“Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing gonna’ be all right,” sings the infamous Bob Marley on his song “Three Little Birds” from the 1977 album Exodus. Such words of serenity, but the words “don’t worry about a thing” have no meaning in the fantasy football community. The words “three little birds,” however, might have meaning in 2013.
The “birds” I am referring to are none other than the Arizona Cardinals. For me, there are three questionable, but great value picks to be had, at least as of now, when it comes to Cardinals fantasy football players.
At the moment, Larry Fitzgerald has an ADP of about 28 on fantasyfootballcalculator.com. That is an average well into the third round for a 12 team draft. From the mock drafts that I have done, Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Thomas start the second run on wide receivers, once most of the top of the heap running backs are off the board.
Fitzgerald hasn’t had an average draft position later than 20 since 2008. In 2009, he was drafted on average at the number five overall spot.
The guy has missed only 4 games in 9 years of NFL play. 2012 was by far his worst year as a pro, coming off nearly his best year in 2011. Quarterback play has generally had a large impact on his game, but he is in no way declining as a player. He’ll turn 30 early in the 2013 season, but I do firmly believe he is primed for a huge upgrade on last year’s 798 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. I mean, that’s obvious right? Just think about how little production that was from a perennial fantasy stud without an injury.
New gun-slinger quarterback Carson Palmer has to be a huge upgrade over Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. Taking a look at Palmer’s career numbers, we can certainly infer he will throw the ball 500 times and complete 60% of his passes for an average of about 260 yards per game. It’s tough to say with certainty what Kolb would have done in a full season with Fitzgerald, but Kolb has never average over 217 yards per game in his career. His best year with the Cardinals, nine games 1,955 yards, he had a completion percentage of 57%. That year Larry Fitzgerald had over 1,400 receiving yards for the season.
I’m not predicting another 1,400 yard season for Fitz, but with the upgrade at quarterback, a developing defense and if the offensive line can hold up decently, I expect around 1,200 receiving yards and double digit touchdowns in 2013. I feel good taking him in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts. I don’t know that he will greatly exceed the value of this ADP and finish in the top 5 wide receivers, but he is a safer bet to finish top 10 than most others not named Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones and A.J. Green.
It was only a couple years ago this guy was being drafted as an RB1 in the late first round to early second round in every fantasy draft. I was one of those fools that believed in him. I saw him run rampant in the preseason after a productive previous season and was excited by his hard running style.
The Cardinals new head coach Bruce Arians was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2007-2011, making Rashard Mendenhall a focal point on offense. Mendy rushed for 1,108 yards in 2009, 1,274 yards in 2010 and 928 yards in 2011. Of course, the last game in 2011 Mendenhall was injured, tearing his ACL. Otherwise, he could have conceivably has three consecutive 1,000 rushing yard seasons under Arians. Arians has already been quoted saying about Mendenhall, “He’s an every-down player. And I think he’s looking forward to having an outstanding season.”
Mendenhall will be nearly 20 months removed from his ACL tear in 2011, an injury that limited him and rendered him ineffective most of last year in 2012. Oh, and he just turned 26 years old last month in June. While he obviously isn’t the superhumanly quick healer Adrian Peterson is, he is still young enough to bounce back nicely and regain top form.
Last year, after coming back from his injury and only playing in 6 games and running the ball only 51 times, he still had an average yards per rush (3.6) near his career average when he is the full time bell cow running back (2009-2011) of 4.2 yards per rush.
For me, I am looking to the Cardinals backfield from last year before the season started. Ryan Williams was a popular sleeper pick (post-hype sleeper too) available later in drafts. I took him in one league, expecting a decent return from the talented, but oft-injured running back that also had some big plays in the preseason.
Well, he didn’t pan out, getting injured again, but at the time I didn’t have a problem taking a chance on him. I feel the same way about Mendenhall this year. I mean, we’ve seen the talent. I am willing to write last year off. I don’t really see any negative signs going into 2013 or that he has begun to decline noticeably. With an ADP of about 60, his going rate is a 5th-6th round pick in most drafts. If quarterback isn’t an immediate need, I’d jump on Mendenhall as my RB3.
Looking at the numbers from the first 15 weeks of 2012 you would be hard pressed not to immediately write Floyd off as a non-factor and be happy forgetting his name on draft day in 2013. Weeks 16 and 17 though stand out in a big way.
Prior to week 16, Floyd was the recipient of at least 5 passes only twice. That happened two weeks in a row, weeks 8 and 9. Week 9 is the more impressive one, with an 80 yard performance and a 16 yard per catch average. Here’s his big finish to 2012:
- Week 16 against CHI: 6 catches for 47 yards, 7.8 yards per catch
- Week 17 against SF: 8 catches for 166 yards and a TD, 20.8 yards per catch
Obviously, it would be foolish to think Floyd is going to be the receiver from week 17 throughout the 2013 season, but the talent and opportunity is in his favor.
Cardinals beat writers have been on record saying that Arians and the coaching staff are preparing Floyd for a “large load” and that he is “primed for a leap in year two.” While some may think this is just typical chatter from the head coach, you have to believe Arians when it comes to Floyd, the 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft. If the Cardinals invested a high draft pick in him like that, they need to see how that investment will pan out. As I mentioned, new Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is going to be a significant upgrade over the Kolb/Skelton experiment and if Larry Fitzgerald is covered, he will be looking Floyd’s way.
So, should you make the investment in Floyd with your fantasy football team in 2013? With his APD of about 120, near the end of the 10th and beginning of the 11th round, I think so. Beat writers at AZCardinals.com seem convinced Floyd is a “given” to break out in 2013 for the Cardinals. He should be given the same consideration for your fantasy football team in 2013 as well.