2020 Arizona Cardinals Fantasy Team Preview: Are You Drafting Kyler Murray at His Ceiling?

SI Fantasy's Team Preview series from high-stakes legend Shawn Childs aims to break down the Arizona Cardinals to evaluate the offense, defense, coaches and everyone in between with a fantasy-slanted analysis.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

This is a preview article from our Team Outlook series. If you are already a FullTime Fantasy subscriber, click here to read the expanded outlook.

Unlock premium access to the full outlook by subscribing to FullTime Fantasy where we will help you dominate with our Draft Kit, customized rankings, expert consensus rankings, Preseason Pro, Advanced ADP, Premium forums to ask our experts unlimited questions 24/7 & more. Check us out!

Subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Coaching Staff

Arizona brought in Kliff Kingsbury as the head coach in 2019, which led to a 5-10-1 record. Their offense scored 361 points (16th) while ranking 21st in yards allowed. They scored 136 more points than in 2018 (225).

Over the last six seasons, Kingsbury was the head coach for Texas Tech. His teams went 35-40 while never having a winning season in conference play. He is a former NFL and CFL player. His forte comes on the offensive side of the ball. The Cardinals want to throw the ball, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins does raise the bar while also setting up the structure for their wide receivers.

The Cardinals didn’t bring in an offensive coordinator, which leaves the role of play calling to their head coach. Kingsbury helped Patrick Mahomes reach an elite level while also working with Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel, and Baker Mayfield.

Vance Joseph returns as the defensive coordinator after losing the Broncos head coaching job in 2018. Joseph went 11-21 in two seasons with Denver. In 2016, Vance held the defensive coordinator job for the Dolphins. He has 15 seasons of experience in the NFL.

Arizona allowed the most yards in the NFL, which was their third straight year of regression (2nd, 6th, and 20th). They finished 28th in points allowed (442).

Quarterbacks

Kyler Murray (RANK - ADP)

Despite finishing sixth in QB scoring (21.03 FPPG) in four-point TD leagues, Murray had zero passing TDs in six games and two other contests with one touchdown.

He passed for fewer than 200 yards in six games, with four of those results coming over the final six weeks.

Too often in his rookie season, Murray settled for the safe short completion (6.9 yards per pass attempt).

Murray ran the ball well (93/544/4) while not forcing the issue. From Week 5 to Week 7, he had ten rushes or more in each contest. In his final season at Oklahoma, he rushed for 1001 yards and 12 TDs on 140 carries over 14 games.

He passed for over 300 yards in five games with his best success in Week 6 (340/3) and Week 10 (324/3).

In the offseason, the Cardinals added one of the top WRs in the game (DeAndre Hopkins). His presence helps the coverage for all WRs behind him on the depth chart, plus creates better spacing for Murray to make plays in the deep passing game.

I don’t like his offensive line, but he still has a chance at 5,000 combined yards. His initial projections came to 4,653 combined yards with 30 TDs and 12 Ints.

Running Backs

Kenyan Drake (RANK - ADP)

The Dolphins never committed to Drake on early downs, leading to 258 rushes over a 27 game stretch (9.6 carries per game) from 2017 and 2019.

After a midseason deal with Arizona, he flashed explosiveness in three games (28.2, 39.6, and 33.3 fantasy points in PPR league). Over eight games with the Cardinals, Drake gained 814 combined yards with eight TDs and 28 catches while averaging 18.9 touches per game.

With back-to-back seasons on his resume with 50 or more catches, he looks poised to have the best year of his career. Drake looks to be on a path for 1,149 combined yards with 13 TDs and 51 catches.

Chase Edmonds & Eno Benjamin

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins (RANK - ADP)

After an excellent last six seasons (580/7800/52) with the Texans, Houston decided to move in another direction leading to Hopkins being shipped to the Cardinals. Last year he lost some of his big-play ability, which was showcased by a career-low in yards per catch (11.2) and a decline in plays over 20 yards (16).

Over his first 12 games, Hopkins gained fewer than 70 yards in six contests despite a floor of five catches each week. He finished with five games with over 100 yards (8/111/2, 9/106/1, 11/109, 7/102/1, and 6/119) with one other impact outing (6/94/2). Hopkins has a floor of eight targets in 17 of his 18 games played on the year (including the playoffs).

The Cardinals have depth and upside at the wide receiver position, but they lack a pass-catching threat at tight end. Based on 2019 (238/2593/11), Arizona will look toward their wide receivers on many plays.

His resume suggests a high floor with an unknown ceiling in 2020. Hopkins' starting point for me is 95 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns while remaining fluid over the summer. 

Christian Kirk (RANK - ADP)

This season Kirk should move to WR2 for the Cardinals, but he still lacks the desired skill set to play outside.

His one impact game (6/138/3) came in Week 10 while offering one other contest of value (6/114). He caught six catches or more in seven of his 13 games.

Kirk missed three games with an ankle issue that seemed to linger all year.

Kirk has 80-catch talent, but he tends to gain short yards per catch (10.4 in 2019). Possession type of skill set. I’ll start the bidding at 71 catches for 846 yards and five touchdowns.

Larry Fitzgerald, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson & Hakeem Butler

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Tight Ends

Maxx Williams (RANK - ADP)

Despite a second-round pedigree in the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams only has 78 career catches for 699 yards and four TDs on 101 targets over 58 games.

Last year he caught 15 of his 18 targets for 202 yards and one TD while gaining over 20 yards on one-third of his chances.

Not much to get excited about here, but Williams does appear to be the top pass-catching option at tight end for the Cardinals in 2020.

Dan Arnold (RANK - ADP)

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Defense

Arizona climbed to 24th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (1,922 yards) in 2019 while allowing nine TDs and nine runs over 20 yards. Ball carriers gained only 4.4 yards per rush, with 27.4 runs per game.

The Cardinals plummeted to 31st in passing yards allowed (4,510) with 38 TDs and seven Ints. Their defense picked up 40 sacks while QBs gained 8.0 yards per pass attempt.

In the premium outlook, on defense you'll find write-ups for DE Zach Allen, DE Corey Peters, DT Jordan Phillips, LB Chandler Jones, LB Jordan Hicks, LB Isaiah Simmons, LB Devon Kennard, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Byron Murphy, S Budda Baker, & S Jalen Thompson.

Team Defense Outlook

This defense has one elite player with multiple young options that need time to develop. They have one developing upside player on each level of their defense plus a couple of darts added in free agency after career seasons. Growth should be expected, but there will be up and down games. More of a follow for me in the fantasy games while offering some matchup value.

Free Agency, Draft, Offensive Line, Offensive Schedule & Defensive Schedule

Unlock premium access to the full outlook by subscribing to FullTime Fantasy where we will help you dominate with our Draft Kit, customized rankings, expert consensus rankings, Preseason Pro, Advanced ADP, Premium forums to ask our experts unlimited questions 24/7 & more. Check us out!

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE