Fantasy Football: Learning To Love Michael Floyd

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd
Joe Nicholson USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football analysts at XN Sports seem to be veritable hipsters when it comes to ranking Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd as a borderline top-flight fantasy option.

We ranked him high before it was cool to rank him high. And I think we’ll be justified in our hipster stance.

I joined Sal Stefanile and Rich Hribar in putting the third-year Cardinals wideout as a top-15 option headed in the 2014 season. We represent three of the four highest rankings of Floyd on FantasyPros, with friend of XN Sports and Pro Football Focus Fantasy writer Patrick Thorman taking the most bullish stance on the 6’3″ 221-pound pass catcher.

For what it’s worth, Sal, Rich, and I didn’t discuss our rankings before we made them live on FantasyPros. Our bullishness on Floyd is genuine.

XN Sports Preseason Fantasy Football Rankings

Ranking Floyd as my WR14 headed into the 2014 campaign wasn’t the stretch it might seem to be. I assigned Floyd a hefty equity score a couple months ago, and though his average draft position (ADP) has fluctuated a bit in the interim, he still represents a clear value play as the 27th receiver off the draft board.

Floyd’s high equity score of 13 is a rarity among any receivers among the first 30 drafted at their position. Even his median projection would put him at WR19 for the season — eight spots higher than where he’s being drafted today.

If you strip away 2013 games in which Floyd saw less than five targets, the RotoViz similarity score app — which creates a range of projections based in part on the production of similar players — says Floyd is capable of posting 16.9 fantasy points per game. That average, over 16 games, would put Floyd in WR10 territory.

His similarity score comparables include Dwayne Bowe‘s 2008 season (WR15), A.J. Green‘s 2012 campaign (WR4), and Larry Fitzgerald in 2007 (WR8). This might seem like heady company, but I think it’s far from unreasonable in projecting Floyd.

Our rosy picture of Floyd’s 2014 probably requires a changing of the guard among Arizona’s receivers, or something close to it. Fitzgerald began his transition into a possession receiver during Bruce Arians’ first season as Cardinals head coach, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change in 2014.

(Fitzgerald has an average depth of target (aDOT) of 10.8 last year, far lower than Floyd’s aDOT on 15.2, according to PFF)

Fitzgerald drew 129 targets to Floyd’s 107, a per-game difference of 1.3 targets. Carson Palmer‘s receivers put up almost identical per-target efficiency, with Fitzgerald scoring 1.83 fantasy points per look and Floyd scoring 1.86 points every time the ball game his way.

Lavish praise during the offseason often amounts to a big, heaping pile of nothing, though I think it’s worth noting Palmer’s unprompted compliments of Floyd’s improvement headed into this third season.Floyd, according to Palmer, will “shock some people” this year.

Then there’s the point raised by Arizona receivers coach Daryl Drake: Floyd will continue to see defense’s secondary cover guy as the focus remains on stopping the wily veteran lined up on the other side of the formation.

“Looking at the production he had last year I think people will start looking at him that way, but at the same time, you don’t know what a defensive coordinator will do,” Drake said in an interview with the team’s website. “People will still scheme against Larry Fitzgerald.”

There will be a changing of the guard in Arizona’s receiving ranks, whether it’s gradual or suddenly. I have Floyd ranked just a couple spots ahead Fitzgerald this season. The difference, of course, is cost. Fitzy will cost you an early fourth round pick. He might justify his draft slot.

Floyd, on the other hand, is going in the beginning of the sixth round. He’ll be a value; the only question is to what extent.

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