Shark Bites

Cardinals WR Hakeem Butler is sidelined with an avulsion fracture in his hand, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. (An avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon or ligament pulls off a piece of the bone.) The team is reportedly considering placing Butler on IR. The rookie has been buried on Arizona's depth chart and was a long shot for 2019 fantasy value anyway. He remains an intriguing stash in dynasty leagues.

Cardinals TE Charles Clay (knee) has been activated from the PUP list. Despite missing the first couple of weeks of camp, he was listed as the starting TE on Arizona's initial depth chart. That makes him the best fantasy bet of the bunch for now, but he's not an exciting pick with the Cardinals expected to feature their WRs and RB David Johnson in the passing game.

The Athletic's Scott Bodrow calls KeeSean Johnson the Cardinals' "clear" #3 WR, behind Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. Johnson was the 3rd WR Arizona drafted this spring -- after Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler -- but has reportedly had the best camp so far. Isabella and Butler, meanwhile, have both struggled with drops, per Bodrow. This competition is far from over, but Johnson is now on the radar as a late-round flier in fantasy drafts. We just bumped him up the WR rankings.

Cardinals WR Andy Isabella is dealing with a "minor knee issue," HC Kliff Kingsbury said Friday. The coach is "hopeful" his rookie will be ready for the team's 1st preseason game. This doesn't sound like anything serious, but Isabella needs all the reps he can get if he wants to win a significant early-season role. KeeSean Johnson has reportedly been the most impressive of Arizona's rookie WRs in camp so far.

Cardinals TE Charles Clay has been placed on the PUP list to open training camp with a knee injury. We don't have any other details on the issue, but Clay has dealt with multiple knee injuries dating back to 2012. The 30-year-old has missed 3 games in both of the past 2 seasons and at least 1 game in 5 straight. Clay's absence early in camp will give TE Ricky Seals-Jones a head start in the race for the starting job.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has been struck by the tempo of new HC Kliff Kingsbury's offense. "It's not so much what he's installing that stands out; it's how its run, the tempo of it," Fitzgerald said. "Every single day, with more experience, we were able to run it faster and faster and faster, get more plays in more efficiently. The faster guys understand the concepts the more pressure we can put on defenses." That's perhaps the most exciting aspect of Arizona's offense this season. The 2018 Cardinals ranked 31st in offensive snaps. The 2019 Cardinals should make a big move up those rankings, maybe even into the top 10. It's a reason to be excited about guys like Kyler Murray, David Johnson, Christian Kirk and Fitzgerald.

Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website believes RB David Johnson's receiving ability will "come back to the forefront" in HC Kliff Kingsbury's offense. "Johnson should fit perfectly into the new Cardinals’ offense," Urban adds. After posting a huge 80-879-4 receiving line in 2016, Johnson posted a relatively disappointing 50-446-3 in a stale 2018 Arizona offense. Kingsbury is expected to bring his Air Raid principles and an up-tempo attack to the desert. It should suit Johnson perfectly considering he does his best work out in space. His upside extends to the top of the RB position this year.

Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury said WR Larry Fitzgerald and QB Kyler Murray have quickly developed chemistry. "Yeah, I just think he’s a security blanket,” Kingsbury said of Fitz. “There’s a comfort level there. If you get it close, he’s going to make a play for you. A big body in traffic, across the middle, for a young QB? You know he’s going to make a big play and that goes a long way." Fitzgerald will turn 36 before Week 1 and is coming off a 30th-place PPR finish, his worst since 2014. Christian Kirk is the highest-upside in the desert this season and sits higher in our WR rankings. But it's certainly within the realm of possibility that Fitz leads the team in catches and fantasy points this season. He's a fine pick at his 8th-round ADP.

The MMQB's Albert Breer hears that Christian Kirk was the most impressive WR in Arizona this spring. The 47th overall pick of last year's draft had a quietly strong rookie campaign, hauling in 43 of 68 targets (63.2%) for 590 yards (13.7 YPC) and 3 scores in 12 games. Kirk ranked 35th in yards per route run among 79 WRs with 50+ targets last year -- despite playing on a Cardinals passing game that generally struggled. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald, by comparison, ranked 54th in yards per route run. We wondered if new HC Kliff Kingsbury saw Kirk as a fit in his offense after Arizona added 3 WRs in this year's draft, but the early returns for Kirk are promising. He's a 2019 breakout candidate in what should be a much better Cardinals offense.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the league has suspended Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson for 6 games for violating the PED policy. Peterson is reportedly not appealing the ban. He's not much of an IDP factor, so the biggest fantasy impact will be on Arizona's first 6 opponents. The Lions, Ravens, Panthers, Seahawks, Bengals and Falcons can enjoy having their lead WRs running free of 1 of the league's top cover men. As for the Cardinals defense, Peterson's early absence should make it easier for 2nd-round rookie Byron Murphy to start right away. Robert Alford will claim a spot after signing a 3-year deal with $13.5 million in guarantees. Arizona also added David Amerson and Tramaine Brock at the position.

The Cardinals have signed TE Maxx Williams. The 55th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft totaled just 63 catches across his 4 seasons in Baltimore. Williams just turned 25, though, so it's too early to bury him. Arizona has now added 3 TEs this offseason: Williams, Charles Clay and rookie Caleb Wilson. Ricky Seals-Jones also returns. We'll see how the situation sorts out this summer.

The Cardinals grabbed Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson in the 6th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson racked up 275 catches over 4 seasons at Fresno State, giving him more career grabs than any other WR in this draft class. He averaged a mediocre 12.4 yards per catch, though, and totaled just 24 TDs. A lot of his production was manufactured by WR screens and other quick-hitters. Johnson was also exposed as a subpar athlete at the Combine, recording a 27th percentile SPARQ score at 6'1 and 201 pounds. His best bet at the next level is as a big slot receiver -- but we're not excited about his upside. Arizona has now added WRs Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and Johnson over the past 3 days.

Here's the full scouting report on KeeSean Johnson.

The Cardinals added Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler with the 1st pick of the 4th round. Butler busted out for a big 2018 campaign, racking up 1,318 yards and 9 scores on 60 grabs. His 22.0 yards per catch led all players with 40+ receptions. And he finished 3rd in the nation with 10 catches of 40+ yards. Butler accounted for 25.3% of the Cyclones’ receptions, 42.1% of the receiving yards and 45.0% of the receiving TDs. Those marks rank 21st, 2nd and 7th among the 48 WRs at this year’s Combine. That was his only big college season, though, and it came as a 22-year-old redshirt junior. He also dropped an alarming 16.7% of his catchable targets last season, according to Pro Football Focus. There’s some bust potential here — but Butler also boasts big upside as a 6’6, 220-pounder with an 84-inch wingspan and 81st percentile athleticism. He joins a revamped Cardinals offense under HC Kliff Kingsbury and QB Kyler Murray.

Check out the Hakeem Butler scouting report.

The Cardinals selected DE Zach Allen to begin the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. Allen clocked an ugly 5.0-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine that produced a well below-average 89.9 speed score. His college production was better, including 10+ tackles for loss each of the past 3 years and 15+ each of the past 2. Allen looks like more of a "base" end with a limited sack ceiling.

The Cardinals selected UMass WR Andy Isabella with the 62nd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Isabella was a stat-piling machine for the Minutemen, racking up 229 catches, 3,519 yards and 30 TDs over the past 3 seasons. That includes a huge 102-1,698-13 line this past season. Isabella led this year's WR class in yards per route run and received the nation's best receiving grade from Pro Football Focus last year. Then he blazed a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Isabella is undersized at 5'9 and 188 pounds, but his speed will play at the next level. He joins QB Kyler Murray in HC Kliff Kingsbury's new-look offense.

Here's the scouting report on Andy Isabella.

The Cardinals selected Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the 1st pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Murray spent his first 3 college seasons — 1 at Texas A&M and 2 at Oklahoma — on the bench. He followed Baker Mayfield as the Sooners’ starter this past year and turned in a massive campaign. Murray completed 69% of his passes and averaged an NCAA record 11.6 yards per attempt on his way to 4,361 yards and 42 TDs. He ranked top 2 in this draft class in adjusted completion rate, adjusted completion rate vs. pressure and adjusted completion rate vs. the blitz, according to Pro Football Focus. But what makes Murray such an exciting fantasy prospect is his elite athleticism. (He was also the 9th overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft.) He cranked out 1,001 yards and 12 scores on the ground last year, showcasing RB-like speed and quickness. His transition to the pros will be made easier in Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury’s college-style Air Raid offense. Kingsbury, of course, has no NFL coaching experience — so this marriage with Murray certainly has bust potential. Murray’s size is also a concern: at 5’10, he’ll be the league’s shortest QB. We’ll see what happens with QB Josh Rosen, but Murray is the heavy favorite to be under center for the Cardinals in the season opener against Detroit.

Check out the full scouting report on Kyler Murray.

The Cardinals have signed WR Damiere Byrd to a 1-year deal. The 5'9, 180-pounder caught just 12 balls across 3 seasons with the Panthers, making his biggest splash in the 2017 preseason opener. We'll see if Byrd can carve out a worthwhile role in a fairly open Arizona WR corps, but he's not likely to factor into the average fantasy football league's draft picture in 2019.

The Cardinals will be signing LB Jordan Hicks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Hicks should grab a full-time role in the middle of Arizona's 3-4 base front and be in line for at least solid IDP value. His departure leaves a void in the middle of the Philly defense. We'll see how the team addresses it.

The Cardinals are expected to sign OLB Terrell Suggs when free agency opens Wednesday, according to multiple reports. Despite turning 36 in October, Suggs never saw much of a playing-time dip in Baltimore and appeared in all 16 games each of the past 2 years -- 15+ games in 5 of the past 6 seasons. He figures to join the edge rotation for an Arizona defense that's switching back to a 3-4 base under new DC Vance Joseph in 2019. We'll see whether the Cards retain free-agent DE/OLB Markus Golden, or if they signed Suggs to simply replace him.

The Cardinals have reached a 1-year deal with former Bills TE Charles Clay. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports it's worth "up to" $3.25 million. That's decent money for a veteran joining an Arizona roster that returns TEs Ricky Seals-Jones and Jermaine Gresham. We'll see how the new coaching staff stacks this crew on the depth chart and what Clay's arrival means for RSJ's playing time. Seals-Jones carries easily the most upside among the trio but will need opportunities. This looks like a situation to avoid until late in current best-ball drafts.

 
 
 

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