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Arizona Cardinals Fantasy Football Preview

By Kevin English 7:07am EDT 7/4/16

Arizona housed an elite offense last season, ranking 1st in total yards per game (408.3) and setting a franchise record for points per game (30.6). This unit also showcased efficiency by tying for 1st (with Pittsburgh) with 6.3 yards per play.

Last year brought on the emergence of David Johnson and a late-career surge from Carson Palmer. But what’s ahead for this offense in 2016?


What will happen: Carson Palmer remains a solid QB1

At 35, Palmer posted the best year of his career last season. That included personal bests in yards (4,671), yards per attempt (8.7), TDs (35) and QB rating (104.6). Palmer added a 63.7% completion rate, his best since 2007.

Now, it’s fair to approach Palmer with some hesitation. He’s suffered 2 left ACL tears in his career: one in January 2006 and one in November 2014. Plus, he’s the 3rd oldest projected starting QB.

Those aren’t major concerns, though. The 2 QBs older than Palmer — Drew Brees and Tom Brady — remain among the league’s best. Arizona possesses perhaps the league’s top trio of WRs, which only reinforces Palmer’s value and upside.

Palmer’s durability should have been an issue last year. After all, he entered Week 1 just 10 months removed from surgery. Yet he assembled the best 16-game stretch of his 13-year career. Now, he enters training camp at full health.

In Palmer’s 4th year alongside Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and HC Bruce Arians — plus his 3rd campaign with John Brown — there’s continuity to match this superb talent.


What won
t happen: Larry Fitzgerald cracks the top 15 WRs

Fitzgerald caught a career-high 109 passes last season, helping the 32-year-old to a top-10 fantasy finish. He didn’t exactly provide balanced production, though.

Early last season, Fitz benefited from a hobbled Michael Floyd. The upstart WR caught 1 pass or or fewer in 4 of the first 5 games. Fitz filled the void with a blistering 26-391-6 line in those matchups.

But over the final 6 weeks of the regular season, Fitz tallied 36 catches for only 289 yards and 2 scores. That’s an ugly 8.0 yards per catch mark. On the year, Fitz recorded a career-low 11.1 yards per reception.

Of course, the future Hall of Famer came alive in the postseason with an 8-176-1 line vs. Green Bay (with the help of overtime). We’ll simply bet against him seeing another 146 targets. Floyd really emerged last year as a dominant downfield asset. Year 3 of John Brown and a full season of David Johnson provide further challenges to Fitz’s volume.

He especially lacks appeal in non-PPR formats, where he’ll likely rely on red zone scoring chances to return value.


What might happen:
Michael Floyd finishes as a top-15 WR

Floyd’s résumé already includes a top-25 fantasy finish (2013). But he enters a contract year poised for his best work yet.

Floyd looked dynamic last year alongside a healthy Carson Palmer. The Notre Dame product notched 5 games of 100+ yards and added 8 scores (playoffs included). Target competition is the big issue here, but Floyd’s big-play upside helps soothe those concerns. His career yards per catch sits at 15.8, and he checked in at 16.3 last season.

Floyd’s scoring upside also carries promise. Over the last 3 years, his TD rate looks solid at 10.4%. And it’s encouraging that the Cardinals, despite ranking middle-of-the-pack in total plays last year, finished 3rd in red zone pass attempts. At 6’2, Floyd has the size and ball skills to dominate that area. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the team lacks an established receiving threat at TE.

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