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S h a r e :

Arizona Cardinals Team Report

Won't Surprise If David Johnson Starts Over Andre Ellington

Arizona Cardinals hope QB Carson Palmer can remain healthy in 2015, and to help those odds the team invested heavily along its offensive line and drafted a big running back to protect him.

Arizona Cardinals hope QB Carson Palmer can remain healthy in 2015, and to help those odds the team invested heavily along its offensive line and drafted a big running back to protect him.

Player
Tier · Rank
Passing
Rushing
Receiving
Fantasy
QB C. Palmer
4 · 15th
360-575-4,200 25 TD 18 INT
20-25 0 TD
-
312.5
RB A. Ellington
5 · 30th
-
150-650 4 TD
45-400 2 TD
141.0
RB D. Johnson
6 · 37th
-
180-695 6 TD
30-250 1 TD
136.5
RB K. Williams
NR
-
40-150 1 TD
-
21.0
RB S. Taylor
NR
-
-
-
0.0
WR M. Floyd
6 · 31st
-
-
60-925 7 TD
134.5
WR J. Brown
7 · 34th
-
-
55-775 5 TD
107.5
WR L. Fitzgerald
8 · 44th
-
-
65-750 5 TD
105.0
WR J. Brown
NR
-
-
20-250 2 TD
37.0
TE D. Fells
NR
-
-
20-225 1 TD
28.5
TE T. Niklas
NR
-
-
-
0.0

QB Carson Palmer

At 35 years of age and entering his 13th NFL season, the biggest issue with Palmer isn’t his productivity – it’s his health. Solid when he was in the lineup, Palmer just wasn’t in the starting lineup nearly enough in 2014 as he missed three early season games with a shoulder injury before suffering a season-ending ACL injury during Week 10. During his six starts, he threw for 1,626 yards with 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions, while averaging a very respectable 20.8 PPG. The Cardinals hope that he can remain healthy in 2015, and to help those odds the team invested heavily along its offensive line as well as added rookie 3rd round pick David Johnson to its group of skill position players. At wide receiver, Palmer has plenty of talent to throw to in the form of wily veteran Larry Fitzgerald as well as a pair of promising receivers in Michael Floyd and John Brown. If Palmer can remain healthy for 16 games then he rates as an upper tier QB2.

RB Andre Ellington

Taken in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the 5’9”, 199 pound Ellington displayed plenty of playmaking ability as a rookie, gaining 652 rushing yards and three touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry and adding another 371 yards and a score on 39 receptions. Given his solid production, the Cardinals moved him into the starting lineup and he shot up fantasy cheat sheets given his breakout potential. Sure enough, Ellington’s diminutive stature and overuse proved to be his undoing as he missed four games due to injuries and saw his yards per carry plummet to 3.3, although some of that can be blamed on the team’s porous offensive line. In 2015, Ellington is slated to remain the team’s starter but the Cardinals figure to curtail his workload, having drafted David Johnson in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Since Ellington is ill-suited to handle major touches and he is unlikely to warrant touches at the goal line, he rates as a mid-tier RB3 this year. And given his current ADP in the middle of the 4th round, he is being drafted as a mid to lower tier RB2 making him one of the most overvalued running backs as training camps open.

RB David Johnson

With Andre Ellington failing to prove himself as a legitimate starting running back, the Cardinals added to their backfield depth by selecting David Johnson in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. The 6’3”, 225 pound Northern Iowa product would seem to be the perfect complement to the diminutive Ellington, but his scouting report indicated that his biggest failing in college was running between the tackles. In fact, as an outside runner and capable pass catcher, Johnson’s skill set is very similar to Ellington’s despite the differences in their stature. While that doesn’t sound overly promising, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Johnson overtook Ellington in the starting lineup at some point given Ellington’s struggles as a runner last season (3.3 yards per carry). At worse, Johnson figures to spell Ellington on a regular basis and he also has an opportunity to emerge as the team’s short yardage back. We rate Johnson as an above average dynasty prospect and a lower tier RB3 with upside in 2015 who should approach 200 touches.

RB Stepfan Taylor

Taken in the 5th round of the 2013 draft, Taylor has failed to carve out a significant role in the Cardinals backfield during his two years in the league. A bit of a bowling ball at 5’9” and 214 pounds, he has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and found the end zone just once in 99 carries. Since the Cardinals have seemingly given up on him in favor of Andre Ellington and rookie 3rd round pick David Johnson, we suggest that you should follow suit. Taylor may not even earn a roster spot in 2015.

WR Michael Floyd

Taken in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Floyd emerged as a consistent offensive weapon in his second season in the league, catching 65 passes for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns. A big play threat at 6’3”, 225 pounds with solid speed, Floyd was expected to build on his 2013 production with a big year last season. It never happened as Floyd was regressed, in part due to his own inconsistency but also because of the Cardinals poor quarterback play. As their main option on deep passes, Floyd simply had too many uncatchable balls thrown his way. With Carson Palmer back from the ACL injury that ended his season early in 2014, there is hope that Floyd will emerge as an upper tier fantasy option in 2015. But head coach Bruce Arians needs to help that out by making Floyd a bigger part of the team’s offense. He was targeted just 99 times last season and was targeted five or fewer times in seven of his last 11 games last season. With Floyd sharing the target count almost equally with Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, he rates as a mid-tier WR3 but a huge season could be in store if Arians makes the decision to feature him in the Cardinals offense.

WR Larry Fitzgerald

At 31 years of age (32 on opening day) and entering his 12th year in the league, the sun is beginning to set on Fitzgerald’s career. While the Cardinals were willing to restructure his contract so that he could finish his career in Arizona, signing him to a two-year, $22-million contract, that was as much of a reflection on his outstanding career and leadership abilities as it was a reflection of his current abilities on the field. In 2014, with Carson Palmer under center for just six games and the team going through a carousal of backup quarterbacks, Fitzgerald (who missed two games himself) suffered through the worst year of his career, catching 63 of his 103 targets for 784 yards and just two touchdowns with the targets and touchdowns hitting career lows. In 2015, Fitzgerald figures to share the load at wide receiver nearly equally with Michael Floyd and John Brown, as was the case last season. While his production last season was disappointing, the truth is that a rebound season for Fitzgerald isn’t out of the question provided Palmer can remain healthy. The Cardinals failed to top 20 points during their last eight games including the playoffs. Fitz is the team’s main threat in the red zone so we can view his two touchdown season from a year ago as an anomaly. A realistic view of his upside is 80 receptions for 900 yards and 7-8 touchdowns, which is lower tier WR2 territory. Consider Fitzgerald an upper tier WR4 with upside.

WR John Brown

Taken in the 3rd round of last year’s draft, Brown wasn’t expected to make much of an impact in his rookie season until he put together an impressive preseason. In this case, the production matched the hype as Brown produced a solid rookie season despite quarterback Carson Palmer appearing in just six games. Brown caught 48 passes for 696 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 14.5 yards per reception. At 5’10” and 179 pounds, Brown doesn’t possess great size but he has blazing speed, having run a sub-4.4 40. As a rookie, Brown was targeted a healthy 103 times, the same amount as Larry Fitzgerald and four more times than Michael Floyd. Unfortunately, his reception to target percentage of 46.6% left something to be desired but that wasn’t helped by the Cardinals revolving door situation at quarterback last season. An ascending talent, Brown should benefit from better quarterback play in 2015 and given his big play ability, we rate him as a low end WR3 or high end WR4. And as a future replacement for Larry Fitzgerald, he is a solid option in dynasty formats.

TE Darren Fells, TE Troy Niklas and TE Jermaine Gresham

Is Arizona where tight ends come to die? No. It’s where they come to block. Bruce Arians doesn’t utilize his tight ends as receivers and, with a solid trio of wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown, who can blame him? In Fells, Niklas and the recently signed Gresham, the Cardinals feature a trio of players who are similar in one way – they are all big dudes and capable blockers. This is situation to avoid for fantasy, folks. Plain and simple.

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S h a r e :

Arizona Cardinals IDP Team Report

Calais Campbell a Fine Choice as a DL1

Despite a number of player defections, injuries and another long suspension for inside linebacker Daryl Washington, the Arizona Cardinals still managed to field one of the NFL’s best defenses in 2014. However, with maestro Todd Bowles now the head coach of the New York Jets, the Cardinals face even more uncertainty this season.

Defensive Linemen

From an IDP perspective, the Arizona defensive line begins and ends with end Calais Campbell, who finished 8th at the position in fantasy scoring in 2014 despite missing a pair of games. Grantland’s Bill Barnwell believes that the NFL’s “Top 100” List did the eighth-year veteran a disservice this year.

“Campbell does not belong 71 spots below (Gerald) McCoy and 75 spots below (Ndamukong) Suh,” Barnwell said. “That’s for sure. He missed two games because Julius Thomas took him out with an illegal block and still managed to lead a mostly anonymous Arizona front seven to the league’s sixth-best run defense.”

In fantasy terms, Campbell isn’t ranked behind either. Yes, he’s never amassed double-digit sacks and doesn’t have a tremendously high IDP ceiling, but floors don’t get much higher thanks to his annually steady tackle stats. He’s a fine choice as a DL1.

Linebackers

Given how well the Cardinals fared as a unit in 2014, one would think that there would be some IDP hay to be made among the linebackers. One would be wrong. In fact, the most valuable IDP option among the linebackers may well be a player who wasn’t even on the team last year.

That would be Sean Weatherspoon, who admitted that the past two injury-marred years with the Atlanta Falcons weighed on him while speaking with Darren Urban of the team’s website.

“If you look at it in a negative way, it’ll weigh down on you,” he said. “Your days won’t go by the same, and you will have some dark days and dark nights, some long nights. I’ve been there. I’m human. We all think, ‘What if.’ ”

With Larry Foote now a coach, Washington still not reinstated (and facing another suspension once he is) and Kevin Minter just not good, IDP owners should be wondering what a healthy Weatherspoon might be able to do for them – at least enough to merit a late-draft dart throw.

Defensive Backs

There was fantasy value galore in the Arizona secondary last year, even if it didn’t come from where we expected. No one personified that more than seventh-year veteran Rashad Johnson, who came from nowhere to top 90 tackles and finish third among defensive backs in fantasy points. Johnson told Urban that he credits his time in the film room and ability to diagnose plays for his breakout season.

“It’s something that makes me who I am,” Johnson said. “It makes me that special player that’s vital even if he’s not a Patrick Peterson-type of athlete. Vital because he can help the defense as a whole because he knows the plays. He can help everyone play faster.”

Expecting a repeat of that top-five finish may be wishful thinking, as in Deone Bucannon and Tyrann Mathieu the Cardinals also have a pair of talented young players who will get their share of snaps as well.

If anything, that’s the problem in the defensive backfield for the Cards. Any of these three players could – in theory – post DB1 numbers. Or all could spend the year siphoning upside from the others. As things stand right now Johnson is the preferred option, followed closely by Mathieu. But Bucannon isn’t that far behind, making it a murky (and risky) IDP situation.

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S h a r e :

Jacksonville Jaguars Team Report

Ascending Offensive Talent at Many Positions

The Jacksonville Jaguars envision rookie RB T.J. Yeldon  as the starter and a workhorse type back. We like his prospects, but the story is eerily similar to the preseason fantasy hype for Toby Gerhart last season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars envision rookie RB T.J. Yeldon as the starter and a workhorse type back. We like his prospects, but the story is eerily similar to the preseason fantasy hype for Toby Gerhart last season.

Player
Tier · Rank
Passing
Rushing
Receiving
Fantasy
QB B. Bortles
6 · 22nd
340-560-3,700 18 TD 14 INT
70-350 1 TD
-
298.0
RB T. Yeldon
5 · 25th
-
205-850 5 TD
15-125 0 TD
127.5
RB D. Robinson
7 · 49th
-
50-225 2 TD
35-275 1 TD
68.0
RB T. Gerhart
NR
-
85-350 4 TD
15-100 0 TD
69.0
WR A. Robinson
7 · 38th
-
-
75-850 5 TD
115.0
WR M. Lee
8 · 53rd
-
-
65-800 4 TD
104.0
WR A. Hurns
NR
-
-
40-500 3 TD
68.0
TE J. Thomas
3 · 7th
-
-
60-700 5 TD
100.0
TE M. Lewis
NR
-
-
20-200 0 TD
20.0

QB Blake Bortles

Taken 3rd overall in last year’s NFL Draft, Bortles was thrust into the starting lineup in Week 3 and, not surprisingly, struggled mightily in a Jaguars offense that was devoid of much proven talent. In 2015, the offensive line has been bolstered, RB T.J. Yeldon was taken in the draft to improve the team’s rushing attack and tight end Julius Thomas was signed in free agency to pair with a trio of promising young wide receivers in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Unfortunately, that probably isn’t going to be enough to help the Jaguars emerge as a solid offensive team, although they are getting closer. Coming off a season in which he threw for just 2,908 yards with 17 interceptions and just 11 touchdowns in 14 games while struggling with his accuracy (completion percentage of 58.9%), Bortles isn’t likely to be fantasy relevant in 2015. While it’s nice that his rushing ability helps pad his fantasy production (419 yards last season), we still rate him as a lower tier QB2.

RB T.J. Yeldon

After the Toby Gerhart debacle from a year ago, Jacksonville addressed the running back position in this year’s draft, taking Yeldon with the 4th pick in the 2nd round. A big back at 6’2” and 221 pounds, Yeldon figures to open the season in the starting lineup and all the signals out of Jacksonville are that the team envisions him as a workhorse type back. That all sounds great if it didn’t seem like such an obvious case of déjà vu. In 2014, Gerhart was signed by Jacksonville, they envisioned him as a workhorse type back given his solid size and receiving ability. We all know how that ended. While we aren’t going to anoint Yeldon as a bust just yet, Gerhart does serve as a cautionary tale when drafting Jacksonville running backs. Although their offense is improving, it still isn’t expected to be very good in 2015. That limits Yeldon’s upside. And we’re also not sold on the workhorse predictions since Denard Robinson emerged as a solid contributor last season and Gerhart has had some success as a backup during his stay in Minnesota. Yeldon rates as a solid dynasty prospect but we like him as just a high end RB3 in redraft formats.

RB Denard Robinson

After struggling with his conversion from college quarterback to NFL running back as a rookie in 2013, Robinson emerged as a decent playmaker in his second season last year. With Toby Gerhart ineffective and nicked up, Robinson took over as the Jaguars starter in Week 7 and had a solid four game run through Week 10 during which he gained 419 yards and scored four touchdowns. However, he struggled in Weeks 12 and 13 before suffering a season ending foot injury in Week 14. In 2015, Robinson seems destined for backup status as the Jaguars felt that his 6’0”, 197 pound frame wouldn’t hold up as a starter leading to the draft selection of T.J. Yeldon. Since Toby Gerhart remains in the picture and will likely steal some touches from him, Robinson isn’t anything more than a late round flyer serving as Yeldon’s backup despite his improved performance in 2014.

RB Toby Gerhart

Arguably the most over-hyped player for fantasy purposes last season (you didn’t read the hype here, folks), Gerhart crashed and burned as the Jaguars starter after signing a ridiculous three-year, $10.5-million contract. Touted as a breakout candidate given his perceived lack of competition in Jacksonville along with a career yards per carry average of 4.7 (working mostly as a 3rd down back, this should have been discounted), Gerhart failed to stay healthy and was ineffective when in the lineup, gaining just 326 yards while averaging 3.2 yards per carry and gaining 186 yards on 20 receptions. With Denard Robinson showcasing his superior playmaking ability last season and rookie running back T.J. Yeldon anointed the team’s starter, Gerhart isn’t likely to even warrant handcuff status in 2015. He has no fantasy value unless Yeldon goes down with an injury, in which case Gerhart would likely split time with Robinson but get the majority of the work in short yardage situations.

WR Allen Robinson

Acquired with a late 2nd round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, the 6’3”, 210 pound Robinson emerged as the Jaguars most consistent receiving weapon as a rookie before being lost for the season in Week 10 with a broken foot. By then he had amassed 48 receptions on 81 targets for 548 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lacking solid deep speed, Robinson is clearly a possession receiver on a Jaguars squad desperate for playmakers. However, he figures to enter training camp as their top rated wide receiver and given his rapport with quarterback Blake Bortles, Robinson has some breakout potential in 2015. Since Robinson lacks upside, we expect Jacksonville to also utilize Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns which would limit Robinson’s target count. He rates as a low end WR3 or high-end WR4 in redraft formats and is an intriguing dynasty prospect.

WR Marqise Lee

After a dynamic 2012 season at USC, Lee has watched his stock plummet with an underwhelming final collegiate season and a less than stellar rookie season in Jacksonville. Taken in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, Lee was expected to step into the starting lineup opposite Cecil Shorts but he finished the season with just 37 receptions for 422 yards and a touchdown in 13 games as he was outshone by fellow rookies Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. In 2015, he will battle Hurns for a spot in the starting lineup but he must overcome the injury issues that have plagued him over the past two seasons. At 6”0” and 192 pounds and with solid but not outstanding speed, it is fair to wonder if Lee will emerge as the solid, consistently receiving option the Jaguars envisioned when he was drafted. Having missed most of the offseason with a lingering knee injury, we’re not about to predict a breakout season in 2015. Lee is waiver wire material in standard 12 team leagues and his dynasty prospects hinge on his ability to remain in the lineup and become more consistent in his second season in the league.

WR Allen Hurns

An undrafted rookie free agent last season, Hurns burst onto the scene in Week 1 with a four reception, 110 yard, two touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. As it turned out, the Eagles weren’t that good on defense and Hurns wasn’t all that great as a rookie, despite leading the Jaguars with 677 receiving yards. Over his final 15 games, he amassed just 47 receptions for 567 yards four touchdowns while being targeted 88 times, topping 40 receiving yards six times. In 2015, he will battle fellow second year player Marqise Lee for a spot in the starting lineup opposite Allen Robinson. While Hurns was decent as a rookie, he lacks top end speed and doesn’t have great size at 6’1” and 198 pounds. With Robinson more of a possession receiver than a burner, we expect Lee to relegate Hurns to a backup role, limiting his fantasy value.

WR Rashad Greene

Despite having a solid trio of promising second year wide receivers, the Jaguars selected Florida State’s Rashad Greene in the 5th round of this year’s NFL Draft. Greene was productive in college catching passes from Jameis Winston but, at 6’0” and 180 pounds, he is destined for a slot receiver role in Jacksonville which caps his upside. The Jags like him enough that they released his main competition for that role in Ace Sanders, who caught 51 passes as a rookie. However, with Julius Thomas trolling the middle of the field, we don’t see Greene catching anywhere near 50 passes as a rookie. He rates as a lower tier prospect in dynasty formats.

WR Justin Blackmon

It looks like it is over and out in Jacksonville for the 5th overall selection in the 2012 draft. With three promising 2nd year players at wide receiver, Blackmon likely won’t get another shot in Jacksonville even if Blackmon is reinstated from his suspension by the NFL. Blackmon might be worth a stash in deep dynasty formats.

TE Julius Thomas

While it wouldn’t be fair to say that Thomas has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse after leaving the Denver Broncos to join the Jaguars, that analogy might be fair when it comes to his fantasy prospects. Touted by many to finish as a top two tight end last season in Denver, Thomas missed four games due to injury and amassed just 489 receiving yards but still managed to finish the season as the 7th ranked fantasy tight end due to his ability to find the end zone. He scored 12 touchdowns for the 2nd consecutive season despite being targeted just 62 times. Let’s go out on a limb and say that he won’t come anywhere close to scoring 12 touchdowns in 2015. It would take a giant leap of faith to even predict a top five fantasy season from Thomas this season given the state of the Jaguars offense. While Jacksonville clearly features ascending offensive talent at many positions, we expect their offense to finish in the bottom third in the league. That renders Thomas a mid-tier TE1.

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