larry fitz again2

Time and youth. They will either get us, or replace us all. This is a fact of our feeble and fleeting existence on this Earth (good morning!).

Right now, though, we’ll save the broader life lessons for another time and ponder how both age and a youth uprising could affect the future of one Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. We’re through three quarters of the season, and for many of you another noble fantasy run has ended. But choke down that sadness, and let’s begin to look back and learn lessons about what we’ve witnessed in 2013.

That begins with the tale of Fitzgerald’s end-zone based production, and his dwindling targets.

Michael Floyd’s emergence was inevitable, because ideally that’s what happens with first-round wide receivers. Floyd may have taken a touch longer than most, but hey, here he is, with 860 total yards through 12 games to Fitzgerald’s 678.

In a vertical offense that does plenty of deep chucking whenever it can find the time, it’s Floyd who’s been doing far more of that deep balling. Of Carson Palmer’s 34 completions this year that have ended in gains of 20 yards or more, 14 have gone to Floyd, which is far more than Fitzgerald’s eight. By extension, Floyd is also gaining well over three yards per catch more than Fitzgerald (15.9 to 12.3), and just over 15 yards per game more on average (71.7 to 56.5). Taking the shorter view, Floyd has been particularly sizzling of late, posting 396 receiving yards over his last three games, far ahead of Fitzgerald’s 185.

But here’s the most daunting number…

For reference, 0TD is a far more advanced way of viewing scoring opportunities, and it should become a part of your life.

Clay is right on all accounts. Fitzgerald has been dominating in and around the red zone while being on the other end for nine of Palmer’s 19 touchdown passes, while Floyd has four. If we go back to that wholly arbitrary three-game sample size, Fitz’s end-zone strutting becomes even more prevalent, as that’s when four of his touchdowns have been scored.

For fake football purposes, that difference is by far what’s saving Fitzgerald, and keeping him alive as a valuable commodity. Despite that significant gap in all the yardage metrics and the recent surge by Floyd which has included a single-game high in receptions (seven in Week 12), Fitzgerald is ahead in fantasy points with his 116.5 to Floyd’s 105.5.

A lengthy wingspan and nearly unmatched leaping ability will do that for you. But with Fitzgerald on the wrong side of 30, the latter may begin to fade next year and beyond, along with his top-end speed. Or, as we’ve seen with others in their early-to-mid 30s, the drop off could be far more abrupt.

That’s why right now the young blood is rising, and Fitzgerald splitting targets and having only a narrow overall advantage (through 12 games he leads Floyd in targets 98-84, putting him on pace for a career low 130) will lower him to a WR2 level going forward, especially if he’s relying on the volatility of touchdowns for most of his fantasy production.

And you know what? That’s just fine, but let’s all make sure to react accordingly.

More notes, reading, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

Peyton Manning is a thoughtful human

Pey Pey likely gets invited to all sorts of events he doesn’t given any thought to whatsoever. That’s part of being both a baller and a shot caller, and many in his position would entirely ignore the constant requests to attend little Jimmy’s grand birthday bash, or whatever.

Not our boy Peyton. He recently received a wedding invitation for what looks to be a fall affair, a time when weddings should be illegal because there’s football to be played. Instead of chucking it, Manning was a humanitarian and returned the invite with an autograph.

Marcus Mariota stays home

Ahhh early December. A cheery time when egg nog is available in abundance, and throwin’ bows at your local retail outlets is a well practiced art.

It’s also a time when when we begin to hear whether or not this year’s class of college juniors will be declaring for the NFL draft. Inevitably there’s at least one quarterback golden boy who breaks our hearts, and in turn breaks his own wallet by staying behind, a path well traveled by the likes of Jake Locker, Matt Barkley, and Landry Jones in recent years.

So step right up, Marcus Mariota. Tuesday afternoon the Oregon quarterback said that he’d prefer to stay in the land of hispsters for one more season, shunning the NFL. I’m all for education and whatnot, but often Mariorta’s choice doesn’t end well. Here’s why…

Now, it’s impossible to sit here in December and definitively say that Quarterback X will absolutely be the first selected at his position. Hey, remember a year ago at this time when Geno Smith was the no-doubter first overall pick? hahaha oh man.

But what we can do with reasonable accuracy is say that a quarterback will be among the top of his class, and as Breer relays above, the widespread feeling was that Mariota would have pushed Teddy Bridgewater. Turning your back on even a chance to be that pristine top quarterback is…odd.

Zygi Wilf is a terrifying human

You know, he sort of looks like Wario.

Yep, it’s uncanny.


Finally, some Bills Toronto Series logic

For the reasons I ranted about Monday, the Bills Toronto Series is a colossal failure. That’s mostly true because the Bills themselves are continually a colossal failure, and when you’re a losing team every year, the geographical location of your games is irrelevant as far as the overall attendance is concerned. People either find better football to watch, or better things to do with their lives.

But alas, maybe there’s hope for putting an end to the sorry state of affairs that’s been the Bills’ annual appearance in Toronto, which has most often taken place in December when hope is long gone. During a radio interview today Bills CEO Russ Brandon hinted strongly at the possibility of escaping the five-year commitment to Toronto.

Before you rejoice here, Bills faithful, please kindly remember that Brandon needs you to be much more faithful, and to do it with your wallet.

The overall average attendance at Ralph Wilson Stadium so far this year has been pretty alright, with 93.4 percent of the joint filled. But that number is at least partly skewed, because to escape local TV blackout restrictions the Bills hand tickets over tog roups and businesses. The result, as Brandon said today, has been only two true and authentic sellouts this year. As though he was challenging/threatening Bills fans, Brandon also made a point to mention that currently over 20,000 tickets remain for the Bills’ final home game this season on Dec. 22.

So here’s what you have to do then if you’d like to be a hero and save your team, Bills fans: spend your hard-earned holiday-season dollars to sit in freezing temperatures and watch a team that won’t make the playoffs for the 15th straight year, and with one more loss they’ll guarantee a sub .500 finish for the ninth straight season.

See, that’s fun for the whole family.