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Carson Palmer and I were once rivals. True story. I played high school football against him and I’ve been a fan ever since he torched my team TWICE senior year. He went on to win the Heisman and you know the rest of the story. Or do you?

The title of this article probably caught your attention. Please don’t mistake me as claiming Palmer is Kurt Warner. He is not. I do believe however that Palmer is more than capable of doing a Warner impression.

The careers of Warner and Palmer have a lot of similarities. Both led the league in passing early in their careers. Palmer was the No. 1 and No. 5 fantasy quarterback in 2005 and 2006. Injuries and lack of playmakers saw both take a fall from grace around age 30. Warner experienced career resurgence in the desert and Palmer is trending in the same direction.

Palmer admitted to struggling with Bruce Arian’s offense in the beginning of 2013. Things started to click at the halfway point as he averaged around 300 yards passing per game from Weeks 10-17.

Last season Palmer posted the following stats. He did this running for his life behind Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked offensive line. Also below you’ll find Warner’s best year in Arizona.

Year Age Pass Yds TDs INT
Carson Palmer 2013 34 4274 24 22
Kurt Warner 2008 37 4583 30 14

The pace Palmer was on at the end of the 2013 would easily surpass Warner’s ’08 yardage. Just a few less interceptions and only six additional touchdowns and the stats are equal. Is it really that much of a stretch to match Warner’s 2008 stats? Doing this would make Palmer a top 10 fantasy QB in 2014 and possibly even top five. Most preseason projections I’ve seen for Palmer show his numbers flat or worse. This seems counterintuitive considering the offseason upgrades he has received.

The Cardinals added one of the best free agent left tackles, Jared Veldeer, this spring. They will be getting their 2013 seventh overall draft pick, guard Jonathan Cooper, back after missing all of 2013 with a broken fibula. Arizona also drafted one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft, Troy Niklas. These upgrades should solidify a weak front. Don’t forget about second-year, pass-catching running back Andre Ellington and newly signed deep threat Ted Ginn to complement one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL. Sky’s the limit here.

I recently wrote an article on Historical WR rankings which further opened my eyes to Palmer’s pass distribution. If there’s one thing he is excellent at, it is finding his top receivers. Three of the Elite 24 caught passes from Palmer.

Take a look at Palmer’s wide receivers and their respective PPR ranks over the years:

palmerwr

Palmer made stars out of guys like Houshmanzadeh and Johnson. For the record, Houshmanzadeh just missed the Elite 24 by one top 24 season. Peyton Manning is the only other QB who can boast having consecutive years with two top 10 WRs. In 2010 Palmer threw a WR2 season to a 37-year-old Terrell Owens.

The QB left Cincinnati for Oakland in 2011 and posted subpar stats although he almost single-handedly made Darrius Heyward-Bey’s career. Eight of Heyward-Bey’s 12 career TDs came from Carson. Brandon Meyers logged 79 receptions in 2012. The Oakland years for Palmer were not unlike Warner’s year with the Giants, or his first few with the Cardinals.

What Palmer did with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd should have been predictable. His track record when throwing to solid WRs speaks for itself. Max Mulitz made a great argument against Fitzgerald. Fitz probably has lost a step but can still catch and score. He posted the lowest drop rate in the NFL in 2013 according to PFF to go along with 10 TDs. You’ve already heard the buzz on the undervalued Floyd coming into his third year. I like these two to do impressions of Johnson and Houshmanzadeh. Here are the pair’s averages with Palmer from 2004 to 2008.

Years

Rec

Pass Yds

TDs

PPR

TJ Houshmanzadeh

2004-2008

89

1,012

7

233

Chad “OchoCinco Johnson

2004-2008

85

1,211

7

248

I believe these are fair and probably low projections for Fitzgerald as Housh, Floyd as Johnson. Consider this a heavy endorsement for each.

Palmer is currently being drafted as the 27th QB off the board. He’s going undrafted in some leagues. Call me biased but this is outrageous for a QB with as many 4,000 yard passing seasons as Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo. Given the information above, you don’t have to squint too hard to see Warner in my old rival.

Are you seeing Cardinal Red now?

carsonpalmer

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2 comments
mikeyC02
mikeyC02

Using the awesome game splits app, if you take weeks 10-17 (after the bye week - perhaps when the offense soaked in), and look at how those numbers extrapolate over a season, it furthers your point nicely.

576 attempts
376 completions
4,720 yards
28 TD's
16 INT's
> 8 yards/attempt
340 FP for the season

Adam Eraky
Adam Eraky

I'm officially intrigued. Talk about late-round QB.....definitely something to keep my eye on. Good article