QB Sam Bradford –After a poor start to his career over five seasons with the Rams (18-30-1 record with 58.6 percent completion rate), Bradford proved to be serviceable over the last 2+ seasons (16-15) highlighted by success with the Vikings (71.8 percent completion rate) with an excellent TD to Int ratio (23:5). In 2016, he had only two games with over 300 yards passing and two games with three TDs. In his only full game last year, Sam passed for 346 yards and three TD. The Vikings struggled to block for him in five games (4, 6, 5, 5, and four sacks) in 2016. Bradford is a former first-round draft pick (2009) with one more chance to showcase his upside. The Cardinals will throw the ball, but they don’t have an impact TE with questions in their depth at WR. This offense will flow through David Johnson requiring Sam to be a good game manager, which points to 4,000+ yards passing with just above the league average in TDs. More of QB2 with a tough passing schedule in the year.
QB Josh Rosen – Over two and half seasons at UCLA, Rosen passed for 9,340 yards with 59 TDs and 26 Ints. His running ability is minimal in rushing plays, but he can sneak a TD or even extend some drives with his legs. He played many snaps from under center where he was a much better timing passer while adding ball fakes to move the deep safeties. Josh will make good pre-snap reads while getting the ball out quickly in his dropbacks from center. At the goal line, Rosen can throw fades on the outside or challenge the middle of the field with accuracy. His arm strength is below NFL average, and he does have a history of injuries (shoulder in 2016 and two concussion in 2017). I like his pro feel, so he should improve quickly if given a starting opportunity.
RB David Johnson – As great as Todd Gurley was in 2017, Johnson was better in 2016. He finished with 2,118 combined yards with 20 TDs and 80 catches while averaging 23.3 touches per game. Note: Gurley only played 15 last year. David missed last season due to a left wrist injury, which won’t be a strike on his 2018 Fantasy value. In 2015 with Johnson as a part-time RB, the Cardinals had the top offense in the league while averaging 31.1 points per game. The loss of Johnson and weaker QB play led to only 18.4 points per game last year. Arizona brought Sam Bradford to upgrade the quarterback position, but the Cardinals still lack threats at WR behind Larry Fitzgerald with questions in their talent at TE. Johnson is a great player, and he can do it all. He needs a better supporting cast to create more opportunities and scoring chances. Either way, his volume of touches will lead to another high-ranking finish in 2018, and his offensive line should be improved. With 16 games played, David is going to touch the ball 375+ times leading to 2,000+ yards with double-digit TDs and 75+ catches, and I feel like I’m conservative in my outlook.
RB Chase Edmonds – Over his first three seasons at Fordham, Edmonds gained 6,061 combined yards with 69 TDs and 75 catches while averaging 6.6 yards per rush and 10.3 yards per catch. Injuries led to only seven games played in 2017 with only 706 combined yards with five TDs and 11 catches. Chase lost his explosiveness last year leading to just 4.2 yards per rush. Edmonds has a three-down skill set, but he’ll be making a huge step in competition. Player to follow this summer as he may emerge as the top handcuff to David Johnson.
RB T.J. Logan – Over four seasons at North Carolina, Logan rushed for 2,165 yards on 398 carries with 19 rushing TDs plus 76 catches for 663 yards and four more TDs. T.J. never had a season where he was the lead back in college. He runs with a home run gear, which will offer value in the return games or as a change of pace option. Logan plays well in the passing game with a higher enough skill set to pass protect. He returned five kickoffs in 77 chances with the Tar Heels. T.J. missed all of last year with a wrist injury.
WR Larry Fitzgerald – Over the last three seasons, Fitzgerald has 325 combined catches for 3,394 yards and 21 TDs on 456 targets. He’ll enter 2018 at the age of 35, which will give Fantasy owners a reason to fade him on draft day. Larry only needs 390 yards to pass Terrell Owens for the second most all-time. He needs 102 catches to pass Tony Gonzalez for the second most catches in NFL history. With David Johnson back on the field and what looks like an upgrade at QB with the addition of Sam Bradford, Fitzgerald should have more bullets in his gun. His yards per catch (9.6 in 2016 and 10.6 in 2017) will require plenty of looks to be a competitive lead WR in 2018. Hard worker with winning opportunity, possible 90+ catches for 1,000+ yards with mid-level TDs. Over his last three seasons, his catch rate (71.3) has been phenomenal.
WR Christian Kirk – Over 39 games in three seasons at Texas A&M, Kirk caught 234 passes for 2,856 yards and 26 TDs. His game is built to play in the slot, which makes him more of a future replacement for Larry Fitzgerald than a threat on the outside in 2018. Christian plays with strength and upside in his route running while his hands grade well. His deep won’t be an edge against the top CBs in the NFL. Tough call for me this year without some training camp and preseason news. I’ll follow him closely as he may emerge as the WR2 in the Cardinals’ offense. I good starting point may be 60 catches for 700 yards and about five TDs with positive news about his progress over the summer.
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WR J.J. Nelson – Twice in 2016 (8/79/2 and 3/132/1), Nelson flashed upside with one game of value in 2017 (5/120/1). Over his last 31 games, J.J. has 63 catches for 1,076 yards and eight TDs on 135 targets. His catch rate (45.7) does invite risk while finishing last year with 13 games with two catches or fewer. J.J. lacks the size (5’10” and 160 lbs.) to be a high volume WR without adding more bulk and strength. Big play receiver with his speed pointing to a WR3 in 2018 with a chance at 50+ catches.
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WR Chad Williams – Over his last two seasons at Grambling, Williams caught 164 passes for 2,349 yards and 21 TDs. His skill set may be what this offense needs at WR2, but this is a huge step up in competition. Chad comes with an edge in hands and a physical style. Williams has risk in his release plus his acceleration isn’t strong enough to create a big passing window over the short areas of the field. Arizona pushed on him in the 2017 draft, so they believe in his upside. More of a project for now while respecting his talent. Last year he caught three of his seven targets for 31 yards.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones – In his rookie season in the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent, Seals-Jones flashed in Week 11 (3/54/2 on five targets) and Week 12 (4/72/1 on six targets) despite only being on the field for 25 combined plays. With similar playing time over the next two games (2/44 and 1/20), Ricky failed to make an impact with defenses now playing more attention to him in their game plan. His snaps doubled in Week 15 and Week 16, but his results faded (2/11 on six targets and 0/0 on one target). In the end, RSJ caught 12 of his 28 targets for 201 yards with three TDs and five catches of 20 yards more. In college, Seals-Jones caught 120 passes for 1,358 yards and nine TDs over 33 games from 2014 to 2016. He was a high recruit out of high school as a wide receiver. His game doesn’t matchup up well to NFL CBs due to his slow release and questionable hands. The change to TE should suit him well, but Ricky needs to add more fight to his game. One defensive back coach in the SEC made this statement about him in his scouting report at NFL.com, “He looks great in that uniform, but he can’t get open. Usually, you fear guys with that kind of size when they make it down near your end zone, but he never competed hard enough down there when we played him.” His path in 2017 almost fits this comment to a tee. When overlooked, Seals-Jones can make big plays downfield. In tight coverage, he struggled to make big catches and create separation. I expect him to have success vs. linebackers who play off the ball, but a talent coverage safety should be able to neutralize him. Part-time option at TE who can turn in a winning game if given an edge in his matchup. More of a bye week cover for me unless his opportunity shows growth in 2018. I only see about 35 catches for 500 yards with a handful of TDs.
TE Jermaine Gresham – In 2017, the Cardinals completed 57 passes for 701 yards and six TDs on 94 targets to the TE position. Over 45 games in Arizona, Gresham has 88 catches for 936 yards and five TDs on 139 targets. He scored 24 TDs in his first 74 NFL games with this number fading to five TDs in his time with the Cardinals. Low upside opportunity for Jermaine while being the top option on the roster. In 2018, he’ll be in a split role with Ricky Seal-Jones point to a max of 40 catches for 400 yards and minimal value in TDs. His ability to block helps his playing time.
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