Breaking up is never easy. Someone always ends up with a smashed window and a dead rat on their pillow. What? That’s not normal? Fair enough.
There’s a break up you have to deal with, though, and you have to do it fast. Sorry, Larry Fitzgerald, but it’s come to this. It’s not you, it’s us.
This will be hard. Firstly, there’s the mental aspect of parting with a player who required such a heavy investment, and was drafted on average at the beginning of the second round in ESPN leagues at 14th overall, the third receiver off the board. That’s behind only the Johnsons — Calvin and Andre — and at the time that made sense.
There’s still a far greater concern for those who get past that mental hurdle, and sadly come to terms with the fact that a fantasy life without Fitzgerald is a life worth living, and losses need to be cut. Namely, finding a willing trade partner will become quite the endeavor since, you know, there isn’t a whole lot of demand for a receiver who could be catching passes from Ryan Lindley for the foreseeable future.
But there’s a funny thing about name value: it doesn’t go away easily, and it fuels false hope for under-performing veterans. Fitzgerald is indeed an under-performing veteran who’s on pace for 953 receiving yards this year, but it’ll be his first year with less than 1,000 yards since an injury-shortened 2006 season. So you see where this is going: when there’s talent, there’s faith and hope among fantasy managers, especially when we’re discussing a player who had 189 fantasy points last year while receiving passes from John Skelton and Kevin Kolb.
You need to trade him because as bad as this season has become for Fitzgerald with his per game receiving average that’s his lowest since his rookie season, and his 11.5 yards per reception that’s down significantly from his 17.6 last year, it’s about to get worse. Arizona’s remaining schedule won’t be kind to Fitzgerald or any Cards wide receiver, an especially pressing concern after Tristen Cockroft’s study of the past three fantasy seasons which showed that after the trade deadline, matchups matter for wide receivers more than any other position. While some deadlines have passed, in ESPN standard leagues the trade deadline is tomorrow, and in Yahoo leagues it’s coming up this Friday.
Here’s the Cardinals’ remaining schedule in order, bearing in mind that most leagues end in Week 16: vs. STL, @NYJ, @SEA, vs. DET, vs. CHI, @SFO
Fitzgerald had just one reception for 11 yards this past Sunday during a loss to Atlanta, and he now ranks 28th in fantasy points among WRs with 80, behind the likes of Cecil Shorts and (big gulp) Michael Crabtree. That’s the ultimate statement on his current production, and with those remaining games and Week 13 likely the earliest Kevin Kolb can return — yeah, we’re hoping and praying for his health here, a sad state indeed — his output could easily get worse, or at best only stay at its current level which is far below Fitz’s draft value.
Using standard scoring, four of the Cardinals’ remaining five opponents if we exclude San Francisco in Week 17 rank ninth or higher against wide receivers in terms of fantasy points allowed, with the Rams, Jets, Seahawks, and Bears all giving up 20 or fewer points per game to the position. The Jets and Seahawks are particularly daunting opponents, with New York at 18 points per game, and Seattle allowing a league-low 17.1.
It still gets worse. As of Week 10, the Seahawks were allowing only 44 receiving yards per game to their opponent’s top wideout, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, the Jets were allowing 50.1, and the Bears are at 77.8, which gives only faint hope for average production during fantasy championship week.
Whatever value Fitzgerald has on your roster now will likely be his value going forward, as he’s descended to WR2 status, and maybe even the WR3 slot during these poor matchups if Kolb remains out. There’s always a sucker, though, because desperation makes us all do things we regret in the morning.
Find the sucker in your league, and package Fitzgerald. Just find a way. I believe in you.