Christian Kirk Fantasy: Start or Sit Cardinals WR on Thursday Night Football?

Getty Christian Kirk of the Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals wideout Christian Kirk finally made his long-awaited return to the team’s lineup in Week 8 after missing the past four games with an injury.

Kirk quickly rekindled his relationship with Kyler Murray, reclaiming his place as the most viable fantasy option amongst all Cardinals receivers.

However, while Kirk may have jumped Arizona-great Larry Fitzgerald atop the Cards receiving hierarchy, will Murray’s passing struggles teamed with a tough matchup on Thursday night be too much for Kirk to overcome? Let’s find out.

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Christian Kirk’s Fantasy Outlook vs. San Francisco 49ers

Christian Kirk made his return to the Cardinals passing attack in Week 8 felt. The former Texas A&M Aggie put up 17.8 fantasy points vs. the New Orleans Saints, the most fantasy output Kirk has put up all season.

While he enjoyed the best performance of his 2019 campaign a week ago, his usage within the offense did not differ by much, which is a good thing. Kirk led all Cardinals wide receivers in targets in Week 8, however, he’s done that in three of out of his five games this season. Kirk has now seen an average of nearly 11 targets per game in all but one contest this year, seeing 11+ in three of those games.

The best news from Kirk’s production is that it did not falter, despite his quarterback’s recent struggles. Kyler Murray has hit a bit of a rookie wall in the last two weeks, averaging just 162 passing yards over that span. Still, despite Murray only completing 19 passes one week ago, Kirk was able to haul in nearly half (8), outscoring the next Cardinals WR in fantasy points by 14.

While it’s clear Kirk is a focal point in the Cardinals aerial attack, will he be matchup proof against a stellar 49ers defense on Thursday night? San Franciso has been an extremely tough matchup for wideouts this season, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. Since their Week 4 bye, they’ve done nothing but improve their play on the back end. From Week 5 on, the opposition’s leading fantasy scorer at the wideout position has averaged just 6.9 fantasy points against the 49ers, while only one player has eclipsed 46 receiving yards.

It is worth noting that wide receivers who dominate their team’s target share have fared much better against San Francisco. Five receivers have seen eight-plus targets against the ‘9ers this season, their combined fantasy output averages out to 12.98 points in those games.

The 49ers have also not been impenetrable all season long. Prior to their bye week, they allowed five wideouts to score 14.8 PPR points or more over a three-game span.


Should You Start or Sit Christian Kirk in Week 9?

Kirk certainly has his work cut out for him on Thursday night. While many will see a matchup with the 49ers and immediately write him off, I would certainly downgrade him but I would not write him off.

Arizona will likely be without the services of two of their most prominent playmakers in both David Johnson and Chase Edmonds for Week 9. An argument could be made that Kirk will be the Cardinals’ main focal point in their gameplan for Thursday night, as he is their most lethal and reliable weapon.

For all Kyler Murray’s struggles over recent weeks, that hasn’t deterred Arizona from slinging the rock. Murray has thrown the fifth-most pass attempts in football this season.

Kirk is a bit of a flyer, but one I’m betting on panning out. Look at the Cardinals wideout as a solid WR3 vs. the 49ers.

READ NEXT: Emmanuel Sanders Fantasy: Start or Sit 49ers WR on TNF?

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