Losing Kurt Warner does hurt Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy value, but Fitzgerald has played at a high level with other mediocre quarterbacks. During his junior year at
. During his rookie season in 2004, Fitzgerald caught 58 passes for 780 yards and eight scores.
The quarterback(s)?: Josh McCown with a little Shaun King and John Navarre sprinkled in. Far from elite.
Let’s not forget either that Matt Leinart was a first-round draft pick and had a proven winning track record (37-2) at USC. After a disastrous 2006, sitting behind a top signal caller for three seasons may not have been the worst thing in the world. Look what it for Aaron Rodgers.
Also, time has been on Leinart’s side. He has had roughly the last six months to digest the playbook and prepare for his starting role. There really isn’t much pressure for playing time (Sorry, Derek Anderson), so that should help Leinart relax and lock in on Fitzgerald early and often this season.
What about the BOLD one?
Anquan Boldin left the desert and many have wondered if his departure will have a negative effect on Fitzgerald. I don’t think it will. Elite talent will perform, regardless of the circumstances. Brandon Marshall grabbed 101 passes with Kyle Orton at the helm. Calvin Johnson managed to grab 67 passes in an injury-riddled season playing alongside a rookie quarterback with absolutely no running game. Big-time talent always shows up and Fitzgerald has arguably the most talent among receivers.
What about the support?
Running backs Chris Wells and Tim Hightower should keep defenses honest this season. Receivers Early Doucet and Steve Breaston should also help stretch the field and give Fitzgerald more room to work.
The Sharks have Fitzgerald projected as the eighth-best receiver heading into this season (95 catches, 1,050 yards, 12 touchdowns) and that projection seems about right to me. I have Fitzgerald as the third-ranked receiver on my board, behind Andre Johnson and Randy Moss.
Leinart is not draftable this season. However, I would keep an eye on him. He has some very good complementary offensive pieces. If Leinart excels early, check the waiver wire!
Just remember, when in doubt: go elite!