It’s possible Cardinals wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown are all being drafted in fantasy football right where they should be.
Last season, the Cardinals three main wide receivers finished the season as the overall WR7, WR26, and WR37, higher than any other team’s three best wide receivers. There were only 11 other teams that had even two wide receivers finish that high. There were seven teams (Dallas, Chicago, San Diego, Tennessee, Minnesota, San Francisco, and New England) that had no wide receivers finish that high.
As a result, the Cardinals currently have average draft positions higher than any other team’s three main wide receivers, at WR27, WR29, and WR30. Only the Packers, Colts, and Jets have even two wide receivers being drafted that high.
Not only is there probably nothing wrong with that, but it might actually be kind of cheap.
Michael Floyd suffered a gruesome hand injury the first week of August last year, dislocating three fingers that broke the skin of his hand, and had to be surgically repaired.
While he was active Week 1, he was clearly in a limited role the first three weeks of the season, totaling only 79 offensive snaps and seven targets in those games combined. In his absence, Larry Fitzgerald went absolutely buck wild.
Beginning with Week 4, we see all three wide receivers normalize into very evenly productive roles from a fantasy perspective:
Those three 16-game paces would have been the overall WR15, WR16, and WR20 last season. The RotoViz composite projection has an even more balanced target distribution than the above, with Fitzgerald getting 126, Floyd seeing 116, and Brown having 106.
Since Carson Palmer and head coach Bruce Arians arrived in 2013, the distribution to all three receivers has been healthy. Arians has been in the top 14 league-wide in pass attempts seven years in a row, over three different franchises. Arizona also produced the second most fantasy points per passing attempt in all of football, behind only Seattle.
The overall production and efficiency of the Cardinals wide receivers in Arians’ offense with Palmer has been fairly consistent:Floyd is actually only five months older than John Brown, yet he has two years, 32 games, and 184 targets more experience entering this season. They are both at the age when wide receivers can be expected to be peaking in their careers, while Fitzgerald is attempting to continue his defiance of the age cliff.
With the first three weeks of the season removed, our Sim Score ranges suggest that the steady ascension of the younger two could come paired with Fitzgerald’s eventual, expected decline.
|Player||High Sim Score||Median Sim Score||Low Sim Score|
The expectation of their ADP is right around 11 points per game, which is below all of their median scores. The price seems extremely fair considering the likely outcome, and outrageously high ceiling that comes with being the team’s primary wide receiver. In both 2013 and last season, two of them beat the most expensive 2016 ADP of the group. (In 2014, Brown was a rookie and Palmer only played in six games.) While Fitzgerald was the overall WR7 last season, Floyd’s high Sim Score would have been the overall WR12.
Considering Brown’s wildly successful Adjusted Yards per Attempt, his upside with even a slightly larger share of the targets seems extraordinarily high as well:
We’ve been enamored with Brown since the draft process, as athletically and production wise he looked like a cheap arbitrage of Tavon Austin. We’ve been obsessed with the idea of Floyd usurping the main role from Fitzgerald for years, as he has the size, athleticism, draft pedigree, and NFL success that signal future superstardom.
Scott Smith made a very similar argument to the one above, (specifically in support of Floyd, not all three of them) about how if you remove the weeks where he did not have a normal role, Floyd’s 16-game pace and Sim Score look very promising.
He focused on the Dynasty aspect of acquiring Floyd for his age, and the fact that people are impatient with the idea of his taking over as the team’s primary receiver. This is in spite of the fact that if it’s going happen, this year is at least as likely, and probably more likely, than any prior.
I think that same concept applies to redraft, and even if it’s not a seismic shift in the distribution of production, all three are probably still underpriced. While I’m targeting Floyd above the other two, an approach of agnosticism, and taking whichever one of the three falls, may be a perfect way to admit you can’t pick players, and still laugh all the way to the bank.