We’ve been working on our staff composite projections lately and while I was projecting the ARI offense it occurred to me that Michael Floyd is between a rock and a hard place in terms of providing fantasy value.
I actually believe that Floyd is the best ARI wide receiver if we’re talking about returning fantasy value. He has a good draft pedigree, is big and fast, and was easily the most efficient of their WRs last year. So if I could wish for one of the ARI receivers to get a bunch of targets, it would be Floyd.
The problem is that he’s just not likely to get a bunch of targets and the path to fantasy relevance when you don’t get a bunch of targets pretty much runs through Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. Floyd isn’t going to turn in a 1200 yard, 12 TD season with Carson Palmer throwing it to him 110 times. I think he realistically needs about 130 or more targets to be a fantasy difference maker. But with Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown in the mix, that just doesn’t seem very likely.
It’s worth pointing out that while many Floyd owners from 2014 ended up disappointed, he wasn’t as far off from breaking out as people think. The biggest thing that got in his way was Brown. A natural reaction to that sentence might be to say that if Floyd can’t beat out Brown for targets, how good is he? But that short sighted evaluation framework would have applied to any number of studs who weren’t as good as the players seeing usage in front of them… until they were.
In 2012 Mike Wallace out-targeted Antonio Brown 119 to 106. [Edit: Brown actually played in fewer games as a commenter pointed out.]
In 2010 Thomas Jones had 245 carries to Jamaal Charles’ 230.
In 2011 the Bucs had a promising running back in LeGarrette Blount, then drafted Doug Martin the following year and essentially gave Martin the starting job. Martin had a promising rookie season as well, although three years later Blount’s career outlook is actually somehow more positive.
I could go on, but I won’t. My point is only that NFL depth charts or even usage situations often primarily reflect coach’s choice.
Saying that Floyd is unlikely to grab a larger share of targets because that doesn’t seem to be what ARI wants to do is fine. Saying it’s because he’s not talented enough is a lot more tenuous ground to occupy when he outproduced his running mates in 2014 on fewer targets.
So what’s the point of this post then? I’ve admitted that the usage situation in 2014 actually reflects what Bruce Arians probably wants to do with his offense. He seems to require that John Brown/TY Hilton/Mike Wallace presence.
The opportunity is that Floyd is available at WR35 and he’s sharing targets with a 32 year old receiver and a 180 pound receiver. Fitzgerald spent seven weeks in 2014 on the injury report (knee), and spent six weeks in 2013 in the injury report (hamstring). If you asked me to bet that either Fitzgerald or the diminutive Brown gets hurt, I wouldn’t do it. But I would be on the lookout. Because all that needs to happen for Floyd to get up into the 130-140 target range is one of the other receivers missing a decent amount of time.
Actually I made a sensitivity table to illustrate what could happen if Floyd’s targets go up and he averages his 2013-2014 fantasy point/target pace.
I’m actually not even targeting Floyd if he’s just available at WR35 and everything looks good for Fitz and Brown. But if we see any kind of injury in the preseason, or there are signs that Fitzgerald’s 32 years are starting to catch up to him, then I would target Floyd as one of the more valuable WRs in that range of the draft. I probably could have written an equally long piece about how injuries and missed time due to injuries affects more of fantasy football than we think. In fact a lot of the greatest value seasons have essentially come on the backs of unexpected missed time and shifting usage. Instead I’ve taken your time to point out that I’m not targeting Michael Floyd right now, but I haven’t at all written him off, and I’ll be paying attention in the months leading up to the season.