Anyone who put Arizona Cardinals’ WR Larry Fitzgerald in their starting lineup this year or any year previous knows he is awesome.
Over the last few playoff weekends he has taken his game to another level and put himself into a Best Wide Receiver in the Universe category. There’s little doubt he will be the top WR on every 2009 fantasy football draft board.
Rest assured, I’m not here to tell you he’s going to bust. He’s too good, too talented for anything like that to happen. You’ll be happy to have him on your team, barring some catastrophic injury.
However, he’s going to be the first WR taken in about every draft, and he’s going to be taken way higher than he probably should simply because of his amazing postseason performance.
We also have to consider that in some drafts, the chips will fall exactly as they need to and you’ll have to take Fitzgerald. However, I’m about to tell you that your best bet might be to avoid Fitzgerald in 2009 fantasy drafts.
For those of you who just snorted beer or soda or coffee up your nose, let’s not laugh too hard. Here are my reasons not to pick Larry Fitzgerald in 2009:
- First, to think he’ll replicate this ridiculous level of focus and strength — really it’s been superhuman — throughout an entire season, is asking a lot. Seriously, think about it.
- If quarterback Kurt Warner does not return to the Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald will suffer. Warner has shown an incredible knack for finding the right receiver in almost every situation. The right receiver is either Fitzgerald or another player that opens up the rest of the field for the all-world WR on following downs. Warner is in the last year of a 3-year, $15 Million contract. They haven’t even talked to him about an extension, more than likely because heir apparent Matt Lienart is waiting in the wings. However, the 37-year-old has led them to an NFC Championship — their first title since humans started walking upright — and the Super Bowl, with an MVP-like performance. If they don’t sign him, it’s the worst move in franchise history. That said, the team may decide to move forward with Leinart, or that Warner is too old. Also, another title makes the veteran’s resume even more impressive. Maybe he retires.
- An important part of this equation: Fitzgerald will be overvalued by a lot of fantasy owners in 2009. Getting value for every pick is the key to putting together a solid top to bottom lineup. To get Fitzgerald, you’re going to have to reach. Don’t be surprised if someone calls his name in the Top 5 in one of your draft over leagues next year. It’s gonna happen. He’s talented, and a stud WR, but you’re going to have to do a lot of scrambling and get lucky in the next 5-10 rounds to make up for a first-round flop.
- Now, hold on (again), I’m not saying Fitzgerald’s going to flop in the true sense of the word flop. Before I go any further, I just want to say I have Fitzgerald in a very competitive keeper league. I am very happy to have him and I think he’ll be awesome next year. However, people are going to expect record-breaking numbers, and I just don’t think that’s going to happen. There are so many variables that go into a WR’s performance compared to a RB’s. The line needs to block, the receiver needs to get off the line well, run a good route that isn’t double-covered and the quarterback needs to be effective avoiding the rush, finding the right receiver and putting a ball in the right place for the receiver to get it. That’s why RBs are more consistent game-to-game. Yes they need help (blocking, play-calling, etc.) but the exchange is a handoff or a simple pitch, as opposed to pause, pause, pause, throw the ball 20 yards down field and hope it doesn’t get tipped at the line, batted down, intercepted and hope that the receiver can catch it inbounds and not drop it. The best RBs score more consistent points, catch passes out of the backfield and score more TDs than the best wide receivers.
- A little Ninja advice for you. If Fitzgerald starts relatively slow out of the gate, the regretful owner who picked him No. 6 overall is going to start freaking out. Take advantage and offer him a little something for that “struggling” superstar, like the No. 2 WR you picked in the fourth round and the surprisingly productive No. 4 rookie running back you picked in Round 14 (from Kissing Suzy Kolber). Fitzgerald will rebound and carry you to the championship while that rookie back hits the wall. You improve your team by taking his best player. Now that’s value.
- Some of you, if you’ve read this far, are probably wondering why I have not mentioned the potential exit of fellow stud receiver Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals. He wants out (from Deadspin), and I say good riddance. Boldin takes catches away from Fitzgerald, and it’s pretty clear that the Fitzgerald, the system and the Warner make everybody better. In Boldin’s absence earlier this year, Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban were excellent. They won’t miss Boldin.
So, what do you think? Are you going to reach for Fitzgerald? Is he worth a top 5 pick? Top 10? Top WR even? Leave a comment, let us know.