PAHOKEE, Fla. – Larry Fitzgerald seems to have adapted a mantra this offseason that indicates he's no longer an elite Fantasy option. In fact, if you listen to Fitzgerald, you wouldn't even want to draft him this year in any leagues.
I spoke to Fitzgerald recently at Anquan Boldin's charity event, and he said numbers just aren't important to him heading into this season.
"It's a team game," Fitzgerald said. "Whatever coach calls is what he calls. I'm glad to be back and being on a team competing for the playoffs."
Fitzgerald then repeated something similar on a radio station in Phoenix. He had a down year in 2014 with 63 catches for 784 yards, his lowest production since his rookie year, with a career-low two touchdowns.
Fitzgerald, 32, said his role in coach Bruce Arians offense won't allow him to dominate like he used to since he's mostly running underneath routes and not going down the field. This is a receiver who regularly had the ability to catch 90-plus passes for 1,000-plus yards and double digits in touchdowns, which he has done four times in his career.
It's unlikely he can reach those heights again, and the Cardinals have plenty of weapons in the passing game with Michael Floyd and John Brown. But I get the feeling Fitzgerald is underselling himself a little.
Keep in mind that last season Fitzgerald, Floyd and Brown dealt with some shaky quarterback play since Carson Palmer was limited to six games because of injury. In three of the games with Palmer, Fitzgerald had three of his best outings with 15 Fantasy points in a standard league against Washington, 22 points against Philadelphia and 11 points against St. Louis.
"If he stays healthy then things are completely different for our team and last year," Fitzgerald said about Palmer, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 10.
There's clearly a reason Fitzgerald restructured his contract to return to the Cardinals. If he was so unhappy with his role he could have forced his way out or Arizona and picked a team of his choice.
So while he might be a team guy and saying all the right things, I wouldn't expect him to just settle into a complementary role. And as bad as things were last season he still tied for the team lead in targets with 103.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Fitzgerald get 80 catches for 900 yards and six touchdowns, especially with a healthy Palmer, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick. Floyd might have the higher ceiling, and Brown is a popular sleeper this year, but don't sleep on Fitzgerald.
In the right spot on Draft Day he could be the type of player who makes a significant difference for your team.