John Brown burst onto the scene with fire during his rookie campaign. The Arizona Cardinals' speedster posted 48 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns, with several of those scores being of the big-play variety.
However, his production waned late in the season. Brown posted just 127 yards on nine catches the final month of the regular season, including a goose egg in Week 14. He then compiled just 34 yards on four catches in the playoffs.
While the atrocious quarterback situation played a big part in Brown's production reduction, his body also began to break down.
"At the end of the season my body started going down, I started losing weight," Brown told the team's official website. "This year I'm trying to focus on being able to keep this weight on as the season goes on."
After playing at 173 pounds in 2014, Brown said he is already up to 183 and plans to add more weight through the offseason.
The hope here is that the added weight doesn't negatively impact his speed. Brown finished as the #49 WR in standard formats and #53 in PPR. He saw a hefty 103 targets as a rookie, and with Larry Fitzgerald back and Michael Floyd still in the mix, it's doubtful that Brown's usage will increase too much. If Carson Palmer is healthy, however, the whole passing offense could take a step forward, and that would push Brown into fantasy-relevant territory.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, who signed a two-year, $22 million contract in February, cautioned against expecting the same kind of production we saw during his prime, when at least 90 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns seemed to be the norm.
"No, it's not possible," he said. "And it's only that reason because of the role that I play. It's a different role. I just don't have the opportunities down the field. I'm more inside, I move the chains a lot more.
"In terms of putting up the big numbers, it will be difficult, but in terms of my effectiveness, of providing first downs, being able to make tough catches for my team, I'm still going to be able to do that."
Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season (85-1,296-5.3) and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. If Palmer stays healthy, Fitzgerald should be a great value at his current 9th-round ADP in early PPR drafts.
Cardinals beat writer Bob McManaman on WR John Brown:
He's got the hunger to strive to be better and I know how he cherishes the opportunity he's getting with the Cardinals. HC Bruce Arians loves him and the respect is mutual. I expect big things from Smokey this season.
Brown finished as the #49 WR in standard formats and #53 in PPR. He saw a hefty 103 targets as a rookie, and with Larry Fitzgerald back and Michael Floyd still in the mix, it's doubtful that Brown's usage will increase too much. If Carson Palmer is healthy, however, the whole passing offense could take a step forward, and that would push Brown into fantasy-relevant territory.
His two touchdowns were a low for his career. His 63 receptions and 784 yards were the fewest since 2004. But there are reasons to think Fitzgerald can post better statistics in 2015, provided he and quarterback Carson Palmer stay healthy.
In Palmer's last five starts before a season-ending knee injury, Fitzgerald caught 31 passes for 461 yards. It was clear that he and Palmer were starting to click.
"Both guys were very comfortable in the offense," coach Bruce Arians said at the NFL owners meetings last week.
"He has progressed so much, I don't think there is any doubt they can go down on an option route, and Carson will know where he is going and the ball is on time. Larry is going to make the big, physical catches inside. He's a true mismatch inside."
$11 million per season (Fitzgerald’s re-worked deal) is a high price to pay for a soon-to-be 32-year-old who is coming off of his worst fantasy season of his career. However, there is a reason for optimism: Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season, and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. The Cardinals obviously believe that he’s worth keeping around.
As PFT reported earlier, the Cardinals have gained nearly $13 million in cap space thanks to a new deal with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, guaranteeing that one of the franchise’s icons will remain in the fold after months of uncertainty because of Fitzgerald’s salary and cap hit for the 2015 season.
PFT has learned a bit more about the deal via a league source. Fitzgerald’s old deal ran through the 2018 season and was set to pay him a non-guaranteed $16.5 million in 2015 while counting $23.6 million against the cap. He was also set to make a non-guaranteed $15 million salary.
That deal has been replaced by one that guarantees Fitzgerald $11 million per year over the next two seasons.
$11 million per season is a high price to pay for a soon-to-be 32-year-old who is coming off of his worst fantasy season of his career. However, there is a reason for optimism: Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season, and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. Assuming Palmer is good to go, Fitzgerald could be a nice middle round value heading into 2015 fantasy drafts.
Friday, as a guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 F for Newsmakers Week, GM Steve Keim had a similar tone.
"He's awesome," Keim said. "He came in, I believe it was yesterday and I talked to him at length, he's more energized than ever and he looked fantastic.
"It looks like he put on some lean muscle; he is working his tail off. And I know he's at a point in his rehabilitation process where he's doing some running and he's ahead of schedule. And again, he's more energized than ever."
Palmer averaged 271 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions in six 2014 starts, or 17.2 fantasy points per game. Those are fringe QB1 numbers, so if Palmer is good to go for 2015, he'll be on the radar as a late-round value for those owners looking to stream or form a committee at the position. Keep an eye on the Larry Fitzgerald situation -- if he parts ways with the team, it's going to be a blow to Palmer's upside.
Larry Fitzgerald does not expect to be back with the Cardinals next season, a source familiar with the situation told FOX Sports Arizona on Wednesday. That could make Saturday's wild-card playoff game in Charlotte, N.C., the final game of the Valley icon's Arizona career.
Last week, general manager Steve Keim confirmed a Pro Football Talk report that the Cardinals had no plans to cut Fitzgerald despite an unworkable $23.6 million cap number next season, which would account for about 17 percent of the projected $141 million salary cap.
"I don't think it's any secret that we've said all along it's our intent to have Larry Fitzgerald retire a Cardinal," Keim told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "I don't want to get into it too deep, but with planning purposes, financially, from a cap standpoint, all those sorts of things, we have Larry's number already baked into our numbers."
"We've had ongoing talks with (Fitzgerald's agent) Eugene Parker, and we will continue to have ongoing talks," Keim added. "Even though it's still not 2015, it's my job to look at 2015, '16, '17 and years beyond, and we have to make good business decisions."
Fitzgerald's numbers don't justify his massive contract, but maybe the two sides can work out a deal that can keep him in Arizona for a while longer.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 17. Fitzgerald should be find for his usual complement of snaps, though HC Bruce Arians said that he might alter playing time in the second half if the SEA/STL game gets out of hand. Arizona needs Seattle to lose to improve its playoff position.
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said he hopes it’s a much longer-range relationship.
“We have to make good business decisions,” Keim told Arizona Sports 98.7, via Darren Urban of the team’s official website. “I don’t think it’s any secret that we said all along that it is our intent to have Larry Fitzgerald retire a Cardinal. I don’t want to get into it too deep, but with planning purposes and financially, from a cap standpoint and all those sort of things, we have Larry’s [cap] number already baked into our numbers.
“Now, any kind of business decisions moving forward, renegotiations with Larry and that sort of thing, we’ve had ongoing talks with [agent] Eugene Parker and we will continue to have ongoing talks. But again, the best I can tell you is that it is our intent to keep Larry and make sure he stays a Cardinal the rest of his career.”
Reports say the Cards are prepared to carry the veteran wide receiver next year even with his $23.6 million cap hit. Fitzgerald has the Cards in a unique position, the story went on to say. If they’re intent on not releasing him, he can sit tight on the big number by refusing to take a pay cut or restructure. Of course, if there’s something in it for him to do a longer deal, then Keim may get his wish. Assuming QB Carson Palmer can emerge healthy next season, Fitzgerald will be part of a nice group of WRs which include Michael Floyd and John Brown, but Fitz is no longer an elite, top fantasy WR.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 16. Fitzgerald is expected to play through the injury.
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Fitzgerald is expected to play through the injury.
Asked about a report that Stanton would miss four weeks, Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said it’s simply too soon to say how quickly Stanton will heal.
“I think it’s one of those things with that type of knee injury, everybody heals different,” Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, via ESPN.com. “And I know that ESPN and some other outlets have put a timeline on it. It’s extremely difficult to do. You can say it’s going to be four weeks — I’ve heard people say 1.5 weeks. Everybody heals differently. Drew will be here around the clock rehabbing, and I know he’ll be ready to go as soon as possible.”
The Cardinals are already down starting quarterback Carson Palmer for the season, and Stanton’s absence means they’ll be playing with one of their two co-third stringers, Ryan Lindley or Logan Thomas. Obviously those aren't the kind of fantasy names you want to put in your lineup Week 16. It also means the value of WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown will drop a bit more.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 6:25pm
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee, probable) practiced fully Wednesday. Fitzgerald emerged unscathed from Week 14 so he should be able to play on Thursday night.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee, questionable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is questionable for Week 14. It appears that Fitzgerald is on track to play in Sunday’s game against Kansas City, though he’s “still not 100 percent,” per HC Bruce Arians, who also called Fitzgerald a game-time decision. The Cardinals play in the late round of games. It’s a bad matchup for the Arizona passing game, but Michael Floyd and John Brown would have some appeal if Fitz is out.
- Page 1