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.
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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