The NFL offseason is usually so full of hope. Teams either did well and they have a grip of picks and new free agents to bolster their roster, or they flushed out the old decision makers and have a mix of new coaches, coordinators and front office staff to get people geeked out over. And then you have the Arizona Cardinals, who gave Steve Keim the respect to “step away from the team” while simultaneously jettisoning Kliff Kingsbury halfway around the world before assembling one of the least inspiring front office and coaching staff duos out there, pulling Monti Ossenfort from the Titans’ front office as the GM and Jonathan Gannon from the Cardinals as the head coach in a below-board deal that ended up settled as a trade when all was said and done.
The Cardinals added nothing of true value in free agency this year, at least not for fantasy football purposes. What then, of their draft? Did we get anything intriguing on their roster in April? Let’s dive into the Arizona Cardinals’ fantasy football relevant draft prospects: Michael Wilson (WR) and Clayton Tune (QB).
FULL ARIZONA CARDINALS DRAFT RESULTS
|1||6||Paris Johnson Jr.||OT||Ohio State|
|4||122||Jon Gaines II||OG||UCLA|
|6||213||Dante Stills||DT||West Virginia|
Round 3, Pick 94 Overall: Michael Wilson, Wide Receiver, Stanford (6’2” 213 pounds)
WR1 DeAndre Hopkins
WR2 Marquise Brown
WR3 Rondale Moore
WR4 Michael Wilson
A few years ago, I did a complete breakdown of the dividing line for year one wide receiver usage in fantasy football. Things haven’t changed much since then, with one out of every five rookie wide receivers drafted on day one or day two having fantasy football relevance out of the gate, and pretty much just Amon-Ra St. Brown hitting his rookie season. There’s a reason I highlight the “one in five” statistic there, and that’s because Michael Wilson only passed the draft capital bar because the Arizona Cardinals decided to drastically overdraft the man in the draft. Wilson has the measurables, posting 9.55 RAS thanks to his brute strength and explosiveness, though his overall score gets pulled down by his 4.58-second 40-yard dash and 5.76-second shuttle drill. Luckily for Wilson, however, he plays much better than that 4.58 40 would indicate.
When you watch Michael Wilson, however, you can see exactly what the Cardinals see in him: they’re hoping they found their own iteration of the Deebo Samuel/A.J. Brown (that is, big, strong, and shifty) receiver archetype. Wilson is a great yard after the catch machine, and he has the ability to get up and get it on contested catches. Unfortunately, he needs every bit of that ability, as he struggles to create separation against man coverage on his routes (though some of that you can chalk up to Tanner McKee’s subpar throwing talent), but he is excellent at finding the holes in zones.
While I like the Michael Wilson highlights, I fear that he doesn’t play up to his strength, as he frequently gets jammed at the line of scrimmage and pushed off his spot downfield at the point of the catch. Wilson is also very loose with his route running, leading to a lot of wasted movement and subpar routes.
All-in-all, he definitely belongs in the NFL, as he has a skill set that can help an NFL team. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much he helps your fantasy football team.
I don’t know what to make of his 2023 opportunity, especially when you consider that he hasn’t strung together more than six games in a season since before the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to back-to-back Jones fractures. There’s also the fact that he could enter the season anywhere between second and fourth on the depth chart in Arizona, depending on how the DeAndre Hopkins contract-or-trade situation plays out, and how much Rondale Moore grew this offseason (in play, or height, really). Honestly, there’s only one thing you can definitely say about the receiver situation there: Marquise Brown will be above Michael Wilson. There’s also that his quarterback could be Clayton Tune, Colt McCoy, or a third, more sinister option. That is to say, there’s a ton up in the air for Michael Wilson’s opportunity in 2023.
If you want to make the upside case, it’s that the team spent a day two pick on him, and they definitely haven’t missed on day two wide receivers before. Just as long as we all agree to maintain our collective amnesia about Andy Isabella, everything should be fine. Still, Wilson has a chance to be productive despite the issues around him. It’s a basketball term, but Kenny Smith & Charles Barkley describe a player taking advantage of a chaotic situation around them as being “a looter in a riot.” Wilson has a chance at that, if the Cardinals decide to move on from DeAndre Hopkins, and if Rondale Moore continues to not quite live up to his billing.
2023 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Still, I am not going to be the one who figures out if Michael Wilson is going to be exciting for 2023. The Cardinals, no matter who is under center, or who is out wide, are unlikely to be good this season. That isn’t really the plan, either, as they seemed more than content to amass picks in the 2023 NFL Draft and to set themselves up for the future. Unfortunately, that means that even if Wilson flashes mid-season, I don’t have too much enthusiasm for him, as the disastrous Cardinals offense is likely to limit his ability to produce. Sure, he might pop here and there, but your best-case scenario for Wilson is that he’s the third target on the offense behind two of Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, and Trey McBride. I will go ahead and let someone else see if Clayton Tune’s third option will be worth rostering. Spoiler alert: he won’t be worth rostering.
2023 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Round 5, Pick 139 Overall: Clayton Tune, Quarterback, Houston (6’2” 220 pounds)
QB1 Kyler Murray
QB2 Colt McCoy
QB3 Clayton Tune
QB4 Jeff Driskel
QB5 David Blough
When I watched Clayton Tune, I saw literally nothing that excited me. He’s about as milquetoast as they come. Sure, he has decent pocket awareness and can scramble a bit while keeping eyes downfield. Unfortunately, that’s where things get wonky. Tune has very little arm strength and extremely poor ball placement. This repeatedly leads to him extending the play just to dump it off to a running back two yards past the line of scrimmage, or chucking it 15 yards downfield, only to have the pass die on him. He has good short-and-intermediate accuracy, making him a good bet to be a top-40 quarterback in the NFL. Unfortunately, there are 32 starting gigs. He reminds me a lot of the Brock Purdys and Taylor Heinickes that make up the quarterback lower middle-class these days, and he could put together a good game here or there for Arizona. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have anything that jumps off the tape other than an ability to extend plays and check the ball down. That doesn’t thrill me, and it doesn’t thrill the NFL, even though the Cardinals seem desperate to find their own Brock Purdy in Tune.
In a much-ballyhooed quarterback class, headlined by C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Anthony Richardson, Clayton Tune is decidedly not in that tier of quarterback. It makes sense, as he went 130+ picks after those other guys. Unfortunately, he’s in a position to start this season, at least for a handful of games. Kyler Murray is set to miss some (or all) of the season recovering from his ACL tear, Colt McCoy may or may not have had his season end thanks to yet another instance of his recurring neck injury, and may or not be older than the sun itself (he turns 37 this season and will be the fifth-oldest active quarterback in the NFL). That is to say, Clayton Tune might be the last man standing, going up against Jeff Driskel and David Blough (who are functionally the same person in my mind).
All that is to say that there’s a non-zero chance that Tune starts double-digit games for the Cardinals in 2023, especially if they stumble and fall out of the gate and decide to
tank give Kyler Murray a full season to recover. That’s the kind of opportunity that you want out of a third quarterback in a two-quarterback league, a guy who will definitely start more than half of the season.
2023 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Unfortunately, just playing doesn’t mean that Clayton Tune will be any good next season. He’s a fifth-round pick, and he might just straight-up lose a competition to start over Jeff Driskel and David Blough. I have zero interest in Clayton Tune in any sort of league, even two-quarterback or superflex leagues, as he’s best suited as a QB3, and he’s a QB3 who could leave you high and dry when bye weeks come.
2023 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
[Public Domain Photo taken by U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid]
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