On paper, the Cincinnati Bengals should have one of the best fantasy football teams in the NFL. They have a very good running back in Cedric Benson, an excellent group of pass catchers with a great blend of promising rookies ( Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley) and proven veterans (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco). So why are they not being talked about as one of the elite offenses? The answer, surprisingly, is Carson Palmer.
Once upon a time, Carson Palmer was an annual top 5 pick at quarterback in every fantasy football draft in the country. From 2005-2007, Palmer averaged 4000 passing yards a season, with 29 touchdown passes. He made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006. When Palmer threw his 100th career touchdown pass, during the 2007 season, he became the 5th fastest in NFL history to achieve this feat. He was looking like he was going to become a Peyton Manning like elite fantasy figure for the next decade or more.
Since that time, Palmer has struggled to match his elite numbers of 2005 and 2006. His problems really began in 2008, when he started and played in only 4 games. He was placed on IR after being diagnosed with a torn ligament in his throwing elbow. He elected not to undergo Tommy John surgery on the elbow, and was ready to play in time for week 1 last year. Although 2009 was a decent season, Palmer’s are strength seemed to be lacking as he had the lowest yards per attempt numbers for any full season in his career.
The Bengals seemed to have accepted that Palmer’s decreasing arm strength might be a permanent change. They have changed their offense to more of a smash mouth, rushing attack led by Cedric Benson. This probably better suits a team, like the Bengals, who have a fine defense, and play in the rugged AFC North. This is a team that now seems content with handing the ball off 25-30 times a game, rather than trying to air it out, like in Palmer’s elite quarterbacking days.
With a good defense, receivers, and a stud running back, one has to ask if Carson Palmer is the weak link to the Bengals? Running teams led by dominant quarterbacks simply don’t have to spend a 1st and 3rd round pick on receivers. The elite, superstar quarterbacks, like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning,seem to be capable of putting up fantastic numbers regardless of who the team lines up. Palmer is certainly no longer in that group of quarterbacks.
All is not lost, though. Palmer is only 30 years old. He has been throwing the ball during the 2010 NFL preseason very well. The Bengals invested a 1st round pick on rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham, who has looked down right phenomenal for Bengals. He is easily the best tight end Palmer has ever played with. Cincinnati also spent a 3rd round pick on Texas rookie Jordan Shipley, who has shown sure hands, and will line up in the slot. At wide receiver, the Bengals return Palmer’s favorite red zone target in Chad Ochocinco, and brought in aging superstar Terrell Owens, giving the team a lot of weapons for Palmer to throw to. What more could a quarterback ask for?
Senior Writer Gridiron Experts. 2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 26-year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School.