Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the league. That’s not news to anyone, is it? Obviously, if you just looked at his 2011 numbers you may not be convinced:
- 90 receptions
- 1,137 yards
- Six touchdowns
It’s the second consecutive season that he fell “short” in the yardage department, at least by his standards. Remember, from 2005-08 he posted three years of 1,400-plus yards or more. He has four years in his career of at least 10 touchdowns.
Some owners may quickly be jumping to the conclusion that Fitzgerald is slipping in his abilities. Maybe he’s lost a step. Maybe he just isn’t the type of player that we once envisioned him as. People who reach that conclusion would be making a grave mistake.
The fact that he even produced the numbers he did last season is absolutely amazing. Just look at the quarterbacks that were throwing him the ball:
- Derek Anderson – 51.7 percent completion rate, 2,065 yards, 7 TD, 10 INT
- John Skelton – 47.6 percent completion rate, 662 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
- Max Hall – 50.0 percent completion rate, 370 yards, 1 TD, 6 INT
- Richard Bartel – 57.1 percent completion rate, 150 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
You put any elite wide receiver into that situation and tell me if any of them could’ve produced better then Fitzgerald did? In fact, it would be shocking if anyone could’ve even come close to his production. The situation was atrocious, so don’t let that skew your view of just how good Fitzgerald is.
By the time the season starts he will be 28 years old, right in the prime of his career. The Cardinals have brought in a new option at QB in Kevin Kolb, and hopefully that will likely make all the difference for Fitzgerald’s production.
The team has a running game in place, with Beanie Wells and rookie Ryan Williams, that should help to keep defenses honest. The departure of Steve Breaston gives defenses one less thing to worry about, though the team has Chansi Stuckey, Early Doucet and Andre Roberts competing to fill that role. With Fitzgerald drawing a lot of attention (as always), don’t be surprised to see one of them emerge.
With a quarterback that can get him the ball, there is no reason to think that Fitzgerald won’t immediately return to the impressive numbers we all know he’s capable of.
He’s currently sporting an ADP of 27.31, the eighth wide receiver coming off the board. While there are a few players you could justify taking before him, how could you select names like Miles Austin before him? If he’s still sitting on the board early in the third round, it’s an absolute no-brainer.
Make sure to check out all of the early rankings from Rotoprofessor: