Every summer, we take a deep dive into the fantasy football average draft position (ADP) of players on each real-life NFL team. We do this so that we can determine which guys are undervalued, overvalued, or valued just right. As we Goldilocks this ADP, our draft board forms based on our opinions of players and where they go in fantasy football drafts. Since drafters draft (mostly) by site algorithms, site algorithms drive ADP on that site. So, we use FantasyPros’ aggregate average draft position data in order to smooth out those edges. To really smooth out the edges, I will use half-PPR average draft position, which you can find here.
As always, we kick off our sleeper, breakout, and bust series with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals had a strange offseason, with Kyler Murray trying to make his way off the team, DeAndre Hopkins eating a multi-game suspension, and Marquise Brown suddenly making his way to the squad. What do all these changes mean for the fantasy football prospects of the 2022 Arizona Cardinals? Let’s take a look at a sleeper, a breakout, and a bust for the 2022 Arizona Cardinals.
Sleeper: Darrel Williams, Running Back (RB63, 202 OVR)
This sort of feels like cheating, because Darrel Williams became a Cardinal last week, and ADP hasn’t had a chance to adjust to the signing. But, Darrel Williams steps into an intriguing role for the Cardinals as James Conner’s 1B. To find out what we can envision for Williams this year, we should take a look back at Chase Edmonds last season. While Edmonds was the de facto starter (and I doubt they crown Williams with that role), we can take a look at Edmonds’ role prior to his week nine injury. Edmonds played about 60% of snaps and had 9.4 rush attempts and 3.8 receptions per game, for 80 yards per game (okay, 79.8, I rounded, sue me).
So, what if we figure that Williams gets 75% of that production, as he falls to the short-end of the 60%-40% split with James Conner? That gives him 3 catches and 7 carries per game, for about 60 yards per game. That puts his floor as 9 fantasy points in a PPR league, which would have put him in the mid-40s at running back last year. That’s before we even consider Darrel Williams’ skillset.
Last year, Darrel Williams was a target machine, getting the twelfth-most running back targets, ninth-most receptions, and fifth-most receiving yards. He became a PPR machine en route to finishing the year as RB26 in PPR leagues. He had similar yards per route run and reception statistics to Chase Edmonds, who he replaces, but he finished with two additional yards per reception compared to Chase Edmonds. Edmonds has an easy case to average 10+ PPR points per game in 2022, which puts him firmly in the flex discussion. As the RB63 off the board, that’s easy money.
Breakout: Rondale Moore, Wide Receiver (WR47, 115 OVR)
Given the outsized discussion around Rondale Moore, I was thinking little more of him than a bust this season, but it turns out that the bluster is large but the rubber meeting the road is small. Rondale Moore is going as WR47 off the board, which is an easy pick for me, given his target rate last year (26%). When Rondale was on the field, he received a target more than 25% of the time, which was on par with guys like Hunter Renfrow, Terry McLaurin, Michael Pittman, and CeeDee Lamb.
Unfortunately, those targets came at a price, as most of them were in and around the line of scrimmage, meaning that his average depth of target could be measured in feet, not yards (4.2… feet, or 1.4 yards downfield). They used Rondale as an extension of their running game, which is fine since we like targets. After all, one reception is equal to ten receiving yards in PPR. So, ultimately, I don’t care if someone is getting targets 1.5 yards downfield or 8 yards downfield, a catch is a catch. And with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins for a handful of games, as well as Christian Kirk absconding off to Jacksonville, there will be plenty of space for 8-yard targets for Moore, as well. Rondale Moore finished as WR63 last season on 65 targets. Should he get a bump up to 90 or so targets this year, then he should finish comfortably inside the top-36. Getting him at WR47 is easy money.
Bust: DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver (WR34, 81 OVR)
So, DeAndre Hopkins is going to serve a six-game suspension for PEDs. Once he comes back, he should be a fantasy football force for the Cardinals, after all, prior to his injuries last year he averaged… 4.4 catches for 60.8 yards per game. Well, that isn’t exactly inspiring. That’s what I’m here to tell you: DeAndre Hopkins is no longer inspiring. He will be 30 when the season starts, and it appears as though the fears we had when he arrived in Arizona (target distribution flattening out, lessening his target funnel-based upside) will finally come to fruition. Hopkins averaged just 6.4 targets per game last season after not dropping below 10 targets per game since his 9.44 targets per game in 2016, leading to the fewest receptions per game since his rookie year.
There’s also a double-dip for this one: the Cardinals have to build their offense in such a way that it functions without Hopkins for a third of the season. So, once Hopkins returns they either have to force-feed him targets (unlikely) or integrate him into the offense, capping his upside and turning him into a good-not-great fantasy football option. On a per-target basis, there are few other players I want on the other end of a pass, but I’m not too keen on waiting around for half of the fantasy football regular season to get 11 PPR points out of Hopkins, with the hope of a touchdown (which he is still proficient in, I will give him that) I’ll let someone else fall on that grenade.
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Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Cardinals_WR_DeAndre_Hopkins.jpg under CC BY SA 2.0