Sorry, fantasy owners: Cardinals like David Johnson-Chase Edmonds duo

Dec 7, 2018, 3:24 PM

(AP Photos)...

(AP Photos)

(AP Photos)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The four games left for the Arizona Cardinals will be about finding out what the team doesn’t know.

General manager Steve Keim will look at development. Head coach Steve Wilks will hope his players form some chemistry playing in his schemes. Players will hopefully gain confidence.

As for what the Cardinals do know, there’s something to tinker with in the running back room. There, bell-cow David Johnson has been joined by rookie Chase Edmonds, who is coming off his best game as a pro now and has 232 all-purpose yards.

Usually, Edmonds’ appearances have been met with fury from Cardinals fans, who can’t handle Johnson standing on the sideline. To fantasy football players, it’s meant taking away opportunities from Johnson, as was the case when Edmonds scored red zone touchdowns Sunday in Green Bay.

“I’m a fan of football. I understand it,” Edmonds said. “I just use it as motivation man, to one day I can have those fans kind of be on my side. ‘Oh, he’s not stealing David Johnson’s fantasy points. He’s helping the team.’

“My mentions were blowing up. I don’t know if you guys have ever seen the GIFs of the one guy who’s like [makes face] … it made me laugh a little bit.”

How Arizona splits Johnson’s and Edmonds’ reps — or uses them in tandem — could be a thing to watch. It could even be more of  a necessity with leading receiver Christian Kirk’s season over due to a foot injury.

“I really think that’s where the NFL is trending. I think the days — they’re not gone but they’re waving bye-bye with just having a guy who carries the ball 35 times a game,” Edmonds said.

The 5-foot-9 rookie out of Fordham scored his first two touchdowns last week in Green Bay, and he’s envisioned his NFL career path going something like that of Chicago Bears back Tarik Cohen.

Cohen is smaller, listed at 5-foot-6, and 20 pounds lighter. He’s used much more as a receiver and leads the Bears in that category with 659 yards in his second NFL season, a year after he flashed with 723 yards from scrimmage.

Edmonds knows him beyond Fortnite meetings. Cohen is a close-in-age idol who likewise went to an FCS school (North Carolina A&T) and is playing behind a more traditional back in Jordan Howard.

In Arizona, Johnson is more of the receiving threat, but having two capable backs gives the Cardinals and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich the option to use both in a variety of ways.

“It’s all really who you’re playing, right? How do they respond to that package? We’re not just blindly doing it. They’re two of our better players,” Leftwich said.

Edmonds has taken limited snaps as a slot receiver. Johnson certainly could take more, lending more playing time to the rookie while giving Arizona a different look if its crop of young receivers can’t threaten opponents enough.

“Having a really good number two helps David more in his flexibility and what he can do,” Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen said.

It works vice versa, too. But it would give defenses even more to think about if Edmonds is also able to be deployed as a receiver, something he has done from time to time in limited reps during his rookie year.

“It’s something I’m really going to focus on in the offseason even more to really just to be able to show I can line up in slot,” Edmonds said, citing Cohen’s 156 receiving yards this past week.

Packages depend on opposing personnel, as Leftwich said. Maybe the Cardinals pull it out more Sunday while hosting the Detroit Lions. Maybe not.

So far, the two-back look has received positive reviews from all involved.

“We’re already implementing me and him being on the field at the same time,” Johnson said. “It really is pick your poison for the defense and I really like what I’m seeing.”

Even if that means Johnson is still on the field, fantasy football owners just might have a hard time accepting it.

This is just what Edmonds was facing on social media after scoring two touchdowns against the Packers.

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Sorry, fantasy owners: Cardinals like David Johnson-Chase Edmonds duo