Sleeper Alert: Cardinals QB Carson Palmer
Fresh off his second ACL tear, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer is currently the 19th to 21st passer off the board in the 12th to 14th round, depending on which ADP data we’re using.
I get it. He’s old (35) and has had two injury-shortened seasons in the last four years.
But he’s also been playing fantastic football since the Cardinals’ 2013 bye, when he said that the team’s offense started to gel under head coach Bruce Arians.
Here are the game logs since Week 10 of the that season:
So he’s averaged 277 yards, 1.8 TD and 0.8 INT in his last 15 games for the Cardinals. That equates to 16.7 fantasy points, or 267 FP when that average is extrapolated over a full 16-game season. That’s three points less than what Philip Rivers scored as the #12 QB last season, and six points more than what the #11 QB, Tony Romo, scored in 2013.
He’s currently being drafted after Teddy Bridgewater and Joe Flacco, and I understand the arguments for both players. Bridgewater showed promise as a rookie and a strong running game featuring Adrian Peterson should help. Flacco is playing for the Quarterback Whisperer, Marc Trestman. But he’s also being drafted after Jay Freaking Cutler. Really? Even when Palmer was being carted off after his second ACL tear, his body language was still better than Cutler’s on a sunny Chicago day.
Depending on which ADP data we’re using, he’s also going later than Sam Bradford and rookie Jameis Winston. Bradford is reportedly hobbling around OTAs recovering from his own ACL tear, and Winston hasn’t played a snap in the NFL. The rookie has some potential this season with a nice group of receivers, but he’s still a rookie.
Speaking of weapons, Palmer has a talented receiving corps to throw to, including Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown, not to mention Andre Ellington out of the backfield.
And concerns about Palmer’s knee should be quelled by the recent news that he’s been cleared for 11-on-11 drills.
Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com:
Carson Palmer, just months removed from tearing his ACL, looks good. All along, the quarterback said his goal was to be back fully by minicamp. We had heard his ACL tear (and subsequent surgery) was as simple as such a thing could be. Still, given how important Palmer is to the success of the team (13-2 in his last 15 starts) his work on the field was eye-opening and anchors the optimism surrounding the team heading into camp. He is moving and throwing well, directing the offense like he always has.
For those owners taking a “wait on QB” approach on draft day, Palmer is a perfect fit. He’s being drafted very late, so owners can load up on 10 running backs, receivers and tight ends before they even have to think about pulling the trigger on their passer.
Quarterback streamers will also find Palmer’s early season schedule to be favorable. It begins with the Saints, Bears and 49ers, three teams not exactly known for stout defense (these days).
This also makes him a great fit with Tom Brady for those owners who want to utilize an “Angry Tom” strategy* over the final 11 games of the fantasy season. After the first three games, Palmer faces the Rams and Lions. The only big concern there is Week 4 against the Rams, but the game is at home, which should help.
*This assumes that Judge Goodell doesn’t reduce Tom’s suspension.
Playing in the NFC West, he does face the Rams and Seahawks twice, but one of the Seattle games comes in Week 17 when the playoffs are already completed in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. Still, it would be fairly easy to stream the position in the other matchup with the Seahawks and the two games against the Rams.
At the end of the day, I’d be comfortable going into the season with Palmer as my only quarterback. Even if disaster strikes again, it shouldn’t be too difficult to stream the position in most one-QB formats. If he plays a full season, I'll likely get low-end QB1 numbers for the low low price of a 12th round pick.