Word came out of Arizona Cardinals camp on Wednesday that Larry Fitzgerald “tweaked” his hamstring at practice, saddling him with the dreaded “questionable” tag for Sunday’s late afternoon game against the Detroit Lions. The 4:05pm kickoff is a problem for fantasy owners, as it severely limits the number of players that will be available to plug in should Fitzgerald be ruled inactive.
It’s not an ideal situation, and while the safe money is on Fitzgerald suiting up, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan (or three) should he not give it a go.
Andre Roberts: Carson Palmer led teams tend to throw the ball, and if Fitzgerald is sidelined, Roberts should see an even heavier workload than he did last week (nine targets). The Lions were burned by a “stretch the field” type of receiver in Jerome Simpson last week (seven catches for 140 yards), so I’m expecting the focus to be on Michael Floyd. If Fitzgerald suits up, I like Roberts, if he doesn’t, I love him in PPR formats.
Rod Streater: He turned in a nice performance against the Indianapolis Colts (five catches for 70 yards) in Terrell Pryor’s first start, but was it that unexpected? The Oakland Raiders speedster averaged nearly 12 fantasy points (in PPR scoring leagues) during the final five games of last season and has begun to take advantage of the physical tools his possesses.
I expect the rookie quarterback to grow with each passing week, and a matchup with the pitiful Jacksonville Jaguars is a great spot to further develop a passing game. He’s not a sexy name yet, but if Fitzgerald leaves you in a pinch, Streater has proven himself to be a capable fill in of late.
I’d make sure to pencil Fitzgerald into your lineup as you flex option, thus allowing you to replace him with one of the wide receivers above (if available) or look to vulture a touchdown with a running back like Jonathan Dwyer. Issac Redman fumbled twice and gained just eight yards on nine carries last week against the Tennessee Titans, a defense that allowed over 127 rush yards and one ground score per game last season.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers are saying all the right things about Redman getting a second chance to “prove himself”, my money is on him not touching the ball inside the 10-yard line. The Steelers offense was a mess last week when they couldn’t establish a ground game, and even though the Cincinnati Bengals boast a strong run defense, there is value to be had in volume of touches.
Dwyer is far from a safe option, but he is the most talented back in Pittsburgh and could very well bail you out if Fitzgerald makes life difficult this afternoon.