One of the most difficult backfields to figure out for the 2021-2022 NFL playoffs is that of the Arizona Cardinals. For those of you in playoff fantasy football leagues or daily fantasy sports (DFS) that may want to invest in either Chase Edmonds or James Conner, we need to do our best to solve this puzzle. What is the fantasy outlook for Edmonds and Conner?
James Conner and Chase Edmonds keep managing to avoid each other
It’s a strange phenomenon what’s going on between Conner and Edmonds. We sometimes talk about backfields as tag teams, but Conner and Edmonds seem to be taking it a bit too literally. Much like the rules of WWE tag-team matches (at least when they’re being enforced), only one of Conner or Edmonds seems to play at a time.
In Week 9, Edmonds sustained a high ankle sprain. He did not play from Weeks 10-14. At the end of the Cardinals’ Week 14 game, Conner hurt his ankle. He played just 44% of the snaps in Week 15 and did not play in Weeks 16 or 17. Edmonds played both of those games. Then, in Week 18, Conner returned to action, but Edmonds didn’t play due to injuries to his ribs and toe.
What might the Cardinals’ backfield look like in the Wild Card round?
In the playoffs, injuries are treated a bit differently than in the regular season. Players are more willing to play through injuries, and teams are more willing to let them try.
Conner’s heel appeared to make it out of Sunday’s game no worse for wear, but he did miss time in the second half after taking a big shot to the ribs. At this point, it’s too early to declare him good to go.
As for Edmonds, he didn’t practice at all last week, which puts his status very much up in the air. At this point, I feel more confident in Conner than Edmonds, but neither is a guarantee.
For the purposes of this analysis, I’m going to limit it to Conner and Edmonds. If both can’t go, it would be some combination of Jonathan Ward and Eno Benjamin. Neither would be recommended options for your fantasy roster regardless of how contrarian you’re trying to be.
How should you handle this backfield in fantasy playoff leagues?
In playoff fantasy leagues where you can choose your players weekly and set a new lineup each week, you don’t need to worry about how this backfield shakes out. If only Conner is active, you know he’s the only option. If both Conner and Edmonds are active, you can avoid this backfield and see how things play out.
For those of you in fantasy playoff formats where you need to lock in your roster by Saturday, if you want a piece of the Cardinals’ backfield, you need to make a decision now. Unless we know the outlook on Edmonds’ injuries by Saturday, I would err on the side of caution and avoid him altogether. Conner is the safer bet, but if Edmonds does play, his presence lowers Conner’s ceiling considerably .
What is the fantasy outlook for Conner and Edmonds?
Conner was actually pretty good all season regardless of Edmonds’ status. He’s been the goal-line back and fell into the end zone plenty of times. Conner averaged 14.1 PPR fantasy points per game in his 10 contests with Edmonds active.
The real value in Conner is if Edmonds can’t go. Conner averaged a whopping 22 PPR ppg in his four games without Edmonds.
The reverse is just as advantageous to the active back. Edmonds averaged 20 PPR ppg in his two games without Conner against just 10.4 PPR ppg in his 10 games with Conner.
While the Cardinals would obviously prefer to have all their players healthy, fantasy managers are better off when one of Edmonds or Conner is on the field without the other. If one back is out, that’s the week to use the other. But if both are healthy and expected to play, fantasy managers would be wise to either avoid this backfield entirely or just grab both, depending on your plans for your specific playoff format.