This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The Arizona Cardinals might be on the verge of slowly phasing long-time star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald out of the offense. It probably won’t come all at once this season, but with a hefty contract counting against the team past 2014, it’s entirely possible that Larry Fitzgerald playing his final season in the desert.
With that in mind, it might be time to start looking to the future at the wide receiver position in Arizona. Sure, the big and athletic Michael Floyd is the first guy you think of. He has an amazing blend of size and speed, and is already being regarded as the Cards’ "new number one" receiver.
That line of thinking might be a bit of a stretch as long as Fitzgerald is around. After all, Fitzgerald is 31 years old and not exactly as spry as he once was, but he’s not useless, either. Far from it, actually. In fact, he started the 2013 season off with a bang by scoring two touchdowns, and other than some nagging injuries slowing him down a bit, he really hadn’t shown much in the form of "losing a step".
The Cardinals may think otherwise, though, or at least they want to move on from Fitzgerald from a financial perspective. Floyd’s rise on the depth chart has to do with that, as does the selection of the shifty John Brown.
Drawing rave reviews throughout camp this summer, Brown has been compared to Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilston, while some have labeled him "uncoverable" in practice.
Those are two pretty outlandish comments on the rookie’s ability as he tries to carve out a role in the passing game, but if true, is it too crazy to imagine him having a huge impact right away in his first season?
Fantasy football owners need to at least embrace that being a possibility.
Brown lighting up practice on a regular basis is one thing. For one, even when he plays against his first team defense he’s not going up against the Cards’ top two corners on a regular basis. However, Brown extended his stellar play into Arizona’s first preseason game a week ago. He proved to could be a featured threat with five catches for 87 receiving yards.
That night included an impressive three 20+ yard receptions and showcased just how good Brown could end up being.
Brown is currently going undrafted in fantasy football leagues (and understandably so), but the thought that his explosiveness and versatility can open up Arizona’s offense even more makes you wonder just how useful he could be.
Realistically, we probably need to curb the hype. Brown is a very talented wide receiver, but rookie receivers generally don’t go nuts in year one. It’s even less likely when he still has to compete with veteran slot man Ted Ginn Jr. for snaps. The likelihood drops even further when Fitzgerald and Floyd are still the top two options for quarterback Carson Palmer.
Put those two in whatever order you want, but this is still a pass-heavy offense that is going to feature both Fitzgerald and Floyd quite a bit. Sprinkle running back Andre Ellington and Ginn in there a bit, and suddenly the uproar about Brown comes to a halt.
Brown’s upside is potentially limitless if we’re talking for down the road, but right now his best path to fantasy production is by out-performing Ginn and taking over slot duties as a rookie. That’s not impossible, but even then we can probably use last year’s #3 receiver, Andre Roberts, as a good starting point to understand Brown’s week to week upside.
In short, he may have his moments in his first season, but unless Fitzgerald or Floyd go down with an injury, he’s not going to be a reliable fantasy factor in 2014.
That kills his redraft fantasy value for the moment, but it’s important to know that his dynasty value is very optimistic moving forward. The second Arizona does in fact move on from Fitzgerald, Brown’s fantasy value improves dramatically for the long-term. For fantasy owners hoping for the tiny rookie to do major damage in year one, though, well, they’ve got another thing coming.
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