Many of us had considered Cardinals WR Michael Floyd a fantasy football sleeper before the 2012 season. After being selected 13th overall in the 2012 draft, it was hard not seeing some sort of sleeper potential. A high draft pick learning under the tutelage of Larry Fitzgerald would make any owner want to take a chance on the former Notre Dame star.
Unfortunately, Floyd's rookie season didn't exactly pan out like we hoped. After being considered one of the "standouts" in early training camp last summer, Floyd simply couldn't climb up the depth chart. It got so bad, that Floyd was being outperformed by undrafted rookie LaRon Byrd. With a total of 45 catches for the entire season, Floyd clearly didn't live up to the billing of a first-round talent.
But as I look at this year, I think things might be coming together for Floyd. Which is why I consider him one of the must-have fantasy football sleeper prospects for 2013. Here's why:
The Upgrade At Quarterback
Maybe Carson Palmer wouldn't be considered an upgrade in most circles, but he is certainly better than anything the Cardinals trotted out last year. In 2012, the Cardinals ranked 28th in total passing yards for the year with 3,005. And that was between 4 quarterbacks (John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer). How many yards did Palmer throw for? 4, 018. Over 1000 more than 4 quarterbacks combined. Yeah I know a lot of yards were in garbage time, but who cares? Garbage time brings quality fantasy points. And looking at the offenses in the NFC West, it looks like Palmer will be throwing a lot. Bruce Arians will be running a vertical attack, which we saw last year with Andrew Luck and the Colts. It appears that Palmer hasn't lost his ability to throw the deep ball, so many of those passes will be going Floyd's way.
There is nothing that will zap a rookie's confidence more than a bad training camp. We've seen it before at every position. After a good start to last year's camp, Floyd clearly lost his confidence and was never able to come back. That will either build a player up the next year, or continue to knock him down even further. I consider the first scenario more likely for Floyd. He now has a full year under his belt and was able to muster up a pretty solid ending to 2012, catching 14 passes in Weeks 16-17 and blowing up the 49ers for 166 yards. The 49ers had nothing to play for at that point, but that last game will carry over to this summer. Per the Cardinals' website, Floyd has made leaps this offseason compared to last. And he's already playing ahead of Andre Roberts. Roberts is okay as a No. 2 receiver, but does he really offer much upside compared to Floyd? This will be a situation to monitor, but it looks like Floyd has the edge as the Week One starter so far.
Floyd isn't going to have the value of a WR1. He's getting better and his value is increasing, but the Cardinals still need a lot of things to fall into place to become a complete offense. The running game is still a question mark and the offensive line still needs a lot of work. With Larry Fitzgerald bogarting most of the looks, Floyd isn't even a WR2. Now a WR3? Definitely. Last year, the Raiders had 5 different receivers with 40 catches or more. 3 with 50 catches or more. Denarius Moore led Oakland's receivers with 741 receiving yards. Floyd had 562 in a bad year. If the offensive line can keep Palmer upright and healthy for all 16 games, while Floyd keeps pushing Roberts to the second-string offense, Floyd's fantasy football sleeper potential could make him a nice value pick in the later rounds this summer. At the very least, his ceiling is very high.