Shark Bites

The NFL on Tuesday conditionally reinstated LB Daryl Washington. The Cardinals star had been suspended since May 2014 for multiple violations of the league substance-abuse policy, with the ban perhaps extended by his guilty plea to domestic assault. The league statement said Washington will need to set a course for treatment and then show his progress later this offseason before he's allowed to play any games. Cards leadership, meanwhile, has said the team won't address Washington's situation until after the NFL Draft. They have not been allowed any contact with the player during his suspension. Washington was a stud fantasy performer when last on the field, but it's tough for IDP owners to expect him to pick right back up after 3 years away -- especially at age 31 -- even if he makes it back to an active roster.

We passed along word from insider Kent Somers earlier this offseason that the Cardinals planned to move Andre Ellington to WR. HC Bruce Arians made it official on Wednesday, saying that Ellington will work with the WRs this offseason. The 5'9, 199-pounder has struggled to hold up as a runner. But he's a plus pass-catcher who's hauled in 112 balls for 999 yards (8.9 YPC) over 4 seasons. There's opportunity in what was once a deep Cardinals WR corps. Larry Fitzgerald turns 34 in August, John Brown has struggled to stay healthy and Michael Floyd is gone. Ellington still seems unlikely to carve out a big enough role to be a reliable fantasy option, but his transition will be worth monitoring.

The Cardinals plan to run Andre Ellington primarily at WR in 2017, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Altering Ellington's role certainly makes sense. He has struggled to hold up physically in the backfield, and David Johnson emerged as 1 of the NFL's best RBs -- and an all-situations player -- last season. Ellington showed his playmaking chops most prominently while splitting the backfield with Rashard Mendenhall in his rookie campaign. Getting his skills on the field should help the offense. Somers reports that Ellington will still see some RB work. The question, of course, will be whether he can find enough touches to gain fantasy relevance. We're not betting on it. More likely, Ellington will flash with a few nice fantasy lines driven by big plays but be too inconsistent to be worth owning. We'd bet on Arizona also adding backfield depth. RB Chris Johnson's a free agent.

Cardinals RB David Johnson (knee) declared himself back to 100% while participating in a charity flag football tournament over the weekend. “My wheel is good,” he said, referring to the knee he injured in the 2016 season finale. “Good to go already. Back training, full throttle. Doing everything.” Johnson avoided surgery on the sprained MCL and will be available for the offseason program. He's in the mix to be the 1st player off the board in 2017 fantasy drafts.

The Cardinals have signed K Phil Dawson. He'll replace K Chandler Catanzaro, a restricted free agent who was not re-signed. Dawson turned 42 in January but has remained effective, drilling 85+% of his FGs in 4 of the past 5 seasons. He'll be a viable 2017 fantasy option.

The Cardinals have reached a deal with veteran S Antoine Bethea, shortly after the 49ers released him. Arizona appears likely to lose starting S Tony Jefferson, who has been rumored to be choosing between offers from the Browns and Ravens. Bethea could step into Jefferson's spot and would carry solid IDP value if he plays full time.

The Cardinals have re-signed TE Jermaine Gresham to a 4-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The TE has never been a big part of HC Bruce Arians' offense, and that won't change going forward. Gresham has posted lines of 18-223-1 and 37-391-2 in Arizona the past 2 seasons. Expect similar output in 2017.

The Cardinals believe they've found a solution for the sickle-cell problem that hampered WR John Brown throughout the 2016 campaign. “He is very healthy, looks like they found the issue,” owner Michael Bidwill said. “We’ll get Smoke back the way we had him.” Brown missed just 1 game this past season but was limited to less than 60% of the snaps in 12 of the other 15. (He topped 60% in 14 of 15 games in 2015.) The end result was a disappointing 39-517-2 line. Brown is just a year removed from a 65-1,003-7 line and 25th-place PPR finish, though. With Michael Floyd gone, a healthy Brown would be the favorite to operate as Arizona's #2 WR in 2017. There's big bounce-back potential here.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer announced that he'll return for another season in 2017. The 37-year-old had a disappointing 2016 campaign, finishing 16th among QBs in fantasy points. His 61.0% completion rate and 7.1 yards per attempt were both his worst marks in 4 years in Arizona. Palmer wasn't helped, though, by WR Michael Floyd's disappearance and WR John Brown's health issues. And he still tossed multiple TDs in 6 of his final 7 games. Palmer shouldn't be drafted as a QB1 in 2017, but he's capable of at least being a fantasy spot starter.

Cardinals RB David Johnson led his position in catches (80) and receiving yards (879) in 2016. But he believes he can be even better in the passing game going forward. “The biggest thing is my route running,” Johnson said. “I remember all the routes I messed up on and I probably would have had 1,000 yards this year. That’s where I want to get, 1,000 yards receiving and rushing. So I feel like the biggest thing I want to work on is those routes.” Only 2 RBs in NFL history -- Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk -- have reached 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. Johnson is capable of becoming the 3rd, though, based on his skill set, role in the offense and the pass-heavier era in which he's playing. He's the early favorite to be the 1st player off the board in 2017 fantasy drafts.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald told Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter that he's "definitely" returning for the 2017 season. He'd been contemplating retirement but will return for a 14th NFL season. Fitz turns 34 in August and has certainly slowed down, posting the 2 lowest yards-per-catch marks (11.1 and 9.6) of his career over the past 2 years. But he's remained effective in his revamped possession-receiver role, tallying the 2 biggest catch totals (109 and 107) and going over 1,000 yards in both seasons. Fitzgerald finished 9th among WRs in PPR points in 2016 and 17th in non-PPR. His 2017 fantasy outlook will depend heavily on whether QB Carson Palmer returns. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport believes Fitzgerald deciding to play another season is a "good sign" that Palmer will do the same.

Cardinals RB David Johnson has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL and will not need surgery, HC Bruce Arians said. Johnson is expected to need 6-8 weeks of rehab. So he should be ready for the start of the offseason program and will definitely be ready for training camp, barring setbacks. Johnson finished the 2016 season with a massive 2,118 total yards and 20 TDs. His 411.8 PPR points were the 9th most by a RB in NFL history.

"Initial tests" on Cardinals RB David Johnson's knee revealed meniscus damage, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. It's believed that Johnson's ACL is intact. He'll undergo an MRI on Monday to confirm. If those results hold, it'll be extremely good news. We'll continue to keep you updated on fantasy football's top RB.

Cardinals RB David Johnson injured his left knee in the 1st quarter of Sunday's game against the Rams. He limped off the field under his own power but was carted back the locker room. We'll update his status when we learn more.

Cardinals CB Marcus Cooper (back) and LB Sio Moore (ankle) are active for today's game against the Rams. Both players entered the day questionable but should be OK for IDP use.

The Cardinals have placed DB Tyrann Mathieu on IR. He has been dealing with a shoulder injury for weeks and made his way slowly back from last December's double-ligament tear early in the year. We'll keep an eye on Mathieu this offseason for signs that he might return to his old effectiveness level. We rarely saw that from him, so his absence doesn't alter an already-dim outlook for the Arizona team defense in fantasy football for Week 16.

The Cardinals on Tuesday placed LB Deone Bucannon on IR with an ankle injury. The team website lists Sio Moore -- previously with the Colts and Chiefs -- as the next guy up at Bucannon's spot. Moore has showed the ability to post numbers, but this isn't the time of year to bet on unknown playing time, especially for a guy who has already been dumped by 2 other teams this season.

Cardinals RB David Johnson rushed 20 times for 80 yards and added 5 catches (8 targets) for 41 yards. Johnson converted a 2 pointer on a catch, helping his fantasy value on a rare day where he failed to score 6. Overall, Johnson was hurt by sloppy field conditions and a poor performance from Carson Palmer. He’s set to rebound in a big way next week vs. New Orleans.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald played 67 of 70 snaps vs. Miami, but you wouldn’t know it by his production. The future Hall of Famer notched just 3 catches for 12 yards on 9 targets. Fitz hadn’t posted fewer than 4 catches in a game since Week 15 of 2015. Heavy rain played a role — and Carson Palmer’s inability to adapt — so we wouldn’t overreact here. Fitz will remain a sure-fire fantasy starter for next Sunday’s matchup with New Orleans.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer struggled to play in wet conditions in Miami, notching just 145 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. He added 3 fumbles and absorbed 3 sacks. Palmer hit secondary targets Brittan Golden and J.J. Nelson for short-range scores, giving him 4 straight games with 2+ TD passes. Palmer’s in play for Sunday’s home date with the Saints but should be avoided in Week 16 at Seattle.

 
 
 

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