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2012 Fantasy Football: Raiders' Carson Palmer Vastly Underrated, Can Be Had Cheaply

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As I peruse the experts' 2012 fantasy football rankings, I see that Carson Palmer is ranked smack dab in the middle, lower than such luminaries as Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler, and Joe Flacco. I can almost guarantee that, barring injury, Palmer will outperform each of those quarterbacks in the upcoming season.

Palmer's low ranking is not due in any way to his outlook for the upcoming season. It is based on a couple factors including his last few years in Cincinnati which were mediocre at best, and the fact that he only played half a season in 2011. Fantasy football always has a 'what have you done for me lately' idiom and Palmer hasn't been elite of late.

Remember, however, that Palmer threw for well over 2600 yards in only half a season and has a vastly better team to work with this year in Oakland. His receivers will have another year of experience and maturity, and he will be working within a system that should allow the offense to flourish. There's no reason not to expect nearly 5500 yards passing and 30 touchdowns.

The things that will ultimately separate Palmer from the elite are 1) that the Raiders are primarily a running-oriented team and 2) copious interceptions. The elite QBs like Brees, Brady, and Rodgers have high TD totals but low INTs. Palmer will throw INTs on a regular basis. Last year he threw 13 TDs and 13 INTs. If you went to public school, that's a 1:1 ratio. I do not expect 30 TD and 30 INT this year, but I do expect more of a 2:1 ratio, meaning 30 TD and 15 INT.

So where should you draft Carson Palmer? The round to target him will vary from draft to draft, because sometimes people will go crazy and there will be three QBs in the first round. In that case, pay attention to the QB rankings and how quickly the QBs are going off the board after that. You may want to target Palmer for rounds 4 or 5. If you have a normal, sensible draft wherein only Rodgers goes round one, you can wait until rounds 6-7 to get Palmer.

In an auction draft, the strategy is a bit different. Palmer will likely only be valued at 2-3 dollars. For some context, Matthew Stafford will be valued somewhere between 16-18 dollars. This is a travesty, as the only thing Stafford can do that Palmer cannot is throw passes to Calvin Johnson. Johnson is on the cover of Madden this year and is certain to have some random misfortune befall him, so avoid them both like the plague. Palmer is a steal in an auction draft and you can wait until nearly the end to get him. I personally value him closer to $8, but he can likely be had for less than $5.

Prediction: 5700 pass yds, 30 TD, 16 INT

Overall QB ranking: 11

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