Here’s The Game Day’s Arizona Cardinals 2021 Preview: 2020 Recap, Team 2021 Outlook, 2021 Betting Tips, and 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook. Be sure to check out more of our preseason NFL coverage here.
Cardinals 2021 NFL Preview: Arizona 2020 Recap, 2021 Team Outlook For Fantasy Football & Betting
Arizona Cardinals 2020 Recap
- Final record: 8-8 (4-4 Home / 4-4 Away)
- Division regular-season finish: 3rd in NFC West
- Result: Did not qualify for the postseason
The 2020 Cardinals were a tale of two teams. After opening the year 5-2, the Cardinals collapsed after their Week 8 bye and went 3-6 the rest of the way. Kyler Murray‘s midseason shoulder injury played a key role in their demise by limiting his throwing ability and hampering his overall effectiveness.
While the Cardinals finished 8-8, they were a better team than their record suggests. Arizona finished the season ranked 13th in points per game (25.6) and 12th in fewest points surrendered per game (22.9). They also lost the same number of turnovers that they recovered, so with a few more breaks they might have been a playoff team rather than a .500 one.
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Arizona Cardinals 2021 Offseason Changes
Cardinals 2021 Offseason Departures
- Patrick Peterson, CB (Vikings)
- Larry Fitzgerald, WR (Unsigned)
- Haason Reddick, LB (Panthers)
- Kenyan Drake, RB (Las Vegas Raiders)
- Mason Cole, C (Vikings)
- Trent Sherfield, WR (49ers)
- Dan Arnold, TE (Panthers)
- Angelo Blackson, DE (Bears)
- Brett Maher, K (Unsigned)
- Zane Gonzalez, K (Unsigned)
Cardinals 2021 Free-Agency/Offseason Additions
- Shawn Williams, S
- J.J. Watt, DE
- Colt McCoy, QB
- A.J. Green, WR
- Brian Winters, OL
- Matt Prater, K
- Malcolm Butler, CB
- Rodney Hudson, C
- James Conner, RB
- Daryl Worley, CB
- Branden Bowen, OL
Cardinals 2021 NFL Draft Picks
- Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa (Round 1, Pick 16 Overall)
- Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue (Round 2, Pick 49 Overall)
- Marco Wilson, CB, Florida (Round 4, Pick 136 Overall)
- Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke (Round 6, Pick 210 Overall)
- Tay Gowan, CB, UCF (Round 6, Pick 223 Overall)
- James Wiggins, S, Cincinnati (Round 7, Pick 243 Overall)
- Michal Menet, C, Penn State (Round 7, Pick 247 Overall)
Arizona Cardinals 2021 Outlook
After battling for a playoff spot for most of last year, the Cardinals went all-in this offseason. With additions such as J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, James Conner, Rodney Hudson, Rondale Moore, and Zaven Collins, Arizona added significant firepower on both sides of the ball. Watt in particular should provide a nice boost to the defense, while Green can fill the veteran receiver role previously occupied by Larry Fitzgerald.
A more unheralded move was the signing of Matt Prater. One of the most consistent kickers in the league who can boot the long ball with accuracy, Prater can be a difference-maker in tight games.
The Cardinals should be better on defense as well. Isaiah Simmons, Arizona’s first-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, fell short of expectations in his rookie year but will look to improve this season. With the addition of first-rounder Zaven Collins from this year’s draft, Simmons could be unleashed all over the field, maximizing his hybrid skillset.
Arizona Cardinals 2021 Fantasy Football Preview
The Cardinals are loaded with upside from a fantasy football perspective, starting with their signal-caller. Kyler Murray was one of the most valuable players in fantasy last year, especially prior to his Week 11 shoulder injury. Murray rushed for 10 touchdowns in nine games before Week 11, but only recorded 1 rushing touchdown after that. When healthy he’s essentially Lamar Jackson, but a better passer. After going in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts last year, he’ll be one of the first quarterbacks off the board this year.
Murray has plenty of weapons that benefit from his production as well. DeAndre Hopkins finished 2020 as the WR5 in FPPG (18.0). He also had the second-most targets of all wideouts (160) and the seventh-most targets in the red zone, hauling in 11-of-17. A perennial fantasy stud, Hopkins should once again be near the top of fantasy leaderboards.
Hopkins’ presence does limit the value of fellow wideouts A.J. Green and Christian Kirk, but they’ll still be factors in deeper leagues. The same is true in the backfield, where James Conner will likely dominate carries. Chase Edmonds‘ prominence in the passing game makes him valuable in PPR leagues, and he’ll likely see more work on the ground if Conner isn’t able to stay healthy. Murray’s ability to score on his own does limit his tailbacks’ TD opportunities, however.
Arizona Cardinals 2021 NFL Futures Bet Tips
Kyler Murray To Win AP MVP (+1600)
The Cardinals are one of those teams built to set the league on fire, and if they do, their quarterback will be an integral part of their success. He was a top MVP candidate last year before getting hurt, so if he can stay healthy and replicate his first-half production over an entire season, he’ll have a very good chance of winning the award.
Cardinals To Win NFC West (+600)
As things stand, the Cardinals currently have the worst odds to emerge as NFC West victors. The 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks all have significant question marks, however, especially with quarterback changes in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Arizona improved considerably this offseason and could end up on top of the division if everything breaks right.
Cardinals To Make NFL Playoffs (+150)
The Cardinals barely missed the postseason in 2020 despite Murray’s injury and the team’s second-half slide. With better health and their offseason improvements, they should be able to at least snag a Wild Card spot this year.
Kyler Murray Over 680.5 Rushing Yards (-120)
In his first two seasons as a pro, Murray has rushed for at least 544 yards both times, topping out at 819 yards in 2020. If not for his shoulder injury last year, Murray could have exceeded 1,000 yards on the ground. Even if he runs considerably less this season or if the Cardinals try to be more cautious with him, he should still be able to clear this number easily as long as he stays healthy.
DeAndre Hopkins Over 1,350.5 Receiving Yards (+100)
Hopkins has totaled 1,378+ receiving yards in four of his last six seasons, including 1,407 last season. Although Arizona brought in Green and rookie Rondale Moore to bolster its receiving corps, Hopkins will remain the de facto No. 1 receiving option in the desert. His 160 targets in 2020 were good for second-most amongst wideouts, so the volume will be there.
Moreover, the Cardinals ran the third-most plays per game last season under HC Kliff Kingsbury at a 2.42 pace. More plays equate to more opportunities for production. As long as Hopkins remains healthy and continues to be the team’s top target-hog, expect another big season yardage-wise from one of the league’s elite receivers.