What changed for the Cardinals? Click here
Palmer set career highs last year in passing yardage, passing touchdowns and yards per attempt in leading the Arizona Cardinals to the Division Title. After yet another disappointing post season though, it will be interesting to see if the team has lost a little confidence in the veteran quarterback. He will be turning 37 at the end of this football season and while he appears healthy and confident, the age has to at least be red flagged when considering him for fantasy football in 2016.
That said, the Cardinals offense is pretty much intact and the team is loaded with talent at running back, receiver and tight end. It is a diverse, explosive offense with an aggressive head coach and while Palmer's numbers may dip slightly, there is no reason to expect the floor to fall out from under him. Expect 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns from Palmer as the Cardinals make another push towards the Super Bowl.
Neither Drew Stanton nor Matt Barkley really inspires confidence if something happens to starting quarterback Carson Palmer. Stanton has had more success at the NFL level but his 54.6% completion percentage and 12 touchdown to 16 interception ratio leave much to be desired. Matt Barkley has shown flashes of promise while with the Philadelphia Eagles but tossed 4 interceptions against no touchdowns.
The Cardinals used a three headed beast at running back last year in compiling 1917 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. The most interesting of the three players heading into this year though is David Johnson, who as a rookie last year flashed amazing speed, toughness and power on route to 1038 total yards and 12 touchdowns. He is a homerun hitter with shocking speed considering his 224-pound frame and he will likely earn a bigger role in 2016.
Chris Johnson is the perfect player to come in off the bench and cause havoc with his speed and agility. The former 2000-rushing yard back led the team in carries last year with 196 but scored just 3 times. He will turn 31-years old this year and will likely see a reduction in touches.
Finally Andre Ellington is capable of stepping in when needed but does not have the attributes of a top end starting running back. He is best served in coming off the bench.
Many fantasy pundits wrote off Larry Fitzgerald last season after three subpar years in a row. However Fitzgerald returned with a vengeance last season, catching 109 passes for 1215 yards and scoring 9 times. Has he lost a step at 33-years of age this season? Certainly he has from his younger days but he is crafty, a tireless worker and is driven to help this team win. If healthy, there is no reason to believe he cannot grab another 100 passes and score 8+ touchdowns again.
Michael Floyd may not be a star but the former 1st round pick has become a dependable, solid receiver in the Cardinals offensive attack. He had over 840 yards receiving for the third consecutive year and has scored 17 touchdowns over than span. He has missed just one game in his four seasons and his hands are perhaps the best in the NFL today. He doesn't have the burst of the top NFL receivers but he could certainly finish with a 1000-yard season for the second time with the Cardinals.
John Brown is everything that Michael Floyd is not. Brown is blessed with elite speed and agility and he is the perfect complement to the slower Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. He has 113 receptions in his first two seasons and 12 touchdowns and he is only going to get better. He likely has the most upside of the three mentioned here.
None of the trio here inspires much confidence in the passing game. Darren Fells emerged as the best option at tight end but with all the talent at running back and receiver on this team, the tight end position is often an afterthought. Fells finished as the 36th best fantasy tight end. Jermaine Gresham never really became a legitimate target but he is a very good blocker and Troy Niklas despite nice size appears to be a blocker first, receiver second as well. Look elsewhere for your fantasy tight ends.
LT Jared Veldheer, LG Mike Iupati, C Lyle Sendlein, RG Evan Mathis, RT D.J. Humphries
Key Backups: Earl Watford, A.Q. Shipley, Cole Toner, Evan Boehm
The Arizona Cardinals became an elite offensive line last year led by veterans Jared Veldheer at left tackle, Mike Iupati at left guard and Lyle Sendlein at center. Evan Mathis, a former All-Pro was signed in the offseason and will start at right guard. Losing Bobby Massie who started 30 of the past 32 games at right tackle could hurt but the Cardinals were willing to let him walk because first round pick D.J. Humphries from the 2015 NFL Draft should be ready to step into starting right tackle. Those five look like a powerful group. The team also drafted a pair of linemen, Evan Boehm from Missouri (4th round) and Cole Toner from Harvard (5th round) who will provide depth along with Earl Watford and A.Q. Shipley.
Chandler Catanzaro: He has hit 57 of 64 field goals over the past two seasons and he plays on a dynamic offensive team. He definitely is a high value fantasy kicker.