By Kevin O’Connell – Fantasy Contributor, 8.14.2013
Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is not an elite quarterback. That’s not what I’m selling here. I’m talking about value. The fact is that this year in fantasy football QB is deeper than ever and, as you will see, Carson Palmer can be an effective fantasy QB (especially in 2-QB leagues).
The man: Palmer finished 17th out of QBs in total points for standard Yahoo leagues last year. That’s not fantastic by any means, but it’s certainly respectable if you’re in a 2-QB league, especially when you take into consideration that he played for the Raiders. His arm hasn’t been the same since elbow surgery in 2008, but it’s still strong enough to make most of the throws effectively. His passer rating on throws over 20 yards decreased from 93.8 in 2011 to 73.2 in 2012, but you can attribute a large part of the decrease to the number of drops by his receivers (1 out of 50 attempts in 2011 to 5 out of 60 attempts in 2012).
The line: During the first half of 2012, the Cardinals offensive line was one of the worst in the league allowing 31 sacks through 8 games. They improved significantly during the 2nd half of the year though, cutting sacks allowed down to 15. On top of that, the line has some newcomers which will only improve Palmer’s pass protection. Most impressively, Arizona used its 7th overall pick in the draft on highly regarded and extremely athletic Jonathan Cooper to play left guard. Levi Brown is back after missing all of last year with a torn triceps. The Cardinals also picked up Eric Winston. Cooper, Brown, and Winston alone should create better pass protection in Arizona this year.
The weapons: Palmer hasn’t had the privilege of throwing to a weapon like Larry Fitzgerald since… well, ever. Fitzgerald is elite, and there’s no disputing that. The guy lining up across from Fitzy is one of this year’s big breakout candidates in fantasy football, Michael Floyd. Both Fitzgerald (7) and Floyd (37) are ranked in the top 40 in Smug Fantasy Football’s WR rankings, which is higher than any of Palmer’s former targets in Oakland. Andre Roberts also makes a viable third option for Palmer.
The coaching: Bruce Arians likes to take shots down the field, as evidenced by Andrew Luck attempting 98 deep balls last year. Coupled with the improvement in receivers who will be running those deep routes, an extra dose of deep passes bodes well for Palmer’s potential fantasy line.
The schedule: FFToolbox currently ranks Arizona’s schedule as the 18th easiest. This should be considered middle of the road and have a minimal positive or negative impact on Palmer’s value.
The verdict: Right now, Carson Palmer is typically ranked between the late teens (19 – Smug Fantasy Football) and the early 20s (22 – TheFantasyScope). I’m going to throw it out there that Carson Palmer has a top 15 fantasy QB upside at a very low price. Compare Palmer’s ADP (153) to Eli Manning’s ADP (88) – courtesy of CBS Sports. I would argue that there is not a lot of upside in grabbing Eli over Palmer, and you’ll be able stock up on WR and RB depth for an extra six rounds. That’s huge during a long fantasy season riddled with injuries.
Palmer isn’t the only QB worth looking at in the later rounds with decent upside value. Alex Smith, Philip Rivers, and Jay Cutler are some other guys who could perform well above their ADPs. Fantasy drafts are all about finding value. While I wouldn’t advise reaching on any of these guys, you should feel secure in waiting to draft a QB if you don’t get one of the top guns (Rodgers, Brees, or Peyton Manning).
August 14, 2013