Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders has declared that Carson Palmer will be the starter in Week 7 against the Chiefs "as long as he's breathing."
There are no known reports of respiratory issues, so it looks like the 31-year-old quarterback will be at the controls immediately. So ends the Kyle Boller era.
Whatever else you think about the trade for Palmer — and yes, the Raiders gave up a lot of hypothetical talent via draft picks — you have to admire the crazy aggressiveness of the move. Oakland dealt for the best quarterback who was available to them, paying an extreme price because they think they can make a deep playoff run this season. We shouldn't expect the Raiders to change their offensive approach, however, simply because they've added a brand-name QB. They run more than any other team in the NFL, and they do it well.
If you're playing in a standard 10 or 12-team fantasy league, Palmer isn't really in the QB1 discussion, not yet — he's transitioning to a new team on a ridiculous timeline, and it's been five years since he's played at an elite level. Still, it's safe to say he's better than Boller, so Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore retain whatever value they had. Oakland has a few tricky second-half match-ups — San Diego twice, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago — so an upgrade in quarterback competence was plainly necessary.
Ronnie Brown, on the move again: The trade that would have sent Brown to Detroit in exchange for Jerome Harrison was undone when a physical revealed the worst sort of news. Keep a good thought for Mr. Harrison. According to this report, "Harrison's outlook for his health and player career are both good."
No good news yet on Andre Johnson: Houston head coach Gary Kubiak recently said "it would be a reach" to expect Johnson to return from his hamstring injury in Week 7, when the Texans face Tennessee. Johnson revealed on Tuesday that the original timeline for his recovery was "six weeks at the most," so that's a little unnerving. "Right now it's still weak," he said. "It's not as strong as it used to be."
Admit it, you're beginning to like Pianowski's AJ-for-Colston trade more and more.
So begins the second age of John Beck: The Washington Redskins have named Beck their starting quarterback for Week 7, which shouldn't come as any great surprise. Rex Grossman completed just nine passes to his own receivers on Sunday, and four to the opposing defense. Beck gets a friendly match-up this week against a Carolina D that can't stop anything — as Doug Farrar points out, the Panthers rank dead-last in the NFL defensively, per Football Outsiders' metrics. In Week 6, Beck went 8-for-15 against the Eagles in relief of Grossman, adding a rushing score.
Washington will presumably lean on its running game against Carolina, but obviously Cam Newton & Co. can draw any opponent into a shootout. Eventually, Beck will need to make a few plays. This is a quarterback who turned the ball over eight times in five games with Miami way back in 2007, the last time he was a starter, and ... well, he lost a preseason battle to Rex this year. Can't say I'm full of confidence. He's not much more than a desperation bye-week play in fantasy.
LeGarrette Blount still sidelined: Blount did not practice for the Bucs on Wednesday due to an MCL sprain, and he's expected to miss the London game. Tampa Bay then has a bye in Week 8, so LeGarrette won't be useful to anyone in the near term. Earnest Graham is coming off a 109-yard rushing performance against New Orleans, and he can expect a full workload vs. Chicago. Here's some good news for Tampa fans (somewhat distressing to Matt Forte owners): DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) is practicing, so he seems like a decent bet to return on Sunday.
Sam Bradford, sprained but able: Despite being limited by a high ankle sprain, Sam Bradford is still expected to start against Dallas in Week 7. Sorry, AJ Feeley fans. Bradford will of course have a new weapon at his disposal, with Brandon Lloyd joining the Rams receiving corps. St. Louis was among the friendliest potential landing spots for Lloyd, since he's well-acquainted with Josh McDaniels' offense. But the Rams also rank last in the league in scoring (9.8 PPG), so try to keep your projections reasonable. The team context is lousy. Also, the Rams have allowed more sacks that any team (22), this week they're facing a defense that can get after the passer, and, again, Bradford is playing through a leg injury. Things could get ugly for St. Louis on Sunday.
Peyton Hillis' status uncertain: Hillis (hamstring) will reportedly do some light running on Wednesday, but he won't participate in team drills. Unless we get better-than-expected news late in the week, consider Montario Hardesty the better play in Week 7 against Seattle. The Browns can't seem to stop throwing, so this could be the Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi show (if it's a show at all).
Photos via AP Images (Palmer) and US Presswire (Beck)