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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Grab this Arizona Cardinal

By Jared Smola 11:18am EDT 6/23/14

We were all about the Cardinals offense last summer. Turns out we might have been a year early.

Arizona got off to a slow start in 2013. They failed to top 20 points in 3 of their first 6 games. They averaged just 20.4 points in their first 8 contests.

But that number climbed to 27.4 over the 2nd half of the season. The Cardinals scored at least 27 points in 5 of their final 8 games.

More importantly, there was some big-time fantasy production coming out of the desert over the 2nd half. Carson Palmer was a top 12 QB. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd were both top 16 WRs.

Floyd looks like the best Arizona Cardinals fantasy football draft target in 2014. He’s going off the board outside the top-20 WRs in MyFantasyLeague.com drafts. We like his odds of posting top 20 numbers this season – and he has the upside to finish among the top 12.

Floyd somewhat quietly led the Cardinals with 1,041 receiving yards last year. His 16.0 yards per catch ranked 7th among all WRs with at least 40 grabs. Only 14 WRs had more receptions of 20+ yards than Floyd’s 17.

And like most of the Cardinals, Floyd was better in the 2nd half of last season than the 1st. After tallying a 35-446-2 line over his first 8 games, he went for 31-608-3 over his final 8. Only 9 WRs racked up more yardage during that span.

Floyd finished the 2013 campaign with a 65-1,041-5 line -- a strong performance from a 2nd-year WR. He ranked 19th among WRs in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades, 5 spots ahead of Fitzgerald.

Only 24 years old, Floyd still has plenty of room for growth. Remember that this guy was the 13th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft after setting the all-time Notre Dame record with 3,689 career receiving yards. Floyd goes 6’2, 220 pounds with 4.4 speed and a 36.5-inch vertical. He has all the tools to emerge as one of the most dominant WRs in the league. He’s reportedly looked great in workouts this spring.

Expect even bigger numbers this year than he posted last. The entire Cardinals offense should be better with another offseason in HC Bruce Arians’ scheme. Floyd is still ascending. And he figures to see a bigger piece of the passing pie in 2014. Floyd garnered 19.7% of Arizona’s total targets last year. That was a clear 2nd to Fitzgerald’s 23.5%. That gap should decrease in 2014. There’s even a chance Floyd leads the Cardinals in targets this season.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Floyd is a talented former 1st-rounder who has shown steady progress through his first 2 NFL seasons. He’s coming off a 1,000-yard campaign and top 25 fantasy finish. With another offseason in Arians’ offense and with Fitzgerald another year older, Floyd could be even busier and more productive in 2014. Consider him a high-end WR2 with upside.

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