2019 Fantasy Football: Christian Kirk’s Value





By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham
Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Kirk missed the last four games of the 2018 season due to a broken foot and didn’t start a game until Week 3. In total, he had seven starts and 12 games played on the worst team in the league, but still caught 43 passes on 68 targets for 590 yards and three touchdowns. He was only 144 yards off of Larry Fitzgerald who played all 16 games and had 44 more targets. For a rookie who was injured for four games and on an awful team, his numbers were miraculous.



If we take a look at Kirk’s numbers once he got his first start and extrapolated them to a full 16 games, he’d be sitting at 61 receptions on 91 targets for 894 yards and five touchdowns with a respectable 14.7 yards per reception although his average depth of target is a measly 10.03 yards. That would have given him the lead for receiving yards on the team while still being behind Fitzgerald in targets by 20.

At just 10 yards as an average depth of target, Kirk still was one of the better deep threats with 227 yards and a 60 percent catch rate on targets over 20 yards, but he also led the league in Pro Football Focus’ wide receiver rating on screen passes. And when you look into his catch rate, when taking into account uncatchable passes, he finished as 12th best in the league with an 89.6 percent true catch rate according to Player Profile. His ability deep and short, coupled with his excellent hands, should be used even more successfully by innovative offensive mind like Kliff Kingsbury, whose Texas Tech scheme, nicknamed “Air Raid,” lives up to the name as an extremely pass-heavy offense.



Kirk also fits the profile of what Kingsbury is looking for in a receiver. At 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Kirk measures up to the average Texas Tech receiver, who came in at 6-foot, 187.5 pounds. Kingsbury also recruited Kirk for Texas Tech, but Kirk ended up going to Texas A&M. Yes, Larry Fitzgerald will be back as the No. 1 receiver, but there is no doubt that Fitzgerald has slowed down and become more of a Hines Ward-type slot receiver at 36 years of age compared to his big-play days 10 years ago. The Cardinals will need a receiver who can do more than Fitzgerald all over the field, and Kirk showed last year he can play outside and showed in college that he can play out of the slot. The opportunities will be varied in the Cardinals’ offense to be sure.

Last year, Josh Rosen was terrible. Much of his inadequacies came from being a rookie behind a weak offensive line, but he did have a strong connection with Kirk, be it on screen passes or deep. Again, the fact that Kirk was able to do anything in Steve Wilks’ offense is impressive, but to do it with a rookie quarterback who was running for his life makes it even more astounding. There is a good chance that Rosen isn’t Arizona’s quarterback after the draft, when Kingsbury is likely to go after Kyle Murray, but if Rosen does end up sticking around somehow, Kirk would be ahead of the curve. If Murray does end up in Arizona, he feels like a natural leader for Kingsbury’s offense. His strong arm and ability to elude tacklers should help break open big plays for a quick-hitting attack built around Murray’s strengths. There is no doubt that Kingsbury’s offense will look ragged in its first year, but there’s also no doubt that it will produce yards and points with Murray at the helm. Throw in a great rushing and pass-catching back like David Johnson, and Kirk should be schemed open often as teams account for Murray as a runner, Johnson as a runner and receiver, and Fitzgerald as a sure-handed chain-mover over the middle.

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