Three and Out: With Palmer at QB, is Fitzgerald elite again?

{eot} Staff
9/12/2013 3:05:00 PM
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Each week, Fantasy Editor Scott Cullen and NFL Editors Ben Fisher and Mitch Ward discuss three hot fantasy football topics.

1) With a competent QB finally throwing him the ball, is Larry Fitzgerald back to being an elite fantasy WR?

Cullen: Yes. It's not as though Fitzgerald lost his skill last season, he was merely a victim of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley throwing him the ball. Palmer isn't great, but threw for more than 4,000 yards in 15 games with the Raiders last season and no one in the Raiders' receiving corps is in Fitzgerald's league. I projected Fitzgerald for more than 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns this season, putting him fifth in value among wide receivers and that's elite enough company for me.

Ward: Depends on your definition of elite. Is he top-3? Maybe not. Is he top-10? Definitely. Calvin Johnson is still the alpha male at the position and there are guys like AJ Green, Julio Jones and a few others that I like a little more, but Fitz is certainly back to being a high-end WR1. Physically and athletically he is a nightmare for opposing DBs, and with Carson Palmer throwing him the ball you can expect big numbers in 2013. The most appealing part of his stat line from Week 1 for fantasy owners is the 14 targets he got. The Cardinals are set to throw the ball a ton this season and Fitzgerald will be the biggest beneficiary.

Fisher: Larry Fitzgerald's last six quarterbacks were Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, and Brian Hoyer. Remember the last time he had a decent QB to work with? It was 2009 with Kurt Warner, and he set a career high with 13 touchdown catches that year. Carson Palmer isn't Kurt Warner, but he's a decent fantasy QB and he makes Fitzgerald relevant again (he was a top five receiver in Week 1). Add in head coach Bruce Arians' affinity for the air game and yes, Fitzgerald will be an elite receiver this season. Fitz should finish the year among the top fantasy receivers, guys like Calvin Johnson, AJ Green and Dez Bryant.

2) In light of Reggie Bush's big performance in Week 1 with the Lions, is he finally the running back he was supposed to be coming out of USC?

Cullen: It would be hard for anyone to live up to the player that Reggie Bush was supposed to be coming out of USC -- he had 2218 yards from scrimmage (9.4 yards per touch!) and 18 touchdowns as a junior -- but he is definitely in a position to succeed. Bush gained 2,660 yards and scored 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons in Miami, establishing that he's a legitimate starting running back in the NFL and that should continue in Detroit, maybe to the tune of 1,300 or 1,400 yards from scrimmage. But let's not overreact to one game against Minnesota, especially one in which Bush had 25 touches, a workload he's had just six times in 92 pro games.

Ward: 191 yards and a touchdown sure was a nice Detroit debut. While I don't know if Bush will ever live up to the massive hype that accompanied him to the NFL, he might get close with the Lions. He should get 20 or so touches every week and the Lions will look to use him in open space where he can make the make the most of his athletic abilities. If he stays healthy, he could flirt with 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

Fisher: Reggie Bush had incredible expectations coming out of USC in 2006, and while I still don't think he'll hit those lofty standards with the Lions, this year will be the closest he'll come in his eight years in the league. Bush's Super Bowl heroism masked a mediocre run in New Orleans and while he was improved in Miami, he was still never confused for the top back a lot of people thought he'd be. I still can't see him joining the elite fantasy runners on a week to week basis (guys like AP, Doug Martin, and Ray Rice) but Bush is right there after that group, and that makes him a top 10 RB play. Pretty good considering how his NFL career started with the Saints.

3) After Terrelle Pryor's mostly impressive start for the Raiders, is he now a fantasy football QB1?

Cullen: Too soon to go offering up QB1 status for Pryor -- there are a lot of good quarterbacks in the league and we don't know if Pryor's legitimately accurate enough to remain effective. He does become interesting as a QB2, though because with even modest passing totals, Pryor has a chance to make things happen when he runs the ball and that rushing yardage can accumulate into some pretty nice fantasy value with one point for every 10 yards rushing (compared to one for every 25 yards passing) in most leagues. For now, Pryor interesting, with lots of upside, but not nearly proven enough to go ahead of the top 10-12 quarterbacks.

Ward: QB1 is a bit of a stretch. I see Terrell Pryor as a solid QB2 with a high fantasy floor. The passing yards and touchdowns won't be very good but with his ability to run the ball, Pryor will start with a base of five or six points every single week. The Raiders will also play from behind often which means plenty of opportunities to pick up garbage time stats. Due to his upside I'd rather roll the dice with Pryor than guys like Philip Rivers, Alex Smith or Matt Schaub.

Fisher: I think he will be. Terrelle Pryor was the ninth-ranked fantasy QB in Week 1. His point total was aided in large part to the fact he was second in the league in rushing with 112 yards. While that'll probably the last time he'll be that high on the league's rushing list, his athleticism and creativity lends to at least 60-70 yards per game, or six or seven fantasy points. If he hits 200 yards passing every week, certainly not out of the question, that's another eight points. Then Pryor just needs one score, either through the air or on the ground and he's a 20-point player, minimum. Should he keep his interceptions under wraps, Pryor will remain a low-end QB1 play.

Larry Fitzgerald, Larry Grant (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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