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Roto Arcade

Target Practice, Week 13: Larry Fitzgerald, cursed by Kolb

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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Cards huddle

Over the Arizona Cardinals' last 16 games, dating back to Week 14 last season, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb have each drawn eight starts. Skelton has been mostly miserable, completing just 49.0 percent of his passes, gaining only 5.8 yards per attempt, tossing six touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Kolb hasn't exactly put on a clinic, either, but he's been demonstrably better than his back-up: 57.5 completion percentage, 7.8 Y/A, 9 TDs, 8 INTs.

There's no reasonable argument for Arizona to start Skelton going forward. He's sloppy, inaccurate, and he's been yanked from two games due to unwatchable play. Kolb is the guy with the $65 million deal ($20-something million guaranteed), so he's presumably Arizona's franchise QB.

But if the only attachment you have to the Cardinals offense is through fantasy, via Larry Fitzgerald ownership, then you've no doubt seen quite enough Kolb. In his eight starts for Arizona, Kolb has targeted Fitzgerald 8.1 times per game. In Skelton's eight starts, Fitz has averaged 10.5 targets. (Note: Richard Bartel is responsible for a handful of those attempts, twice entering in relief). Again, Skelton has made a few remarkably reckless throws over the past two seasons, but Fitzgerald investors appreciate the effort.

Is there any chance at all that Kolb tries to complete this pass into double coverage? Or this thing into traffic? Hell no. Those were ridiculous decisions that happened to work out, because A) defenders failed to make plays, and B) Fitz is awfully good.

Personally, I can live with the fact that Kolb won't force throws when Fitz is blanketed. These are the plays that really get to me...

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Fitzgerald open & unloved

That's Fitzgerald in the upper right, a step into the end zone, with slot corner Orlando Scandrick behind him. The throwing lane is clear enough. If Kolb would have pulled the trigger immediately, Skelton-style, that's six (although it's possible Skelton would have sailed the ball into the stands. But at least he would have been aiming for No. 11).

Instead, Kolb hesitated and allowed Scandrick to recover. A second later he fired over the middle to a well-covered Early Doucet, and the ball was deflected by Sean Lee (pictured right, with an oven mitt on his left hand). The drive ended with a field goal.

The Cards obviously don't need Kolb making dangerous, low-probability throws to Fitzgerald, but it would be nice if he'd recognize single-coverage opportunities, especially in the end zone.

On the play pictured above, I kid you not, even Dick Stockton identified the open Pro-Bowler. These were his comments:

"You know I saw Fitzgerald, who was just over the goal line and had positioning there."

This is the same Dick Stockton who sets all player names to "shuffle" during broadcasts. If he's reading defenses quicker than your quarterback, then you have a problem.

Of course if Skelton is behind center, then a team has a different sort of problem ... but it's one that Fitzgerald owners can live with.

Here at last are your Week 13 target leaders, displayed in traditional Roto Arcade colors (scroll down for Fitz)...

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Target leaders - Week 13

Programming note: There's no position-by-position commentary with this week's target numbers, due to off-blog commitments (radio and baseball-related). Next week, we get back to blurbs.

If I were blurbing today, which I'm not, then I'd make sure to hit Fred Davis' looming four-game suspension. And of course I'd highlight Devin Aromashodu's crazy usage, noting that Michael Jenkins has been placed on IR. And I'd definitely mention the fact that Miles Austin is expected to return in Week 14, while cautioning you not to kick Laurent Robinson to the curb. Robinson and Tony Romo seem to connect on at least one improvised big play per week. And I'd point out the insane target total that Kevin Smith might have seen if he hadn't aggravated his ankle injury. And maybe I'd note that Caleb Hanie is ridiculously locked in on Johnny Knox, so that's probably where Champ Bailey will spend most of his time in Week 14. And, finally, we'd discuss the small uptick in Golden Tate's value, now that Sidney Rice has been IR'd. Tate has found the end zone in each of the past two weeks, making a degree-of-difficulty TD catch against Philly.

But alas, no blurbs this week. Apologies.

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Photo via Getty Images

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