Dynasty Mythbusters: Michael Floyd

Jacob Feldman


Another week is now in the rear view mirror and the injuries to fantasy starters continue to pile up. When you add in aging veterans who are in rapid decline there is opportunity for a lot of young players to step on up to the plate and show what they are made of. Some of them look like the stars of tomorrow, but we know from the past that most of them are just a flash in the pan. Of course the tricky part is figuring out who are those special exceptions – that is where I come in! For those of you unfamiliar with the Dynasty Mythbusters series, the goal of the article is to analyze certain trends, potential breakouts or just downright bad play in an attempt to predict what we can expect in the future.

Am I always right? Definitely not. But I did suggest that you sell, sell, sell on Trent Richardson very early in the season last year (before it was a trendy thing to say!) when you could get top five running back prices for him, and ignore the week one “breakouts” of Jerome Simpson and Leonard Hankerson just to name a few.

The fantasy community as a whole tends to have a very strong tendency to overreact to small sample sizes. This is especially true when it comes to early season production. After all, it is only natural after months and months of buildup, thinking your team is great, to get disappointed when your stud disappoints. Don’t go trading them for pennies on the dollar. They will be back. It works in the opposite direction as well. We all like the feeling of grabbing that virtual unknown and watching them turn into the next Jimmy Graham. The problem is the vast majority of the time they don’t pan out and trading your first round pick or an every week starter away for him would be a major mistake.

Through this series, I’ll do my best to focus on guys who are likely to be talked up as potential waiver additions or who are end of the bench guys on most rosters who you might be able to snag with a reasonable trade offer.

This week I’m going to take a look at one of the biggest head scratchers of the 2014 season, Michael Floyd. Heading into the season, many expected him to be a borderline WR1 in the majority of leagues and to finally have the great season many have been waiting for. Instead he’s third on his own team and #67 overall at the position. Did we jump the gun on his breakout season and it is going to come down the road? Is he the next in a long line of talented receivers to flash briefly before falling off the fantasy map? It is definitely worth a look.

Michael Floyd, WR ARI
Season totals: 24 receptions on 52 targets for 400 yards and two touchdowns

When the 6’2”, 220 pound Golden Domer was drafted with the thirteenth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, even though he had some off the field issues, it was very clear people had very high hopes for him. While the draft class was dominated by the quarterback talents of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as well as the then sure thing Trent Richardson as the first three picks in the NFL draft and in most fantasy leagues, Floyd and Justin Blackmon rounded out the top five in most leagues. A pretty strong argument could be made at this point that Luck was the only one of the five to live up to the hype three years later. With fellow 2012 rookies like TY Hilton and Alshon Jeffery establishing themselves in their third year in the league, will Floyd be able to turn things around and join them or is he headed down the bust path?

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When he was drafted, Floyd was supposed to take over as Larry Fitzgerald’s wingman, a role which the team had struggled to fill since it was held by Anquan Boldin a few years earlier. Floyd’s first NFL reception was an eight yard touchdown catch but the season largely went downhill from there. He went into the last game of the season with only 37 receptions for 396 yards and the touchdown he made on his first catch. Not quite what was expected of the thirteenth overall pick and some were already questioning the choice. During the last game of the year Floyd reminded people why he deserved the selection as he posted eight catches for 166 yards and his second score on the year. The big performance had many fantasy owners licking their chops looking towards the 2013 season.

The 2013 season was a big improvement over his rookie year as his role, efficiency and production all increased. He was second on the team with 113 targets and 65 receptions for the year, but the leader in yards with 1041. His five touchdowns were a little disappointing when compared to Fitzgerald’s ten, but as a second year receiver people were very happy with the production. He continued to show the game breaking ability he showed in the final game of 2012 from time to time such as his six receptions for 193 yards and a score during the mid-season game in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, he was also very inconsistent with less than three receptions and 35 yards in six of his games. The progression was promising though, and if the trend continues he should have been in the WR1 discussion this year.

As we all know, 2014 hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations. With an aging Fitzgerald, Floyd was supposed to take over the top receiver duties this year and make Fitz and his ridiculous cap number expendable come season end. Instead Floyd is on pace for only 43 receptions and 711 yards with 4 touchdowns. That’s definitely a step back from his sophomore season! His first three weeks were okay with five receptions for over 100 yards both weeks 1 and 3, sandwiching a 1 reception game, but since then it has been terrible. His last six weeks have only produced 13 receptions for 148 yards. That’s not even worth a roster spots in a lot of leagues. To make matters worse, his starting quarterback just went down with a season ending injury. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel or should we give in to the panic?

The Good: Even with as bad as things have been over the last month or two, there are some reasons to be hopeful for Floyd. First off, he has some of the things you can’t teach. At over 6’2” and 220 pounds, he has the size you typically look for from an outside receiver. When you add in sub 4.5 second speed in the 40 yard dash you get a very nice size-speed combo. In addition to the size-speed combo Floyd possesses, he has shown great body control and made some amazing catches over his three years. He is physical at the point of the catch and has no issues tracking the deep ball. He has definitely flashed an ability to take over games from time to time. Unfortunately, these have just been flashes. He has six games with 99 or more yards over his three year career. He was definitely one of the stars of training camp and OTAs this summer.

Another plus for Floyd is that he definitely has the starting role locked up. With Fitz already 31 years old and a massive cap hit in 2015, there are several who expect Fitz to be playing for someone else next season. Even if Fitz is back, the Cardinals under Bruce Arians tend to throw the ball quite a bit, so there should be enough balls to go around for multiple fantasy stars to shine in the desert. With Floyd’s ability as a run blocker in addition to being a receiver, he isn’t in danger of losing any snaps to anyone else. His rookie deal runs through 2015, so he’ll be playing for a big contract next year which never hurts.

The Bad: Unfortunately for Floyd, there is a lot of bad right now. He’s tied for third on his own team in targets (behind Fitz and John Brown) and only fourth in receptions (behind Fitz, Brown, and Andre Ellington). He hasn’t topped five targets in a game in over a month and hasn’t had more than four receptions nor 50 yards since week three of the season. A big part of the reason is that Floyd has been playing as the top outside receiver with Fitzgerald sliding into the slot in three wide receiver sets. This has left Floyd matched up against the top cornerback most of the time, and he hasn’t been able to get open. Arians has been very clear that they aren’t going to force the ball to anyone but rather go for the open receiver. That hasn’t been Floyd recently. Worse yet, the Cardinals are 8-1 without Floyd being a big piece of the puzzle.

While he isn’t in danger of losing his starting role due to his run blocking, offensive scheme, and overall talent, he has been outplayed by rookie John Brown this year. In fact, as Floyd’s 67th wide receiver ranking in PPR leagues suggests he’s been outplayed by a lot of people. Floyd’s four drops are double Brown’s. Their target, catch and yards are very close even though Floyd has run 328 passing routes compared to Brown’s 235 according to Pro-Football Focus. Brown has even been the better deep ball receiver even though Floyd has over four inches and 40 pounds to aid in going up for the contested deep balls. Brown has also looked like the better receiver week in and week out to the eye test.

The Ugly Truth: The wild card in all of this is what will happen now that Drew Stanton is at the helm. No matter how Arians spins it, Stanton is a step back from Palmer in almost every way other than potential pure arm strength. Stanton averaged only 176 yards per start over his three games earlier this year. During those three games, Fitz had 12 receptions, Brown had 9 and Floyd had 7. The yardage numbers are closer thanks to a 45 yard bomb in week 3, but Fitz still wins out with 142 compared to Floyd’s 140 yards. Fitz also had the slight edge in targets with 24 compared to Floyd’s 22 and Brown’s 17. The bottom line is if you’re hoping a new quarterback will change Floyd’s production you probably won’t get your wish.

So what is the deal with Floyd? After all, he didn’t suddenly shrink or lose his speed. I think the sudden drop off is twofold. One large reason is he has now been targeted by opposing defenses as the top outside target and has been facing added defensive attention with Fitz playing out of the slot. Floyd hasn’t been able to succeed in beating most of the top cornerbacks nor has he been able to beat double teams. The result has been the quarterbacks having better places to go with the ball like Fitzgerald, Brown, or dumping it off to Ellington.

The second major reason is we in the fantasy community do what we always do and anoint players long before they deserve it. We do it all the time with young players who flash. Guys like Cordarrelle Patterson and Keenan Allen this year or David Wilson and Lamar Miller last year. We’ll probably do the same thing for Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans next year. We set the bar so high and expect elite production so soon that the players are bound to disappoint. I don’t know if Floyd was ready for the spotlight this year. He is still learning how to be a complete receiver and it takes time to do that. While it doesn’t excuse his very poor play this season, I don’t think it was fair to have him locked in as a WR1 entering this year.

The big question is what do you do with Floyd? Before I get to that, allow me to put something in perspective for people. Here are two 25 year old receivers who are the “top target” on their team across from aging hall of famers. Both had 65 receptions last year for over 1000 yards in break out years, but both have disappointed this season.

WR A: 6’1”, 205 pounds, 4.43 second 40 yard dash, 41” vertical leap. 2014 stats – 27 receptions for 446 yards and 6 scores.

WR B: 6’2”, 220 pounds, 4.47 second 40 yard dash, 36.5” vertical leap.2014 stats – 24 receptions for 400 yards and 2 scores.

Very similar production this year short of the touchdowns with WR A being a little smaller but more athletic while WR B is bigger. The problem is that WR B was viewed as a lock for WR1 level production while WR A was more of a fringe WR2. If you haven’t figured it out yet, WR A is Torrey Smith. Why were the expectations so different for the pair? I was lower than most heading into the year when it comes to ranking Floyd because I felt the expectations were too high. He should have been in the same range as Torrey but he wasn’t. After all, their stats, skills, and situation are very much on par with each other at this point in time.

Long term it is fair to wonder if Floyd can be the top target on an NFL team given what defenses have done to him this season. I don’t think Floyd has reached his peak quite yet, but I think his ceiling is more in line with high end WR2 levels instead of WR1 levels, especially given his inconsistency. He’ll have better years than this one, but the expectations need to be kept in check. I’ve tried buying him at WR2 prices, which is where I think he belongs, but I haven’t had much luck as of yet. Most of his owners still seem to think he is a lock for top 10 numbers, a level I don’t know if he’ll ever reach. If you own him and can get a top ten player or a top rookie like Watkins, Evans or Brandin Cooks, I think you take it in a heartbeat. I would also trip over myself to accept a deal for someone like TY Hilton. If I could get a solid WR2 plus a nice prospect or a middle round pick I would also consider that. By season’s end I think Floyd’s value is likely to slide even further given Stanton’s lack of production in his first three starts.

Final Verdict: There isn’t much reason to expect things to change this season. Down the road, what happens with Fitz will have a big impact, but Floyd might be a whole lot more WR2 than the WR1 many anointed him as last offseason.


jacob feldman