Poor Larry Fitzgerald. Arguably one of the best wide receivers in football, he hasn't had a decent quarterback to get the ball to him since Kurt Warner called it quits in 2009. Only through his sheer will and determination has he continued to put up All-Pro numbers.
That is, until 2012.
In the two seasons following Warner's departure from the Cardinals, Fitzgerald put up 1,137 and 1,411 yards, respectively. He also found the end zone 14 times during that span. A closer look reveals just how amazing his numbers really were.
The 2010 Cardinals started four different quarterbacks during the season: Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton and Rich Bartel. Yikes.
In 2011, Arizona surprised no one by making a trade with Philadelphia to bring in Kevin Kolb. The high-profile signing was a flop. Kolb was unable to stay on the field and the Cardinals finished the season with John Skelton under center.
The QB merry-go-round in Arizona seemed to have no effect on Fitzgerald's production on the field. Fitz was an every-week starter in fantasy football, a surefire top-five wide receiver in any format. Going into the 2012 season, fantasy owners everywhere projected him to continue the trend. Unfortunately, the problems in Arizona finally caught up to his production.
After a 4-0 start to the season, things looked promising in Arizona. However, the lack of talent under center and along the offensive line were too much to overcome. Kolb was lost for the season and the Cardinals completed the year going back and forth between John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer. Talk about a who's who of who? The result was 798 yards from Fitz. Impressive, considering the circumstances, but far below what we expect from a fantasy stud receiver.
Alas, 2013 brings hope to fantasy football owners everywhere. There has been a major shakeup in Arizona. The Whisenhunt era is over. Bruce Arians is at the helm. The offensive line has been revamped. The biggest piece of the puzzle, quarterback, is in place with the acquisition of Carson Palmer.
These changes may not spell immediate improvement in the win column, but they will almost definitely mean improvement on offense. More specifically, the passing game should improve dramatically. Say what you want about Carson Palmer, but the guy puts up numbers. He put up one of the quietest 4,000-yard seasons in NFL history last year. With the Raiders. Combined with Arians' vertical-passing offense, the No. 1 receiver in Arizona is in line to have a huge bounce-back year.
Finally, a decent quarterback in Arizona. That's all Larry wanted. Honestly, that's all he really needs. Just get him the ball and he can take it from there. All the way to the house.
In closing, have no worries, fantasy owners. Larry should be back on your radar as one of the first five to seven receivers off the board. Easily a WR1 this year. At worst, a WR2 with definite WR1 upside. Look for Fitz to put up at least 1,300 yards along with seven to nine touchdowns.