/1 before a season-ending knee injury in early October, and he’ll return to a shared position with Ertz and McBride. We’d anticipate the ability as a blocker will get the veteran on the field, but he projects to be a better real-life player than fantasy option.
Best 2022 value: Marquise Brown (FantasyPros ECR: WR26)
“Hollywood” will be stepping into a high-powered offense as the No. 1 wideout, and he has upside yet to be unlocked at the next level with a modest 12.1 yards per reception in three seasons with Baltimore. For the Sooners, Brown averaged 18.3 yards per reception as a dominant deep threat in 2017/2018, and Murray’s downfield throws should get him back to being a home-run hitter on the outside.
Best dynasty investment: Rondale Moore
Moore caught 84.4% of his passes as a rookie and handled 18 carries (in addition to 54 receptions), and he has the ability to be used more as a downfield threat, too. Again, taking advantage of increased snaps early in the year with Hopkins out of the lineup could make it difficult to go away from the second-year weapon for an offense that needs to find their footing late in the season. And Moore doesn’t turn 22 until later this week.
Stat to know (via draft guide)
Kyler Murray has a 15-8-1 record in September and October with 264.7 passing yards per game. He has a 6-13 record in November and December with 238.8 passing yards per game.