James Conner set out to prove that he was better than his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was coming off a season with 721 yards and six touchdowns and signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Even splitting the backfield with Chase Edmonds, Conner had over 1,000 total yards and 18 total touchdowns. Now, Edmonds is gone to the Miami Dolphins and Conner gets a shot at being the lead back for the entire season.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Rushing: 202 attempts for 752 yards and 15 touchdowns
Receiving: 37 receptions on 39 target for 375 yards and three touchdowns
Fantasy: Conner finished as the overall RB4 in half-point PPR formats with 239.2 fantasy points. He averaged 15.9 points per game which were the sixth-most in the league.
Arizona Cardinals offseason moves
The Cardinals are going to be without wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season. He has been suspended for illegal PED usage. Arizona also traded for former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown. They also gave quarterback Kyler Murray a huge $230.5 million extension.
In the 2022 NFL Draft, Arizona selected Colorado State TE Trey McBride with their first draft pick which came in the second round. They took a running back in the sixth round, but that shouldn’t effect Conner.
2022 best case scenario
His best case scenario for the 2022 season is that Conner shows his touchdown numbers from a year ago weren’t a fluke. He was tied for the second most rushing touchdowns in the league and it was a huge source of his fantasy production. If he can maintain those numbers, he will be finishing as a top-five running back in fantasy again.
2022 worst case scenario
The worst case scenario for Conner will see him not come close to his touchdown numbers from a year ago. If he isn’t able to maintain consistency as the lead back, he could see Darrel Williams getting the goal line touches and Eno Benjamin working as a change of pace back. He should maintain his starting role so his floor would see him fall down to a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3.
I think Conner ends up falling right in the middle of his scenarios. He will likely see a decrease in touchdowns, but should see more carries and rushing yards. Conner should be more involved in the passing game while Hopkins is sidelined. I think that Conner will finish the 2022 season as a low-end RB1 or a high-end RB2. He should finished as between the overall RB11-RB16.