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Fantasy Football Breakouts, Busts, Locks - Arizona Cardinals 2022 Outlook

james conner fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

Welcome to fantasy football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks, a series on RotoBaller where our writers look at three key players on each NFL team. Today, we're talking about the Arizona Cardinals.

After beginning the 2021 season with seven straight wins to lead the entire NFL, the Cardinals had a massive collapse in the second half. They finished 11-6, losing the division to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams, who were also the ones to eliminate them in the Wild Card round. Kyler Murray looked overwhelmed and the team was beaten in all facets of the game. All this aside, they will still contend for the division this year and possess several exciting players for fantasy, three of which will be explored further.

Below, you'll find a fantasy football breakout candidate, a fantasy football bust candidate, and a fantasy football lock for the Cardinals based on early ADP for fantasy football drafts in 2022.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Fantasy Football Breakout: Marquise Brown

Brown finds himself in a fantastic situation thanks to a blockbuster trade that occurred during the NFL draft. He departs the low-volume, run-heavy Ravens to join the fast-paced aerial attack in Arizona.

Production

Brown has been productive over his first three seasons in the NFL, demonstrating an ability to improve each year, which is indicative of an upward trajectory.

Career Statistics

Year Games Played Statistics Fantasy Finish
2019 14 48/584/7 (Receptions/Yards/Touchdowns) WR46
2020 16 58/769/8 (Receptions/Yards/Touchdowns) WR34
2021 16 91/1,008/6 (Receptions/Yards/Touchdowns) WR23

Finishing as the WR23 while accumulating over 1,000 receiving yards marked a career year for Brown, who still has untapped potential. He repeated his 100-plus targets from 2020 and was on pace for another big touchdown total until Lamar Jackson went down. After starting the season on fire, Brown's numbers took a real hit from Week 12 on, which coincided with Jackson struggling and then getting injured. This resulted in Tyler Huntley taking over and hyper-targeting tight end Mark Andrews.

Prior to Week 12, Brown was averaging six receptions per game, 80 receiving yards per game, and 0.66 touchdowns per game. This would have been a season-long pace of 102 receptions for 1,360 yards and 11 touchdowns, and a monster season for Brown. This is the type of ceiling he possesses when he receives consistent volume, particularly on his deeper downfield targets.

Talent

The Ravens selected Brown 25th overall in the 2019 draft, making him the highest receiver drafted in the class. While it's surprising to see him traded to the Cardinals just three years later, the move is certainly more about contract negotiations and the type of offense they run than it is about his ability to contribute.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) provides positional grades that are recognized as a reliable measure of talent. In 2021, Brown sported a grade of 96.7 on medium (10-19 yards) targets, averaging 17.2 yards per reception on catches made in that range. This is a very impressive grade, proving he can succeed on medium depths of throws, not just the long bombs he has become famous for.

Additionally, he scored a grade of 85.9 on deep (20+ yard) targets, averaging an incredible 42 yards per reception. This actually could have been higher too, partly because he had three drops, because Jackson threw three interceptions, and because several of the deep balls thrown towards him were inaccurate. This marks yet another area there is an opportunity for improvement in 2022. 

Offense

The Cardinals are known for their spread offense and vertical attack, running four wide receiver formations more than any other team in the NFL. They also pass the ball often with great success, utilizing Kyler Murray's athleticism to their advantage. While Murray and Jackson are parallel in their mobility and rushing, their passing statistics as full-time starters over the past three seasons are quite different.      

Murray Versus Jackson

Statistic Murray Jackson
Games Played 46/49 42/49
Passing Attempts Per Game 34 28
Passing Yards Per Game 250 209
Passing Touchdowns Per Game 1.5 1.9
Career Completion Percentage 66.9 64.1

While Jackson has the edge in touchdown rate, much of the credit goes to the Ravens' rushing attack, which consistently sets their offense up in the red zone for passing touchdowns. Murray is vastly better in the other passing categories, providing increased volume and accuracy for Brown to thrive in the Cardinals' offense.

The other major factor is the suspension of teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who will miss the first six games as a result of violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. This catapults Brown to the top of their depth chart as the locked-in No. 1 option to start the year. Furthermore, even when Hopkins returns, there is no guarantee he will operate as the elite alpha in this offense. He's 30 years old and dealt with injuries down the stretch last season that he spent time recovering from in the offseason. This means it's possible Brown remains the top target for the entire season, adding another layer of upside that is hard to find among receivers drafted outside the first 20-30 picks, where the elite players are taken.

ADP

Brown is currently being drafted as the WR19 with an ADP of 45 overall. This allows you to draft multiple players with your earlier picks before acquiring a player with top-12 upside, that few if any of the receivers or running backs in that range possess.

 

Fantasy Football Bust: Rondale Moore

Moore finished his rookie season as a real disappointment after being drafted with meaningful capital to a potent offense that truly utilizes its wide receivers.

Production

Moore totaled only 54 receptions for 435 yards and one touchdown, adding 18 carries for 76 yards on the ground. Moreover, the bulk of this came in Week 2 when he exploded for seven receptions, 114 yards, and his only touchdown, accounting for 25% of his season total fantasy points in a half-PPR scoring format. He managed to clear 50 receiving yards just twice the remainder of the season and never scored another touchdown, finishing as the WR71.

Adding insult to injury was his inability to climb the depth chart.

Depth Chart

When Moore was drafted, many believed he could surpass A.J. Green and Christian Kirk to become the No. 2 option.

Cardinals 2021 Wide Receiver Depth Chart

  1. DeAndre Hopkins
  2. A.J. Green
  3. Christian Kirk
  4. Rondale Moore
  5. Antoine Wesley

In the 13 games both Moore and Green played together, Moore never finished with a higher snap percentage than Green and only received more targets than Green twice, in Week 2 and Week 11. Furthermore, he began ceding snaps to Wesley later in the season, with a lower snap percentage than Wesley in Week 8, Week 10, Week 11, and Week 14 before missing the last three weeks of the season due to injury.

2022 Outlook

When Kirk left in free agency to sign with the Jaguars and Green was still on the market as a free agent, many individuals restored their hope and optimism for Moore, which was further exacerbated by the Hopkins suspension news mentioned above. Unfortunately, the Cardinals made a blockbuster trade for Brown and brought back Green, creating question marks about where Moore will slot in this season.

Cardinals 2022 Wide Receiver Depth Chart

  1. DeAndre Hopkins
  2. Marquise Brown
  3. A.J. Green
  4. Rondale Moore
  5. Antoine Wesley

As you can see, the depth chart is almost identical to what it was in 2021 except that Hopkins will miss the first six games, opening the door slightly for Moore to begin the year.

Talent

Moore was drafted 49th overall by the Cardinals, who certainly believed in his talent. Unfortunately, the last two rookie receivers they drafted in 2019, Andy Isabella in Round Two and Hakeem Butler in Round Four, were major busts that never contributed or amounted to anything for fantasy. Moore did finish with a PFF grade of 70.7, ranking 49th overall, so there is still reason for optimism if he can overtake the other receivers and establish a full-time role.

ADP

Moore is currently being drafted as the WR51 with an ADP of 121 overall. When targeting a player in this range, the goal is to acquire someone who can become a weekly starter for your team or possesses elite upside if any injury were to occur to the player ahead of them on the depth chart, often at the running back position. Moore does not check the box for either of these options and has less chance to make an impact than most of the players drafted around him including Garrett Wilson, Tyler Boyd, Alexander Mattison, and Pat Freiermuth.

 

Fantasy Football Lock: James Conner

Much has been made of the massive touchdown total Conner accumulated in 2021, including 15 on the ground and three through the air, causing many individuals to overlook his current opportunity entering 2022.

Opportunity

The Cardinals signed Conner last offseason to pair with Chase Edmonds, hoping he could be a reliable secondary back and replace Kenyan Drake. Conner immediately stepped in as their primary rusher, averaging 11 carries per game over the first eight games while both were healthy. He was also given the goal-line role, turning six of those carries into rushing touchdowns. What limited Conner during the first half of the season was his involvement in the passing game, receiving only six total targets in those games, all of which he caught.

Edmonds left with an injury early in their Week 9 game against the 49ers, skyrocketing the volume and production Conner saw in his absence. In those five games, Conner averaged 13 carries for 61 yards and one full touchdown on the ground, accompanied by five receptions for 54 yards and 0.4 touchdowns through the air. This amazing workload translated to 23.4 fantasy points per game in half-PPR scoring, which for reference, would have been the second highest points per game in the entire NFL across all positions, behind only quarterback Josh Allen!

Obviously, that pace is near impossible to sustain over the course of a season, but that stretch, in combination with his RB5 overall finish in 2021, illustrates his potential as the lead back in this offense.

Depth Chart

Part of why that stretch is so relevant is because the Cardinals elected to let Edmonds leave in free agency to join the Dolphins, deciding instead to sign Conner to a three-year $21 million deal. This left only Eno Benjamin on their roster entering the draft, where they drafted rookie Keontay Ingram before recently signing free agent Darrell Williams, who formerly played with the Chiefs, to form their current depth chart.

Cardinals 2022 Running Back Depth Chart

  1. James Conner
  2. Darrel Williams
  3. Eno Benjamin
  4. Keontay Ingram

While it's certainly possible one of these backups will possess fantasy value in this high-powered offense, none of them are as talented as Chase Edmonds, particularly in the receiving game, cementing Conner as the clear-cut lead back destined for a huge workload in 2022.

Durability

The primary concern for Conner has been his availability and health. This contributed to the Steelers electing to let him walk after his rookie deal ended, as opposed to offering him a contract extension.

Games Played By Season

Season Games Played
2017 14/16
2018 13/16
2019 10/16
2020 13/16
2021 15/17
Total 55/81 = 68%

Although participating in only 68% of the total games is not ideal, it is also not uncommon at the running back position. Most players experience minor injuries each season, causing them to miss one or two games, and many players miss significant chunks of time, even full seasons. Conner only missed two games in 2021 despite his 202 carries and 37 receptions, demonstrating sufficient durability to finish inside the top five.

Health will always be a consideration with all running backs but that is already built into the draft cost for Conner.

ADP

Conner is currently being drafted as RB16 with an ADP of 32 overall. Typically when you draft a running back that late, the hope is that they land inside the top-12 with top-10 upside. Conner, however, could definitely finish inside the top-12 and actually possesses top-five upside, making him an absolute bargain and a lock to return value.

 

Conclusion

The Cardinals have dealt with a lot of chaos this offseason, including Hopkins receiving a six-game suspension, Murray demanding a contract extension, and ending last year with an embarrassing playoff exit. Yet, they are clearly contenders and will produce some tremendously valuable players for fantasy, making it crucial to know which players to target such as Brown and Conner, and which to avoid such as Moore.



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Week 3 saw the most entrants in survivor pools make it through so far, but those who had Kansas City did not have a happy Sunday. The Chargers were not picked by as many as one may have thought. Week 4 has a no-brainer play and one team that could be deemed risky, but you'll... Read More


Week 4 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2022 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Before we dive into the rankings, I want to talk quickly about overreacting and process. We're still early enough in the fantasy football season that I want to caution people against overreacting to the final total fantasy points scored and advocate for sticking to our process, even if the results aren't 100% what we want... Read More


Justin Tucker - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Kickers

Week 4 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2022 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

We're through three weeks of the NFL season, but we'll never get to a place where we can ignore the streamer game at the kicker position in fantasy football. Even though we have three games of data for each team, kicker projections are very elastic week-to-week and it's too early to draw definitive conclusions.  Things... Read More


Jonathan Taylor - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Fantasy Football Injury Reports For NFL RBs: Week 4 Updates for Jonathan Taylor, D'Andre Swift, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook

Below you will find our fantasy football injuries report for running backs in Week 4, as of October 1. The injury statuses for various NFL running backs are up in the air for Week 4 including Jonathan Taylor, D'Andre Swift, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook. The fantasy football season may be just getting underway, but... Read More


Fantasy Football Week 4 Busts? Players Who May Disappoint: Derek Carr, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D.K. Metcalf, Jeff Wilson Jr.

Welcome to Week 4 RotoBallers! The season is starting to ramp up, and it is crucial to start getting some wins under your belt to make the playoffs and win a fantasy championship. For those who have started 0-3 or 1-2, this is a huge opportunity to get in the win column. It is getting... Read More


MORE RECENT ARTICLES

 

Fantasy Basketball Breakouts, Busts, And Locks - Cleveland Cavaliers 2022 Outlook

Welcome to a new series that we are debuting here at RotoBaller in order to start getting you ready for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season! If you play fantasy football, you'll probably recognize the format here as we had a series of preseason NFL articles that followed the same outline. The idea here is to... Read More


Daily NBA Injury Roundup for October 1st, 2022

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily NBA injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy basketball (DFS) lineups, every day of the NBA season. Below is our updated list of injured NBA players for October 1st, 2022. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily NBA Injury Roundup for September 30th, 2022

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily NBA injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy basketball (DFS) lineups, every day of the NBA season. Below is our updated list of injured NBA players for September 30th, 2022. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Must Have Late Round Picks For Fantasy Basketball (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to RotoBaller's 2022-2023 premium draft kit! We're here to be your secret weapon when it comes to this fantasy basketball season. In this article, I'll be going over some late round picks that I see as must-haves this year in fantasy basketball. All... Read More


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Top 10 Fantasy Basketball Rookies For Redraft (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to RotoBaller's 2022-2023 premium draft kit! We're here to be your secret weapon when it comes to this fantasy basketball season. Do you know which rookie finished as the highest-ranked player in 9-category leagues last season? Scottie Barnes? Nope. Evan Mobley? Wrong. Franz... Read More


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Thunder Dan's Fantasy Basketball 9-Cat Specialists (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Welcome to RotoBaller's 2022-2023 premium draft kit! We're here to be your secret weapon when it comes to this fantasy basketball season. Here I want to highlight my favorite 9-cat specialists, players who can contribute across the board in all of the nine categories... Read More


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Thunder Dan's Breakout Players to Target in 2023 Fantasy Basketball (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. Thanks for grabbing our NBA Draft Kit for the 2022-2023 season, you're not going to regret it! I'm thrilled to be helping out with our premium content this year and bringing you my rankings, favorite 9-cat studs, and breakout players. Some of these players... Read More


Fantasy Basketball Category Studs: Blocks And Steals

Blocks and steals, the two defensive stats used in typical category leagues, may seem secondary but they are just as important to manage as rebounds or assists, and they should not be overlooked. Yes, it feels cool to grab all the guys who can score points and average double-doubles, but if you aren't rostering players... Read More


Thunder Dan's 2023 Draft Rankings: Fantasy Basketball

I am quite possibly more excited for this NBA season than I have been for any previous season since I was a kid. I grew up watching the golden age of the NBA in the '80s and '90s and have been an NBA fan ever since. But this season is hopefully going to be like... Read More


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers (Part 3)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage. Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good... Read More


Alex Burns' 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Draft Analysis

I know what you're probably thinking."Fantasy basketball rankings in September? We haven't even begun training camp. Does he have nothing better to do with his time?" While I do find myself suffering from significant boredom during the NBA offseason, I want to clarify one thing: It is NEVER too early to begin discussing fantasy hoops.... Read More


2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers (Part 2)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage. Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good... Read More