The Arizona Cardinals looked like the team to beat through the first part of the 2021 season. Entering their bye week in Week 12, Arizona was 9-2 and was in a prime position to earn the first-round bye in the playoffs. Instead, they dropped four of their final six games and ended up being ousted (putting it nicely as they lost 34-11) in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl winning Los Angeles Rams.
Heading into 2022, the Cardinals made some big moves which included the acquisition of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown from the Baltimore Ravens and a huge five-year, $230 million contract extension for quarterback Kyler Murray. Not all the news was good though as DeAndre Hopkins is going to miss the first six games of the new season because of PED usage.
There are going to be new players to think about in this Cardinals offense now and this article will help you understand who are the players to target in your upcoming fantasy drafts.
Rookie Difference Maker
Trey McBride, TE
After being selected with the 55th overall pick towards the bottom of the second round, the Cardinals made McBride their first selection of their 2022 NFL Draft class. McBride is a sensational receiving threat and was pretty much the primary option in the passing offense for his alma mater, Colorado State. He had an impressive last two seasons in his college career, as he was able to put up 112 receptions for 1,421 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in 16 games.
It says something about the thought process of Arizona as they already have Zach Ertz on the roster but still chose a tight end early in the draft. Ertz is getting up there in age and the team needed to realize that they need a younger playmaker at the position. McBride may not set the world on fire in his rookie season, but he could be a difference maker at times and become a future star at the tight end position in the NFL.
If you think about the outlook for the Cardinals in the passing offense, McBride can earn some targets in the early part of the season. The acquisition of Marquise Brown during the 2022 NFL Draft will offset the Hopkins suspension a bit, but the receiving depth behind Brown is rather thin. Expect Ertz and McBride to earn a good share of passing targets because of that, which could be a good chance for McBride to carve out an effective role for the Cardinals passing offense.
Let’s take a look at McBride’s fantasy outlook for 2022. So it’s already been brought up but McBride could find himself in an early prominent role in the Cardinals passing attack. One thing to also note is that Ertz has only played a full season twice in his 10-year career, but that does include last season. If Ertz misses time this season, and it seems likely, McBride can earn more targets and give the Cardinals front office ideas of possible moving on from Ertz.
McBride is not a guy to draft but he could be a great option to add to your waiver wire watchlist. Considering the fact that Ertz was the third most targeted player on the Cardinals last season, McBride can easily cut into those targets with any missed time by Ertz or just pure better play if Ertz stays healthy. Not saying that McBride will be a huge difference maker in the 2022 season, but those flashes could earn him some streaming potential and for sure thoughts on a solid future for fantasy season in 2023 and beyond.
Old Face In A New Place
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR
Brown played three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and it eventually became too much for him. Whether he was not being involved in the offense enough, his need for a large contract, or some other reason but he requested to be traded from Baltimore during the offseason. The Cardinals called up the Ravens and were able to acquire Hollywood Brown for the 23rd overall pick and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. This move reunites Brown with his former college teammate, Kyler Murray, which is something Arizona’s offense was hoping could keep the offense intact with the Hopkins suspension looming for the first six games of the season.
During his time with Murray back at the University of Oklahoma, Brown put together a fantastic season which led to him skipping his senior year and opting for the 2019 NFL Draft. Brown totaled 75 receptions (ranked 22nd), 1,318 receiving yards (ranked tied for eighth), and 10 receiving touchdowns (tied for 21st). This sort of connection can really boost the Cardinals offense in the passing game because of the already mentioned six-game suspension for Hopkins to start the 2022 season.
Brown never really fit in the run-first approach in Baltimore, but coming to Arizona will fit his play style more as the air-it-out approach will feature Brown and increase his potential instead of limiting it. Brown could potentially build on his season last season when he went over the 1,000 receiving mark and over 90 receptions for the first time in his young career.
So drafting Brown for your fantasy roster makes a ton of sense, at least for the beginning part of the season. With Hopkins out, Brown is going to get the majority of the targets and should be a beast pairing up with Murray again. He’ll be targeted in the fourth round in fantasy drafts and will be a strong WR1 to start the season.
The thing to keep in mind, however, is that the Cardinals have historically faded down the stretch and that affects the fantasy stock of Cardinals players. So Brown is very much the type of player that you can leverage to start the year, but then strike when the iron is hot and trade him at his highest value. Hollywood Brown is going to help you in more ways than one if you draft him, but it may not be entirely because he’s on your roster all year.
Potential Breakout Player
Rondale Moore, WR
Moore started his rookie season with a fast start and it seemed like he could be a huge asset in the passing offense. In his first two games, Moore accumulated 11 receptions for 182 receiving yards and one touchdown. After that though, Moore was just not involved in the offense enough to make him fantasy relevant. Also, throw in the fact that Moore injured his ankle and missed the last three games of the season and it makes sense as to why Moore was just not a fantasy producer in his rookie campaign.
Moore enters his second season with the Arizona Cardinals and he should see an increased role as well. Christian Kirk left in the offseason to sign a big contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, which opens up the number two spot in the Cardinals passing offense. They acquired Hollywood Brown from the Ravens, but Moore will become a great number two option as Hopkins is out for the first six games of the season. Even once Hopkins returns to the starting lineup, Moore should make his worth felt by being a solid slot receiver.
So can we expect a leap forward in his fantasy production in Moore’s second season in the league? The chances are high because of his usage out of the slot and getting early looks with the lack of receivers in this Cardinals offense for nearly the first half of the season. There are some producers like Ertz and McBride at the tight end position, but Moore brings a different skill set that can be leveraged by Kliff Kingsbury and the coaching staff.
Looking at where Moore might go in a fantasy draft, it’s likely that he will be a final selection for a fantasy manager. There’s also a good chance that he’ll go undrafted as well, so he runs that fine line of being drafted or not drafted at all. If he does go undrafted, then add him to your waiver watchlist because of the early season production you can anticipate in this Cardinals offense with Hopkins.
He should be involved in the offense during the course of the entire season too, but it’s one of those wait-and-see sort of things to see his usage in the Cardinals offense. So monitor this situation because Moore could end up being a solid find off the waiver wire if the Cardinals leverage him the way they should.
Rondale Moore Will Finish As The Best Fantasy Receiver On The Arizona Cardinals
While Moore is running the line of being drafted or not drafted in fantasy leagues, he has the potential to become the receiver that you want from this Cardinals offense. The reason to believe that Moore has a greater opportunity than other receivers is because of the consistency of seeing the field.
Yes, Brown is going to be able to see the field just as much as Moore, but the return of Hopkins by game seven could bring Brown’s stock down. Moore is going to get the distinction of playing out of the slot upon Hopkins’ return, which is going to be exclusively his role in the Arizona passing offense. So as mentioned, once Hopkins comes back that could make Brown’s fantasy production drop.
In regards to Hopkins, he’s going to miss his first six games, and then it will take a major amount of targets to make him finish as the best receiver on the team. Also as mentioned before as well, Ertz and McBride in the passing offense will get a fair amount of targets as well which will affect the receivers in the offense too.
So the pure fact Moore will consistently see more targets in the offense compared to the other receivers, Moore has a great shot of being the highest scoring receiver in this offense.