Five things to know for Week 7: Palmer's impact, Murray's value
On the surface, there's not much reason to expect Palmer to be any better in Oakland than Jason Campbell was before suffering a broken collarbone Sunday.
Be it because of a 2008 elbow ligament injury, a '10 shoulder issue or something unrelated to injury, the '10 version of Palmer simply didn't look like the top-notch quarterback he was in '05 or '06. While Campbell's hit-or-miss play this year was far from ideal -- his YPA bounced from 4.8, to 9.8, to 5.8, to 8.8, to 5.4 in the first five weeks -- it's similarly concerning how Palmer's per-game YPA ranged anywhere from 3.6 to 12.8 last year, falling to 5.8 or less in six games, with only five above 7.0.
Below the surface, there might be reason to expect Palmer to improve from his '10. Not only does he exchange Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Cedric Benson for Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey (or Denarius Moore, if you prefer) and Darren McFadden -- the latter scenario being much less of a headache at the least -- but there is also the hope that Palmer's throwing arm will be in better health three years removed from his elbow ligament damage, not to mention last year's shoulder soreness.
Still, it might be overly optimistic to expect all those variables to play in Palmer's favor. The most likely scenario remains that he's still the same player he was last year. Combine that with the lack of training camp and the new location, and he's a risky commitment as a QB2 in most cases.
In any case, Palmer's arrival is somewhat likely to avert disaster for owners of Heyward-Bey, Ford and Moore, though the similar skill sets and talent levels of the three wideouts still creates a lot of workload uncertainty among the trio. That said, they are lesser threats to each other's fantasy value than Kyle Boller would have been.
In a year that seems to have a remarkable lack of value at running back, Felix Jones' high ankle sprain definitely makes Murray worth a gamble in plenty of scenarios, especially PPR leagues. But between Dallas' bad offensive line, coach Jason Garrett's hesitance to utilize young backups and Dallas' odd commitment to Tashard Choice, expectations should not be high for the rookie.
Dallas' offensive line is ill-suited to run block now that Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis have been replaced by waiver-wire fodder like Phil Costa, Derrick Dockery and Montrae Holland. Bill Nagy, a rookie seventh-round pick who was a backup for most of his college career, was also in the starting lineup conversation before suffering a season-ending ankle fracture Sunday.
Furthermore, Garrett shouldn't be expected to let Murray loose as a feature back given that Murray has been behind Choice on the depth chart all season, even though Choice was on the preseason roster bubble and averaged just 2.5 yards per carry before Sunday's game against New England. That's not to mention the fact that Garrett long kept the highly-skilled Miles Austin on the bench behind the duo of Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton until a Williams injury and consequent 250-yard, two-touchdown showing by Austin forced him to see the light in '09.
Even if Murray is more talented than Choice, don't expect his workload to reflect it anytime soon. Plus, with a rushing average of just 3.2 yards per carry and a long run of just eight yards this year, Murray hasn't exactly proven anything himself to this point.
This could be stating the obvious, but Chris Cooley's indefinite absence due to knee issues and a broken finger turns Davis into a strong option at tight end again, regardless of what goes on at quarterback for the Redskins.
Besides being a top athletic talent at the position, Davis benefits from an offense that made both him and Cooley productive in the past, and if Sunday's game is any indication, it doesn't matter which quarterback is on the field for Washington -- Davis will get a good amount of targets from both Rex Grossman and John Beck.
In fact, it might be better for Davis if Grossman sees the bench, as Beck threw four passes Davis' way in the fourth quarter alone. As much of a liability as Grossman might be, you can't say he's afraid to throw it deep to his receivers. Beck, on the other hand, is a bit more prone to checkdowns, which only helps a tight end like Davis.
Not long after Lloyd's fantasy value got a boost with his trade to St. Louis, reuniting him with his '10 playcaller (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) in the process, it was revealed that quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain.
It seems safe to say that Lloyd's value will swing upward with Bradford's return, but it's more difficult to tell whether he should be written off as long as he has to deal with A.J. Feeley. Feeley last played extensively in '07, throwing for 681 yards (6.6 YPA), five touchdowns and eight interceptions in three games for Philadelphia -- numbers that fail to impress but stand up to Bradford's 234 yards per game (6.0 YPA) and three touchdowns in five weeks this year.
Regardless of who's throwing the ball, the team's profound lack of targets should give Lloyd a decent floor, especially with McDaniels presumably going out of his way to get Lloyd the ball with his playcalling. It would be a disappointment if Lloyd couldn't come through as a WR3 in most leagues, at least after a week or two in the St. Louis offense.
While he's only worth a pickup in deep leagues for the time being, those in need of quarterback depth should definitely monitor how Ponder performs against Green Bay this week.
His receivers and offensive line are well below average, but Ponder has a fantasy football-friendly skill set, particularly with regard to his running ability. Besides running a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, Ponder ran for 83 yards on 13 carries (6.4 yards per attempt) in preseason.
With standout mobility, good accuracy and a very quick release, Ponder could turn into a Jeff Garcia sort of player if a few things go his way (the Vikings giving Percy Harvin more snaps would be a start). If he holds his own against the Packers in his first career start, it wouldn't be surprising if Ponder turned out to be a top-20 fantasy option at quarterback if he holds onto the starting spot.