1. What do you expect out of Carson Palmer in Oakland and what Raiders will see the biggest increase in production?
Carroll: I'm not sure there's a real uptick for anyone. It saves anyone from a drop-off. In the early weeks, as Palmer learns the playbook, I'd think that Darren McFadden is going to stay the focus.
Mack: The Raiders better be right about Palmer with the ransom they paid for him: two first-round picks. The Bengals have gotten further ahead as a franchise by using a second-round pick on their quarterback, Andy Dalton, over Palmer. That said, Palmer has the potential to be a pretty useful fantasy player after the Raiders' bye week. It will help McFadden the most, because the elite fantasy RB won't be relegated to seeing safeties in the box on every play. Palmer is more of a downfield threat than Jason Campbell was or Kyle Boller would be. Darrius Heyward-Bey gets a reprieve and rookie Denarius Moore has a decent quarterback to blossom with long term. It was an Al Davis-like move to pay so much for the idle Palmer, but it just might pan out for the Raiders and us in fantasy.
Sabino: Although Palmer has a lot of weapons at his disposal and is familiar with Hue Jackson from their time together in Cincinnati, I'm not banking on Palmer to be anything better than Campbell was for Oakland. With so much rust to shake off and his recent history of arm weakness, he'll won't be much more than an injury/matchup QB. I don't see any Raiders being better off with him than they were with Campbell. It's much more likely that the opposite will happen and players like Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford will lose value.
2. What will the fantasy impact be of the Brandon Lloyd trade, for both the Rams and the Broncos?
Will Carroll: Seems like a wash for the Rams. They'd soured on Mike Sims-Walker and give up next to nothing. It helps Sam Bradford a bit, but with his ankle injury, they might not get much practice time. Lloyd's an upgrade, but we've gotten almost nothing from Rams WRs this year so anything is. For the Broncos, I don't get it. They get a weak pick and hurt Tim Tebow's chances of ... oh, so they're setting up Tebow for failure. I'm curious to see how it turns out, but remember last week when I was the one saying you didn't want Tebow? Yeah, I just said I told you so.
Eric Mack: The Broncos sure want to make it tough on Tebow, huh? Or is this a S&*k for (Andrew) Luck move? Either way, the Broncos figure to feature Eric Decker as their leading target now and do little through the air. Lloyd's loss hurts Tebow, but Tebow tends to find ways to make things happen. As for the Rams, they have their quarterback -- when Bradford comes back from a high-ankle sprain. They needed a feature receiver amid the mess that was their receiving corps. Lloyd will take a few weeks to get up to speed, particularly with A.J. Feeley getting the snaps in practice, so downgrade Lloyd in all leagues. Mike Sims-Walker was worthless anyway, but the rest of the Rams receivers are good to dump now, too.
David Sabino: This move fits right in with the Broncos youth movement, and they have a deep threat, 2010 first round pick Demaryius Thomas back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last season finally ready to step in to become the deep threat for Tim Tebow. He'll have a large role even with Eric Decker and Matt Willis picking up targets, albeit in an offense that will skew more toward the run. In St. Louis Lloyd will round out a very fluid receiving corps for Sam Bradford, replacing the now cut Mike Sims-Walker. Reunited with Josh McDaniels, Lloyd won't approach the league-leading numbers he put up in Denver, but he will give a boost to a quarterback desperate for someone who can get open. That is, when Bradford is able to return to the field after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Packers.
3. Peyton Hillis seems to be the latest victim of the Madden curse. What hope do you have that he'll be productive the rest of the season?
Carroll: It's just weird. I don't know the internal politics, but the Browns really mismanaged his benching/injury/wait. If they're mad about the strep thing, maybe Hillis should just point to the special coating on the walls in the locker room, the one the Browns had to put up after an outbreak of MRSA infections. Hillis' hamstring should heal up. There's nothing he did last year that he can't do this year. His skills -- or rather his size -- is still intact.
Mack: You drafted a slug. He is banged up and on a bad football team. You shouldn't expect to get anything more out of him than you have. And because he is in a contract year, the Browns aren't likely to feature him down the stretch either. Also, Cleveland will eventually need to get a good look at Montario Hardesty. Pick up Hardesty and trade Hillis off for something. That is probably your best bet. Cut your losses and move on.
Sabino: Hillis has been an enigma ever since he sat against the Dolphins while battling strep throat. A monster last season, he's been splitting carries with Hardesty, even when healthy, and is having issues with the Browns new coaching staff and a lack of a contract for next season. It's a bad situation and getting worse, especially now that he has a hamstring injury. I wouldn't cut him yet but would try to have an alternative available just in case his malaise stretches throughout the rest of the season.
4. The QB carousel seems to be spinning again in Minnesota and Washington. What can fantasy owners expect from Christian Ponder and John Beck?
Carroll: Not much from Ponder. He's well thought of, but it's a bad situation. He had no time in the pocket and no one seemed impressed with his performance in Week 6, but I'll cut him some slack for that. I'm just not sure the situation gets any better. I hope practice time will help. My question here is -- who thought McNabb was going to work there? And if Ponder doesn't work, don't the Vikings have to take a hard look at their scouts and personnel people?
Beck, I like. He was very athletic when I saw him in the preseason and it surprised me Rex Grossman won the position. I don't get the Redskins at all, so I hate predicting anything with them, but I'd rather see what Beck can do than wait on the next Grossman meltdown.
Mack: Disappointment. Donovan McNabb or Brett Favre weren't able to make anything out of the Vikings receiving corps the past two years, so seeing rookie Ponder do it is a long shot. Consider Adrian Peterson a bit less intriguing now, too. The Vikings won't have the leads they managed to build in the early part of the season anymore. As for Beck, he is going to be shuffled right back to the bench after struggling, too, so expect to see Grossman again before this season is over. Beck's arrival might not hurt Fred Davis, but it will make Santana Moss much less of a must-start receiver.
Sabino: Ponder will face some of the same problems that plagued McNabb, just without the savvy of an old vet. There also will be a negative impact on Peterson, who will now face a steady diet of eight-man fronts. Beck's impact is a complete unknown, although he did play well in preseason. Losing Chris Cooley to a finger injury will hurt some, and you have to expect a drop in production from Jabar Gaffney, Grossman's college teammate. Still, I don't believe we've seen the last of Grossman in Washington.
5. Mike Shanahan and Bill Belichick are famous in fantasy circles for undermining the value of seemingly productive players with their unpredictable rotations. What potential fantasy star could most use a change of scenery/coach?
Carroll: Hillis is the first one that comes to mind, assuming the stories about that situation are true. I think Knowshon Moreno could still be a good RB1 for teams, but the Broncos have lost faith in him. Julian Edelman's not so much held back by the coach as by Wes Welker being better than him at the same exact role. A lot of teams could use Edelman, and like Welker, he's probably got upside in a new situation.
Mack: The Vikings' Percy Harvin. It is amazing how underutilized he was in Minnesota in the early part of the year. They featured him more as a runner than a receiver somehow. It has cost McNabb his job perhaps and now Harvin has to deal with a rookie quarterback. Harvin should have enjoyed a third-year wide receiver breakout, but instead, he has been hardly worth owning, much less starting in fantasy. Harvin needs to be a linchpin in the passing game, and a better staff would have made him a fantasy star by now. If this question was about the Redskins or the Pats, a number of either teams' fantasy options have to be downgraded, including both Redskins running backs (Ryan Torain and Tim Hightower) and the Pats running backs (BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley) and poor Chad Ochocino. BGE didn't start but then wound up getting the bulk of the duty last week. BGE should be one of the fantasy top backs right now in that potent offense. And as for Ochocinco, he is the most expensive $5 million third receiver in the NFL and the most worthless fantasy backup to date. He could eventually surprise, but we will have no clue as to when that might happen. It will be just sudden.
Sabino: On the other hand, both Shanahan and Belichick make stars out of players who may not otherwise have the skills to be full-time backs by using them in the most beneficial situations. The one player I would like to see emerge from his current timeshare is Saints rookie Mark Ingram, who is splitting time with all-purpose scatback Darren Sproles and third-down specialist and former starter Pierre Thomas. It's just a matter of time before Ingram becomes the primary runner in Sean Payton's offense.