As fantasy players, we all know there is no off-season. Research and a little luck is the key to winning fantasy championships. This brings us to our second installment of Fantasy Breakdown with Tim Secor. I will breakdown the positives and negatives of professional prospects that could make an impact on your fantasy rosters in 2003. The evaluation comes from game film I have watched and highlight tapes sent to me directly from their respective Universities.
This installment, I will preview quarterback Carson Palmer of the USC Trojans.
If there is any question weather or not staying in school for your senior season has benefits or not, take a look at Carson Palmer. Palmer may have improved his draft stock to the point of being the number one overall pick this coming April. Palmer was highly recruited out of high school and really didn’t live up to the hype until this past year. That is not saying he was a bad quarterback, he was the victim of multiple coaching changes and a broken collarbone in 1999. As a true freshman, Palmer threw for 1775-yards and flashed the potential everyone thought he had. In 2000, offensive guru Norm Chow came to USC as his coordinator and every expert in the country expected Palmer to lead the nation in every statistical category possible. He had a mediocre year with 2,717-yards passing and 13 TD’s, but he showed drastic improvement over his first two years. That first year under Chow, Palmer’s completion percentage soared to 58.6%. His second year under Chow, he threw for over 3600-yards, had a 62% completion percentage and threw 32 TD’s. One should note, the USC offense was not your typical WCO that had the quarterback throwing 5-yard passes. Chow’s offense is designed for the big, strong-armed player who can throw the ball down the field. This spectacular year led to a Heisman Trophy win for the senior signal caller. Let’s take a look at some of the awards Palmer won this past year.
· Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
· Heisman Trophy Winner
· Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Year
· Football Writers Association of America's All-American first team
· CNN/SI All-American
· First-team All-Pac 10
In my opinion, Carson Palmer is the best quarterback of the 2003 class. He is big, tall, and smart and has a cannon for an arm. He is more mobile than people give him credit for, and although he is not a very vocal leader, the team knows who is in charge of the huddle. This kid leads by example. He will become more vocal in the NFL as he gets acclimated to his teammates.
How does Carson Palmer fit into our fantasy plans for 2003?
Carson Palmer is projected by many to be the first overall selection on April 26th. The Bengals hold the number one pick, but I am not sure they will choose a quarterback. General Manager Mike Brown and new head coach Marvin Lewis may be looking for a trade partner. Either way you look at it, Palmer should be the number one draft choice and will most likely start from day one. Therefore, he has instant fantasy potential. There are a few clubs that would benefit from a trade with Cincinnati and I am sure you will hear those names in the coming weeks. Here is an inside look at a few possibilities.
Chicago Bears- The Bears are in desperate need of a reliable signal caller. There is no way they can enter the 2003 season with Jim Miller, Chris Chandler and Henry Burris as their quarterbacks. Carson Palmer would not only bring credibility to the Bears, but also toughness. Miller and Chandler seem to get hurt every time they take a hit and Burris will see himself back in Canada before he knows what hit him. The Bears are ready to contend for a title with their O-line and Anthony Thomas healthy again. Do the Bears want to take a chance on Palmer with a trade up from the number four spot? They might, but they may also look at a veteran like Jake Plummer.
Carolina Panthers- This is the most intriguing team to me. The Panthers are rebuilding and they desperately need a quarterback like Palmer. The Panthers own the number nine selection, so that would be a big jump up, but Palmer is worth it. They may opt for a Rex Grossman or a Byron Leftwich, but I think Palmer is heads and shoulders above them right now. Last year, the Panthers drafted Julius Peppers and DeShaun Foster. Peppers was named defensive rookie of the year and Foster displayed tons of talent before getting hurt for the year. Add Palmer to this team and you could see the Panthers in the playoffs in two years.
Arizona Cardinals- Like I said earlier, the Bears may be looking at soon to be free agent, Jake Plummer. That leaves an opening at the number six spot for the Cardinals to draft a quarterback. Do the Cardinals give 2002 draft pick Josh McCown a shot at the starting job? He needs more development than Palmer at this point, so I doubt it. Palmer would be a nice fit in Arizona because they have a solid O-line and a superstar receiver in David Boston (who they have to re-sign). Throw in Marcel Shipp, who flashed some potential this past year, and you have the makings of a solid core of players for the next 8-10 years. The Cardinals also need defense, so they may forgo a quarterback in round one and opt for Chris Simms if he falls that far in round two.
I feel Carson Palmer will be the first pick in the draft this April, I just do not know who will take him. It could be the Bengals, but they still have Jon Kitna, who looked good at times last year. The other clubs that may need quarterback help in the top 10 are Chicago, Arizona, Jacksonville, Dallas, Carolina and maybe even Seattle. I really think the Cardinals may take a shot at a trade up after seeing how the Falcons-Chargers trade worked out two years ago with Michael Vick and LaDainian Tomlinson.
What are the positives and negatives of Carson Palmer?
Positives- Mechanically sound, decent scrambler, very strong-arm, a natural leader that players respect. Not afraid to take a hit. Has great size and a very high character athlete. NFL franchises will invest millions of dollars with Palmer and will not have to worry about him getting into trouble.
Negatives- Some scouts feel he may not be as good as advertised and may be a tad bit overrated. He does tend to throw the ball into tight spots, but doesn’t every quarterback with a big arm? He has struggled in the past and some feel he may take a year or two before he becomes an elite signal caller in the NFL. He needs to be more vocal as a leader.
Bottom line- I feel Carson Palmer has what it takes to be the next great quarterback in the NFL. He has everything you look for as a franchise quarterback and nobody should pass on this kid. This draft is loaded with quarterback talent, but Palmer is the best of the bunch. He may struggle his first year in the league and have a season similar to last years number one pick, David Carr. If Palmer is drafted to a better situation than Carr, say the Bears, He would be an instant candidate for rookie of the year. This kid is the real deal. He reminds me a lot of Troy Aikman with a touch of Drew Bledsoe in him.
Fantasy value- Palmer is the classic Dynasty league selection. Dynasty leagues are becoming more and more popular, so draft Palmer early if you are involved in this type of league. He will be very, very good within three years. He could be very good his rookie year if he plays in the right system. For those of you in re-draft leagues, wait until the very late rounds to draft him. He could be a nice fill in for the bye weeks or possibly a nice waiver wire pick up in case of injury.