Faceoff - QB Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Upside - by Mike Brown
There is almost nothing standing in the way of Carson Palmer joining the upper echelon of NFL signal-callers this season. I almost feel badly for my counterpart, Mark Wimer. He must provide a downside to Palmer, who at this point is all upside.
Palmer’s 2004 was a big success. He especially turned it on late, compiling a 13/8 TD/INT ratio and averaging 238 YPG his last 6 games. He missed the last two games with a knee injury, but appears completely recovered from that.
This off-season, Palmer made great strides in both his football IQ and the leadership department. He is now “the man” in Cincy, and HC Marvin Lewis was very impressed with Palmer after spring workouts.
Other pieces are in place in Cincinnati to further assist Palmer’s development. From 1-3, he’s got one of the best WR corps in the entire NFL, with superstar Chad Johnson leading the way. A dynamite ground game featuring Rudi Johnson and former first round pick Chris Perry will help to keep defenses honest. And finally, along with San Diego, the Bengals are the only other team to return all five offensive line starters. Cohesion along the line equals cohesion of the entire offensive unit.
Several other points of interest: Palmer dropped 20 pounds this off-season in an effort to better avoid oncoming rushers. The added mobility probably won’t make a big dent in his rushing totals, but it could help him with his overall conditioning. Lastly, the Bengals faced one of the league’s toughest fantasy schedules in 2004. While 2005 isn’t cake, it’s nowhere near the dogfight last year was.
Rather than spending a high pick on a QB, or waiting on a QBBC, simply draft Carson Palmer (at the appropriate time) to be your starter, and reap the rewards.
Downside - by Mark Wimer
Carson Palmer plays for one of the most quickly-improving teams in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals (they are no longer the Bungles since coach Marvin Lewis hit town). He has some fantastic starting receivers to throw at – Chad Johnson is among the NFL elite, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is very solid – and the team has excellent depth at the position as well.
So why, you ask, do I think Carson Palmer won’t be a great fantasy QB during 2005?
- The Bengals love to pound the ball on the ground with Rudi Johnson (he just signed a big contract extension).
- The defense is improving rapidly, and the team got an infusion of top-flight defensive talent in the NFL draft this year with LB/DE David Pollack and LB Odell Thurman – both from Georgia and both potential starters on opening day. The improving defense means that the Bengals will not play from behind nearly as much during 2005, limiting the amount of time they are passing frequently in order to play catch-up.
- Palmer is still a very inexperienced NFL starter with only 14 games under his belt – he has some more learning and developing to do before he can ascend into the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks.
Carson Palmer did very well for a rookie quarterback last season (263/432 for 2897 yards, with 18 TDs and 18 interceptions), and he showed marked improvement over the course of the season (especially the final 4 games he appeared in). I expect him to continue to improve during 2005, throwing for around 3300-3400 yards, with 20-22 TDs and 20-22 interceptions during his sophomore season.
But I don’t expect to see him suddenly become the next Peyton Manning. For the vast majority of NFL quarterbacks, ascending into the upper tier of the profession requires several years of seasoning. Palmer is on the road to greatness, but I don’t think he’s there yet.