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The Situation Series: Arizona Cardinals

David Johnson Arizona Cardinals

The Situation Series will be looking at the most pressing storylines for each NFL team leading up to this season. Whether it be coaching hires, quarterback changes or player additions/subtractions, it is important to highlight how some of these things might impact each team’s usability for this upcoming fantasy season. First up we have the Arizona Cardinals.

KING KLIFF

The Arizona Cardinals underwent one of the biggest overhauls in the league on the heels of their 3-13 2018 season. Last year Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy implemented a prehistoric playbook that doomed everyone. That includes rookie quarterback Josh Rosen while also completely neutralizing one of the best players in the game- David Johnson. For anybody who drafted DJ with the hopes of him returning to form after his injury unfortunately had another thing coming. Ultimately the season was a colossal failure forcing the Cards to look elsewhere for their head coach. Enter Kliff Kingsbury.

Kingsbury took an interesting path to this position as he was originally slated to be USC’s offensive coordinator this season after being fired by Texas Tech as their head coach. Now he will be calling plays for the Cardinals on Sundays. It’s easy to be skeptical of this team that has a lot of new parts, but it is safe to say their playcalling habits will be night and day from last year thanks to Kliff. One thing we can almost guarantee is that Kingsbury will be running a lot of shotgun right out of the gate for Arizona. This will thankfully conclude the Josh Rosen under center handoff to David Johnson for a two-yard gain era. Praise be. The Cardinals lack of weapons outside of David Johnson last year was one of their biggest problems and Kingsbury addressed it through the draft. His most notable selection was Kyler Murray number one overall. Last year’s Heisman trophy winner, Murray lit up his opponents under HC Lincoln Riley. Murray’s numbers are other-wordly when you take a look.

COMP % YARDS YPA TD INT
K. Murray 69 4361 11.6 42 7

The Cardinals were also super deficient at wide receiver last year outside of Larry Fitzgerald. Kingsbury attempted to mend that problem as well by bringing in a few notable rookie names to compete with the likes of Christian Kirk, Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson.

Andy Isabella Round 2 (62)
Hakeem Butler Round 4 (103
KeeSean Johnson Round 6 (174)

It is exciting to think about Kyler Murray throwing these guys the ball, but I think I would set them aside as late-round fliers in redraft and best ball for the time being. To me, their best value right now would be as dynasty stashes in hopes that this Cardinals offense can transform into something prolific, instead of trying to project their output for this year.

IS DAVID JOHNSON WORTH A 1ST ROUND PICK?

As I said before, if you took David Johnson with aspirations of a 1000/1000 season, you were terribly disappointed. Fantasy gamers with Johnson on their squad were forced to either let go of Johnson for pennies on the dollar or hold on to him with whatever hope they had left. DJ did become somewhat usable towards the end of the year, but that wasn’t enough to save Johnson’s fantasy season.

As we turn the page towards this year, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Arizona Cardinals’ fantasy prospects is whether or not David Johnson can return to his RB1 glory days. Will he be worth a first round pick? If you are on the clock, would you take a chance on him? Is DJ a buy low candidate? Well, the fantasy community as a whole seems to be bullish on his 2019 potential as his current ADP on fantasyfootballcalculator.com is 1.07. This would put DJ right back in the mix with some of the big names such as Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Christian McCaffrey.

To me, it’s not a question of whether or not Johnson is capable of producing like these players, but whether or not his role will be conducive to that type of production. It is important that we make that distinction when thinking about pushing the button on DJ. Players like Barkley and McCaffrey basically functioned as their team’s WR1-lite on top of being their main ball carrier. They were super valuable in redraft, best ball, and DFS because you were getting 6-8 targets baked into their price. This to me will be the key to unlocking the DJ of old and will be the deciding factor as to whether or not he ends up being worthy of a round one selection.

One thing I am slightly worried about is how Murray’s rushing ability might eat into Johnson’s target count. Since Murray knows he can escape the pocket he may be less inclined to use DJ as a safety valve. This is why it will be especially important for us that Kliff Kingsbury hopefully designs plays at receiver for Johnson as we once saw Bruce Arians do.

Thanks for reading the first edition of The Situation Series! Make sure you check out the TFA Podcast to see where/if the guys have David Johnson ranked! Next time, we will be taking a look at Atlanta Falcons.

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