Team Profiles Arizona Cardinals 2015
by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Head Coach Bruce Arians was recently named 2014’s AP Head Coach of the Year, and brother, did he earn it. His starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, went down in Week 10 with a torn ACL and was placed on IR soon afterwards. Week 11, QB Drew Stanton took over until he was injured in Week 15. Arizona was then forced to start back up QB Ryan Lindley for weeks 16 & 17. Is that all? No. Starting running back Andre Ellington was lost Week 14, and place on IR Dec.7th. Despite all of this, the Cardinals finished the 2014 season with an 11-5 record and were the #5 seed in the NFC. The 11 wins tied a Cardinals franchise record for most wins in a season. (The Cardinals were eliminated by the Panthers in the first round of the NFL 2015 playoffs, 27-16.)
2015 team outlook- The Cardinals are in a tough division, the NFC West. Hard to see them ever topping the defending West champs Seahawks in the near future, but anything is possible with Arians at the helm. If the team can stay healthy, I can see them beating up SF & St Louis, and having another 11-5 season.
2015 Fantasy outlook-
QB- Carson Palmer should be ready for June’s mandatory mini camp, and offers great upside if drafted late in fantasy drafts. Because of his history of injuries, he’s currently being selected 22nd of available QBs, but still ahead of names like QBs Kaepernick, RG3, Derek Carr and Alex Smith. In a 12 team league, I’d wait until round 10 or later to draft him, and only as your 2nd QB.
RBs– Andre Ellington is a little guy. He’s only 5’9″, 199 pounds, but they worked him like he was a lot bigger, which is why he broke down late in the season. Nice thing about HC Arians is that he’s a one RB kinda guy, and anywhere you can avoid RBBC, is value in fantasy. For now, Kerwynn Williams is the #2 RB in Arizona, and is a must hand cuff, because HC Arians will run Ellington until he drops…again. 2015 NFL Draft- Arizona drafted 6′ 1″ David Johnson in the 3rd round. RB Ellington was over-used in 2014,so RB David Johnson will surely vulture 7-12 touches per game as a rookie this year.
WRs- Larry Fitzgerald Fitzgerald is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons, recording just 784 yards in 14 games and only 2 TDs. The Cardinals want Larry Fitzgerald back and say restructuring contract is the team’s top priority. WR Michael Floyd is the big young stud in Arizona however, and is going into his 4th year. I will be drafting Floyd and John Brown (one of the rookie WRs from the 2014 class) before I draft Fitzgerald. No disrespect to Fitzgerald, but I expect about 784 yards and 2 TDs again from the future hall of famer, even if there is QB stability in 2015. 2015 NFL Draft- Arizona drafted 5′ 10″ WR J J Nelson in the 5th Round.He won’t bump Floyd, Fitz or Brown for playing time. His biggest rookie impact should come on special teams.
TEs- Darren Fells/John Carlton are not center pieces in the Cardinal offense, and probably never will be. It’s not Arians style. The two totaled 5 TD between them, and should only be drafted by fantasy owners in deep, deep leagues.
K- Rookie K Chandler Catanzaro started the season off with 14-of-14 field goals, and ended the 2014 season with 29 of 33 attempts. He ranked as the #17 kicker overall. He will likely remain the Cardinal kicker for quite some time.
DEF- Arizona ranked #7 defense in 2014, with a smash-mouth mentality that will rank in the top 10 again in 2015, most assuredly.
2014 Arizona Fantasy Surprises- Two jump out. One being RB Ellington’s durability. Through the first 10 games he averaged almost 20 carries a game and 5+ receptions, and he took a pounding. It was surprising that he lasted as long as he did. Second, being a fan of WR Larry Fitzgerald, I didn’t expect him to have such a disappointing season, but the carrousel at the QB position was also to blame. The team played as expected with a very tough defense, a commitment to running the ball, and keeping a balanced offense.
2015 Free Agents that Arizona need to address- TE Darren Fells- CB Antonio Cromartie- G Paul Fanaika- QB- Ryan Lindley
2015 NFL Draft Needs- The Arizona Cardinals early on, will try to select a linebacker, a corner back and running back. The Cards need an edge-threatening pass rusher (LB), the only Arizona corner locked into 2015 playing time is Patrick Peterson (CB) and the back ups to Ellington were not very effective when thrown in the line up, so Arizona will try to solidify there (RB). UPDATE: Arizona’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- ARIZONA’S DRAFT
Did you know- Bruce Arians was the Peyton Manning’s first QB coach? IND Colts-1998
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS
Team Home Page: www.azcardinals.com