Why Hasn't Michael Floyd Lived Up to the Fantasy Football Hype?

After a solid sophomore campaign hopes were high for Michael Floyd to break out in 2014. He's done the opposite.

Part of the process of becoming a good analyst of whatever you are analyzing is being accountable, to highlight your hits and your misses equally. For me and many others, Michael Floyd was a huge miss and has been probably one of the top five fantasy football disappointments of the year.

I wrote about Floyd in my numberFire debut, highlighting how he had top-tier wide receiver potential for what amounted to fourth-round cost. After the hype machine swallowed Floyd up this summer, buoyed by articles like mine and high praise from his quarterback Carson Palmer and his head coach Bruce Arians, Floyd's value skyrocketed like a high growth stock from a covering analyst.

While my analysis was built around that optimism and numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics which highlight how a player performs in all scenarios on the field, those same analytics show just how disappointing Floyd has been in 2014. The optimism that surrounded Floyd this summer has turned into conversations about whether you should drop him in redraft leagues and some people are scurrying like the Duke Brothers to sell him like frozen concentrated orange juice futures at the end of Trading Places.

For what it's worth, I dropped Floyd yesterday.

Floyd: Inside the Numbers

So how does one go from a surefire number-one wide receiver to a peripheral option on a team that is currently atop the NFL with an 8-1 record, you ask? Well, looking into Floyd's Net Expected Points highlights part of the problem.

PlayerTargetsReception NEPTarget NEPRec NEP/TargetSuccess Rate
Floyd5233.33 (46th)7.44 (46th)0.64 (35th)79.2% (43rd)

Of the 59 wide receivers who have 50 or more targets, Floyd ranks 46th in Reception NEP. That total also puts him third on his own team behind both Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, who have Reception Net Expected Points totals of 54.11 (16th) and 36.09 (42nd), respectively. His Reception NEP per target and success rate, which measures efficiency, is considerably low compared to his top-ten category finishes in 2013.

For a wide receiver like Floyd who has the size and speed (6'3, 225 lbs, 4.47 40 yard dash) to get deep targets, you could argue that his Target NEP would be equally important. However, Floyd is nothing if not consistent - he ranks 46th among receivers with 50 or more targets in that category as well. Fitzgerald is 10th in Target NEP, and Brown is 35th, for the record. This equates to one conclusion: Floyd just isn't making plays.

What's Floyd's Excuse?

At the beginning of the season when Floyd had two 100-yard games in his first three with no touchdowns, as a fantasy owner you hoped that he'd find the end zone but weren't worried about a low floor. You figured, "Hey when Palmer gets back from his injury, Floyd will find the end zone and be the guy you drafted in the fourth round of your fantasy draft."

However, looking deeper at Floyd's game-by-game performance shows that as a fantasy owner, you simply can't rely on him this season, and he needs to be dropped from your roster as he hasn't exceeded 47 yards receiving or 4 receptions in his last five games:

OpponentReceptionsTargetsRec YardsAvgLongTouchdowns
Chargers57119 23.8 63 
Giants*1619 19.0 19 
49ers*59114 22.8 45 
Broncos*177 7.0 7 
Redskins4747 11.8 201
Raiders3347 15.7 331
Eagles040 0.0 0 
Cowboys4536 9.0 12 
Rams1411 11.0 11 
Totals2452400 16.7 632
* denotes games with Drew Stanton as quarterback.

If you're looking for an excuse as a Floyd owner, you could mention the Palmer injury and the team's starting Stanton at quarterback, Floyd's getting his knee slightly banged up in his 0-fer versus the Eagles, or even the so-called "rebirth" of Fitzgerald. These would all be wrong.

There are several reasons for Floyd's decline versus expectations. The first of which is the fact that Arians likes to spread the ball around. Last Sunday's game vs. the Rams was no exception as Palmer and Stanton completed passes to nine different players. So when you're watching games as a Floyd owner and lamenting the fact that players like Jaron Brown are getting looks at Floyd's expense, realize that the Cardinals like to spread it around.

Further, in watching the Rams game on Sunday, of Floyd's four targets, Palmer was heavily pressured. He was sacked three times, and as Floyd is an intermediate to deep ball route runner, he couldn't get open fast enough for Palmer to hit him. The one play that potentially would have led to a different Floyd outcome was a 40-yard target that had a pressured Palmer not overthrown, Floyd probably would have scored on. Those type of plays seem to be par for Floyd's course on the season, when he's actually getting open, which isn't as often as you think thanks to some lackadaisical route running.

The truth is that Floyd's low floor actual performances have been a combination of things: his inability to get open, low target amounts, the inability to hit the home run ball with his quarterbacks, Arians' spreading of wealth, and the Cardinals' revolving their offense around Andre Ellington. This is evident when looking at the table below.

PlayerTargetsReception NEPTarget NEP
Jo. Brown5136.0915.31
Ja. Brown1512.547.53
Ginn Jr.149.463.65

When you combine all of these factors and the three performances that Floyd has had thus far with Stanton, at this critical juncture in your fantasy season, you can't afford to take chances with Floyd in your redraft lineups or as anything more than a desperation play in a daily fantasy game. For dynasty leagues, you are holding out hope that Floyd can get his groove back next season while he's on your bench for the rest of 2014.

So I'm flipping my script from May and telling fake footballers to be out on Floyd. Sorry myself and other analysts couldn't see this evidence sooner.