2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: Arizona Cardinals
Andrew Cooper dives into a player-by-player breakdown of the Arizona Cardinals to help you make those tough decisions on dynasty fantasy football rosters during the 2023 NFL offseason!
They tried their best to give it a shot but the Kliff Kingsbury Air Raid era has come to an end. And, like the end of many eras, the Arizona Cardinals are now looking at a potential bridge year as they transition to the new regime. Kyler Murray and Zach Ertz might not be ready to start the season. DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly on the trade block. And guys like JJ Watt and Rodney Hudson are off to retirement. There will likely be some pain during this period but, hopefully, new coach Jonathan Gannon and new GM Monti Ossenfort have the plans in place to turn this organization around quickly.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Arizona Cardinals Quarterback
The Cardinals have two quarterbacks under contract for 2023.
Kyler Murray - age 25
Contract: Kyler Murray signed a massive extension through 2028. It doesn’t become realistic to get out from that deal until at least 2026.
Outlook: Kyler Murray is the Cardinals’ quarterback of the future - that decision has been made. It would take some serious accounting magic for them to even trade him in a reasonable fashion over the next few years. And I don’t think they want to do that anyway. He’s shown flashes of his upside and, under the right conditions, I believe Kyler Murray can be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Once he gets healthy, that is.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - Murray is kind of in no man’s land right now for fantasy. Even if you believe in the ability and upside, the Cardinals have an entirely new coaching staff coming in and they are reportedly shopping DeAndre Hopkins. That doesn’t sound like an ideal short-term situation. But, in both single QB or superflex, you still need to spend a minimum of a first-round pick to get him. I’m not selling and, if I can acquire him at a reasonable price I’ll go for it, but I’m also not going out of my way to add him right this moment. He’s most likely not even going to be ready to start this year so you’d have to stash him on the bench or IR anyway. Kyler Murray is looking more and more like an asset for teams competing in 2024 and beyond.
Colt McCoy - age 36
Contract: Colt McCoy is under contract for 2023.
Outlook: McCoy managed to carve out a pretty solid career as a backup. But the folks that liked him are gone now and the new regime hasn’t committed to starting him in 2023 while Kyler is out. And it would need to be dire straits for you to want to start him in your fantasy league anyway, even in two QB leagues.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - You probably should hold him in superflex or two QB leagues just to see if he will start. Maybe try to flip him to the Kyler owner if he’s desperate. But, if you really need the roster spot, he’s pretty droppable. He’s a 36-year-old backup quarterback.
FREE AGENTS: Trace McSorley
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
The Cardinals have their long-term QB but they are going to need a short-term QB as well. If it’s not Colt McCoy, there are a couple of options familiar to the new regime who could be on the table. Gardner Minshew worked with Jonathan Gannon on the Eagles. And new GM Monti Ossenfort was with New England when they had Jacoby Brissett, Jarett Stidham, and Jimmy Garoppolo (not that Jimmy G is likely to sign as Kyler’s backup but he’s out there). Those names make a lot of sense to come in and try to keep the team afloat for a couple of games.
Arizona Cardinals Running Backs
The Cardinals have two running backs under contract and three signed to future/reserve contracts.
James Conner - age 27
Contract: James Conner is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: James Conner is an interesting player because he’s virtually always been exactly what he is - James Conner. He’s not incredibly explosive but he can get you that yard when you need it. He’s not a revolutionary pass catcher but he can catch the ball when he has to. And he’s a threat to go down with an injury at any given moment. He is the quintessential RB2.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - If this team were going in a different direction then he would be a hold or maybe even a buy at the right price. But he’s literally never played a full season. He’s never even had a season where he just missed one game. He’s fairly touchdown dependent and I’m really not interested in that kind of player in a bridge year with a new coaching staff (and first-time offensive coordinator) that’s going to start the season without their quarterback. He’s 27 now but turns 28 in early May so every day you wait you get closer to that symbolic moment when he loses even more value.
Keontay Ingram - age 23
Contract: Keontay Ingram is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Like every rookie running back ever, there was a little off-season noise for Keaontay Ingram in dynasty circles despite him being a sixth-round pick, just outside the top 200. But, when James Conner did get hurt, as he always does, Ingram didn’t give you much. He played second fiddle to Eno Benjamin and was terribly inefficient when he did get carries (he finished the year with 27 carries for 60 yards which is 2.2 yards a carry).
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Obviously it’s a small sample size for a young player. But he actually got a chance to show what he could do, even as a Day 3 RB, and it wasn’t good. I’d try to sell if anyone at all is interested and you don’t need to hold onto him if you need the roster spot. This new regime will likely have plans of their own.
RESERVE/FUTURES: Ty’Son Williams
FREE AGENTS: Darrel Williams
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
Let’s see here. We have two running backs under contract: an aging, injury-prone starter and a Day 3 pick. That’s it. And we have a new front office coming in that will be looking to build a roster of “their guys”. If you aren’t picking up what I’m putting down, this running back room is at least going to see some new faces and could be in line for a complete overhaul. Keep an eye out in free agency and the draft as the Cardinals might be in the mix.
Arizona Cardinals Wide Receivers
The Cardinals have three wide receivers under contract for 2023 with four signed to reserve/future deals.
DeAndre Hopkins - age 30
Contract: DeAndre Hopkins is under contract through 2024. If cut or traded, he would have $22.6 mil in dead cap with $8.15 mil in savings.
Outlook: It doesn’t sound ideal but the fact that the Cardinals would eat a bunch of money in this bridge year means that the pick they get back could end up being a good one (since the team that gets Hopkins would be getting him for cheap). The fact that they are shopping Hopkins is a big reason we believe this season will be a down year for the Cardinals.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - DeAndre Hopkins is a great player. And great players often break the rules when it comes to age. Here’s a list of players that all had their best season over the age of 30.
If Hopkins is on the Cardinals, he will get peppered with targets. If he gets traded to the Bills or somewhere, he will get peppered with targets. There is no team in the NFL that isn’t better with DeAndre Hopkins on it. And there are no fantasy football teams that aren’t better with DeAndre Hopkins on them.
Marquise Brown - age 25
Contract: Marquise Brown is under contract through 2023.
Outlook: Marquise Brown with the Ravens, at times, served as more of a speedy field stretcher before developing into a well-rounded receiving threat in 2021. With the Cardinals, he was leaned on heavily, especially in the short to intermediate range, which is the transformation you want to see for this type of player. Of course, we’re going to get a new offensive system with coordinator Drew Petzing but we know Brown will likely be a focal point.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - I’m trying to buy now before the DeAndre Hopkins trade becomes a reality. And, even if it doesn’t, Brown will still be a top-two target on his team. Whatever the new offensive system is, it will still be Kyler Murray at quarterback playing with his college teammate Hollywood Brown. The ideal situation would see Hopkins traded and Brown extended so he can be the undisputed number one with Kyler Murray for years to come.
Rondale Moore - age 25
Contract: Rondale Moore is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: What Rondale Moore lacks in size he makes up for in freakish athleticism. He’s in the top 5% for both speed and burst score per Player Profiler and his agility score isn’t far off. The problem for him is that his lack of size, especially in run blocking, has kept him from playing a full snap share so far. Well, that and injuries.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - This really just isn’t the profile that I personally go for. Small, speed guys like this often need to rely on gadget plays or breaking huge chunk plays to produce and that can be super inconsistent. His career average depth of target is an absurdly low 3 yards as they need to draw up plays like screens to get him the ball in space. That’s why he had three games with double-digit targets last year yet never cracked 100 yards. This is a guy that I’m especially looking to sell if I play in half PPR or standard leagues.
RESERVE/FUTURE: Auden Tate, Greg Dortch, Javon Wims, Andre Baccellia
FREE AGENTS: Chosen Anderson, Antoine Wesley
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
If the season were to start today, the Cardinals would have DeAndre Hopkins at split end, Marquise Brown at flanker, and Rondale Moore in the slot. Then they’d really just need a serviceable “next man up” and to fill the rest of the WR room out with depth. But a potential Hopkins trade makes it realistic that the team could be in the market to add a difference-maker either via free agency or the draft. Or maybe Drew Petzing will bring over Kevin Stefanski’s offense from the Browns and they will use two to three tight ends on most plays, limiting the number of WRs needed. It will certainly be interesting to see.
Arizona Cardinals Tight Ends
The Cardinals have two tight ends under contract and one signed to a reserve/futures deal.
Zach Ertz - age 32
Contract: Zach Ertz is under contract through 2025. He can be cut with $2.6 million in savings and $10 mil in dead cap or traded with $6 million in dead cap, $6.6 million in savings.
Outlook: After seeing Trey McBride last year, some folks are suggesting Zach Ertz should be cut but he really can’t be based on the contract above. A trade is far more realistic if that’s what they want to do. But that’s a tough sell coming off the injury so the reality is that he’s most likely with the Cardinals.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - There is no sense in selling right now while he’s hurt and there’s all this Trey McBride hype. In fact, if you are competing now and don’t have great tight end options, I’d consider buying for pennies on the dollar. As we alluded to above, Drew Petzing might come in and deploy a two tight end system. Zach Ertz has never been good at blocking so, when they look around this tight end room, Ertz isn’t the one who’s going to be playing in-line. When healthy, he’ll be lining up in the slot and running from there.
Trey McBride - age 23
Contract: Trey McBride is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: There is always a concern with rookie tight ends that they could end up as a blocking tight end and then their value in fantasy is dust. And it’s especially scary when the team has a guy like Zach Ertz. But, when Ertz was out, McBride showed us that he’s entirely capable of being a pass catcher and, with his profile and second round draft capital, we are feeling pretty good.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - He’s looking like the tight end of the future here - rarely do we ever see a tight end come out and have a double digit target game. I’m buying him right now if I can while Ertz is still there. If I can’t get him now, I’m waiting until Ertz comes back from injury and McBride gets pushed in-line. Then I’m trying to buy that dip. This is probably the last chance we are going to have to get him at any kind of discount so you should start figuring out what that price will be now. Rather overpay based on current prices than wait until it’s too late. Based on Alex Korff’s trade chart, his market value is at about a late second and I’d consider sending any second-round pick for him.
RESERVE/FUTURE: Noah Togiai, Berhard Seikovits, Chris Pierce Jr.
FREE AGENTS: Stephen Anderson, Maxx Williams
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
I would not at all be surprised to see the Cardinals add additional tight ends this off-season. In fact, they pretty much have to since Ertz is 32 and might not be ready to start the season. But Drew Petzing comes over from the Browns where multiple tight end sets is the way of life. So he’s probably bringing at least a couple of those tricks over which means they’ll need to load up this tight end room. Hopefully the guys they bring in skew blocking so it doesn’t complicate things even further.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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