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Raising the Wreck of the SS Larry Fitzgerald
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The SS Larry Fitzgerald went down late last season in a storm of bad passes from the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer.

The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, however, a once mighty freighter carrying footballs from end zone to end zone over many-a-season.

From his arrival in 2004, Fitzgerald has put the Cardinals' passing game on his back, averaging 1,157 yards and 8.5 touchdowns per season. Four times he surpassed 1,400 yards in a season and five times he's caught at least 90 balls in a single campaign.

Unfortunately, since the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner in 2009, the SS Fitzgerald has had to battle mightily to produce top-quality fantasy totals.

He hung in there pretty well with a mediocre Derek Anderson under center in 2010, posting 90 catches for 1,137 yards and six touchdowns. And he was the only fantasy-worthy Cardinals' receiver in 2011, catching 80 balls for 1,411 yards and eight scores.

Then the bottom fell out in 2012 with the combination of Kolb, Skelton, Lindley and Hoyer taking snaps last season. The inept quartet completed just 55.4 percent of their passes for 3,383 yards and 11 touchdowns against 21 interceptions.

Fitzgerald, still as talented as ever, suffered the most (well, maybe about equal to his fantasy owners), as he could only haul in 71 of the 156 passes thrown his way for a mere 798 yards and four scores.

His fantasy value sank to a depth unheard of for this talented six-time Pro Bowler. He was the 37th-best receiver last season behind the likes of Brian Hartline and Justin Blackmon. In his nine seasons, Fitzgerald was a top-10 receiver five times and his worst previous year was in his rookie season, when he finished at No. 30.

Considering his preseason 2012-13 fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP was 16.6, making him the second receiver off the board, he was a monumental disaster for his fantasy owners.

There is good news, however. The SS Fitzgerald has not been lost forever.

Cardinals management brought in a new starting quarterback in Carson Palmer. The ex-Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has a career completion percentage of 62.5 percent. He's thrown 59 more touchdowns than interceptions over his career. He's also played with great receivers in the past (Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh) and knows how to keep them satisfied.

We're happy to report the passing game is looking much better this spring. With Palmer and new head coach Bruce Arians (an offensive coordinator for most of his pro career), we are expecting big things from Fitzgerald. Our team of experts is projecting the Cardinals' No. 1 wideout for 95 receptions, 1,311 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Considering the latest mock draft results have him with an ADP of 27.5, it should once again be smooth sailing for fantasy owners who manage to get him in the third round.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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