About everything that could go wrong for the Arizona Cardinals, and the dynasty projections last year did. The Cardinals put on a great show for HBO and Prime Video, though, as tons of drama unfurled during a tumultuous season that ended with them picking third overall and seeing JJ Watt retire after a legendary career. Arizona ended with a record of 4-13, ending the season on a seven-week losing streak.
The Arizona Cardinals ended up doing a completely clean sweep of the organization by letting go of GM Steve Keim, Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, and multiple scouts, execs, and coaches. The Cardinals knew they had to make changes after one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Especially coming off of a playoff appearance and multi-year extensions given out. It didn’t help that DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray missed large portions of the season and that Murray tore his ACL. Yet, even new acquisition Marquise Brown got injured and hardly played.
Thankfully, the year is now in the past. They are looking to the future with new GM Monti Ossenfort and Head Coach Jonathan Gannon. Both come highly accomplished. Monti killed the draft by making multiple big trades to acquire a franchise left tackle in Paris Johnson Jr. and the Houston Texans’ first-round pick for next year. The Cardinals will be much more run-heavy, especially with Murray out for most of the season. Let’s get started with the dynasty projections for the Arizona Cardinals in 2023.
Murray tore his ACL last December on Monday Night Football in what was the unofficial ending to the Cardinals’ season. It’s always a major risk for players that run the ball a lot, but to that point, Murray hadn’t rushed much. It was only his 67th rush. There’s a risk that he isn’t the same player when he returns, but the arm and talent remain. He will be a long-term starting quarterback for some team. His dynasty value has dropped so far that it’s absurd. Murray is a cheap buy and a must-own in superflex leagues, especially if you’re rebuilding.
After a season with 2,368 yards, 14 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and 418 rushing yards with three touchdowns in only 11 games, I project Murray to play seven games. He should get 13 touchdowns, five interceptions, 291 yards rushing, and 1,533 yards passing – an excellent target for late-in-season playoff games.
The Arizona Cardinals have two backups, Colt McCoy and Clayton Tune. McCoy will start while Murray is out rehabbing. However, McCoy has missed time each of the last two years, so don’t be shocked if Tune gets into a couple of games. Tune appears to be the long-term backup for Arizona behind either Murray or Caleb Williams. Regardless, he’s worth stashing at the very bottom of your dynasty roster. Meanwhile, McCoy is a QB3 that should be acquired if you have Murray. He’ll buy you time but don’t expect much.
The Arizona Cardinals have announced they will be committed to the run game this year and in the future. Conner is in store for a massive role, especially in fantasy. He’s still a highly-capable high-end RB2 for this year. If you’re a contender, you want Conner, as he could be acquired for a second. Inevitably, Conner will miss two-to-three games, but that doesn’t mean he won’t still be productive. With a revamped offensive line, I project Conner to carry the rock 241 times, gain 998 yards, score seven times, and see 58 targets with 46 receptions, 316 yards, and two touchdowns. That’s good for 16+ points per game over 14 games.
The Arizona Cardinals don’t have a lot at running back. They lost Eno Benjamin and numerous others from last year. Beyond Conner is a second-year running back in Keaontay Ingram. He has some potential to be a future three-down back, so hold onto him on your bench. He could be a viable flex play, should or when Conner misses games. After that, you can safely ignore Corey Clement, Ty’Son Williams, and any other preseason running back that sees time.
Brown did great things when he was healthy and on the field in his first year in the desert. He quickly proved to be a favorite target for Murray. Before his injury, he was on pace for a massive career season, as he had 107 targets, 67 receptions, 709 yards, three touchdowns, and a rush attempt in only 12 games. He’s likely to get extended, but even if not, his dynasty future is a tad bit murky. The Cardinals could draft Marvin Harrison Jr., limiting Brown’s fantasy ceiling in Arizona. This makes him a terrific dynasty addition for contending teams.
If you can get him cheaply, do it. He should be a strong WR2/3 for your playoff team. I project Brown to see 115 targets, catch 76 balls, rack up 820 yards, and six touchdowns over 15 games. That’s a solid average of 12.9 points, and it could easily be higher if he scores more or gets some deeper targets. Brown is one of my favorite players to acquire if I need a reliable high-upside WR3 on my contending dynasty team.
Wilson is a rookie wide receiver Arizona just selected in the recent NFL Draft. He’s a tall, sleek, and fast wide receiver that could provide the height and length that Arizona needs to replace DeAndre Hopkins. Being the first skill player selected by the new Arizona regime, I believe he will be featured in this new-look rushing-oriented offense. While serving as the WR2 in this rebuilding offense won’t be exciting, I think Wilson should be on your dynasty roster. He has long-term WR2/3 potential, especially if the Cardinals can add Caleb Williams or Marvin Harrison Jr. I project Wilson to see 62 targets, catch 44 passes, and gain 570 yards with three touchdowns. That’s pretty good a rebuilding team, and he reaches the crucial 500-yard barrier for future dynasty success.
Moore has a lot of talent but can’t stay healthy. Nor was he ever used right by Kliff Kingsbury. Moore isn’t a guy you throw screens or behind-the-line-of-scrimmage passes to. You get him out in space where he can use his speed. He has missed 12 games out of his two professional seasons. He’s yet to put up over 500 yards in that team in either season. That is a death knell for players’ dynasty values. Look to sell Moore if you can, but don’t be surprised if the Cardinals push him down the depth chart. This team isn’t passing much, and I have Moore only seeing 30 or so targets. His dynasty value is kaput.
There’s truly only one wide receiver worth mentioning, and that’s Greg Dortch. He’s an elite returner that showcased a lot of talent working out of the slot. Should the Cardinals keep that up and have him replace Moore, he could be a valuable WR3. Try and acquire him. He’s worth only a fourth or so and can easily outperform that. Other wide receivers on the Cardinals roster are Zach Pascal and Andre Baccellia. Dortch is the only name to know and someone you should look at acquiring.
Ertz is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered mid-season last year against the Rams. It’s unsure if he will be ready by Week 1, but even so, Ertz has competition for limited targets from McBride. In dynasty, Ertz is only valuable in tight-end premium leagues. He is in his 30s and on a team that won’t throw much. I project 66 targets for 45 receptions with 369 yards and 4-6 touchdowns. He will miss the first few weeks, so the team can ensure he’s healthy. Still, this isn’t going to be a season like Ertz has had in the past. That time has come and gone, sadly.
McBride is the tight end of the future for the Cardinals. He’s also the one you want to own. He’s young and had a very productive rookie season after Ertz got hurt. He had 29 receptions on 39 targets with 265 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers will improve this year as the Cardinals incorporate him more with Ertz. It might take another year before the traditional third-year breakout but hold onto McBride, as he will be worth the wait. His dynasty value remains stable and will only rise as the Cardinals improve.
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As always, May the Force be with You…