The arrival of a capable quarterback was good news for Arizona Cardinals’ wide receivers’ Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, as Carson Palmer helped Floyd top 1,000 yards and Fitzgerald reached double-digit touchdowns for the first time since 2009. They will be the top two targets for Palmer again this year, but is Floyd or Fitzgerald the better fantasy option for this year?
The Case For Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald continues to be one of the most reliable pass catchers in the league, and he only dropped two of 134 targets in 2013. His 22 red zone targets were fourth-most among wide receivers, and six of his touchdowns came in that area of the field.
Whatever decline Fitzgerald has had in pure physical tools he more than makes up for with hands, ball skills, work ethic and overall savvy. His target total may drop a bit this year, but I think he’s still a good bet to lead the Cardinals in targets and be a primary option for Palmer in the red zone.
The Case For Michael Floyd
Floyd had 16 receptions of 20 or more yards in 2013, which helped him to rank highly in yards per catch (16.0) and yards per target (9.3). His target total (112) is sure to rise this year, and last year should be the last time Brian Hartline (133) and Cecil Shorts (125) ever have more targets than Floyd in a season.
Floyd has the size (6’3″, 215 lbs.) to be an effective option in the red zone, but his 12 targets in that area of the field are a sign something didn’t click between he and Palmer when the Cardinals approached the end zone. I expect that to be rectified this season.
Fitzgerald’s days as a 90-plus catch, 1,400-yard, high-end WR1 for fantasy owners are clearly over, but I project similar numbers to 2013 (82 receptions for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns) for him this year, with a slight boost in yardage fairly likely. Reliability is a fine trait to have, and Fitzgerald has it with zero missed games over the last six seasons.
Floyd clearly has untapped potential even after a productive 2013 season, with more total targets and more opportunities in the red zone sure to drive a spike in his numbers this year.
It’s far too early to write Fitzgerald off as a fantasy factor, but his career is winding down while Floyd is on the upswing and should be entering his prime. Floyd’s average draft position right now (sixth round, via Fantasy Pros.com) is a steal relative to his upside potential, while Fitzgerald’s current ADP (third round) seems to have his track record and name recognition built into it. So that makes the third-year Cardinals’ wide receiver my choice across all scoring formats, but Fitzerald closes the gap in PPR leagues.