XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 7 begins with the Saints visiting the Cardinals for a 44-point total game with Arizona favored by 2.5. Both teams have some complicated personnel situations due to injuries and a suspension coming to an end so there’s a lot of complexity to figure out in this one, but it should be fun. Let’s dig in.
On the Arizona side, neither James Conner nor Darrel Williams practiced Tuesday. Both are listed as questionable but seem to lean more toward the doubtful side of things, which should leave the backfield for Eno Benjamin once again. Last week in a similar spot, Eno played 87% of the snaps to 13% for backup rookie Keaontay Ingram and 18 running back opportunities against three for Ingram. Seeing around 85% of snaps and opportunities is good! The results weren’t there, which keeps Eno’s price down to $8,200, but that is an absolute elite role and one that I want to attack. Ingram can be viewed as an MME punt but would need a fluke touchdown or an injury to Eno to have a chance at anything meaningful. Finally, Kyler Murray rushed 10 times in Week 5 after averaging just shy of six rush attempts per game prior, and I expect that was at least somewhat driven by the lack of depth in the backfield. I would view Conner and Williams missing again as a boost to Kyler’s rushing equity. The matchup here is neutral as the Saints rank pretty middle of the pack in overall defensive DVOA as well as against the pass and the run, which makes me very much like the Arizona running game.
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In the passing game, the Cardinals lost Marquise Brown to injury but got DeAndre Hopkins back from suspension and also traded for Robbie Anderson. We can expect to see a lot of Rondale Moore and A.J. Green at wide receiver, and perhaps some of Greg Dortch and/or Javon Wims depending on how much Anderson is ready to play after just one short week of practice. Hopkins is a tough one for me. When we look back at last season, he’s priced as an elite wideout at $10.2k, but last year in a similar role before Brown was on the team, he only saw double-digit targets in one game and averaged just 4.2 catches per game. He never hit the 100- yard bonus on DK but he did score a whopping eight touchdowns in just 10 games. I think it’s safe to expect him to lead the Cardinals in targets, and the matchup is positive with no Marshon Lattimore, but with a fairly muted yardage expectation it’s hard to justify paying a premium price when he’s almost certainly going to need a touchdown in order to pay off. The red zone role is awesome and I assume it will be again this year as well (though Zach Ertz’s arrival dampens it a bit) so I don’t think I would fully avoid him, but he’s a guy I personally want to be underweight on. A.J. Green is dust and really only in consideration as a punt play in MME pools at this point in his career with 56 receiving yards on the season (yes, you read that correctly, 11 per game). Rondale Moore, at just $5,800, is probably the best receiver play on the Cardinals as he’s seen 5, 8, and 10 targets in his three games since coming back from a preseason injury; they’re fairly short-area targets but the floor is high here and he has elite ability with the ball in his hands. Anderson is a big wildcard. Arizona coaching staff has said he will be “very limited” if he plays but he can also hit on a single play. If he’s in, he’s someone I want in my MME player pool but would not be anything like all-in on, while if he’s out, that likely creates an expanded role for either Dortch or Wims, who would enter the tourney consideration pile (Dortch with a higher floor, Wims more volatile but potentially higher ceiling, and we would need to watch beat reporters to see if we could get any clarity on who would be playing more). At tight end, the Cardinals will run out Zach Ertz in a near-100% of the snaps role, backed up by Trey McBride. Ertz’s per-catch upside is pretty modest at this point in his career but he’s seen 10+ targets in a whopping four of six games this season, giving him a high floor and an accessible ceiling if he finds the end zone. Ertz, along with Moore, are my two favorite Cardinals pass-catcher plays. McBride has three catches on the season (though they all came in one game) and belongs only in MME pools.