The Arizona Cardinals aren’t viewed as a prime offensive machine in 2023.
Either Josh Dobbs or Clayton Tune will be starting at quarterback for Arizona for at least the first four weeks of the season – tight end Zach Ertz is still healing from a torn ACL and his return date is still unknown – and Marquise Brown is now the effective WR1 in Arizona’s offense after DeAndre Hopkins was released.
Across the board, there’s a few question marks. People aren’t exactly optimistic when it comes to the Cardinals and their ability to put up points.
Yet in the land of fantasy football, there’s one overlooked player who will potentially win your fantasy football league for pennies on the dollar for where he’s being drafted.
Cardinals running back James Conner is the lone formidable back on Arizona’s depth chart, as Keaontay Ingram officially won the RB2 job in the desert after Marlon Mack tore his Achilles and Corey Clement was relegated to the practice squad.
Case in point: Conner will have all the opportunity in Arizona’s backfield, and there’s a few factors working in his favor.
- New OC Drew Petzing has been adamant the Cardinals will establish the run early and often, a good sign for Conner and his touches moving forward. Petzing comes from Cleveland and helped orchestrate the same offense that has helped backs such as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt succeed in the past.
- The emphasis to establish the ground game will be even more important with either Dobbs/Tune at the helm.
- Conner himself has proven he can exceed in all areas, which includes as a pass-catcher and between the 20’s. With plenty of check-downs likely coming his way, Conner’s PPR value will be strong.
Through his two seasons in Arizona, he’s managed to produce when on the field. In 15 games for the Cardinals in 2021 he tallied 18 total touchdowns. In the 13 games he played last season he eclipsed his rushing yards and receptions total from 2021, too.
Fantasy guru Matthew Berry pegged Conner and Dameon Pierce as two backs he loves:
— Rotoworld Football (@rotoworld_fb) August 30, 2023
NFL.com’s Matt Okada pegged Conner to finish as a top 15 RB this season in his bold predictions:
“Some would say bold is never boring. I disagree. And I’ll prove it … by predicting that Dameon Pierce, Rachaad White and James Conner will all be top-15 fantasy running backs in 2023. Yes, their teams (the Texans, Buccaneers and Cardinals, respectively) are subpar on paper. No, they’re not the most thrilling picks. Don’t care. They’re all in line for 300-plus opportunities, which equates to a top-15 hit rate of about 84 percent. Math isn’t sexy. But it’s a great way to find fantasy value.”
Concerns around Conner as a fantasy player are his health, and there’s certainly merit there. The best ability is availability, and Conner hasn’t completed a full season in his six-year career thus far.
Last season, he missed four games and still finished as RB19. His 15.4 points per game saw him finish as a top ten back in that regard.
With a clean slate heading into 2023, Conner’s production should only be matched – if not exceeding – what he accomplished last season.
And you can get that at a discount. FantasyPros shows Conner’s ADP of 60 overall (drafted as the RB22) makes him a prime candidate to exceed where he’s being drafted among other peers.
Big-time players will go ahead of Conner and rightfully so. Yet the picks after the first 3-4 rounds can truly make the difference if you’re able to him on them, and there’s few running backs that provide both the background and upside Conner does in that area.
Donnie Druin www.si.com Arizona Cardinals,James Conner,NFL,Fantasy Football,Analysis
2023-09-01 21:06:01 , Sports Illustrated Arizona Cardinals News, Analysis and More