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“I know who No. 1 is,” Bruce Arians told reporters on Monday after the team’s morning walk-through.
Of course, he was referring to Larry Fitzgerald. He has a roster spot set and is the team’s clear No. 1 guy.
“Two, three, four, five and six are working at it every day,” he said. “It’s really good competition.”
Last offseason I warned that Carson Palmer couldn’t support three fantasy-relevant wide receivers without matching his outlier 2015 production. Turns out, he couldn’t even support two. But with Michael Floyd gone, the remaining Arizona WRs should bounce back from an underwhelming 2016.
Bruce Arians is full of it
Remember when Bruce Arians was going to give Andre Ellington 25 to 30 touches per game? I do. I don’t trust a word out of Arians’ mouth when it comes to player use. Even with John Brown struggling with a sickle cell trait and a cyst on his back that ruined his stamina, he still had as many targets in 2016 as J.J. Nelson. Until you see otherwise, presume Brown is the Cardinals’ No. 2 receiver.
Profit from David Johnson’s looming regression
Few disagree that David Johnson is due to regress in 2017 after a dominant 2016 campaign. He may still be worth the 1.01 (or maybe not), but either way, his return to earth should make room for more John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald.
If Johnson loses 20 targets, that leaves him with 100, still probably near the league lead among running backs. And that’s presuming he stays healthy for 16 games. Recall that Johnson was carted off with a knee injury in Week 17 of 2016. Another significant injury would create massive opportunity.
Aside from targets, the biggest area for growth is in the touchdown department. Fitzgerald and Brown combined for 16 scores in 2015; in 2016, they totaled 8. Johnson accounted for nearly all the difference, increasing his total from 12 in 2015 to a league-leading 20 in 2016.
Take your pick, but I’ll take John Brown
Still, I’m far more inclined to take the “discount DeSean Jackson” more than three rounds later. Brown is a classic Bruce Arians receiver, and he approached Fitzgerald’s production in 2015 on 44 fewer targets. Now he’s being drafted around 90 overall, nearly three rounds later than he was a year ago. I’m buying in both dynasty and redraft.