2013 Fantasy Football Sleeper: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

By Jim Heath
Carson Palmer
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Think back to October of 2012, do you remember who was leading the NFC West division? If you are thinking the San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks, you are thinking wrong. Entering the month of October in 2012, the Arizona Cardinals were the undefeated sole owners of the NFC West division lead.

Of course, Arizona would go on to an epic collapse losing 11 of their final 12 games, but they showed momentary promise one season ago. And the Cardinals didn’t limp by subpar teams in their undefeated start; they knocked off the Seahawks, New England Patriots, a scrappy Miami Dolphins team and the pre-injury ridden Philadelphia Eagles.

Looking back on the demise of the Cardinals last year, there were obviously countless issues, but the major blame was placed on the offensive line. Arizona couldn’t run the ball and they certainly had no time to throw it either. As a result, Larry Fitzgerald fell off the Fantasy Football map and we were never given the opportunity to see the potential of 2012 first round pick Michael Floyd. Arizona was essentially a Fantasy Football train wreck after the first month in 2012.

The 2013 season is a new dawning in the land of the sun as the offseason brought forth a multitude of change. First and foremost, the Cardinals welcomed Bruce Arians, the 2012 NFL Coach of the Year. Next the Cardinals addressed that atrocious line through free agency signing former-Chicago Bear Chilo Rachal and then drafting Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina and Earl Watford from James Madison. The final piece to the puzzle making up the new look Cardinals would be veteran quarterback Carson Palmer.

When hearing the news of Palmer coming to Arizona, I couldn’t help but think of what the desert did for the career of future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner. So I did some checking, and found some interesting similarities.

First, both quarterbacks had a lay over between their original NFL teams and the Cardinals. Warner would make his stop with the New York Giants and Palmer with the Oakland Raiders. Next, Warner turned 34 his first year in Arizona. Any one want to guess how old Palmer will be in December of this season? If you said 34, we’re on the same page here. What is the significance of age you ask? Warner had five productive seasons after arriving in Arizona, despite the same “past his prime” criticisms you hear about Palmer this season.

Palmer has plenty in the tank. In his ten years as an NFL quarterback he has only started 16 games five times. And, of those five seasons, in four he threw for over 26 touchdowns and more than 3,800 yards. Last season as a Raider, Palmer threw for 4,018 yards in an improbable situation. He didn’t start all 16 games and – he was a Raider.

Palmer is still fantasy relevant.

Plus, the situation is ideal. In Arizona, Palmer’s No. 1 target will be that Fitzgerald guy. He will also have Floyd, Andre Roberts and another sleeper candidate, tight end Rob Housler at his disposal. He is surrounded by an offense.

Finally, to tie it all up, Arians is coaching the Cardinals and Palmer. No one needs reminded of the year Andrew Luck had under Arians’ tutelage last season. No one needs reminded  of the playoff appearance Arians led the  Indianapolis Colts to despite owning the worst record in football the year before. Something tells me Arizona and Palmer will be competitive this season under Arians’ leadership.

The sum of the above mentioned information is a highly productive year for Palmer. If Palmer can stay healthy, he has the tools and ability to encroach a top ten statistical Fantasy Football season. Yet, Palmer is currently out of the top 20 in most player projections. Which means, he is a zero risk, very high reward fantasy quarterback in 2013.

Plus, it’s always nice when you own a player that is part of a feel good situation much like Luck in Indianapolis last year. Palmer could be that guy in 2013.

Jim Heath is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jim_heath, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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