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.
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.
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.
It's what everyone feared, and assumed, as soon as Palmer went down on is own against the Rams in Week 10. It's a huge blow to the team's chances at a long playoff run. From a fantasy perspective, Drew Stanton takes over as the QB the rest of the season. As we said the first time around with Stanton, owners of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and now the popular John Brown, must bump their values down. Andre Ellington could benefit with more carries and perhaps getting more involved in the safer, short passing game, but his touches were already approaching what many felt was his limit. Four of the next six weeks are against defenses ranked in the top five in terms of allowing fantasy points to QBs, including two games against the Seahawks as well as the Lions Week 11, the top ranked team.
Monday, November 10, 2014, 9:17am
"The first couple of days (of training camp)," Fitzgerald said after the Cardinals' 31-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. "He caught every ball that was thrown to him and he was getting open consistently. I know everybody was excited."
No one, however, could have foreseen the kind of impact Brown would make. He had 24 catches for 326 yards and four touchdowns heading into Sunday's game, including, of course, the game-winning 75-yard bomb from Carson Palmer to beat Philadelphia two weeks ago.
It will be hard to top that catch, but Brown tried against the Rams. His diving 48-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown reception from backup quarterback Drew Stanton gave Arizona a 17-14 lead, energized a crowd that had been quiet for much of the day at University of Phoenix Stadium and was the impetus for Arizona outscoring St. Louis 21-0 in the final 15 minutes.
We saw some signs of a possible outburst from Brown this year in the preseason when the Cardinals raved about him. While it's not uncommon for a team to talk positive about a player, you could almost feel the sincerity with the Card's words about Brown. He's making his share of big plays, but right now he's probably still safer for deeper leagues. The loss of Palmer didn't seem to hurt Brown in Week 10, but the value of all of the Cards WRs likely has to drop a bit as the team turns to Stanton.
QB Carson Palmer is believed to have torn his ACL, per source. Tests to confirm coming.
Palmer went down virtually untouched and immediately reached for the knee. NFL.com reported the injury is to the same knee Palmer shredded so severely in 2006 that his surgeon deemed the damage a "four" on a "scale of one to three." Palmer had just signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension (with $20 million guaranteed) Friday to provide extra security in the twilight of his career. Drew Stanton takes over as the starter, but it's a hit to the fantasy value of WRs John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Stanton should provide QB2 value for those in need at the position.
Contract terms were not disclosed by the Cardinals, but sources confirmed to ESPN that the deal is worth $50 million in total. It is guaranteed through 2015 and includes a guaranteed $20.5 million during that span, a source said. The average salary range is between $15.9 million and $16.6 million.
From a fantasy perspective, Palmer is in a pretty good situation and for the most part is a lower-end QB1. He has a reliable, but aging veteran in Larry Fitzgerald and a close-to star in Michael Floyd. John Brown is an emerging deep threat and Andre Ellington at RB is an option to run and catch the ball out of the backfield.
Thursday, October 30, 2014, 9:48am
Cardinals beat writer Josh Weinfuss: With WR John Brown, Arizona added a reliable speed option. Carson Palmer and Brown developed a great rapport while working together in Southern California this offseason and it’s just translated onto the field. While Larry Fitzgerald has shown he can make a tough catch in traffic and break free for 80 yards and Michael Floyd can go up and over anyone who challenges him, it’s Brown who can take the top off the defense. He has started showing up more and more on opposing game plans over the last few weeks, but after his game-winning touchdown catch Sunday, I’m sure he’ll be a point of emphasis going forward, which will spread secondaries thin and open up the middle and underneath for the rest of the Cardinals’ receivers.
"Yeah, knock on wood," Arians said, rapping three times on the top of table at which he was sitting. "Hopefully, we don't have to talk about that one anymore."
Later, Palmer seemed to confirm it, telling reporters he's reached the point where he rarely thinks about the shoulder.
"Yeah, I'm there right now," he said. "I'm actually able to lift with my upper body, which I wasn't able to lift for five weeks or whatever it was. I definitely had a lot of atrophy, so I'm starting to get some strength back and put a little extra weight up top, which is good.
Palmer's upcoming schedule is a lesson in extremes (PHI, STL and ATL in the next six weeks intermingled with matchups against DAL, DET and SEA) so he's best used as part of a QB committee.
Cardinals RB Andre Ellington sustained a rib injury in the first half, which led coach Bruce Arians to believe his top runner was done for the day. To Arians' surprise, Ellington was ready to go when the second half was set to start.
Ellington put in a fine performance during Arizona's 21-13 win over Arizona, totaling 160 total yards — 88 rushing, 72 receiving. Ellington has been a high-volume producer in Arizona's offense and has showed a knack for being able to play through injuries. He's also dealt with a nagging foot injury throughout the season.
While it was nice for owners Ellington came back, and we can perhaps assume he will be okay for Week 8, it's at least a cause for concern as rib injuries are often a serious matter and take time to heal. This is definitely something owners need to pay attention to this week. There is some good news: Ellington 30 touches in Week 7's win could be something we see more of. Arians said a big reason Ellington hasn’t gotten as many touches as he did Sunday was because he hasn’t been able to practice much. He and quarterback Carson Palmer simply don’t have the confidence in certain plays because they have not been repped.
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