Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has said that he doesn’t expect star WR Larry Fitzgerald’s numbers to take a hit with the switch from future HOF QB Kurt Warner to the unproven Matt Leinart. Among the reasons he sites for believing it will business as usual for Fitz are that Leinart has a stronger arm and throws a better deep ball and that he said that Fitzgerald did not suffer when Leinart has had starts or extended playing time in games (a statement we challenge in the Fantasy Spin below).
Draftbuddy.com has Fitzgerald ranked all the way down at 11 in their WR rankings. Here is an article in which they justify that ranking.
You can probably get WRs in the fourth or fifth round that are better buys says the guys at fantasyfootballmaniax.com and they give some of the positives and negatives for Fitz going into 2010.
FFToolbox.com is the most optimistic, but cautions that Fitzgerald may be due for a drop off. They point out that his ADP is still in the first round at this point.
FANTASY FOOTBALL SPIN
As for the assertion that Fitzgerald has not suffered statistically when Leinart is under center; well that’s not really the case. In 2007, Leinart started five games and Fitzgerald averaged a respectable 89.6 yards per game but only scored one TD in those five games. He averaged 102.9 yards per game in the eleven games that Warner quarterbacked in 2007 with nine TDs. In defense of Leinart, he was a rookie making his first starts and after only 20 yards for Fitzgerald in the first game of the season he posted totals of 85, 87, 120, and 136 yards in the following for games.
2008 was just about a complete wash for Leinart, who nearly never saw the field. 2009 was a different story. Leinart was bad in the little time he got. Between the two games that Leinart started or saw a lot of action Fitzgerald caught 7 passes for 51 yards and one TD.
The Cardinals seem destined to run the ball more and Leinart is not the QB Warner was, so it’s hard to imagine no drop off for Fitzgerald. He won’t catch 100 passes and may not get double digit TDs. He is still an elite receiver, mostly because he may be the most gifted WR in the league. But, the advice from fantasyfootballmaniax.com seems prudent. Someone is going to reach for him at the bottom of the first round or the early second. You can wait and get a better value in the fourth or fifth round and stock up on other positions.