Every NFL team has players worth owning in fantasy football. The hard part is knowing which players on the same team provide the most value in your fantasy football drafts. In this series we are going to examine one player from each NFL team that provides the most value in upcoming 2018 fantasy football drafts.
The Cardinals don’t project to one of the top offenses in 2018 yet have some talented skill position players. David Johnson is returning from a wrist injury he suffered in Week 1 in 2017 after being drafted first overall in many fantasy leagues that same year. He is again projected to be a first round pick, but because of that he doesn’t provide great value. He is totally worth a first round pick, but not the value like my pick for the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona Cardinals Best Fantasy Football Value: Larry Fitzgerald Wide Receiver
Larry Fitzgerald is entering his 15th season in the NFL coming off a year where he finished as the WR4 in points-per-reception leagues in 2017 (WR9 in standard). He accomplished that with arguably one of the worst years of QB play he has had in his career. The combination of bad QB play from Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert, and Drew Stanton wasn’t enough to stop this future hall of fame wide receiver from being an elite fantasy option in 2017. At 35 years old, Fitzgerald has shown no signs of slowing down and presents a major value being drafted in the back of the third round in PPR leagues and even more so in the early fifth round in standard leagues.
Fitzgerald finished the season second in receptions, third in targets, and eighth in receiving yards. The one spot he didn’t dominate in was touchdowns where he finished tied for 26th with six TDs on the year leading to his lower standard finish versus PPR. Six touchdowns is still a good amount for a player that primarily plays out of the slot at this point in his career and he makes up for it in the amount of receptions he catches.
Fitzgerald was the focal point of the Arizona offense in 2017 and opposing defenses knew it. He had a 27 percent target share and also got 32 percent of the team’s total receptions, highest among all wide receivers. He also made up 29 percent of the team’s yardage and 28 percent of the team’s TDs which ranks 13th among wide receivers. Even though his total touchdowns were average he still scored a large percentage of his team’s points which shows if the offense can improve he should as well. He posted his third lowest TD-per-target ratio in 10 years. He should have scored more based on his targets and yardage and could be in line for some positive regression in 2018.
In 2018 the Arizona offense will be revamped. Getting David Johnson back is an improvement for the offense no matter what. Even if he does eat into Fitzgerald’s target share a little bit the offense as a whole will be able to move the ball better and keep it from stalling. We have seen Fitzgerald be valuable in fantasy before with Johnson and that shouldn’t change this year.
There is also a whole new QB room for the Cardinals. Sam Bradford joins the team and when he inevitably gets hurt rookie Josh Rosen will be asked to step in. Mike Glennon was also signed, but he should hopefully never see the field. Fitzgerald has a history of being a low average depth of target (aDOT) guy. In 2017, his aDOT was 8.4 which is low compared to many of the elite WRs. However, Sam Bradford actually has a career yards-per-attempt of 6.6 showing he likes finding his short distance pass catchers more than throwing it deep which suites Fitzgerald’s play style. Look what Bradford did for Adam Thielen’s play last year and you can see how Bradford can do the same for Fitzgerald. Even if Bradford does get hurt, Rosen should be able to step in and know to throw the ball to his most reliable wide receiver.
Age will eventually catch up to Fitzgerald, but until we see it on the field there is no reason to be afraid to draft him. He is one of the most reliable players year-to-year and week-to-week. He has played a full season all but one year in the past 10 years and is rarely a bust in your weekly lineup. As the 15th WR off the board in 2018, you can feel confident he will hit that mark if not beat it and finish inside the top 10. He is one of the safer value picks you can make in the third round and I would happily draft him over Tyreek Hill, TY Hilton, and Josh Gordon who are all going ahead of him. Don’t let the age and old name scare you away from one of the best fantasy football wide receivers we have seen over the past 10 years.