Fantasy football owners have largely been able to ignore Carson Palmer in recent years, but he did top 4,000 passing yards for the first time since 2007 while starting 15 games for the Oakland Raiders last season. Consistency has been hard to come by over the past two seasons in Oakland, but he did average close to 271 passing yards per game in 25 games (24 starts) over that span.
The Raiders were reportedly considering releasing Palmer after he did not want to take a pay cut, and ultimately traded him to the Arizona Cardinals in early April. The Cardinals have not had a capable option under center since Kurt Warner retired, so can a move to the desert revive Palmer’s career and make him a top fantasy option in 2013?
Larry Fitzgerald is the best wide receiver Palmer has had to throw to since his time with Cincinnati Bengals when Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were in their prime, and it can be argued Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts are also superior to anyone the Raiders had last season. New Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians brings a vertically-oriented passing game with him, and Palmer appeared to be throwing the ball better last season after being bothered by an elbow issue toward the end of his time with the Bengals.
But Palmer would not be classified as a mobile quarterback, and the Cardinals allowed a league-high 58 sacks last season. Things should improve this year, since Arizona used their first-round pick (seventh overall) on guard Jonathan Cooper and left tackle Levi Brown is returning after missing all of last season with a torn right triceps. But an overall lack of talent along the offensive line is still a concern, and if Palmer is frequently under duress his production could become inconsistent or downright dismal.
Even with some risk of being injured behind a porous offensive line, Palmer’s fantasy stock is on the rise. His days as anything close to a top tier QB1 are gone, if they ever really came, and playing six games against the tough defenses elsewhere in the NFC West will not do him any favors this year. Still, Palmer is a solid choice as a QB2 in 12 and 14-team leagues and should be a suitable bye week fill-in.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.