Fantasy Football Breakout Watch 2013: Larry Fitzgerald
Earlier this week, I put out my annual fantasy football preview where I predict the ten best value players.
For that article click here, (apologies for the formatting, it’s a new site so bear with us).
Spoiler alert, I feature Dwayne Bowe, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Matt Stafford among others.
I wanted to take a deeper dive on some of the players who are particularly controversial.
I’ve already written about C.J. Spiller, Alfred Morris and Danny Amendola for Football Nation and am turning my attention to Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals.
Fitzgerald is coming off one of his worst years as a pro. Despite all that, Fitzgerald still finished as the 11th best receiver in fantasy.
Better QB Play
The biggest problem with Fitzgerald was the QB carousal that the Cardinals put on display. The Cardinals thought they had solved their QB issues with Kevin Kolb but had to cut him loose after realizing that he was not, in fact, the franchise QB they paid for.
When Kolb went down last season, the games began. Ryan Lindley, Derek Anderson, and Brian Hoyer all took their turns and all were equally terrible. Even an elite WR like Fitzgerald can’t make up for the ineptitude of those four.
Carson Palmer will resurrect Larry Fitzgerald on the field and in fantasy. Palmer put up average numbers last year for the Oakland Raiders. Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards, 22 TDs and 14 INTs, throwing to the likes of Darrius Hayward-Bey, Denarius Moore, and Rod Streater.
If Palmer simply matches his production in Oakland, that would be a vast improvement over Kolb and Company.
Bruce Arians’ Downfield Aerial Assault
There is a new sheriff in town and he is coming off a Coach of the Year season. Bruce Arians did a great job in Indianapolis but once Chuck Pagano was given a clean bill of health, Arians wanted to set out on his own.
Wherever Arians has coached, an emphasis on the downfield passing game follows. Last year, Andrew Luck had the highest average depth of pass (which measures where the ball is thrown to exclude yards after the catch). Remember that Arians also coached Ben Roethlisberger when they won the Super Bowl in 2008 and helped him develop his passing arsenal as well.
Arians has always focused on getting the ball downfield and Palmer definitely has the arm to do so effectively. While Fitzgerald isn’t the downfield threat he once was, he does most of his work in the short and middle game. However, the threat of going deep will serve to stretch the field and keep the middle of the field open.
Emergence of Michael Floyd
The person that the Cardinals are expecting to stretch the field is Michael Floyd, a second-year player out of Notre Dame. Floyd posted a 4.4 40 time last year in the combine and will be the primary deep threat for Carson Palmer.
In Week 17, we saw what Floyd was capable of when he posted a game line of eight receptions for 166 yards and a TD. Additionally, he had at least four catches in his last five games.
The combination of Floyd’s emergence and the new QB will allow Floyd to break out. This will make life easier for Larry Fitzgerald and allow him to break free of the double coverage that plagued him last season.
If Floyd can keep the defense honest, Fitzgerald should have no trouble returning to the elite echelon of wide receivers. Fitzgerald was a top five fantasy receiver for three of the last five years and he should return to that level.
Cyril is also the Director of Fantasy Analysis for bemycommish.com. Email him with questions or thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at fantasy_cyril.