Larry Fitzgerald is likely to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as soon as he retires. He has produced nine 1,000+ yard seasons, including four with 1,400+. Fitz ranks second all-time in both receptions and receiving yards, both behind Jerry Rice. Fitz has played his entire career in Arizona, and this is likely the first time in his career where he’s not the number one receiving option heading into the season – the Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins over the offseason. With Kyler Murray emerging as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL and the Kliff Kingsbury offense likely producing plenty of statistical value, can Fitz still be a reliable option for your fantasy football team this season?
— El Capitãn (@DomGonzo12) June 18, 2020
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The transition from Josh Rosen to Kyler Murray at quarterback helped the Cardinals’ offense go from the worst scoring offense in 2018 to the 16th-highest scoring in 2019. That switch didn’t benefit Larry Fitzgerald as much as expected – he went from the WR25 in fantasy to the WR35. Fitz is 36 now, and he’s clearly on the downswing of his career, but he did set his highest mark in catch percentage since 2016 last year.
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Larry Fitzgerald is going to be 37 by the time the season starts, but there’s reason to believe he can continue producing. He’s transitioned his role in the offense to more of a slot technician as his athleticism has deteriorated, but he still has some of the best hands in the game. I’m pretty confident in his likelihood of receiving 100+ targets this season, even with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. Fitz has never dropped under 100 targets in his career and had six touchdowns in three straight seasons before last year. These numbers make him the WR42 in my season-long projections.
Most slot REC by WRs in 2019
Julian Edelman – 69
Cooper Kupp – 69
Larry Fitzgerald – 60
Jamison Crowder – 58 pic.twitter.com/WJBXj9sxfm
— PFF (@PFF) June 14, 2020
ADP: 155.6, WR70
Auction Value: $0
In the 15th or 16th round, Larry Fitzgerald will likely go undrafted in a lot of leagues. However, I believe Fitz will provide enough consistent production to be selected with a late-round pick in most leagues. The fact that he’s being drafted after Tre’Quan Smith, Randall Cobb, John Ross, Andy Isabella, Tyrell Williams, and Corey Davis, none of whom have close to the level of proven production as Fitz, is particularly eye-opening.
Larry Fitzgerald isn’t the elite receiver he used to be, but it wasn’t that he was producing 109 receptions for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns in his age-34 season. Fitz has proven the mental and physical endurance to play at a high level long past most players at his position. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins alongside him could decrease his target count, but even a slight decrease from his 85% snap share of last season will leave him on the field plenty. Fitz has never had fewer than 58 receptions or 734 yards, and if you throw in a few touchdowns with those stats, he’ll be good for at least 150 fantasy points. That would have made him the WR45 in fantasy scoring last season.
In Larry Fitzgerald’s 16 career seasons, his average numbers per season are 86.1 receptions for 1,067.7 yards and 7.5 touchdowns. In PPR fantasy scoring, that would put him down for 237.8 points per season – that would have been the WR12 last season. It’s unlikely he can quite reach those marks in his age-37 campaign, but the ascension of Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense as a whole are excellent indicators of his potential for success. Something in the realm of 80 receptions for 900 yards and six touchdowns seems pretty attainable, and that would give him top-24 upside at his position.
All of these highlights are from one playoff run. In 2008, Larry Fitzgerald had the single-greatest postseason ever by a wide receiver.
30 receptions, 546 yards, 7 TD pic.twitter.com/fA99214lJD
— Steve Helwick (@s_helwick) May 15, 2020
Arizona Cardinals Offense
In Kyler Murray’s rookie season, he put together a stat line of 3,722 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, in addition to 544 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Those numbers don’t even really do justice to how good of a passer he was last season as some metrics had his deep passing numbers among the best in the NFL. Year 2 should be even more productive in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, especially after the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. Despite relatively inconsistent quarterback play in Houston, Hopkins averaged about 92 receptions for 1,250 yards and eight touchdowns per season over his seven seasons with the Texans. The Cardinals also have Christian Kirk entering his third season as well as Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson entering their sophomore seasons – that trio has plenty of long-term upsides. Outside of their stacked receiving corps, the Cardinals don’t have any proven tight end talent between the trio of Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels, and Dan Arnold. Kenyan Drake was explosive in Arizona after being traded from the Dolphins midseason, and he’ll also be a force in the passing game – he had 28 receptions in 8 games with the team last season. The Cardinals figure to have one of the most improved offensive lines in football as well with the addition of Josh Jones. The offense as a whole could be one of the most improved this season and reach the top-10 scoring range.
Larry Fitzgerald going beast mode in his 16th season 💪
— ESPN (@espn) December 22, 2019
Strength of Schedule
In the NFC West, the Cardinals will have to play three top-half defenses twice each in the 49ers (12th), Rams (15th), and Seahawks (16th). All of those defenses were above average in fantasy points allowed to WRs. The NFC West matches up with the NFC East this season, which is also a collection of defenses who struggled against wide receivers last season in the Redskins (20th), Giants (28th), and Eagles (29th). The Cowboys (6th) fared much better, but they also lost Byron Jones and Jeff Heath, two starters in the secondary. The AFC East is also on the docket, with the Patriots (1st) and Bills (5th) top-five defenses in fantasy points allowed to WRs. The Jets (22nd) and Dolphins (31st) were much easier matchups for opposing WRs. Rounding out the Cardinals’ schedule are the other teams who finished last in their respective divisions in the NFC – the Lions (30th) and Panthers (24th) were poor against wideouts last year. The Cards have plenty of matchups on the slate, which should give Larry Fitzgerald and co. opportunities to produce.
Larry Fitzgerald has been written off for a few years now for fantasy football purposes, but he always seems to keep kicking the tires on a productive career. The Cardinals’ offense is one of the fastest-rising in the NFL, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins will catapult them towards top-ten scoring status. Fitz is going to be 37 years old by the time the season starts, which has led to him being cast aside in fantasy football discussions, but I still expect him to have substantial production this year. He’s very likely to see over 100 targets this season and should be a draftable asset in most leagues as he enjoys the best quarterback play he’s had in quite a long time.
The year is 2079. A 96 year old Larry Fitzgerald is still making incredible sideline catches pic.twitter.com/1W6SJE2hjL
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 10, 2019
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