In the past, the NFL has been a league of parity. It’s not uncommon for a team to go from being one of the worst in the league to being one of the best in just a few years. However, that seems to have changed recently with some teams becoming perennial contenders and others struggling to stay relevant. With this shift in power, it’s time to take a look at what could be on tap for next season.
The 2021 NFL season has not yet been announced. However, the Cardinals are expected to be one of the top teams in the league. Read more in detail here: 2021 nfl season start date.
Kyler Murray, the Arizona Cardinals’ franchise quarterback, was able to be snatched away from the Oakland Athletics and the MLB, and he was brought in to help right the ship. With the additions of DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt, head coach Kliff Kingsbury has all of the components in place to help the club return to prominence in the NFC West division.
Murray is one of the greatest dual-threat quarterbacks in the game, and he has the potential to take this club to new heights as he gets more starting experience and grasps the system. The type of offensive explosion this club is poised for going into the 2021 season, with weapons like Hopkins, James Conner, Chase Edmonds, A.J Green, and Rondale Moore around Murray, will help keep them afloat in a difficult division.
With the Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald, the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and D.K Metcalf, and the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle and Kyle Shanahan, this division may wind up being the hardest in the league this year. However, given Murray’s development into the offensive leader this club need, it’s difficult to dismiss the Cardinals this season.
Fantasy Football Stats for 2020
Murray and Kingsbury joined up in Murray’s second season in the league to form one of the league’s most potent attacking combinations. Murray had established himself as one of the league’s finest dual-threat quarterbacks, and he had a breakthrough season in which he set career highs in passing and running yards.
Murray’s bond with Hopkins got deeper as the season went, with the ‘Hail Murray’ play, in which the Cardinals defeated the Buffalo Bills on a last-second throw from Murray that Hopkins miraculously managed to catch, serving as a great illustration of that bond.
Murray’s success last season was largely due to his use of his legs, which included more running attempts and fewer sacks. Murray’s role in the Arizona system became the exact reason why they chose him, with almost 300 more yards rushing and 21 fewer sacks than his rookie season.
Murray’s efficiency was hampered by a mid-season injury, but his 25 rushing attempts inside the red zone demonstrated his dual-threat skills while also demonstrating that Kingsbury and the coaching staff trust in him, despite his nine fumbles (4 of which were lost).
All eyes were on Murray and his excellent fantasy performance, which should be anticipated to continue into next season, as he generated 7.1 yards per passing attempt and 6.2 yards per run.
Fantasy Forecasts for 2021
Expect an increase in passing work and efficiency, as well as a deliberate attempt on the part of Arizona’s offensive game plan to restrict planned rushing work for Murray, going into this season. Knowing how much of an effect a less-than-healthy Murray can have on the Cardinals should make Kingsbury and his staff more cautious about placing Murray in injury-prone situations.
Green, Moore, Christian Kirk, and Andy Isabella make up the wide receiving core outside of Hopkins, and Hopkins and Moore are projected to have the greatest ceilings and chances to make an impact this year.
Since his trade from the Houston Texans, Hopkins’ position as one of the league’s alpha dogs has only gotten stronger, and the type of role he plays has helped this offense develop and give Murray with a reliable target. On an offense that relied heavily on running the ball, Hopkins had the third-most receiving yards (1,407) and tied for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns (6) in ’20, demonstrating how important his role is to the team’s success.
Moore may have an uphill battle in his rookie season to gain playing time, but Murray would love to have a speedster like Moore to throw to, particularly one who can help open up the playbook even more. Moore was a danger to take one to the house every time he touched the ball coming out of Purdue, and his explosiveness and ability to create noise with the ball in his hands is one of the reasons he is a good match for Murray and the Arizona system.
The Cardinals’ RB position will be the most difficult to manage, particularly now that Kenyan Drake is out of the picture. Murray will most likely be relied on to pass the ball more now that Chase Edmonds and James Conner have formed a solid 1-2 combination that will make the rushing assault a little disgusting for fantasy reasons.
Position in the Rankings
Murray is rapidly rising to the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks, while not yet reaching the level of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or even Lamar Jackson. As the days go on, Murray’s high usage rate will become more and more clear, and Kingsbury knows what Murray needs to be efficient and help lead this powerful attack.
Murray is expected to finish in the top five this season, with a slim possibility of ending as the QB1 – but he can reach the QB1 level simply by outperforming current rushing predictions. Reaching 4,000 passing yards and 40 total touchdowns would help him break into the top five, and both measures are within his grasp, particularly considering he just fell 29 passing yards and 3 total touchdowns short last season.
Murray can be the fantasy savant that you can roster to win yourself a championship. The Cardinals are in a tough division and will need Murray to produce at 100 percent every week if they want to avoid falling behind – and the former Sooner can be the fantasy savant that you can roster to win yourself a championship.
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