There are few things more exciting about the 2018 season than the fact we get to see David Johnson play football again. Johnson is one of the most electric players in the game. He totaled 2,118 yards in his only full season as a starter and has scored 33 touchdowns in 33 career games. Sounds like the best player in Fantasy, right? He certainly could be, but things have changed a lot in Arizona since we last saw Johnson.

Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer are gone and the Cardinals defense doesn't look near as scary as it did back in 2016. This looks like a bad football team unless everything goes right and it's really hard to be the best running back in football on a bad team. Especially when that team is bad because of its defense and offensive line.

Behind that bad offensive line will be one of two injury-prone quarterbacks. Because Johnson will need to produce through the air, their performance may dictate just how valuable he is. Sam Bradford comes with a crystal clear track record. He's an accurate passer that simply cannot stay healthy. Rookie Josh Rosen looks very, very similar. As this Cardinals team is currently constructed it's difficult to see how the team protects either.

Because of Bradford's extensive history (and big salary in 2018), I give him the inside edge to start in Week 1. I'd also set Rosen as the most likely rookie quarterback to appear in a game first. Regardless, I'm not drafting either in a one-quarterback league. But I could see Rosen developing into a streamer by midseason because they're going to have to throw the ball a lot.

*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.

PLAYER

EXPECTED FP

POS. RANK

EXPECTED PPR FP

POS. RANK

David Johnson

236.4

#5

291.3

#5

Larry Fitzgerald

153.1

#14

265

#9

Ricky Seals-Jones

71.1

#21

107.1

#23

Breaking down the touches

Mike McCoy has worked with rookie and veteran quarterbacks. He's been a part of some very efficient offenses and some real stinkers. He's done a little bit of everything and that can make it difficult to project what he'll do moving forward. One thing he's done pretty consistently is spread the ball around. Over the last three years, running backs and tight ends each saw about 21 percent of the passes thrown in McCoy's offense. We've also seen him adjust for his personnel. McCoy used tight ends heavily in San Diego but very little last year with the Broncos. There hasn't been a year in the past three when a McCoy offense has targeted running backs less than 106 times. That's good news for David Johnson considering the Cardinals likely game scripts.

Cardinals touches
Player RuSHARE RuATT ReSHARE TGT REC TD
David Johnson 60% 261 14% 85 55 12
Larry Fitzgerald 0% 0 26% 157 112 6
Christian Kirk 0% 0 15% 91 50 4
Chad Williams 0% 0 15% 91 42 3
J.J. Nelson 0% 0 10% 6028 3
Ricky Seals-Jones 0% 0 12% 73 36 4
Jermaine Gresham 0% 0 8% 48 31 2

Of note: 

  • It will be very interesting to see if the Cardinals try involve a second running back to keep Johnson healthy. Chase Edmonds has a lot of similarities to Johnson's skillset.
  • There has been a lot of positive buzz about Chad Williams, but it will be difficult for a second receiver to have a major impact if Fitzgerald and Johnson both stay healthy.
  • Ricky Seals-Jones have a good month in 2017 and has gotten a lot of buzz this offseason. The history of McCoy and Bradford show plenty of opportunity for tight ends.

The Leftovers

Christian Kirk is the first name that sticks out and I'm sure some would argue he's far more than a leftover. As long as Fitzgerald is around, I have a hard time seeing it. Kirk was primarily a slot receiver in college and that's almost exclusively where Fitzgerald plays. I see him as more of an apprentice this year, but if we start getting reports that the Cardinals are lining him up outside I'll adjust my expectations.

If Josh Rosen wins the starting job in camp he could become an interesting late round pick in two-QB leagues. Rosen is a very good pocket passer and would have a reasonable set of weapons in a high-volume passing attack. There are injury concerns, which are only exacerbated by the Cardinals issues on the offensive line.