Player Analysis: The Arizona WRs
When talking about an ideal landing spot for a rookie WR, Arizona is a spot that I would love to see one land. Most mock drafts that you’ll see have Arizona grabbing a QB at some point in this year’s draft, and to me, a WR here could be an excellent opportunity.
Initially, John Brown was the guy that I wanted to focus on here, but between John, Jaron Brown, JJ Nelson, and Larry Fitzgerald, no one really stands out long-term. Larry is nearing the end of his career in the NFL. Jaron Brown has racked up a whopping 5 TDs in four seasons, and will be 27 this year. John Brown totaling 4 100+ yard receiving games in his career, will also be 27 this year, and has a health condition that isn’t one that goes away. A sickle cell trait that is in his blood, although Arizona said they believe it is ‘under control’, I am not buying in. The sickle cell trait has been the source of his leg issues, and this type of issue doesn’t just go away or heal over time, it is in your genes. A lot of times, these sickle cell traits are aggravated or get triggered due to high intensity workouts. Even when Brown is active and healthy, he is a deep play threat, after averaging over 14.13 Air Yards per target in 2016 and just 39 receptions on the year.
JJ Nelson as of now, is the one guy with the most upside, but similar to John and Jaron, the deep play threat guys are typically not your ideal options in Fantasy. JJ took off during the second half of the season and was a viable flex play type of guy for a few weeks. Barring a major step forward by JJ or John Brown, and the clear health factor, a rookie WR makes perfect sense. A rookie WR may not be someone that blows up for you in 2017, but as the Cardinals move on from Palmer, Fitz, and the other WRs not appearing to be long-term options, the opportunity is bound to be there.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers for the Arizona WR core in 2016.
2016 Arizona WRs
|Name||Snaps Per Game Wk 1-16||YPR Wk 1-16||Redzone Looks Wk 1-16||Redzone Looks Per Game Wk 1-16||Targets Wk 1-17||Receptions Wk 1-17||Air Yards Wk 1-17||YAC Wk 1-17||Rec. Yds. Wk 1-17|
One of the key statistics here that stands out to me, is the Air Yards for Brown and Nelson vs the receptions. Over 1,000 for Brown and 1,200 for Nelson, despite 39 and 34 receptions, respectively. Both of these guys had right around 70 targets, this is a huge red flag and helps confirm the deep threat role in the offense that they both possess. 151 targets for Larry puts him at 6th in the league for WR targets in 2016. After his future being up in the air heading into 2016, and again in 2017, it is just a matter of time before Larry moves on. That leaves a whopping 151 targets available for the rest of this offense. Is it possible Larry comes back and repeats in 2017? Sure, but from a long-term standpoint, his targets will have to go somewhere. Between Fitz, Brown, Nelson, David Johnson having their roles established, it only makes sense to me that the Cardinals need a rookie WR.
For Dynasty Leagues, it is important to monitor this WR core heading into 2017 and the NFL Draft. If Arizona does go the offensive route this year and targets a WR and QB, depending who the WR is, their stock is likely to take a good jump. If they do not go the WR route, John Brown and JJ Nelson both have similar upside and should be approached as such.
For Redraft Leagues, I will gladly take one of these WRs, if the price is right. Let other owners go after Larry with an early pick, I’ll gladly grab Brown or Nelson in the late rounds, and have a guy with solid upside for 2017. If Larry does fall to you in a later round, I’d be happy with him as my WR3, with the upside of a top 12-15 WR. Similar with Steve Smith in 2016, Larry is someone that you can grab as your third WR or flex, depending whether you start 2 or 3 WRs, and feel confident in him.