Veteran Values: Larry Fitzgerald

Mike Wallace, Contributor 

Every year going into fantasy football drafts people are excited about the incoming rookies or other young players getting a chance for a larger role. Fantasy football buffs are excited by upside and seek the thrill of the chasing the unknown  that could help them win a fantasy league…if they beat the odds and pan out. Yet every year proven veteran performers drop a few rounds lower than they should. This series will highlight the veterans I expect to outperform their draft position and provide great value.

Larry is Mr. Reliable

It feels like every year Larry Fitzgerald is drafted later than he should be. The Cardinal offense this season will be based entirely around Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Over the last three seasons, Fitzgerald has over 100 receptions. He is a machine in PPR leagues that will be a player you can safely plug into your WR2 or Flex spot and be happy with. Last season, he was targeted less than 6 times only once. The only game he didn’t reach 6 targets was a game against the Rams in which the Cardinals were shut out.  The game took place in London and saw Carson Palmer leave the game with an injury. Drew Stanton came in and was terrible.

Improving Quarterback Play

Fitzgerald operates mostly in the short to intermediate area out of the slot at this point in his career. The Cardinals brought in Sam Bradford to be their bridge quarterback until Josh Rosen is ready to take over the position. Bradford is known for his accuracy and Rosen is considered by many to be the most NFL ready passer in the 2018 draft. With either one under center, Fitzgerald will be heavily targeted and relied upon. The volume of targets he should receive will provide fantasy value all season. He has proven he can still be productive even without top-level QB play.

The reason Fitzgerald does not have top end upside is because of touchdowns. He has had 6 TDs each of the last two seasons so that’s what you should expect from him going forward. The days of being a 10+ TD threat are likely gone, but do not let that cause you to miss out on a guy who can help your team. While your league mates are overvaluing younger players or counting on that third year breakout, you can do the smart thing and take one of the most consistent fantasy producers. With Fitzgerald on your team it will be easier to take chances on upside players later in the draft.

Chasing Greatness

Fitzgerald is currently 3rd all-time in career receptions and receiving yards. Since he decided to return, I believe the Cardinals are going to make it a point to get him into the 2nd spot all time in both categories (Jerry Rice and 1st place is going to be impossible for him to catch). Receiving yards should be relatively easy, as he needs less than 400 yards to pass Terrell Owens. Fitzgerald needs 92 receptions to pass Tony Gonzalez for 2nd all time. He is an all-time Cardinal’s great and they will be able to make this season about celebrating his accomplishments since it is possibly his last. It will give the fans something to look forward to this season, as they likely will not be a playoff team.

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