Carson Palmer wasn’t at practice Tuesday, but that was planned all along. The quarterback was going to sit out to rest his legs, and backup quarterback Drew Stanton was scheduled to sit out Wednesday.
That it was the plan was important, since Palmer is coming off an ACL tear and Monday, in his first day in the pocket of padded 11-on-11, Palmer had his legs taken out -- making everyone in University of Phoenix Stadium gasp for a moment.
“My heart was in my behind,” Mathieu said. “It was tough, man. We are feeling pretty good as a team right now so I certainly didn’t want to be responsible for No. 3 (Palmer).”
The story said Palmer immediately jumped up in the middle of the two-minute drill for the next play, but that didn’t make it any easier for coach Bruce Arians or blitzing safety Tyrann Mathieu, who knocked running back Kerwynn Williams into Palmer. Good news all around as Palmer dodged a bullet. Palmer is a potential sleeper for those waiting on the QB position.
Monday, August 3, 2015, 4:14pm
Gresham, coming off back surgery, was on the physically unable to perform list, and Niklas, out with a hamstring injury, was on the non-football injury list.
The Cardinals signed Gresham to a one-year contract on July 24. Niklas, a second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame last year, has been plagued by injuries in his brief NFL career.
Coach Bruce Arians said both will be limited to walkthroughs for now.
Ellington dealt with some injuries last year, but still comes in 16th on our PPR RB list. The Cardinals drafted David Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season. He owned the #10 PPG in PPR formats last year, so he can give up some touches and still provide solid RB2 numbers, especially if his per touch production bounces back.
Saturday, August 1, 2015, 12:23pm
WR Michael Floyd played in all 16 regular-season games for the second straight year in 2014.
The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver started the season strong, with two 100-yard games in the first three, but ended it on a low note. Then a week after catching two touchdowns and totaling 153 receiving yards on eight grabs in the regular-season finale against San Francisco, Floyd’s only catch went for 9 yards in a playoff loss at Carolina.
"Mike started to have a breakout year last year," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "I mean a big one. Just be consistent and make the plays that he is capable of making, and he should be a big-time player. He needs to be a big-time player in big games. Those 50-50 balls, start coming down with them."
“Expectations for me are always high,” said Floyd, the 2012 13th overall draft pick said. “It’s getting in and out of breaks faster. Watching tape, too ... and just getting better at reading coverages.”
Floyd’s catches and yards were down overall from 2013 to '14, as he had 18 fewer catches (65 to 47) and 200 fewer yards (1,041 to 841). Floyd has confidence the Cardinals can succeed against the defensive secondaries of division rivals Seattle and St. Louis, the better two in the NFC West. Floyd also went through changes at QB and everyone seemed to suffer after Carson Palmer went down. A healthy Palmer this season could be just what Floyd needs for a bust-out season. Floyd is just 40th on our list making him a low-end WR3 in 12 team leagues, but with an ADP of the middle rounds he could end up being a solid pick as long as Palmer stays healthy.
If Bengals QB Andy Dalton has the kind of year that OC Hue Jackson envisions, it’s because he’ll be a point guard executing some pretty exotic stuff. After his first season was marred by injuries to both starting wide receivers and a starting tight end, Jackson is itching to unload some Xs and Os.
“We're going to open Pandora's box more,” Jackson said. “We tickled it a little bit last year. We're going to open it up a little bit more this year and be who I think we can be…But I tell you what, the defenses are so good, the defensive players are so good and they disguise all the time, why can't we? It's a chess match, and whoever is not afraid to pull the trigger, pull the trigger. And I'm not afraid, so let's go.”
“I tell people all the time -- close, personal friends of mine -- that was probably my best coaching job. To not have A.J. Green. To not have Tyler Eifert. To not have a healthy Jermaine Gresham to start the season. You lose Kevin Zeitler for a couple games,” Jackson said. “We mixed and matched pretty well last year. Not to the best of what we could have been, but we did a decent job. Obviously a healthy Cincinnati Bengal offensive football team has a chance to be very dynamic….If we can stay healthy, some of those hardened times can turn into some good times.”
Jackson went run-heavy in 2014, which is typical of his style, but we shouldn't ignore the possibility that a healthy A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert could lead to the Bengals taking a more balanced approach in 2015. They were the 5th-most run-heavy team last season after finishing middle-of-the-pack in that category under then-OC Jay Gruden the year before. If Jackson does in fact call more pass plays, it can only help Dalton's fantasy prospects.
Monday, July 27, 2015, 1:42pm
“This is just kind of one of those things with the MCL, you just took a little bit more time to let it recover, let it get that strength back so it wasn’t so flexible,” Stanton said. “And really just go from there.”
Stanton injured his knee against St. Louis in Week 15, but wasn’t ruled out for the rest of the season, even leading up to the Cardinals’ wild-card playoff game at Carolina. The recovery process allowed Stanton to fully participate in OTAs and minicamp in May and June.
He filled in for starting quarterback Carson Palmer during 11-on-11 drills in minicamp.
“It’s responded really well,” Stanton said. “Starting way back when and kind of having a process and sticking to it, I haven’t had a day where it felt off or it didn’t feel like it recovered from the day before. It’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, but I think it’s paid off.”
Tight ends accounted for 15.5% of the team's targets in 2014. John Carlson led the way with 55 targets, so the TE1 isn't a big factor in Bruce Arians' offense. Gresham could start immediately, but isn't likely to be fantasy relevant in one-TE leagues.
As it was last year, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer has brought wide receiver John Brown to southern California to live with him and work out. And as it was last year, Palmer feels he is throwing well, sharpening his mental game – and feeling no problems with his knee.
“I’m not even thinking about my knee,” Palmer said. “I’m still rehabbing just to be on the safe side of things but I don’t need to be at rehab. I’m full go in the weight room, full go on the field, and until it’s brought up, I haven’t thought about what I’m not
doing because I’m doing everything I was doing.”
As he outlined in his Cardinals-qb-carson-palmer">Sleeper Alert, Palmer is Sr. Editor John Paulsen's favorite sleeper at the quarterback position. In the 15 games since his team’s 2013 bye, Palmer is averaging 277 yards 1.8 touchdowns and 0.8 interceptions. Those are fringe QB1 numbers, and he has a nice receiving corps (including Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown) to throw to. As long as the knee is good to go, Palmer is an ideal candidate for a "wait on QB" strategy.
It is not just the Cardinals and their fans who are expecting WR John Brown to be a difference maker in the Cardinals offense. NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling ranked Brown sixth in his list of players he believes will "make the leap" this season and start to become a household name around the NFL.
"It's rare to come across an offseason hype bunny who meets expectations as a rookie. It's even more rare to find an NFL draft sleeper in the height of the Twitter era. A hidden gem from small-school Pittsburg State, the third-round pick immediately impressed the Cardinals with his high-end speed, uncanny instincts and unexpected understanding of route concepts.
The article went on to say Wesseling thinks Brown needs to work on his strength, but he believes it's not out of the question Brown could pass teammate Michael Floyd this year. Right now we have Brown ranked 45th on our WR list with an ADP of the 9th round. Interestingly, we have the Cardinal WRs all going around the same time in 12-team formats: Brown 9.07, Floyd 8.04 and Larry Fitzgerald 8.11. However it's Fitzgerald who we have rated the highest at 24th (Floyd's ranked 39th on our list). Fitz could end up being the best value among the three as other WRs ranked around Fitzgerald are all going as many as three rounds earlier. A healthy QB Carson Palmer is the key to how successful the Arizona passing game is this season, and of course all three of these guys will help boost Palmer's value.
Sunday, July 5, 2015, 10:30am
In his first year as the head coach in Washington, Jay Gruden figured he could coach the quarterbacks himself. Gruden was a college and arena football quarterback, and he wanted to take a hands-on approach to the most important position.
But after franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled last season, Gruden decided he needed an assistant who could spend all his time coaching the quarterbacks. So Gruden hired a full-time quarterbacks coach, Matt Cavanaugh. Gruden says he can already see that Griffin is benefiting from Cavanaugh’s presence.
“Now we have a set of eyes strictly on the quarterback, and I think that’s important,” Gruden said, via Richmond.com. “Every snap, every handoff, every dropback is being critiqued to make sure we do it the right way, and I think that’s been a big benefit for Robert.”
Cavanaugh spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback for the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles and Giants, and has spent 23 seasons as a quarterbacks coach, first at his alma mater the University of Pittsburgh, and then for the Cardinals, 49ers, Bears, Ravens and Jets. Griffin agrees that he’s benefiting from Cavanaugh’s knowledge, the story went on to say. Despite that, we have Griffin ranked 20th among our QBs and he isn't getting a lot of draft attention in ten team leagues. The potential is there, and if you're looking to grab a second QB late in your draft, Griffin should be there.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 9:52am
Bucs WR Mike Evans helped make the 2014 rookie receiver class one of the best in NFL history.
When asked by USA Today's Tom Pelissero recently if there is a competition within the group to be the best, Evans wouldn't constrain it to merely his own draft class.
"I'm just trying to be the best, period," he said.
While Beckham bathed in the spotlight in 2014, especially after his ridiculous one-handed catch on Sunday Night Football, Evans put up his 12-touchdown, 1,051-yard season relatively quietly on a two-win Buccaneers team. You can argue Evans' QB situation was among the worst of that group. But with Jameis Winston under the helm and Evans taking over the "X" receiver role in the Bucs' new offense under coordinator Dirk Koetter, the second-year pass catcher is confident he can push his name further into the national consciousness. We think so too as Evans is ranked eighth among our WRs this season heading into camps. He has an ADP of the third round and we project him for over 10 TDs and 1,200 yards.
Greg Cosell of NFL Films discussed the 49ers' offseason:
People tend to forget with Colin Kaepernick, because he had such great success early, that he's only been a full-time starter for two years. He's still a young quarterback, he's still learning the craftsmanship of the position and the subtleties of the position. With a new coordinator, I think Geep Chryst, my sense is, I think he'll try and be a little more expansive and explosive with the pass game. So I'm anxious to see that. I think they'll try very hard to get Vernon Davis back into it. So I think it's important for people to remember that Colin Kaepernick is still a young quarterback learning.
He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
As for Davis, he's quite a bit better than the numbers he posted last year. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was mostly on point throughout the minicamp. Sure, at times there were a few passes he'd like to have back. Kaepernick was intercepted twice in three days: Michael Wilhoite caught a deflected slant pattern; Jaquiski Tartt victimized Kaepernick on an end-zone pass to close out a situational two-minute drill. Other than those two passes, Kaepernick was decisively accurate with the football. Perhaps the most striking observation of the 49ers signal-caller was his accuracy on the move. One of the hardest throws to make is a rollout throw to the left for a right-handed quarterback. But not for Kaepernick. San Francisco's fifth-year quarterback is able to complete nearly every one of his rollout throws. Kaepernick used the three-day period to continue his chemistry with Smith as well as other prime targets like Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
Johnson's isn't the thumper complement that some were expecting that the Cardinals would acquire to join Andre Ellington in the backfield. Instead, they elected to draft a running back with a similar skillset to Ellington so that the offense doesn't miss a beat if something happens to their starter. We view Johnson as a backup and the proper handcuff for Ellington owners.
Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website:
Andre Ellington is still the man. Rookie David Johnson, I’m guessing, will eventually have a role and there are other running backs who can help. But make no mistake, Ellington remains the linchpin at the position. He’s healthy and feeling good. He has to stay that way.
The Cardinals drafted David Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season. He owned the #10 PPG in PPR formats last year, so he can give up some touches and still provide solid RB2 numbers, especially if his per touch production bounces back.
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