The Arizona Cardinals lost their opener on Sunday night, 23-21 to a New England squad that was led by Jimmy Garoppolo, starting for suspended Tom Brady.
Yes, it was still the Pats, but to suffer an opening week loss at home against an undermanned team (Rob Gronkowski was also out) is a tough pill to swallow for an Arizona squad that had the best offense in the NFL last season (it was obvious to Head Coach Bruce Arians that he had something special on his hands last summer, as you can see in the video below). The fact that the Cards were +2 in turnovers yet still couldn’t rally for the win is disappointing and is sure to cause some of those who are projecting this team as a Super Bowl contender to pause.
Still, given that Arizona’s superb offense returns intact it’s going to spell trouble for the rest of the NFC, so you might want to avoid using your Fantasy defense against this unit. And despite the tough setback, it was a fine Fantasy day for several individual Cardinals as the team racked up 344 yards of offense and 21 first downs.
New England slowed the Card attack early on before QB Carson Palmer got going, leading the team to back-to-back touchdown drives in the second half and another drive that could have resulted in the game-winning field goal.
Palmer completed 24 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns without being picked, pretty much right on par with his typical performance during his career year in 2015.
Sophomore running back David Johnson was also held in check for most of the game, but a 45-yard gain helped salvage his performance (16 carries, 89 yards, one touchdown). Clearly, even with Chris Johnson (one carry) and Andre Ellington (zero) in the lineup, Johnson is the go-to option in the Cardinal run game, so use him with confidence.
Veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald just keeps on keeping on. He was targeted 10 times, hauling in eight catches for 81 yards and a pair of scores. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 100 career touchdown receptions for Fitzgerald. He’s just the 10th receiver in NFL history to reach the century mark, and his next score will land him in sole possession of eighth place, ahead of Tim Brown and Steve Largent. Expect Fitzgerald to remain Palmer’s favourite target.
Fellow receiver John Brown, on the other hand, did not enjoy his season debut. He dealt with concussion issues last month, so was clearly rusty, catching just one of his four targets. It was an inauspicious start to his third year (which still holds great significance for wide receivers), but hang in there, as Brown is sure to see more targets as the season progresses.
We’re expecting the Cards to have a much easier go off it in Week Two against Tampa Bay, so be sure to have all hands on deck for your Fantasy squads.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below how you see this season shaking out for the Arizona Cardinals.