Offseason QB carousel's fantasy football fallout

      April 2, 2013 @ 16:00:00 PDT

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Kevin Kolb

The Arizona Cardinals weren't going to pay Kolb a roster bonus of $2 million last month, so they cut him loose and, in a manner of speaking, paved the way for this bit of merry-go-rounding. The Bills decided to bring in Kolb and have him compete with Tarvaris Jackson for their starting QB job. Speculation has already placed Kolb ahead of Jackson in this race, justifiably, and has come with the implication that the duo may end up fighting for one roster spot. Reportedly, the Bills won't take much of a salary cap hit if Kolb doesn't make their 2013 roster. Buffalo should still desire to draft a franchise-QB type, if they have the opportunity.

Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson
Johnson could use more help

This arrangement doesn't immediately provide much of a litmus test for Kolb. If he's selected to start his team's season opener over T-Jax and, potentially, a rookie, his hold on the job might be tenuous. New head coach Doug Marrone brought with him his offensive coordinator from nearby Syracuse, Nathaniel Hackett, and so those two should work together to install a run-first O. It'll probably continue to feature running backs C.J. Spiller and an aging (in RB terms) Fred Jackson.

There's reason for optimism if Kolb emerges as the starter in Buffalo, though. Marrone allowed Hackett to up the tempo of the Orange's O midway through last season, and both players and staff were thrilled with the results. Marrone was also the Saints' OC for Drew Brees' first three seasons in New Orleans. A bevy of quick-hitting passes with the potential to turn them into long gains is likely to be part of the plan, which would allow them to take advantage of Spiller's and Jackson's abilities as receivers.

Kolb's primary targets would otherwise consist of Stevie Johnson and tight end Scott Chandler, so unless 2012 draft pick T.J. Graham makes considerable strides or the Bills make additions, the weapons in Buffalo are somewhat limited. Kolb has some upside, but he doesn't intrigue enough to be more than a low-end QB2. Arizona couldn't protect the passer worth a lick, though, so at least Buffalo would increase the passer's odds of avoiding injuries significantly.

Matt Flynn

Oakland Raiders WR Denarius Moore
Uncertainty faces Moore, Raiders

Rookie sensation Russell Wilson made Flynn, who signed a relatively lucrative three-year contract to move to Seattle just one year ago, expendable. The good news for Flynn is that the Raiders shipped Carson Palmer out of town shortly after obtaining Flynn. The bad news is that the LSU product will once again have to compete with a mobile quarterback -- Terrelle Pryor, in this case -- for the starting position.

But there's more good news for Flynn's job prospects: In January, the Raiders hired Greg Olsen to be their offensive coordinator. Olson's offenses are notable for their power running games, which in Oakland will feature and are more suitable for Darren McFadden than Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme. The OC's portfolio is comprised overwhelmingly of work with passers of the classic drop-back variety. In addition, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie was the Green Bay Packers' director of football operations prior to his arrival in the Bay Area and is thoroughly familiar with Flynn.

Someone in the Raiders' organization is almost assuredly a fan of Pryor, who displayed poise in his first and only NFL start, in Week 17 of last season against the San Diego Chargers. He was 13 of 28 (46.4 percent) for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one INT, and he rushed nine times for 49 yards and another score. Olson stated in a March interview with the team's official site that one of his responsibilities is to mold the offense to fit his unit's personnel. A number of NFL teams have incorporated elements of the zone-read option, but it's not yet a part of Olson's playbook. Whether that begins to change this summer will be a telling sign about the viability of Pryor as the winner of this QB competition. Would the Raiders have made this deal if they were content to enter the 2013 season with Pryor under center, though?

It's possible that Oakland will draft a quarterback, too, but that player would likely be more of a project since they restructured Flynn's contract. The former Packer has to be considered the honest favorite to start, this time around. The Raiders have some dangerous pass-catchers in Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater and Juron Criner. Dump-offs to Run DMC are always threats to become big gains. But this offense will probably be designed to pound and protect the ball, foremost. Even if Flynn is ready to deliver on the so-called promise that has made him so appealing to some NFL clubs, he won't be more than a QB2 to start.

Carson Palmer

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald
Fitz back to fantasy elite?

The Cards have a new head coach and a new starting quarterback, and the latter cost them almost nothing. Palmer agreed to a new contract, too, so the albatross that hung over the Raiders won't be looming over Phoenix. He wanted out of Oakland pretty badly, apparently, because he refused to take a pay cut there but said he was willing to accept a backup role with a contender.

Will he be so happy to move to Arizona? Last season, the Cardinals surrendered 58 sacks, seven more than the 31st-place Packers and four more than they gave up in 2011. Palmer may be running for life - if he even has the opportunity to get his long legs moving. If his new team's protection doesn't improve drastically, there's little reason to believe that Palmer won't lose the football more often than he did while in the Bay Area (14 interceptions and five fumbles lost in 15 games in 2012).

Harold Goodwin followed new head coach Bruce Arians from the Indianapolis Colts to become Arizona's offensive coordinator, but Arians intends to call plays. Arians' offenses have been receiver-centric, so he'll have his work cut out for him; his first, second and third priorities should be to upgrade his offensive line so that his QBs have time to get the ball to his wideouts. Thankfully, the O-line is Goodwin's specialty.

Arians will have a familiar face, from their days together with the Pittsburgh Steelers, lining up behind Palmer, too: running back Rashard Mendenhall. He and Ryan Williams should form a dangerous duo if they have room to run and catch. Arians' work with the Colts gives him experience with instant turnarounds for rebuilding franchises. If he and Goodwin work some miracles on the offensive line, the Cardinals could field an interesting O. Palmer could be a total bust, or he could have some upside as a QB2.

The biggest potential beneficiary of the changes in Arizona is, of course, Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer's arrival should help to increase greatly the chances that the Cards get the football into the hands of their best player as often as possible. The hiring of Arians and Goodwin laid the groundwork for that promise, however; Palmer merely gives them the vessel. The passer has never worked with a receiver as talented and dedicated to the game as Fitz, either, so the QB could profit from this change of scenery substantially.

The changes in the desert should bode well for the development of 2012 first-rounder Michael Floyd, too. There are a lot of ifs in Arizona, and the thens are quite intriguing. At minimum, Fitzgerald stands a reasonable chance to become a fantasy WR1 again in 2013.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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