Tue Aug 24 01:17pm EDT
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Whether on the football, battle or dating fields, the buddy system is an integral male relationship. When functioning smoothly assignments are easily carried out. However, when a communication breakdown occurs crucial passes fall incomplete, Private Ryan doesn’t get saved and somebody wakes up next to ugly.
Survey cornerbacks currently in the league and the majority would likely claim Arizona’s ultra-talented receiver is the most difficult to contain. Equipped with terrific size, smarts, hands and agility, the four-time Pro Bowl selection lacks weaknesses. It’s no wonder why he’s dominated the league since leaving Pittsburgh in 2004. Over the past five seasons, he’s averaged a sensational 93 receptions, 1,258 yards and 10 touchdowns per year, an indisputable WR1 value in fantasy.
[Photos: More of star receiver Larry Fitzgerald]
However, often a receiver is only good as his quarterback. Remember how deplorable Randy Moss(notes) was with the Raiders? How about T.O. last year in Buffalo? Simply put: If your buddy doesn’t pull his end of the load, you become a casualty.
During his forgettable professional career, the former USC quarterback has tallied more significant achievements in hot tubs than on the field. He's become so insignificant that the very network that worshipped the ground he walked on while in college can’t even remember how to spell his name properly. The numbers verify Leinart’s dwindling popularity. In 29 games (16 starts), he’s completed a mere 57.1 percent of his passes, amassing an 14:20 TD:INT split.
Too laid-back and drift-minded, the 27-year-old has never attacked the starting gig with the zeal of Kurt Warner(notes). Though he’s been on the field only briefly this preseason, misreads and misfires are all too regular. Under his direction, the Cardinals’ first-team offense has looked horrifically stagnant. The running game, operating behind a transparent offensive line, has failed to launch. Constant pressure has collapsed the pocket. Passes have fluttered. Most troubling, disconnect between the passer and coaches over the team’s exhibition performance has surfaced. Adam Schefter’s report Monday that Leinart’s job is already jeopardy should come as no surprise. Derek Anderson(notes), who has accuracy issues of his own, could be thrust into first team duties by midseason, if not much earlier. Yahoo!'s own Michael Silver believes Leinart’s chances of maintaining the starting gig through Week 10 stand at 65-35. Entering the most pivotal point in his career, it appears the former first-rounder will fail epically, which could severely handicap Fitzgerald’s fantasy value.
Critics will cherry-pick past stats to prove Leinart is competent enough for Fitz to maintain elite status. After all, the pair have connected for at least nine receptions and 100-plus yards three times. However, their overall record is filled with several valleys. Over 14 games with the inconsistent QB behind center, Fitz has totaled 93 receptions, 1,062 yards and four touchdowns. Fine numbers in a PPR format, but when compared to last year’s receiver rankings in standard formats his 9.3 points per game output matched Steve Smith’s (Car), the 17th-highest mark at the position.
As we’ve discussed previously, proven receivers rarely fall short of meeting expectation. For instance, when compared to running backs their bust rate is dramatically lower. But occasional implosions do and will continue to occur. Because of the concerns mentioned above, Fitzgerald is in a very dangerous position. Owners who sink heavy coin into the target need to understand the risks involved. His knee isn’t a significant concern – he’s expected to be cleared for Week 1 – but it’s becoming increasingly possible he won’t return a top-20 investment (ADP: 17.1, WR6). Roddy White(notes), Brandon Marshall(notes) and Greg Jennings(notes), all going after the ‘Zona wideout, have fewer question marks attached.
For one of the virtual game’s most consistent producers, his “buddy” has turned fantasy standing from clear to muddy.
Fearless Forecast (15 games): 81 receptions, 1,098 yards, 7 touchdowns
RED SCENE AND RICE
Sidney Rice(notes) owners’ worst nightmare has finally been realized. Confirmed by the Associated Press, last year’s breakthrough receiver visited a specialist in Colorado on Monday who recommended surgery on his ailing hip, which he underwent Tuesday. Insiders believe he could return to the lineup by midseason, but it’s possible he may not contribute strong numbers until the fantasy playoffs.
Obviously Rice’s value falls off the continental shelf. He’s completely avoidable well into the 100s. His prolonged absence reiterates our belief drafting a top-flight pass catcher early is imperative. After Chad Ochocinco(notes), question marks are everywhere.
The gray gunslinger, Brett Favre(notes), also takes a value hit. Currently the No. 7 passer on the Noise’s board, he will be downgraded slightly. However, if Percy Harvin’s(notes) migraine issues continue to confound the young receiver, Favre’s Colt may remain in holster more than his investors would like. A TD total between 24-27 seems realistic.
Among the Vikings leftovers, the BB Gun, Bernard Berrian(notes), will likely pack plenty of fantasy ammo over at least the first half of the season. Remember, he’s only two years removed from a 964-yard, seven-TD campaign. The expected increase in looks easily vaults his draft worth into the WR top 35. Recent acquisition Javon Walker(notes), who hasn't been fantasy relevant since 2006, is also a player of interest in deeper formats.
Images courtesy of US Presswire
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