So you're about to have your fantasy draft. Or you're thinking about doing a fantasy draft. If you already had your draft, sorry 'bout your luck. You shoulda hit me up sooner to do this. Not that I would have ... but at least you would've asked. And that would have been nice. Sorry, where was I?
Right ... drafts. Anyway, when you're prepping for your upcoming leagues, there are probably more than a few players that you're considering adding to your board. I'm here to tell you that you might be doing it wrong. That's okay, no judgment. We've all been there. Allow me to offer some constructive criticism. Over the next few days I'm serving up a few players that you're probably waiting too long to draft. They might not be league winners but by the end of the season, you'll be glad you have 'em. No need to thank me. Just doing my job.
Let's get started.
Christian Kirk (WR32, ADP: 7.05)
I've been sorta confused by the buzz around the Arizona Cardinals offense this spring. I get why there's a buzz. Everyone is looking for the next big thing offensively. It's why Chip Kelly's ascension to the NFL after years of dazzling in college was put under a microscope. It's why everyone is currently trying to find "the next Sean McVay". It's why the Cardinals went all-in on Kliff Kingsbury despite the young coach having a losing collegiate record and having a quixotic dalliance with USC.
It's also why fantasy football enthusiasts are tripping over themselves to scoop up Cardinals players ... sort of. When Kyler Murray went first overall in last April's NFL Draft, he immediately became your favorite fantasy analyst's favorite young quarterback. (I also liked him.) That Kingsbury kraze has also extended to David Johnson with plenty of people expecting the multi-talented running back to rebound in 2018 after being fully freed from the shackles of Mike McCoy and Steve Wilks.
But what has me confused is why that warm glow of enthusiasm hasn't shone itself on any of Arizona's pass-catchers? Larry Fitzgerald is entering his 16th year and will be 36 when the season kicks off, making his ninth-round ADP feel respectable. Fantasy drafters have taken to using later-round fliers on speedster Andy Isabella and potential redzone monster Hakeem Butler. I've even been known to take some shots at KeeSean Johnson with the last pick in my draft. Yet whither Christian Kirk?
No one is going to look at last season's 43 catches for 590 yards and three touchdowns and get warm and fuzzy. But unlike a framed papier-mache picture of a baby doll's head, Kirk's 2018 season needs a little context. Despite missing the final four games of the season with a foot injury, Kirk grabbed a 19 percent target share with 20 percent of the team's receiving yards. The problem was that he played in an offense that was by far the worst in the league by just about any metric you could conceive. A big piece of a smallish pie is better than no piece at all.
The upside is that the pie -- in theory -- gets bigger this year. The early scuttlebutt is that the Cards plan to be in shotgun for the vast majority of their plays. Let's not kid ourselves. The Cardinals defense was near the bottom of the league last season and if his Texas Tech tenure is any indication, it's not the kind of thing Kingsbury really pays much attention to. That means Murray will throw it a lot -- especially late in games. As the sun sets on Fitzgerald's distinguished career, the door is open for Kirk to adopt a larger role in an offense he's already shown to be familiar with.
Youth, athleticism, and upside are all buzzwords when it comes to fantasy drafting and Kirk possesses all of those. If this Phoenix offense really does rise from last season's ashes, you'll feel pretty good if you get a piece of the wideout that can help make things go.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is thankful for the selective amnesia that allows you to forget the confusion of infancy. Send him your parenting insights or fantasy question on Twitter @MarcasG.