Tag Archives: Larry Fitzgerald
The NFL season is finally (almost) upon us, and for fans that means it's time to gear up for game time. For NFL fans, however, this expectation process is a bit different than for most sports fans, simply because NFL fans get so closely involved with their teams. For you, that might mean ordering the latest version of NFL RedZone from your cable provider. It might mean extensive matchup analysis to prepare yourself for some football betting at Betfair online. But for a huge proportion of NFL fans, the last few weeks before the season mean one thing in particular: it's time for fantasy drafts.
Of course, preparing for your fantasy draft involves its own set of preparations as you analyze and decide which players to target. And part of this process always revolves around finding a few "steals." So with that in mind, here are 5 players who should perform above expectations this season.
1. Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has been largely cast aside by many fantasy owners after a positively disastrous 2012 campaign. The truth, however, is that Fitzgerald had an awful offense to work within last season. With Carson Palmer now slated at QB for the Cardinals, Fitzgerald should have a more reliable partner in the offense. He may never be what he once was, but he still has off-the-charts talent, and should be a top-15 WR candidate this season.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew
MJD is certainly a risky pick, coming off a season ending foot injury in 2012 to a Jacksonville team with a new zone-blocking offensive system. That said, MJD is only 27 years old, is entering a contract year, and will be hungry to prove himself after last year's debacle. This guy can still be a top-10 RB.
3. DeAngelo Williams
The upside here is that the Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams platoon will likely take a year off due to Stewart's ankle issues. Williams should be the Panthers' main RB, which should significantly boost his production. That said, Mike Tolbert is still around to vulture goal line TDs, and Cam Newton can do it himself from close range as well. Williams will be better this season than last, but don't get too carried away.
4. Dwayne Bowe
ESPN has Bowe rated as just the 21st best WR on the board, and there is certainly reason to believe this is a fair ranking. Bowe's history is one of underachieving, and his recent payday could take away some motivation. That said however, Bowe will be the #1 target on a Kansas City team that now has the ultra-effective Alex Smith at QB. He could easily turn into a top-10 or top-15 fantasy WR.
5. Giovanni Bernard
BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be the main RB in Cincinnati, but Bernard has the talent to usurp the position. Bernard is also useful as a receiver and returner, and should get plenty of opportunity to store. If you're looking for a sleeper or keeper, this kid could turn into a star.
Over the past 3 years, Mike Wallace has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. Now, Wallace wants to be paid like one. There is little doubt that the Steelers are a better team with Mike Wallace but at what cost? Do you jeopardize future signings such as Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders? I don't think so.
Wallace has been rumored saying he wants to be paid like Larry Fitzgerald who signed a 8 year, 128.5 million dollar contract.
The Steelers won't pay Wallace, Larry Fitzgerald money. That would be a poor decision and that is not the way the Steelers do business. They won't overpay for a wide receiver (see Burress, Randle El, etc) and they never let a player (see Santonio Holmes) jeopardize the future of the franchise. And quite frankly, Wallace isn't worth Fitzgerald money. Wallace has elite speed but he's not close to being a Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald talent. They are in a class of their own. Wallace is in the next tier of wide receivers. He's still a 1 trick pony that disappeared towards the end of last year. He might not be the best overall wide receiver on the team. That title probably goes to the Antonio Brown.
With that being said, I want Wallace on the Steelers if the price is right. What's the right price? I think 5 years, 45 million seems about right. The contract will be back loaded and much less than that will be guaranteed. If Wallace doesn't agree to a contract similar to that, he won't be a Steeler after this season.
The Super Six
The Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl XLIII Champions. How sweet it is to bring back another Vince Lombardi Trophy to the city of Pittsburgh. It is well deserved.
I had to wait a few days to write this blog to let the victory sink in. To be honest, I am still in the process of reading every Super Bowl article on the internet still. You name it, the Post Gazette, Tribune-Review, ESPN, CBS SportsLine, Yahoo! Sports, etc. I just can't get enough of this Super Bowl victory. It was perhaps the most emotional game I have ever watched. I can honestly say that I thought destiny (and the referees) were against us when I saw Larry Fitzgerald score a touchdown, to take the lead, with just under 3 minutes remaining. I thought the game was over.
Then, our franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger marches 88 yards down the field (in spite of a holding call on Darnell Stapleton). To cap off the drive and the Super Bowl victory, Santonio Holmes made one of the best catches I have ever seen and possibly the best catch in Super Bowl history. Give huge props to Big Ben Roethlisberger; he put together possibly the best 2-minute drive in Super Bowl history.
I won't review the game since you all have probably seen all the highlights and read all the analysis you can handle at this point. However, in a future post, I will add all the Super Bowl XLIII highlights to our Steelers photo and highlight gallery. What I will review is a few plays and thoughts from the Super Bowl.
James Harrison returns interception for 100-yards
The interception return was easily one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history and is now in the record books as the longest play for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. I couldn't believe what I was watching and was going crazy in watching him go yard-by-yard on the way to a pick-six. I think I was gasping for air just as much as James Harrison was by the time he reached the end zone. That play was simply unbelievable. That was most likely, at a minimum, a 10-point swing.
Troy Polamalu lining up face-to-face with Larry Fitzgerald
I personally think this matchup wasn't talked about nearly enough and should have been one of the post-game story lines. Larry Fitzgerald, the best athlete on the Arizona Cardinals (and best WR in the NFL) matched-up with Troy Polamalu whom is equally as athletically gifted. Polamalu played bump and run with Fitzgerald to try to slow him up a bit and delay him from 'hitting his routes'. The media downplayed this matchup. Most people questioned why Kurt Warner didn't get the ball in Fitzgerald's hands earlier but you can't throw the ball to the guy if he's double and sometimes triple covered. Give Ken Whisenhunt credit for moving Fitzgerald around later in the game to get better matchups. I thought Dick Lebeau and the Steelers D should have started moving Troy Polamalu around to 'spy' Fitzgerald later in the game. They didn't do it and you saw what happened. Fitzgerald started torching our secondary.
Larry Fitzgerald scoring with just under 3 minutes to play
This was a devastating play and it really showcased why Fitzgerald is the best in the business. He's got the intelligence, the speed, leaping ability, and the hands to dominate in this league. I really thought this was going to end up being the game winning touchdown. Larry lined up in the slot, beat his man, split the seam and was off to the races. Troy Polamalu took a gamble and the Steelers defense paid the price. Polamalu was over aggressive and attacked the out pattern which opened up a huge hole down the middle of the field.
Larry Fitzgerald beating Ike Taylor on the fade route
This is just another showcase of this guys ability. Also, give props to Ike Taylor because he had absolutely incredible coverage. It's just that if Fitzgerald gets his hands on that football in a "jump ball" situation, he almost always comes down with it.
The play of Big Ben
In watching this game, Ben Roethlisberger had an absolutely incredible game and really deserved the MVP award and that's not taking anything away from Santonio Holmes because he had an amazing game as well. Ben Roethlisberger made some plays that showcased why he's an elite quarterback in this league. His scrambling ability to buy time in the pocket was amazing. In particular, the throw to Heath Miller in the first quarter while buying time and throwing across his body displayed his underrated athleticism, arm strength and his field vision. Steve Young said it best (and I'm NOT a Steve Young fan) when he asked Ben, 'How do you do that', 'Do you have eyes in the back of your head'. It sure seems that way, Young.
The playmaking of Roethlisberger doesn't stop there either. His pump fakes caused the Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks major headaches as well as his ability to extend the play in the pocket. His accuracy was "spot-on" in the biggest game in the world (or maybe I should refer to the Planet hereJ ). For example, his 1st down throw to Holmes on the last drive displayed his accuracy and arm strength. His throw out of the end zone (which resulted in a safety due to the Hartwig bogus holding penalty) was equally impressive. His 2-minute drive was typical Ben fashion. Even though I'll admit that I wasn't confident at the point, I knew that with Big Ben this game was not over.
The game winning touchdown pass to Holmes in the end zone was perfect. It couldn't have been thrown in any other place. If Ben threw that ball a foot to the left, it's intercepted. If Ben throws that ball a foot to the right, it's out of Holmes' reach. Ben was simply incredible on the biggest stage in the world and in my mind, is well on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer. Did I mention he's only 26?
Holmes Breakout Party (and a bit on Hines)
The play of Holmes' was equally as impressive. He just made play after play after play. I give him huge credit because I knew that the extra coverage was going to be rolled his way because of the injury to Hines Ward. I thought the first reception to Hines Ward was instrumental because it scared the Cardinals in thinking that he was healthier than what he really was and opened the door for Holmes.
Hines played more of a decoy role in this game but he's equally as good. The guy is a flat out football game that plays the game the way it was meant to be played. Hines Ward plays tough, healthy/hurt, emotional, physical and great. He's the ultimate Steeler and I can't wait to see him inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
With Ward not being 100%, it was time for Santonio to step up. And step up he did, by winning himself the Most Valuable Player honors. The media hype up rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all week and said he would shut down one of the Steelers receivers. Well, that was far from the truth. I think Holmes took a little offense to that as well. Cromartie was used and abused by Holmes all game. It was a complete mismatch and the Steelers exploited it.
Offensive Line - While they played a decent game, especially the tackles (wow, did I really say that?) it just makes me wonder how good Big Ben would be with a solid o-line. I think we'll see the offensive line addressed this offseason. I am predicting that they'll be one new starter at guard and tackle come next year. Our offensive line in short yardage situations is a terrible though. The Steelers failed to score a touchdown on two occasions (1inside the 10 yard line, and 1 on the inch yard line) that could have put this game WAY out of reach, early.
Coaching - Overall, I think the coaching was good. Both Whisenhunt and Tomlin had their guys prepared to play. I'm more impressed with Mike Tomlin more than ever now. I guess a Super Bowl victory in your second season will do that. Bruce Arians had a better than expected game plan but I would have thought, I'd see more passes to Heath Miller especially with the early success. Dick Lebeau had a great game plan as well but that is nothing new. It's great that he'll be back next season!
Linebackers - The Steelers 'backers had an amazing game. Harrison is simply a beast and must be accounted for on every play. Woodley is an all-pro type player and we should be lucky to have him and he's only in his second year! He dominated Levi Brown all day and clinched the game with the forced fumble. Foote is still solid and very good against the run. James Farrior is Mr. dependable and is the leader on defense. He had a great game and is well deserving of his Pro Bowl status. Farrior is playing like he's 24 years old, not 34. It's a credit to his preparation. Lawrence Timmons is a star in the making. Timmons has his troubles in run defense, but he's great in pursuit, an explosive hitter, great in coverage, and has speed and burst.