NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals made what was arguably the biggest trade of the offseason this year by sending David Johnson and two future draft picks to the Houston Texans in exchange for DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona didn’t even have to fork up a first-round pick in the exchange, which made it a real bargain. Its receiving corps got a major upgrade while retaining Larry Fitzgerald on a one-year extension. Other key returners include running back Kenyan Drake and offensive lineman D.J. Humphries. The Cardinals could improve significantly in 2020.
Starter: Kyler Murray
Backups: Brett Hundley, Drew Anderson, Chris Streveler
Murray burst onto the NFL scene by finishing as a QB8 in standard and PPR leagues, as well as on DraftKings. He accomplished this feat with 36-year-old Fitzgerald as his top receiver. But now the second-year signal caller will have a top 5 wideout in Hopkins, which should help him exceed the 3,722 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns he totaled in 2019.
Murray also ran for 544 yards and four scores during his rookie campaign, trailing only Lamar Jackson in rushing yards among quarterbacks. Every other quarterback who ran for at least 400 yards last season totaled seven rushing scores, and that’s within Murray’s reach. He should be a lock for the top 10 in 2020 and could climb as high as the top five.
Starter: Kenyan Drake
Backups: Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster
Drake was a breath of fresh air for the Cardinals in the backfield after Johnson failed to live up to expectations. The versatile running back led Arizona in rushing yards (643) despite only playing in eight games with the team. He also caught 28 passes for 171 yards and accounted for eight scores.
Drake ranked 18th among running backs in standard leagues despite barely being a factor through the first six games he played with the Miami Dolphins. Top 15 production should be the bare minimum for Drake in 2020, and he could crack the top 10.
Starters: DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk
Backups: Andy Isabella, Trent Sherfield, Johnnie Dixon
Hopkins has been a top 10 wideout in standard leagues for three straight seasons and has a good chance to extend his streak. He’ll be Arizona’s top pass catcher and should get the lion’s share of the targets.
Second behind him will be either Fitzgerald or Kirk. Fitzgerald ranked 35th among wide receivers on DraftKings and led the team in receiving yards (804) and receiving touchdowns (4) last season. Kirk ranked 37th and could surpass Fitzgerald, who is entering his 17th NFL season.
Starter: Dan Arnold
Backups: Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels
Arnold appears to be the replacement for Charles Clay, who started at tight end in 2019 but is testing free agency this offseason. The Cardinals claimed Arnold off waivers and he was the team’s leading pass catcher in Week 17 when Clay was sidelined. The third year tight end has only caught 20 passes in his career, but did score two touchdowns last season. Arizona totaled 40 tight end completions for 545 yards split between four players in 2019, so it’s hard to see Arnold being even a top 32 tight end.