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Larry Fitzgerald facing his favorite defense: Eagles

WHEN THE DAY comes for Larry Fitzgerald to make his induction speech on the stage in Canton, Ohio, he better save a few paragraphs to thank the Eagles.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) warms up before the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) warms up before the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome.Read more(Jasen Vinlove/USA Today)

WHEN THE DAY comes for Larry Fitzgerald to make his induction speech on the stage in Canton, Ohio, he better save a few paragraphs to thank the Eagles.

The Cardinals' all-time leading receiver has scored at least one touchdown in each of the seven games he's faced the Eagles. Of his 105 career TDs including the playoffs, 11 have come against the Birds. That's a little more than 10 percent of his total touchdowns against a team he's played less than four percent of his games.

"He's one of the best football players I've played with at any position," said quarterback Carson Palmer, a 12-year NFL veteran.

The only teams that Fitzgerald has scored more touchdowns against are division opponents San Francisco and Seattle. He has more TDs against the Eagles in seven games than against Seattle in 22.

There's gotta be room in that speech for Juan Castillo.

Stability at quarterback and the continued development of fellow wide receivers Michael Floyd and John Brown have guided Fitzgerald's resurgence. He had just five catches for 41 yards last week against Minnesota, while Floyd had 102 yards and Brown hauled in a 65-yard TD bomb.

Floyd and Brown patrol the outside of the formation while Fitzgerald works underneath. Coach Bruce Arians had wonderful success moving Hines Ward and Reggie Wayne to the slot late in their careers. Last week, Fitzgerald had the key block on Floyd's 42-yard score.

"Fitzgerald is a unique receiver," said Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans. "He'll line up and they will run the ball to his side. (Or) he'll go across the middle and catch balls. Tough guy."

Fitzgerald's subpar game against the Vikings snapped a five-game streak of at least eight catches and double-digit targets. He's eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time since 2011 and will hit 100 receptions for the first time since 2007. Not bad for a guy who turned 32 in August and was, on average, an eighth-round selection in leagues run by ESPN.

He was listed as "limited" in Thursday's practice, but that's merely a byproduct of Arians keeping his veteran receiver fresh for the postseason run.

Perhaps the only criticism is that Fitzgerald hasn't scored since Week 8, something that history says will change with the Eagles on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

Sorry 'bout that

The advice last week was to play as many Bucs as possible since they were facing a Saints defense that couldn't stop molasses even if it was flowing uphill. Naturally, wide receiver Vincent Jackson got hurt, teammate Mike Evans (3-39) was sloppy and New Orleans had its best effort of the season, allowing the Bucs to score just 17 points and throw for 176 yards.

If it's any consolation, I started Jameis Winston in my playoff game, and he had a meager 182 passing yards and one lousy touchdown.

And the courts say fantasy football is a game of skill and not luck. Ha.

The replacements

Ugly year for running backs that only got worse after numerous injuries last week. Here are some possible Week 15 replacements and what they're looking at:

* Denard Robinson, Jaguars: Likely going against an Atlanta defense that has given up five rushing TDs and an average of 157 yards to opposing RBs over the last three weeks.

* Bryce Brown, Seahawks: After losing Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, the red-hot Seahawks are turning to Brown, who hasn't been active all season. A little trivia: Brown was Andy Reid's last draft pick when Big Red ran the Eagles.

* Brandon Bolden, Patriots: Had 16 carries last week (for just 51 yards) when the Pats lost LeGarrette Blount. It was the first time since 2013 Bolden had more than six rushing attempts. The Titans gave up 160 yards last week to the Jets' RBs, but it was the first rough outing in more than a month. As always, handle New England's RBs with extreme caution.

* Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers: Coach Ron Rivera said the work will be split up among several backs. Might want to stay away from the Panthers' RBs.


Quarterbacks: Blake Bortles has multiple TD passes in eight of his last nine and is a solid QB1 this week against Atlanta. Tight end Julius Thomas has caught a touchdown in four straight, which gives Bortles another option after wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns . . . Russell Wilson has 16 TD passes and zero interceptions in the last four games, including eight scores in the two games since Jimmy Graham sustained his season-ending knee injury.

Running backs: San Diego's Melvin Gordon is up to 201 touches this season without a touchdown. Poor Chargers . . . Lamar Miller (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday . . . Looks like Mike McCarthy's tough love of Eddie Lacy paid off. Lacy said his midseason benching opened his eyes to get serious about his craft. Too bad it came two months too late for many fantasy players.

Wide receivers: Odell Beckham gets a Carolina defense this week that has allowed 100 yards to just one WR (Vincent Jackson had 147 in Week 4). Otherwise, the Panthers have mostly bottled up Julio Jones (7-88), Allen Robinson (1-27), DeAndre Hopkins (5-53) and Doug Baldwin (3-23). Randall Cobb (7-99-1) and DeSean Jackson (5-87-1) had decent games against Carolina's secondary . . . DeSean Jackson (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, but there's optimism he'll play Sunday against the Bills.



1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks. . . . vs. Cle.

2. Cam Newton, Panthers. . . . at NYG

3. Tom Brady, Patriots. . . . vs. Ten.

4. Blake Bortles, Jaguars. . . . vs. Atl.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers. . . . at Oak.

6. Carson Palmer, Cardinals. . . . at Phi.

7. Drew Brees, Saints. . . . vs. Det.

8. Eli Manning, Giants. . . . vs. Car.

9. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers. . . . vs. Den.

10. Tyrod Taylor, Bills. . . . at Was.

11. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets. . . . at Dal.

12. Derek Carr, Raiders. . . . vs. GB


1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings. . . . vs. Chi.

2. LeSean McCoy, Bills. . . . at Was.

3. Matt Forte, Bears. . . . at Min.

4. David Johnson, Cardinals. . . . at Phi.

5. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers. . . . vs. Den.

6. Todd Gurley, Rams. . . . vs. TB

7. Eddie Lacy, Packers. . . . at Oak.

8. Doug Martin, Buccaneers. . . . at Stl.

9. Charcandrick West, Chiefs. . . . at Bal.

10. Latavius Murray, Raiders. . . . vs. GB

11. Lamar Miller, Dolphins. . . . at SD

12. Denard Robinson, Jaguars. . . . vs. Atl.

13. Tim Hightower, Saints. . . . vs. Det.

14. Devonta Freeman, Falcons. . . . at Jac.

15. Chris Ivory, Jets. . . . at Dal.

16. Jeremy Hill, Bengals. . . . at SF

17. Bryce Brown, Seahawks. . . . vs. Cle.

18. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos. . . . at Pit.

19. Buck Allen, Ravens. . . . vs. KC

20. Ryan Mathews, Eagles. . . . vs. Ari.


1. Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants. . . . vs. Car.

2. Antonio Brown, Steelers. . . . vs. Den.

3. Brandon Marshall, Jets. . . . at Dal.

4. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans. . . . at Ind.

5. Allen Robinson, Jaguars. . . . vs. Atl.

6. Calvin Johnson, Lions. . . . at NO

7. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs. . . . at Bal.

8. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks. . . . vs. Cle.

9. A.J. Green, Bengals. . . . at SF

10. Julio Jones, Falcons. . . . at Jac.

11. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos. . . . at Pit.

12. Alshon Jeffery, Bears. . . . at Min.

13. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals. . . . at Phi.

14. Julian Edelman, Patriots. . . . vs. Ten.

15. T.Y. Hilton, Colts. . . . vs. Hou.

16. Michael Floyd, Cardinals. . . . at Phi.

17. Mike Evans, Buccaneers. . . . at Stl.

18. Eric Decker, Jets. . . . at Dal.

19. Randall Cobb, Packers. . . . at Oak.

20. Martavis Bryant, Steelers. . . . vs. Den.

Tight ends

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots. . . . vs. Ten.

2. Greg Olsen, Panthers. . . . at NYG

3. Delanie Walker, Titans. . . . at NE

4. Jordan Reed, Redskins. . . . vs. Buf.

5. Gary Barnidge, Browns. . . . at Sea.

6. Julius Thomas, Jaguars. . . . vs. Atl.

7. Richard Rodgers, Packers. . . . at Oak.

8. Ben Watson, Saints. . . . vs. Det.

9. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bucs. . . . at Stl.

10. Antonio Gates, Chargers. . . . vs. Mia.

11. Zach Ertz, Eagles. . . . vs. Ari.

12. Jason Witten, Cowboys. . . . vs. NYJ


In leagues run by

Most Added Players

1. Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars

2. Tim Hightower, RB, Saints

3. Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots

4. Bryce Brown, RB, Seahawks

5. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks

Most Dropped Players

1. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks

2. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

3. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots

4. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

5. Scott Chandler, TE, Patriots

Ed Barkowitz, who has zero interest in Star Wars, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz