CARDINALS CORNER

Trey Benson highlights Cardinals’ sneaky fantasy football additions

Jul 1, 2024, 5:17 PM

As it does every year, fantasy football looms large over the start of the regular season.

Despite the first preseason games still more than a month away, those invested in the fantasy life have already began formulating their 2024 blueprint through mock drafts and analysis.

When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals, there’s plenty of talent to consider in the first half of drafts, highlighted by projected starters Marvin Harrison Jr., James Conner, Trey McBride and Kyler Murray.

But as the talent well gets that much drier with every passing round, who are some of the Cardinals’ late-round value picks or potential waiver wire additions in 2024?

A way-too-early look at some of the later-round/undrafted names that could help move the needle for fantasy squads this year:

Cardinals to target in late rounds of fantasy football drafts

Trey Benson, RB

After the Cardinals used a third-round pick on Benson this past NFL Draft, many have pegged the rookie as the heir apparent to Conner.

Could we see the changing of the guard begin this year?

All indications point to Conner leading Arizona’s running backs room in 2024, especially coming off a career year 1,040 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

There is, however, the caveat of Conner’s health.

In each of the past two seasons with the Cardinals, Conner missed four games due to injury. Taking a full look at his career, only once has he appeared in at least 15 games (2021).

Translation: The rookie is likely have an opportunity for an expanded role at some point or another in 2024.

And given his college tape, that could go a long way from a fantasy standpoint.

Viewed as one of the top running back prospects in the draft, the Florida State product is coming off 906 yards and 14 touchdowns on 156 carries in 13 games played. He can bully you in the trenches and take it to the house.

In addition to his work as a runner, Benson also reeled in 20 catches for 227 yards and a score last year.

The biggest question mark for Benson centers around whether or not he can beat out veteran Michael Carter for RB2.

Before Arizona added Benson via the draft, Carter was the leader in the clubhouse for the role after joining the team as a waiver claim midway through last season.

Currently, Pro Football Focus and ESPN have Benson ranked as RB38 and RB39, respectively. Those around him include Seattle’s Zach Charbonnet and Los Angeles’ Gus Edwards.

In normal formats like PPR (points per reception), Benson is a premium handcuff option with upside for those eyeing Conner as their RB1/2. His value in dynasty leagues gets a big boost given the potential and Conner entering a contract year at 29 years old.

Michael Wilson, WR

The 6-foot-2 pass catcher enters Year 2 as a top option for the WR2 role.

After getting his feet wet as a rookie — 38 catches for 565 yards and three touchdowns — Wilson entered the offseason determined to improve his craft and grown his chemistry with quarterback Kyler Murray.

From all indications, Wilson’s accomplished that. He even found time to get engaged.

Now, it’s about staying healthy.

Throughout his college career, Wilson dealt with the injury bug. It ended up following him to the pros with Wilson missing four games due to a shoulder issue.

There’s also added competition at WR2 after the Cardinals brought in veteran wideout Zay Jones (more on him later) this free agency.

That hasn’t stopped PFF from ranking Wilson above his counterpart at WR68. ESPN, however, has Wilson just below Jones at WR83.

Zay Jones, WR

The 6-foot-2 Jones embarks on Year 8 having bounced around the league as a member of the Buffalo Bills (2017-19), Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders (2019-21) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2022-23).

He’s not that far removed from his career year in 2022 — 82 catches for 823 yards and five touchdowns — and has earned praise from head coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing in the short time he’s been a Cardinal.

But just how much of a leg up does Wilson have on the veteran?

Wilson has spent the offseason getting that much closer to Murray and that much deeper into the offensive concepts. Jones meanwhile signed on in May.

Then again, Jones has a wealth of NFL experience that could come more into play when the pads come on during training camp and the preseason.

Jones comes in as WR99 in PFF’s ranking. He’s WR81 in the eyes of ESPN.

Whichever side you’re on, the Jones-Wilson battle will be one to watch moving forward.

Greg Dortch, WR

Should your fantasy team light the Dortch in 2024?

Given where he’s currently ranked — WR92 (PFF) and WR113 (ESPN) — there could be plenty of value there.

With Arizona moving on from Rondale Moore via a trade with Atlanta, Dortch enters 2024 as the Cardinals’ starting option out of the slot.

And don’t forget what Murray said about the veteran pass catcher earlier this offseason.

“I feel like Dortch is unguardable as far as one-on-one, knowing where to be in the zones. He’s just got the nuance and savvy to him that you want in a receiver and not everybody has it. I say that like it’s not very common.

“He’s 5-foot-7. If he was 6-foot-3, he’d be a top-five pick in the NFL Draft. That’s what I think. That’s the type of football player that he is. And again, he loves the game. I’d go to war with Greg every day.”

From an offensive standpoint, the trust is there. He’s also got time on task in Petzing’s system, reeling in 24 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns across 16 games last year.

The extra sneaky part in your fantasy team lighting the Dortch this year doesn’t come from the wideout’s ability as a pass catcher. Instead, it comes from his ability as a return man.

With the NFL implementing new kickoff rules to promote returns, Dortch is expected to see more work in that area.

“Just watching it on film, I feel like there’s tons of opportunities for me to be explosive and make plays,” Dortch said. “Come September, I’m definitely excited for that.

“The game’s a little slower and everybody’s at one level,” the wideout added. “Shoot, you break past that first level, it’s just you and the kicker. I’ll take my chances with that.”

Matt Prater, K

The veteran of the bunch, Prater deserves a look late in drafts.

For one, he’s got a boot, converting a career high 9 of his 12 field goal attempts from 50 yards out or more. That includes a 62-yarder. Across all yardages, he was 28-for-33 (84.8%).

Secondly, all signs are pointing to Arizona’s offense taking a step forward. While that might take away from some of his longer kicks, it could lead to more attempts and extra points for the 18-year veteran.

Prater comes in as K23 on PFF and K21 on ESPN.

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