Oh those Raiders. Still imbued with the spirit of Al Davis, the Raiders may have mortgaged their future to add a solid but unspectacular quarterback in Carson Palmer. Was their decision a good one, and what should you expect from Palmer in terms of his fantasy value? Taking another tact, I thought it would be wise to look at some of the prevailing wisdom in fantasy football and see if it actually stands up to rigorous analysis (to be fair the analysis isn't going to be the rigorous since I'm feeling kind of lazy today). Finally, I'll put out the old stat sheet and point out some facts that may have slipped past you like that less than attractive gal in the corner that somehow slid past the bouncer last Friday night.
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Palmer a Raider – Will Start in Week 8
Carson Palmer and Bengals owner Mike Brown were entangled in a death cage struggle that would have made Randy Macho Man Savage and Hulk Hogan proud. Palmer said he would never play football again for the Bengals. Brown said fine by him and told Palmer to eat it because he wouldn't be held hostage by a player. The result has been Palmer sitting at home week after week after week watching football from his couch, that is, until the Raiders got involved.
Jason Campbell is out for at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken collarbone. Chances are at least 50/50 that he's done for the year, probably even greater than that actually. The 4-2 Raiders, desperate to add an NFL caliber signal caller – there's no way they could win with Kyle Boller – started scouring the available options, and not liking what they found they decided to call the Bengals to see if they could persuade Brown to come down off his mountain and deal Palmer. What do you know, they were successful.
The Raiders added Carson Palmer at the cost of a first round selection in 2012 and a conditional second round pick in 2013 (this second pick would become a first round selection in 2013 if the Raiders make it to the AFC title game in either of the next two years). In addition to paying that hefty price on draft day, the Raiders also reworked Palmer's contract so that he will make $2.5 million this year, $12.5 million next year, $13 million in 2013 and $15 million in 2014.
From Mike Brown. “We also find ourselves rather suddenly in position of being able to receive real value for Carson that can measurably improve our team, which is performing well and is showing real promise for this year and years to come.”
From Hugh Jackson, Raiders' coach: “I know a lot of people think we’ve mortgaged the future of the organization. I don’t see it that way. I mean, I don’t think you ever mortgage the future of an organization when you’re putting a real big-time franchise quarterback on your team.”
First off, Kudos to the Bengals who did exceedingly well here in ridding themselves of a part they had no intention of using, especially with Andy Dalton playing pretty well this season. Secondly, potentially getting two first round draft picks in return for Palmer, that's quite the coup.
As for the Raiders, and I'll get to that whole “franchise quarterback” thing in a moment, they paid a steep price for Palmer (because of this deal and others, they only have two picks in next years draft – a fifth and sixth rounder). On the field, Jackson spent time with Palmer in Cincy as he was the wide receivers coach there for three years, and Jackson was actually the offensive coordinator for Palmer for two years when he played at USC. Did this personal connection overwhelm logic here and lead to a bad addition by the Raiders?
(1) Over his last two seasons, 32 games worth, Palmer threw for 7.064 yards, 47 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. Over his last 35 games Campbell threw for 7,175 yards, 39 touchdowns and 27 interceptions which is a lot closer than most people would have you believe.
(2) Palmer does have a distinguished career, but the last time he threw for 4,000 yards was 2007.
(3) Palmer has completed 60.8 percent of his passes the past three years. That's not a bad total by any means, but it's not exactly elite either.
(4) Palmer throws a lot of interceptions. Over his last 52 games he has thrown 57. Not exactly a great game manager there.
(5) There are questions about the arm strength that Palmer possesses as it just hasn't been the same the last couple of years since he injured his elbow in 2008.
So what should you make of Palmer? First off, the Raiders say he will start immediately meaning he will face the Chiefs this week. Personally I think that's way too soon, but it it what it is. Regardless, Palmer should be rostered by all teams looking to improve their QB2. It will take an awful lot going right for Palmer to end up being a top-10 QB option ROTW, but it is possible that he could be a top-15 option which has to mark him as the best available option to pick up at the quarterback spot in Week 7 and a solid QB2 option for the rest of the season.
In the SiriusXM Experts League – a league filled with the hosts on the network (XM87, Sirius210) – there are some rather interesting scoring situations going on. I thought I would point out a few of them just to lend some perspective to show that just because the prevailing wisdom says one thing doesn't mean that it is always true.
4 points passing TD
6 points for rushing/receiving TD
(-1) point for an interception
1 point per reception
1 point for 20 yards passing.
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Here are some thoughts.
Belief: Eli Manning is totally blah.
Reality: Manning is 7th in points through six weeks at the QB position with more points than guys like Roethlisberger, Romo, Ryan and Rivers.
Belief: Mark Sanchez stinks.
Reality: Sanchez is 9th in points through six weeks. Yikes, is that really true? I think I have to revisit this being a “normal” fantasy scoring system because the guy is nowhere near, I mean not even close, to being a top-10 NFL quarterback. Sorry New York fans, but he's barely inside the top-20.
Belief: Michael Vick has underperformed this season.
Reality: Vick is fifth at the quarterback position in points and is half a point ahead of everyone's fantasy darling, Matthew Stafford. I know, pretty shocked aren't you? It's all about what he can do with his legs, even if his passing totals haven't been great (nine touchdowns, eight interceptions).
Belief: Ahmad Bradshaw is a solid RB2 option.
Reality: Well, in this scoring system he's been an RB1. In fact, he has two more points than Adrian Peterson.
Belief: Mike Tolbert has been a disappointment after a hot start.
Reality: At this point Tolbert has more fantasy points than Bean Wells, BenJarvus Green-Ellis an Arian Foster, so his disappearance has certainly been exaggerated.
Belief: Roddy White has been pitiful this season.
Reality: He hasn't been his normal self dealing with injury, drops and overall seemingly lackadaisical play, but he hasn't been “pitiful.” White still has 34 receptions for 373 yards, a pace that would equate to 91 receptions and 995 yards receiving, far from pitiful numbers. He also has more fantasy points than Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson and Brandon Marshall.
Belief: Greg Olsen is pretty much just an injury/bye week fill-in.
Reality: While I will admit that I'd still lean more toward this belief than many others listed here, it's certainly worth pointing out that Olsen currently has more fantasy points than Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis.
Remember to check the actual numbers before you just let your emotions sign checks that you can't cover.
Numbers to Know
Drew Brees has thrown for at least 350 yards in each of his last four games, a first in the history of the NFL. Brees is averaging 358.7 yards a game this season which would be more than 40 yards above his previous career best of 316.8 when he fell only 15 yards short of the all-time single season yardage passing mark with 5,069 yards in 2008.
Jimmy Graham is 206 yards clear of any other tight end in the game with 620 receiving yards, and his current pace of 103.3 yards a game would lead to 1,653 yards this season. Can he keep this up? History certainly says he has no chance. That total of 1,653 yards would be the most ever for a tight end in league history, and it would actually be the 8th best single season mark in the history of the game, a total never reach by guys like Randy Moss, Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne etc.
Only one receiver who has at least 400 receiving yards this season has failed to have at least one grab result in 45 or more yards. That lone outlaw is the Patriots Rob Gronkowski who has 401 yards on the year with a single catch high of 30 yards.
LeSean McCoy leads all NFL running backs in plays this season as he has been on the field for 86 percent of the snaps the Eagles have run.
Cam Newton has been a top-10 fantasy performer this season, mainly because he has run for 210 yards and six rushing scores. Though he's averaging 308 yards passing a game, he's failed to reach 240 yards in three of the past four games. He's also become an interception machine with five in his last three games. Overall he has only seven passing scores and nine interceptions, putting him on pace to throw for 19 touchdowns and 24 interceptions this season. How is an effort like that a top-10 fantasy season? Anyone else out there think it's time that we rework some of these scoring systems?
Aaron Rodgers is the first quarterback in NFL history to post a 110.6 QB Rating in each of the first six weeks of the season after he threw for 310 yards with three scores in Week 6 against the Rams. Rodgers also posted six games, not in a row mind you, but six games of at least 110 in the QB Rating category each of the past two seasons. What does that mean? It means that Rodgers is just the second quarterback in the annals of the league to have six games with a QB Rating of at least 110 in 3-straight seasons. The other was Steve Young in 1992-94.
Wes Welker leads the NFL with 785 yards receiving, everyone knows that. But did you know the following facts? (1) Welker is 110 yards clear of the next closest player, Steve Smith of Carolina. (2) Welker has 12 more receptions than any other player (Jimmy Graham, and Darren Sproles, both have 39). (3) Welker leads the NFL in targets with 75, sixteen more than the next closest men (Graham and Roddy White). (4) Welker leads the NFL with 36 first downs, four more than Mr. Graham. (5) Welker again leads the NFL with 397 yards after the catch, 50 more than the second place man (Matt Forte). Think about this – Welker has more YAC than Reggie Wayne has receiving yards this season. Wayne has 390 yards.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the Baseball Guys' Twitter account.
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2013 Fantasy Football Player Rankings: Wide Receiver
2013 Fantasy Football Player Rankings: Tight End
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2013 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receivers
2013 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks
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