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Arizona Cardinals - A Team to Buy Into for Dynasty Leagues?

If you play fantasy football and owned David Johnson at the beginning of this season, you were very disappointed when he went down with a season-ending injury (COME ON ARIZONA DO NOT ACTUALLY RISK PLAYING HIM AT THE END OF THIS YEAR!). Ditto for when Carson Palmer went down. The Arizona Cardinals were a team many thought could make the playoffs this year, but that didn't end up happening.

Is there a bright side? Being bad and injured has allowed them to start building toward the future, albeit earlier than they planned to. Our the last few weeks, we've gotten a peak at some of the players who will possibly be part of the post-Palmer/Fitzgerald days for Arizona.

In this article, I'm going to look at how some of those players might (or might not) make sense as late-season adds in Dynasty formats. Blaine Gabbert won't win you your league in 2017, but could he help you win it in 2018? Read ahead and find out!

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Rising Cardinals in Dynasty Formats

Blaine Gabbert - Quarterback

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians suggested that Gabbert could be the starter in Arizona next season, a move which feels a little bit like Bruce Arians has suggested that the Arizona Cardinals will go into 2017 with the goal of losing a bunch of games. I know Gabbert has had two strong weeks since taking over the Cardinals starting QB job, but it's hard to ignore his previous track record of mediocrity. Let's dive into the numbers:

2017 (two games): 498 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions, and a completion percentage of 61.1%

Hey, not too bad! The Cardinals feel like a team in transition right now--Carson Palmer is likely done and Larry Fitzgerald can't actually play forever. Gabbert is giving them hope that he can play a role in that transition. He's still only 28 years old, which seems incorrect because I could have sworn he spent at least 10 years ruining the Jaguars. His quarterback rating is the highest in his career, too, which is definitely not just because it's been a two game sample size, right?

Gabbert has put up numbers similar to these once before in his career, during his eight games as a starter in 2015. Let's check those out!

2015 (eight games): 2,031 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a completion percentage of 63.1%

You don't love the TD:INT ratio there, but it's at least serviceable. You can win games with a quarterback who does that if he has the right personnel around him.

What about the rest of his career? Let's just go ahead and summarize his Jaguars days as Not Good and use the age-old excuse of "well, he's a young player still" to explain how he could still improve. No, let's look at 2016.

2016 (six games): 925 yards, five touchdowns, six interceptions, and a completion percentage of 56.9%.

So, Gabbert was bad in 2016. He was benched for Colin Kaepernick, who proceeded to outdo him in every statistical category. He came to Arizona to be the number three quarterback. He is now, due to multiple injuries, the starter. Two decent games later and we're calling Gabbert a potential starter next year?

But some of those things don't necessarily matter in ynasty leagues, especially ones that involve starting multiple quarterbacks. Here's a personal anecdote: Here at Rotoballer, we put together a start-up dynasty league this season. I drafted four quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Jay Cutler, and C.J. Beathard. Three of those are unlikely to have starting roles, so I took a risk by grabbing Gabbert a few weeks ago. I don't love it, but he's a serviceable option who could at least contribute next season.

Should I Grab Him In Dynasty?

It's situational. If you're in a situation like I was, there's not much risk involved. If he wins the starting job, you at least have a stop gap option at your QB2 spot while you wait for the rookie quarterback that you pretty much have to draft to develop into a starter!


Ricky Seals-Jones - Tight End

I'm torn on Seals-Jones' long-term value, because his sudden emergence has coincided with Gabbert's time as the Arizona starting quarterback. Could it really just be that the two of them have developed some strong chemistry and Seals-Jones would fall off with a different quarterback?

My gut always says not to trust trends like that, though. Much was made earlier this year of the effect C.J. Beathard would have on his former Iowa teammate, George Kittle, but that petered out pretty swiftly. If Seals-Jones is as good as he looked over the past two games, he'll keep that up even if the team moves on from Gabbert.

Let's start with the Arizona depth chart. Seals-Jones has spent the season playing behind Jermaine Gresham, who is a perfectly fine player and a two-time Pro Bowler. His best seasons came in Cincinnati, though, and he's now in his third year as a member of the Cardinals. He hasn't had a 400-yard season in Arizona or a season with more than two touchdowns. At this point, the Cardinals know what they have in Gresham--a serviceable NFL player.

Seals-Jones is younger and more explosive. I went back and watched his college highlights and he does three things well that signal he can be productive at the pro level: he's extremely tough to tackle, he can make some good moves in the open field, and he's able to excel as an outside receiver, something that could bring another dimension to the Cardinals offense.

I think I just talked myself out of being torn about him.

Should I Grab Him In Dynasty?

Yes. I just put a claim in for him myself, but I'm pretty far down in priority so I doubt I get him. But if you need a young tight end who could end up being a good option next season, grab him.


Jaron Brown - Wide Receiver

It's a little hard to believe that this is Jaron Brown's fifth season, as he hasn't had a huge role on the Cardinals until now. In 2017, though, Brown has career highs in pretty much every major category--targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns, and these have all been set with five games still remaining. Brown seems to have turned a bit of a corner.

There are warning signs, though. For the purposes of comparing him to the other Arizona wide receivers, let's ignore Larry Fitzgerald, who is great but also likely isn't in Arizona's long-term plans at this point given that whispers of retirement have been around a couple of years. Fitzgerald likely has somewhere between zero and two NFL seasons left, and there's no guarantee those are spent in Arizona.

The Cardinals have two other wide receivers who've received a good amount of playing time--John Brown and JJ Nelson. It's true that, at points this season, Jaron Brown was outplaying those two, though Nelson has a strong case to be made for having had a season about as good as Jaron Brown's. John Brown? He's dealt with injuries all season, but he's seen four or more targets in every game he's played.

The targets are why I don't trust Jaron Brown. Of the three non-Fitz wide receivers, Jaron has had the sole lead in targets three times, and tied with one of other two twice. Despite his ability to put up explosive games, he's struggled to maintain consistency and struggled to differentiate himself from the team's other wide receivers. He's also seen his share of the team's targets drop over time--it's never a great sign when a player gets less involved in an offense as the season goes along.

Should I Grab Him In Dynasty?

If we start to hear rumors about Larry Fitzgerald not being in Arizona next year, then sure. But if you're expecting Jaron Brown to ever earn the WR1 role in Arizona, you might be mistaken. This one is up to you, but I feel like there are better speculative options on the market right now.


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