Larry Fitzgerald Injury: Cardinals WR Is Must-Start Fantasy Stud Despite Ailment

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football after a reception during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been a question mark for the team's Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints all week long, but the insanely skilled pass-catcher should unquestionably be in your fantasy lineup assuming he suits up on Sunday.

According to Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic, Fitzgerald expects to play this week, despite the fact that he didn't practice until Friday while dealing with a hamstring injury:

“I feel great,” the wide receiver said. “I did everything. Full day’s workout. It was real good.”

Asked if he expects to play Sunday in New Orleans against the Saints, he said, “I expect to play every Sunday.”

Yeah, but what about this Sunday?

“Yes,” Fitzgerald said.

The team has yet to confirm that Fitzgerald will play, but McManaman was particularly impressed with Fitz when he took the practice field on Friday:

Because of that, McManaman is confident that Fitzgerald will be available and in the starting lineup when the Cards take on the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

While it's only the third week of the NFL season, it is already clear that the presence of quarterback Carson Palmer has breathed new life into Fitzgerald. Although he had just two grabs for 33 yards against the Detroit Lions last week, that was largely because his hamstring injury caused him to miss a portion of the game.

Fitzgerald was excellent in Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams, however, reeling in eight passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

Those types of performances used to be commonplace for the 30-year-old veteran, but last season was a nightmarish one for him. The Cardinals played a game of musical chairs at the quarterback position all year long, with Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer shuttling in and out of the lineup. There was absolutely no continuity, and Fitzgerald suffered through the worst season of his career.

He ended 2012 with just 798 yards, which was the lowest total of his career since his rookie season. He also reeled in a career-low four touchdowns, which made him one of the year's biggest fantasy busts. Fantasy owners put their trust back into him this year by investing a second- or third-round pick in most cases.

Since Fitzgerald is already dealing with a potentially troublesome injury, the fantasy owners that got back on the horse may be feeling some buyer's remorse. He showed what he is capable of with a competent quarterback in Week 1, though, and he should be fine moving forward.

Even if the hamstring injury takes away from Fitzgerald's explosiveness to a certain extent in Week 3, he can hurt the Saints in a number of different ways. He may not catch an 80-yard bomb, but look for him to nickel and dime a suspect Saints secondary throughout the day. He also promises to be Palmer's primary target in the red zone.

The struggles of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White through the first couple weeks of the season may have Fitzgerald owners a bit worried. White has been battling a high ankle sprain, though, which is generally a very severe injury for wide receivers. Hamstring injuries are no picnic either, but Fitz is used to playing and producing through afflictions.

The Saints have allowed the fifth-most pass yards per game this season, and they had one of the worst defenses in NFL history last year. Add in the fact that Arizona may be playing from behind, and there will be plenty of opportunities for Fitzgerald to put up big numbers.

There is nothing worse than sitting one of your star players only to watch him go off, so throw caution to the wind and trust that Fitzgerald will live up to his billing in Week 3.


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