Sell High on Carson Palmer?

5 November 2015

Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer is averaging 298.3 yards per game, is completing 64.6 percent of his passes and has a 110.2 passer rating thanks to a 20:6 touchdown to interception ratio. He resides in a pack with Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton as the best fantasy quarterbacks that aren’t married to Gisele. He’ll turn 36 just after Christmas. Should you move on?
If the bounty is right, I say yes. Not because of his age, but that and injury history do play a role. It would be foolish to ignore those factors completely, but you are better off securing a decent QB2 to protect against injury than to trade him without getting fair value. If you do get a good offer I suggest you take it because of his upcoming schedule.
Coming out of this week’s bye Palmer faces Seattle for the first of two times (Week 17 as well). They have allowed 186.4 yards per game and just six passing scores in eight games. In Week 11 he faces the Bengals. Cincy has allowed 258.4 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. He gets a nice matchup against San Francisco (280 yards, 1.6 touchdowns per game), but finishes with a tough run of St. Louis (230 yards, 0.7 touchdowns), Minnesota (229.3 yards, 1.3 touchdowns), Philadelphia (250.6 yards, 1.4 touchdowns), Green Bay (251.3 yards, 1.0 touchdowns) and Seattle.
There are 12 teams with at least 20 sacks on the season. In Palmer’s remaining eight games he’ll face one of those teams in five of his games. Six of the eight games are against teams in the top half of the league in sacks and all eight are in the top two-thirds of the league in sacks. Bottom line is Palmer should see a lot of pressure in his remaining games.
Palmer shouldn’t have to deal with any bad weather games other than possibly a road game in Philadelphia in Week 15. It’s hard to ignore his schedule though.
Again, don’t just give him away, but if the offer is right, take it.
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Frank Gore running
Frank Gore headlines the running back scene in the NFC West, but he has some pretty serious injury concerns. He has missed nine games over the past three years, and didn’t reach 250 carries in any of those seasons. While he is very active in the receiving game averaging 51 catches per season over the past five years, he only has 32 rushing touchdowns over that stretch. He brings the average just over eight total touchdowns a year over that stretch thanks to his receiving scores, but he is a low end RB1 in non-PPR leagues and a middle of the pack RB1 in PPR leagues. Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter will battle for handcuff duties, but neither present much fantasy value as long as Gore remains healthy.
Steven Jackson is a true workhorse back for the Rams, averaging 327 carries and 48.5 receptions over the past two years. His 3.8 yards per carry as well as his low touchdown totals (six per year over the past four season) keeps him from the top tier of fantasy backs. The talk has been that the Rams will add a veteran running back to compliment S-Jax. He’s still a solid RB1, especially in PPR leagues.
The Cardinals must have  seen enough from Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower as the team overlooked several needs and selected Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams with the 38th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see how Beanie responds to the challenge. Beanie could be a nice value pick this year if he can stay healthy and finally prove his worth.
Marshawn Lynch had some moments for the Seahawks, especially in their thrill upset of the Saint. Despite the feeling the he’s been in the league for a long time, he’s just 25. Justin Forsett will still get plenty of touches, especially in the passing game, but isn’t a threat to Lynch or a player with considerable fantasy value.
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Fitz let a lot of owners down.
Championship Week continued as the Cardinals beat the Cowboys on Christmas in a game that likely didn’t pull too many people away from their Christmas parties.
Let’s take a look at how last night’s game will affect your roster decisions for today’s games.
Quarterbacks:  Jon Kitna (115 yards, TD, two INTs, seven rushing yards) had a stinker. Not only did he throw a pair of picks, he got knocked out of the game. If you started him, you’re in trouble. You may have to take some risks with your remaining roster. If you used John Skelton (183 passing yards, TD, 23 rushing yards) had a solid game for those who used him, likely in two-quarterback leagues.
Running Backs: Felix Jones (88 total yards) was good, not great. If you were banking on a big game from Felix, you’ll need to look elsewhere for a breakout game. Tim  Hightower (29 total yards) turned in a dud, and will likely yield carries to Beanie Wells (47 yards) in the finale. Neither are good plays next week. Marion Barber III (58 yards, TD) returned, effectively ending Tashard Choice‘s (32 total yards) fantasy run.
Wide Receivers:  Miles Austin (115 yards, TD) did his thing. Not quite enough to alter lineup plans, but he’ll make up for ground for those who didn’t meet their projections. Larry Fitzgerald (26 yards) had just one catch. He wasn’t even on Skelton’s radar as he had just three targets. Steve Breaston did not even catch a pass. Andre Roberts (110 yards, TD) stole the show, but was not in many lineups. Roy Williams was a non-factor.
Tight EndsJason Witten (45 yards, TD) did not have one of his monster weeks, but he was good enough, especially in PPR leagues..
Kickers:  David Buehler did not take the day off as he kicked two long field goals (42, 53) and twp PATs. Hopefully his missed PAT does not cost you. Jay Feely had three PATs through three quarters before delivering with two long field goals (49, 48) for the Cardinals and fantasy owners alike.
Defenses:  Arizona gave up 26 points, but returned both of Dallas’ interceptions to the house. Couple that with their fumble recovery and five sacks and you have a surprising strong performance. Dallas gave up 27 points, did not force a turnover, and had just one sack to disappoint once again.

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The Cardinals find themselves in the midst of an old-fashioned quarterback controversy as Derek Anderson was named the starter of the Cardinals’ third preseason game. The third preseason game is typically the game where the starters play for an extended period as a final tune-up for the season before resting in the fourth game.


Leinart who lost a QB battle to Kurt Leinart could once again be relegated to backup duty. It’s one thing to lose out to a former league MVP and possible Hall of Famer, but losing out to Derek Anderson would make the bust cries come in louder.


Leinart has had some success in the first two games completing a combined 10 of 13 passes (76.9 percent) for 77 yards. He has been sacked twice and hasn’t had a turnover. Anderson, who has a stronger arm, has completed 24 of 41 passes (58.5 percent) for 193 yards and 1 TD. Derek has been sacked once and has thrown two interceptions.


This should act as a wake-up call for Leinart. If he responds well, he could win his job back. Of course if Anderson delivers, he could take a firm grip on the starting gig. Either way, the Cardinals’ QB situation is beginning to stink. It’s probably one you should avoid in your fantasy drafts. Unfortunately it doesn’t help my confidence in Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet either.

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You aren’t going to find many bigger Larry Fitzgerald fans than yours truly. I have forever loved the way he approaches the game. He learned how to prepare for an NFL season from Cris Carter and followed in his footsteps of gathering WRs around the league for a grueling camp.


Not only does he prepare intensely, and take young players under his wing (Sidney Rice last year for example), but he never seems to be in conflict with the team or his teammates, let alone not getting in trouble off the field.


On the field is where he truly captivates me. He does not have blazing speed, but he simply finds a way to get it done. He has great hands, footwork, leaping ability, vision, etc. I should stop before I am accused of a man-crush on Fitz.


In six NFL seasons he has averaged 87.2 catches for 1177.8 yards (13.5 ypc), and 9.8 TDs. In four of his last five years he had at least 96 catches and double-digit TDs. In three of his last five years he had 1400+ receiving yards.


He’s been just a bout a sure thing for double-digit TDs as any RB out there the past few years. Not only did I consider him a first round pick last year, I considered him a mid-round (6-8) first round pick.


Things have changed though. Kurt Warner is gone and Matt Leinart is at the helm. Leinart has had his share of bumps and bruises, but he has had some success with Fitz in the past.


In 2006 they played in eight games together when Leinart was the starting QB. Fitz averaged 5.25 catches for 74 yards with 4 TDs. Those aren’t the numbers you have come to expect from Fitz, but he has come a long way from 2006. I am counting on Leinart to do the same when he’s finally given another chance this year.


Not only did he lose his QB, but Fitz lost his running mate. While Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are quality WRs, they aren’t Anquan Boldin. I’m not sure how much that will affect Fitz though. Last year Boldin missed Week 9 and Fitz torched Chicago for 123 yards and 2 TDs. In 2008 Boldin missed Weeks 5, 6, 16 & 17 and Fitz caught 20 passes for 362 yards and 6 TDs in his absence. In 2007 Boldin was out Weeks 4, 5, 6 & 14 and Fitz caught 31 passes for 432 yards and 2 TDs in those four games.


I also think the Cardinals will lean much heavier on the run with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower taking some of the pressure off of Leinart. Kurt Warner was an elite talent so it made sense to rely on his arm. Leinart has ability, but there is going to be a philosophy change in the desert.


I’m not expecting another 1400 yard season for Fitz, but I do have him ranked high among WRs (click to see rankings) with a projection of 100 catches for 1250 yards and 10 TDs. Those are first round numbers, but I can see the argument that I’m being overly optimistic.


Mock Draft Central has Fitz with an ADP of 11. I would put him right around there as well. I would prefer RBs like AP, Chris Johnson, MJD, Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Ray Rice, and Steven Jackson over Fitz. I would also rather have WRs Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne as well. I do like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees a lot, but I’d rather grab Fitz and settle for a Manning, Brady, Romo, Schaub, or Rivers later.


That puts Fitz at the 10th pick in my book, so yes I do consider him a first round pick still. Remember, I may be a little biased since I am such a big fan, but there aren’t many guys that you can basically pencil in for 1000+ yard and 10 TDs. I believe Fitz remains on of them.


What do you expect from Larry Fitzgerald?


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Matt Leinart has had plenty of time to learn under Kurt Warner. His maturity level was not what it should have been initially, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially when you consider the weapons he has on offense in Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet, Beanie Wells, and Tim Hightower.  I think the Cardinals are a more balanced offense this year, meaning Leinart won’t come close to Warner’s gaudy numbers, but he should do enough to make him a decent fantasy backup.


Leinart is, on average, the 26th quarterback to come off the board in fantasy drafts, according to Mock Draft Central. When I am assessing the risk associated with Leinart, it isn’t that ranking or his 204th overall ranking that I am concerned with. After all, that puts him as a QB3 or the last pick in the 17th round.


While I have a hard time imagining why somebody would prefer Josh Freeman, Matt Moore, or Byron Leftwich over Leinart (click here for my 2010 QB rankings), I am wondering if Leinart is a worth fantasy backup.


I believe his is, as indicated by my 21st ranking for Leinart. I will likely draft use him if I get Rodgers, Brees, Peyton, Brady, Romo, Schaub, or Rivers. Any QBs after those seven, I will want a higher end backup so I can play the match-up game. Guys like Favre, Cutler, Kolb, McNabb, Flacco, and Eli come with enough question marks that I would like to pair two of them or have a higher tier backup like Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, Big Ben, or Palmer.


Now that I have narrowed it down to seven QBs that I would consider using Leinart as my backup, I first need to match up their bye weeks. Rodgers (Week 10), Brees (10), Peyton (7), Brady (5), Romo (4), Schaub (7), and Rivers (10) are all eligible because they do not share a bye with Leinart (6).


So I know they don’t share a bye with Leinart, but who does Leinart play during the bye weeks?  In Week 4 (Romo) Leinart faces the Chargers in San Diego.  In Week 5 (Brady) Leinart faces the Saints at home. In Week 7 (Peyton, Schaub) Leinart faces the Seahawks in Seattle. In Week 10 (Rodgers, Brees, Rivers) Leinart faces Seattle at home.


None of the match-ups frighten me, or jump out as cakewalks, but I would give the edge to using Leinart to back up Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Philip Rivers.


In Week 8 Arizona faces Tampa Bay at home, making him a decent option if you have Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Kevin Kolb, or Joe Flacco, who all are on bye that week.


Prediction:  3500 yards, 20 TDs, 18 INTs


What are you thoughts on Matt Leinart?


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A typical fantasy football league consists of 12 teams nine starters (QB, two RBs, three WRs, TE, K, D) and anywhere from five to seven bench players. If you go with the latter bench allotment, you’re looking at 16 roster spots or 192 draft picks. By that definition, any sleeper should have an average draft position about 180 or lower.


Arizona Cardinals WR Early Doucet sports an ADP of 263 according to Mock Draft Central. That would make him the eleventh pick of the 21st round and somewhere around the 85th WR taken. That would make him a WR7 in 12-team leagues, or most likely not on a roster.


I feel he has the upside to warrant taking a chance on him much earlier in fantasy drafts. For starters, he showed big play potential in last year’s playoffs combining for 14 catches for 145 yards and 2 TDs in the Cardinals’ win over Green Bay and loss to the Saints.


Not only that, but Anquan Boldin has moved on to Baltimore, meaning Doucet should have a bigger role in the offense. Obviously Larry Fitzgerald will be the primary target and Breaston will likely continue to be the deep threat. Doucet should see a big bump in targets working the slot.


Life would be better for all of the Cardinal WRs if Kurt Warner hadn’t hung up his cleats, but I feel Leinart will be solid. He’s had time to mature and learn the offense under one of the best QBs to ever play.


They have some solid match-up against the Rams twice, the Seahawks twice, the Raiders (he won’t have to face Asomugha), Bucs, and Chiefs. Their schedule helps his cause.


I’m not saying you should count on him as a WR4 even, but he could put up those kind of numbers. I’m just saying I would take a chance on him over some of the players who on average have gone before him in drafts. I’m talking about guys like Chansi Stuckey, Michael Jenkins, Armanti Edwards, Torry Holt, Troy Williamson, Sam Hurd, Juaquin Iglesias, Damian Williams etc.


Prediction:  65 catches, 800 yards, 4 TDs


What are your thoughts on Early Doucet?


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The Cardinals enter the 2010 with as much uncertainty as any other NFL team. They lost leaders (Kurt Warner, Karlos Dansby) on both sides of the ball. Matt Leinart is in line to take over the QB position. Derek Anderson was brought in to push him.


Fantasy Playoff Schedule:  Slightly Unfavorable
The Cards draw Denver, Carolina, and Dallas in the fantasy playoffs. The Denver (and Dallas) game is at home so weather shouldn’t play a factor.


Five Star Fantasy Options
Larry Fitzgerald – Talent is talent. It hurts losing Warner, but Leinart has been in the system for a long time. Fitz may not be the top rated WR any more, but he’s close.


Four Star Fantasy Options


Three Star Fantasy Options
Beanie Wells – After a solid rookie season (793 yards, 7 TDs), Beanie should be even better in 2010. He scored six of his TDs from Week 10 on.


Two Star Fantasy Options
Matt Leinart – If he wins the starting job like I expect he makes for a solid backup fantasy QB. Despite Anquan Boldin’s departure, he still has plenty of weapons at WR.


Tim Hightower – I expect Hightower to take a less prominent role in the offense, but he still should be a viable flex position option. With Beanie Wells’ injury history, he could be counted on even more.


Steve Breaston/Early Doucet – Boldin’s departure opens the door for Breaston and Doucet to see increased production. Look for Breaston’s numbers to be more like 2008 than 2009. Doucet averaged 7 catches for 72.5 yards in two playoff games last year. Expect more of that in 2010.


Cardinals Defense/Special Teams:  Dansby will be missed, but they will still be a spot start defense when they have favorable match-ups.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Nobody should have been surprised when Kurt Warner decided to hang it up. Not after the vicious hit he took against the Saints. There was a lot of money left on the table, but Warner isn’t motivated by money.

So what is the fantasy fallout from his retirement? First of all, the QB rankings have to be adjusted. I had Warner ranked 11th because of the retirement speculation. I may be higher on Matt Leinart than most as I have him ranked at 17th. That means the QBs ranked 11th through 16th get bumped a spot (click to see rankings).

Though Leinart has shown little to date, he goes into the offseason with a chance to earn the starting job. I know he’s been in that situation before, but he doesn’t have a former MVP breathing down his neck. I can’t imagine he didn’t learn under Warner’s guidance. Plus, he’s got weapons galore. Would I want his as a fantasy starter, no. However, he could be a solid backup and spot starter.

Even if Leinart holds his own next year, he’s not Kurt Warner. The WRs are going to take a hit. I bumped Larry Fitzgerald down a notch (click to see rankings). I left Boldin where he’s at because of the chance he have a new home in 2010. Steve Breaston is the wildcard. If Boldin leaves, he could have some value. I’m afraid if he stays, Breaston will be no more than a spot starter. Guys like Early Doucet and Jerheme Urban saw their fantasy value sink even lower.

The RBs should be the big winners in this situation. Ken Whisenhunt is from a run-heavy background, and he has two talented backs in Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. Beanie should be the workhorse back on the ground. Don’t rule out Tim Hightower being a flex option as well. He should get his share of carries and see plenty of Matt Leinart check downs.

While the Cardinals won’t have as potent an offense in 2010, they should still have several key fantasy performers.

Anquan Boldin catching
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If you’re an Anquan Boldin owner, I’m sure you were preparing to hear the phrase Game-Time Decision regarding Boldin’s availability for Sunday’s clash with the Giants.  He injured his ankle in last week’s win over Seattle and was held out of practice today.

He was able to play, albeit sparingly, in the second half of last week’s game, which leads me to believe he’ll at least make an attempt to play this week.  That, and the fact that he is a tough, physical receiver.

The problem, however, is his game is the Sunday Night game, which makes it hard to gamble on plugging him into your lineup.  If you don’t have a Steve Breaston, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, or Santana Moss it would be hard to depend on Boldin this week because if he can’t go, his replacement options are limited.

Stay tuned as this story develops, but for now I’d make alternate plans at WR this week.

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