Carson Palmer: Better for Fantasy in Arizona than Reality

New Cards QB not the next Kurt Warner

Carson Palmer is the new starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. While this looks like a win-win for player and team, why am I not as hopeful about this as Arizona head coach Bruce Arians?
I mean, I have to admit Palmer represents a monumental upgrade over what the Cardinals had at QB last year. In Oakland last season, Palmer managed to throw for 4,018 yards and 22 TD's despite having a mediocre group of WR's and TE's to throw to and a rushing attack that ranked 28th in the NFL. You could make a compelling case that without Palmer, the Raiders probably would have finished with the worst record in the NFL in 2012 and would have the first pick in the draft this year. Looking at Palmer vs. the Cardinals combined QB's last season side by side you would think I should have greater optimism.
Palmer (15 games): 345 completions, 61.1% completion rate, 4,018 passing yards, 7.1 yards per attempt average, 22 passing TD's, 14 interceptions, 5 fumbles lost, 6 games with 300+ passing yards.
ALL Cardinals QB's combined (16 games): 337 completions, 55.4% completion rate, 3,383 passing yards, 5.6 yards per attempt average, 11 passing TD's, 21 interceptions, 6 fumbles lost, 3 games with 300+ passing yards.
And Palmer's production includes a week 16 performance where he was knocked out of the game after attempting just 3 passes.
Just on the surface alone, this should be enough to think that Carson Palmer is going to revive a Cardinals offense that was DREADFUL in 2012. Add in a better group of WR's, including the second best WR in the game today in Larry Fitzgerald (who probably is the most thankful man on the roster after the Palmer acquisition), and TE's to throw to, and an offensive minded coach in Arians who has a track record of getting successful statistical seasons out of QB's and I should be thinking the Arizona Cardinals are going to be significantly better in 2013.
So why don't I?
Part of it stems from the woeful Arizona offensive line. Arians can claim all he likes that this offensive is better than what many believe. And while I have the utmost respect for Arians, and believe the QB's the Cardinals had last year contributed to the high sack totals, there's a reason why the Cardinals are very likely to use 2 of their first 4 picks in the 2013 NFL Draft on offensive lineman. At best, the current offensive line is mediocre. And even that may be a bit generous.
Another part is that while Palmer has shown he still has good arm strength, it isn't what it was back before the 2008 elbow injury that caused him to only play in 4 games that season. Palmer used to boast elite arm strength and was one of the most accurate deep ball passers. He still has good strength, but his passes flutter more often on deeper passes than they used to. At least playing in a dome for the first time in his career, weather won't be able to affect his passes like it did in Cincinnati, or the winds in Oakland.
But I just don't see Palmer leading the Cardinals back to contending in the NFC West.
However, when I put on my fantasy glasses, I see enough to think Palmer could be a strong fantasy backup QB in 2013. His presence bodes well for the fantasy outlooks of WR's Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald may even be able to crack back into the top 10 wide receiver fantasy rankings. It should also bode well for potential 2013 sleeper fantasy TE Rob Housler. Palmer's presence also should mean an improved chance that new Cardinals starting RB Rashard Mendenhall bounces back in 2013.
So while I have my doubts about Palmer pulling a Kurt Warner in Arizona, I can at least think better of the fantasy prospects of the other Cardinals offensive players.