The greatest thing about fantasy football is how unpredictable it is. There is no player you can draft that is guaranteed to produce at the rate you expect him to, whether that's due to injury, talent or situation. Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon were all prime examples of this, and each either destroyed the hopes and dreams of many owners or paved the way to a championship for others. In this series, I want to talk about players that truly did make a difference this year in the form of breaking out and becoming legitimate fantasy options, with an eye toward what we can expect next season. We will count down and ultimately analyze the ten biggest breakout players.
Biggest Breakout #10: Michael Floyd
Floyd was always considered one of the better wide receiver prospects in college when he was with Notre Dame. He is listed at 6’3’’ and 220 pounds, and uses every pound to his advantage as he is exceptional at making catches over the middle and in traffic. He was never the fastest player on the field, but he has good burst for his size and his athleticism more than makes up for the lack of elite speed.
The wide receiver had a slow rookie year in 2012, failing to make a big impact for his team outside of Week 17, only eclipsing 50 yards twice the whole season and scoring just two touchdowns. While a lot of the blame can be attributed to poor quarterback play, he still failed to meet even the lowest of expectations for a 13th overall pick. He started low on the depth chart and failed to unseat Andre Roberts as starting wideout opposite Larry Fitzgerald. In Week 17 however, Floyd finally broke out, putting up a huge game against San Francisco, hauling in eight grabs for 166 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. It was reason enough for Cardinal fans-- as well as fantasy managers-- to be excited for the next year's prospects.
During the 2013 offseason, the Cards acquired Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall and drafted Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Cooper. With these additions along with the expected development of Floyd, there was a lot of buzz going around Cardinal camp. Palmer looked much better than he did with Oakland, and Bruce Arians was brought in as the coach to oversee a vertical offense. Many fantasy experts pegged Michael Floyd as a sleeper WR4 in an offense that was bound to improve this year.
Floyd definitely improved this year, and while he did not find himself among the ranks of the elites, he is certainly on his way there. The Cardinals #2 wide receiver finished with 65 catches for 1041 yards and five touchdowns, good enough for the #22 wide receiver in standard scoring. He had two games with over 100 yards receiving, and one with 99, and was targeted 10 or more times on four occasions. He had his first score in Week 6, and had his best game in Week 11 against Jacksonville, hauling in six catches for 193 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown.
Many experts ended up being correct in pegging Michael Floyd as a solid sleeper. The Cardinal offense ended up being very potent, as Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians both contributed to their success. Palmer showed solid arm strength, something we didn't see in Oakland, and ended up playing all 16 games despite an elbow injury. Andre Ellington also broke out in the middle of the year and become another weapon that teams needed to worry about. The improved situation in Arizona plus a rejuvenated Larry Fitzgerald gave Floyd all the help he needed in order to succeed in the offense. With a year of experience under his belt, Floyd truly began to play as many scouts expected him to. He showed explosion off the line of scrimmage, and routinely made big catches, jumping over defenders and hauling in tough grabs over the middle. With Bruce Arians calling for a more vertical attack, Floyd showed off his skills by constantly getting deep and winning jump balls. While he only scored five touchdowns, there were a few occasions where he was stopped just short. In the second half of the season, there were many games in which Palmer actually preferred to throw it to Floyd over Fitzgerald because of how well he was playing.
The future is very bright for Michael Floyd. The Cardinals offense should be more explosive next year as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy. Bruce Arians is an offensive mastermind, and the talent he has on offense is among the best in the league. Given his situation, good health and overall talent level, it is safe to assume that Floyd is in line for an even better season next year. He will be in his second year of the new Cardinals offense, and should score more touchdowns, as his lack of them was attributed to him being stopped inside the 5-yard line multiple times. While expectations should be tempered, it is safe to assume that Floyd will improve on 2013's numbers and finish with over 1000 yards receiving while exceeding five touchdown catches. His ceiling is sky-high, and he may find his way into the elite category as early as next year.
Dynasty owners need to keep Floyd on their team for the long haul. He has gobs of potential, minimal injury history and had one of the best mentors in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald. With rumors swirling that Fitzgerald may be done in Arizona, there is reason to believe that Floyd may become one of the most targeted receivers in the NFL over the next five years.