Fantasy Football 2013: Carson Palmer Flying Under The Radar

By Adam Pfeifer
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


He may never be the same quarterback he was back in 2005, but Carson Palmer is still putting up numbers, and warrants at least some fantasy attention.

Sure, 21 fantasy signal callers eclipsed 200 fantasy points in 2012, and the position is deeper than ever, so not many owners will need to even consider targeting Palmer in their leagues. However, in two-quarterback leagues or as a backup, Palmer is worth a look, but considering how deep the position is, he is being overlooked. So, with that being said, I’m here to make the case for Palmer in 2013.

The Arizona Cardinals are seeing a huge upgrade at quarterback with the arrival of Palmer. Last season, the ugly trio of Ryan LindleyJohn Skelton and Kevin Kolb were … um … less than serviceable. These guys turned the ball over a combined 27 times in 2012, and constantly missed passes. An incredible statistic via Jim McCormick from ESPN states that star wideout Larry Fitzgerald and company had two balls that traveled 20 yards or more that were catchable. I’m sure everyone is excited for the upgrade in quarterback with Palmer. Amid all of the up-and-coming gunslingers last year, Palmer did alright for himself in Oakland. Surrounded by a group of below average receivers, Palmer tossed for over 4,000 yards, 22 scores and 14 interceptions, making him the 16th ranked fantasy quarterback. Also, he didn’t get much help from that receiving corp. This unit had three drops that resulted in unlucky interceptions for Palmer, as well as 33 drops as a whole. Now in Arizona, Palmer will be throwing to one of, if not the greatest receiver over the past decade in Fitzgerald, who has the best hands in the league. Also, there are some other weapons at his disposal in Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. I think Palmer has the receivers around him to put up strong numbers, but if this offensive line isn’t any better, it’s not going to matter. This unit allowed a league-high in sacks with 58, and is pretty inexperienced. Still, they selected Jonathan Cooper in the draft and will get a healthy Levi Brown back. Hey, they can’t get any worse, right?

Palmer wasn’t the only relevant addition to the Cardinals. The team also brought in Bruce Arians as their offensive coordinator, which may give Palmer some added fantasy value. Arians has been known to air the ball out quite a bit, which could mean a ton of usage from the veteran quarterback in 2013. Here are some of the significant quarterback numbers under Arians in the past:







2001 Tim Couch CLE 454 3,040 17
2002 Tim Couch CLE 443 2,842 18
2009 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 506 4,328* 26
2011 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 513* 4,077 21
2012 Andrew Luck IND 627 4,374 23

* = career high


Obviously, Arians let Andrew Luck, a rookie, I remind you, sling the ball over 600 times last year. Although Palmer’s arm isn’t nearly what it used to be, I don’t think Arians will be afraid to let a veteran drop back to pass a lot, especially when that running game is pedestrian. Luck led all of football in aDOT (average depth of target) with 10.8, which gave him some serious touchdown potential. With athletic guys on the outside, we could see a similar number for Palmer in 2013.  * = career high

Look, I’m obviously not advising anyone to pass on the top-12 guys and wait to select Palmer as your starting quarterback. That ship has clearly sailed. However, many people are in love with guys like Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford after the top-12. I think that’s fair, especially since I love Cutler, but all I’m saying is to not sleep on Palmer. They do have weapons in Arizona, Palmer will throw the ball a lot and I’d expect the Cardinals to be trailing in a lot of games this season, which could result in some garbage time fantasy production (something that owners saw a lot out of him in 2012). Obviously, there are more intriguing, high upside options out there, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Palmer finished 2013 as a top-15 fantasy option. I mean, throwing passes to Fitzgerald should be fun.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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