Projecting Receptions by Position: NFC West

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Arizona Cardinals

2017 Totals
Carson Palmer/Blaine Gabbert/Drew Stanton: combined 338 completions on 598 attempts
WR Group: 198 Receptions
RB Group: 51 Receptions
TE Group: 57 Receptions

2018 Projections
Sam Bradford: 380 completions on 550 attempts
WR Group: 215 Receptions
RB Group: 100 Receptions
TE Group: 65 Receptions

DISCLAIMER: These projections assume Sam Bradford plays at least most of a full season. He is the presumptive starter and will likely remain the starter unless he is injured. Until such time as Bradford is injured, these projections are the projected pace for all relevant players.

Now that that’s out of the way, lots of change in Arizona this year. David Johnson is coming back from his dislocated wrist, most of the receiving depth was jettisoned and replaced by newly drafted Christian Kirk, and the QB room was gutted and rebuilt with an eye for now and the future. Meanwhile Bruce Arians retired and was replaced by former Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who brought in Mike McCoy to run the offense. Just about the only thing that hasn’t changed is that Larry Fitzgerald is still churning out 100+ catch seasons. Mike McCoy will most likely make sure that continues. McCoy is not beholden to any particular scheme, preferring instead to just get the ball to his best players. This can be tricky as his playbook was often described as unwieldy last season. Fortunately, Bradford is one of the few QBs who can run that kind of offense. It’s easy to forget after all his injuries that he has a high football IQ and a live arm. He’s the perfect point guard to dish out to whatever talent McCoy can unearth on this roster. Given Bradford’s glass knees, I’m anticipating that McCoy will try to get the ball out of Bradford’s hands as quickly as possible, similar to what Pat Shurmur was doing in Minnesota. Given the talent at RB, it’s also entirely possible that McCoy just keeps it out of Bradford’s hands entirely by putting it in DJ’s. I’m anticipating about 550 pass attempts, and with the quick rhythm offense Bradford should stay somewhere around 70% accuracy. I’d anticipate about 380 catches to go around.

Given McCoy’s MO, I would expect a lot of catches for DJ and Fitz, which is reflected in the totals. Ricky Seals-Jones also had his 15 minutes of fame last season, which could raise the TE catch totals if McCoy decides to give him a little love. J.J. Nelson has shown some promise, and Christian Kirk will be expected to contribute right away. Ultimately I would expect the exact shift in targets to be based on how much the offensive line improves. A better offensive line will give Bradford a chance to take a few more shots downfield to his WRs. A mediocre offensive line will focus Bradford’s attention short.

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