Summer Snapshot: Arizona Cardinals

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As the countdown continues to September NFL action, ESPN Fantasy takes a closer look at each franchise as it trains and goes camping. Here is what fantasy owners should be watching for during the summer. Join the conversation on Twitter: #FantasySnapshot

What’s changed? A healthy Carson Palmer at quarterback gives Cardinals' fans great hope. Last season the Cardinals were famously 9-1 and rolling along, but Palmer failed to score as many as 20 points in a contest. Palmer’s ACL has been rebuilt again and he says he’s fine, but at 35, there will be doubters. The Cardinals extended the contracts for coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim but mainly bring back the same personnel, including a wide receiver icon who is not exactly a demand any longer for fantasy owners.

Who’s motivated? Most would point to Larry Fitzgerald here, but even with Palmer, it’s tough to invest much in the future Hall of Famer. The organization restructured his contract to keep him around, but Michael Floyd and John Brown are certainly more dynamic playmakers at this point. The motivated one should be running back Andre Ellington. He’s not the biggest or most durable fellow. He didn't quite meet expectations in his second season, likely prompting the team to select Northern Iowa’s David Johnson in the third round of the draft. Ellington might never be the three-down back fantasy owners desire him to be, but we can all agree this is a critical year in his development.

Whose stock could fluctuate? No Cardinals' player is likely to be a sure-fire, weekly starter in fantasy this season. Ellington is the lone Cardinal likely selected in the first seven or eight rounds, but look for the rookie Johnson to rise in average draft position as the summer strolls along. Arians has been clear on sharing running back duties in the past. Remember Rashard Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor? Johnson is larger and wider than Ellington, and this could end up similar to the Cincinnati Bengals situation in which rookie Jeremy Hill vaulted past the smaller Giovani Bernard for touches and obviously in value. That’s why Johnson should surge into the top 100 when Cardinals' coaches praise him in August, which they will. Palmer shouldn’t be a fantasy starter unless it’s a deep league, but let’s not ignore his upside, either. In six games he played last season, he averaged nearly 17 points per game. Only seven quarterbacks performed better. Finally, watch Brown’s value rise, perhaps to the point fantasy owners choose him over Fitzgerald. It’s not so crazy.