Last updated: September 11th at 10:06pm ET.
Team Totals: Ravens 29.5, Cardinals 16.5
After an uneven opener where Kyler Murray worked just enough fourth-quarter heroics to eke out a 27-27 comeback tie, the Cardinals unenviably travel cross country for a 1pm ET start in Baltimore, where the Ravens have allowed 24 points or fewer in 13 of their last 14 home games and in 330-plus-pound space eaters Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce have colossal size advantages over Arizona’s smallish and leaky offensive line. As Detroit hung eight hits and five sacks on Murray in the desert, the Ravens’ D/ST should continue to be fired up aggressively. Albeit assisted by overtime, Murray survived for Week 1’s QB13 fantasy result and remains playable in two-quarterback leagues. He’ll be a more-confident top-12 option when the Cardinals’ schedule softens in a few weeks. As promised by Kliff Kingsbury, the up-tempo Arizona offense moved at the NFL’s fastest Week 1 pace and ran no huddle at a league-high 42% rate. … In last Sunday’s non-cupcake draw with Detroit, David Johnson eased preseason fantasy fears by playing 86% of Arizona’s offensive snaps and parlaying 24 touches into 137 yards with a score. Johnson’s receiving TD occurred on a textbook Mike Leach Air Raid design from 27 yards out down the seam. Per PFF’s Scott Barrett, Johnson drew 43 Air Yards against the Lions — more than he did in all 16 games combined last season (39) — and ran 15 routes at wide receiver. No. 2 back Chase Edmonds touched the ball once. High-volume receiving usage in a Kingsbury offense that forces him into space will help Johnson’s chances of remaining matchup proof.
Murray’s target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 13; Christian Kirk 12; KeeSean Johnson 10; Johnson and Damiere Byrd 7; Edmonds, Maxx Williams, and Charles Clay 1. … Murray’s Week 2 pass volume won’t be nearly as high – he absurdly dropped back 59 times in an overtime-inflated game – but his pass catchers’ matchups are eased by a Ravens secondary that placed slot CB Tavon Young (neck) on I.R., didn’t have fill-in slot CB Brandon Carr (hip) at 100% in Week 1, and lost RCB Jimmy Smith to an MCL sprain in Miami. Top CB Marlon Humphrey missed Wednesday’s practice with a bad back. Fitz and Kirk were the Cardinals’ full-time slot receivers versus the Lions with Johnson and Byrd outside in Kingsbury’s four-wide spread. On quick hitters designed to get the ball out of Murray’s hands fast, Fitz and Kirk will remain the clear-cut focal points of Arizona’s passing game and warrant WR3 treatment despite this week’s seemingly-tough draw. Kirk is a particularly attractive Week 2 DFS-tournament play as the No. 1 wideout in Josh Hermsmeyer’s predictive Buy-Low Air Yards Model. .. Rookie WR Johnson’s value is limited to Dynasty leagues, at least for now. Longtime Kingsbury pal Michael Crabtree will be active this week and could easily cut into Johnson and Byrd’s usage out wide. Rookie Andy Isabella remains buried.
While skeptics push the narrative that Lamar Jackson’s record-breaking Week 1 laser show should be chalked up to Miami’s barely-there defense, it’s also true that this year’s Ravens face one of the NFL’s softest defensive schedules, continuing into Week 2 versus Arizona. Matthew Stafford’s 385 yards in last week’s tie with the Cardinals were his most in 26 starts, and his three TD passes equaled Stafford’s high from last year. Jackson’s ceiling is especially scary when you consider he rushed just three times for six yards against the Dolphins; he averaged 76.3 rushing yards in last year’s eight starts. … I wrote about game stacks built around Jackson, Mark Ingram, and the Ravens’ D/ST in last week’s Matchups column, and they remain firmly in play. Favored by nearly two touchdowns at home, Baltimore should again impose its offensive will with Ingram coming off a monster rushing performance (14/107/2) behind an offensive line that generated consistent run-game movement. Despite his passing-game nonexistence, Ingram is a trustworthy RB2 play with touchdown-driven RB1 upside in another gorgeous draw. … Gus Edwards technically out-carried Ingram 17 to 14 at Miami but primarily served as the Ravens’ late-game clock killer in their 59-10 win. “The Gus Bus” did receive a league-high seven red-zone carries and is an underrated RB3/4 stash. Justice Hill truthers need to stay patient following his seven-touch Week 1.
Jackson’s Week 1 target distribution: Mark Andrews 7; Marquise Brown 5; Hayden Hurst 3; Willie Snead 2; Nick Boyle, Miles Boykin, and Patrick Ricard 1; Ingram, Edwards, Hill, and Seth Roberts 0. … I made the regrettable mistake of souring on Andrews in the weeks leading up to the season and paid for it dearly when Andrews erupted (8/108/1) against the Dolphins, even as his touchdown was delivered by Robert Griffin III in garbage time. I still worry about Andrews’ week-to-week consistency as a rotational player on a run-based team – he was in on only 41% of last Sunday’s snaps – but I don’t doubt his playmaking ability. Andrews is an upside TE1 play versus the Cardinals, who Lions tight ends creamed for a combined 7/146/1 stat line on ten Week 1 targets. … I also didn’t come close to anticipating such a fast start by first-round pick Brown, who didn’t play a single preseason snap with Jackson and was in and out of practice all camp due to foot surgery and subsequent setbacks. Brown needed just 14 snaps to annihilate the Fins (4/147/2) and stud sophomore DB Minkah Fitzpatrick in particular. (Fitzpatrick eventually got benched.) Brown lacks a safe floor on such low volume, but his skill set is reminiscent of a cross between Tyreek Hill and T.Y. Hilton, and targets to players like that are worth more than other receivers. Against the Patrick Peterson-less Cardinals, Brown should be upgraded to a boom-bust WR3.
Score Prediction: Ravens 35, Cardinals 23