Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer: Old Man Gold
Looking for a steal on draft day? Look no further than these three old guys: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Carson Palmer. Each of these guys played in their first NFL game in 2004, amassing 509 games played between the three over their careers. In an era where Quarterbacks are constantly getting hurt, it is important to have a guy that you know will stay healthy. Eli Manning and Philip Rivers are the perfect models of consistency when it comes to health, each starting all 16 games for 11 years straight. While it’s hard to predict health, these guys make it easy to do so. Palmer does not offer that same luxury, missing nearly three games a year on average. However he is clearly in the best offense of the three, making up for the health gap.
Coming off arguably the best season of his career in 2014, Manning went out and topped it in 2015. He threw for 4,436 yards and 35 TDs, while throwing only 14 INTs. For many QBs, 14 INTs isn’t great, but when you’re Eli Manning, this number is more than satisfactory. While many give all the credit to Odell, I attribute much of Manning’s career resurgence to newly enshrined Head Coach Ben McAdoo. McAdoo came in as the Offensive Coordinator in 2014, stressing shorter, quicker throws near the line of scrimmage. This cut down significantly on the turnovers, brought up the total passing attempts and completion percentage, leading to more yards and TDs in the process. Losing Rueben Randle (the WR, not the sandwich) to the Eagles in free agency will be a challenge, as the Giants have failed to bring in any real receiving threats to replace him. Victor Cruz projects as the #2 WR, but his health is about as reliable as a car with no wheels. This is obviously a concern, and I would consider dropping him in the ranks if they don’t find another weapon in the draft. Nonetheless, Eli is extremely consistent, and you can pencil him in for another 4,500 yard, 30 TD season.
Rivers 2015 campaign is explained entirely by one man, Keenan Allen. Keenan was on pace for a ridiculous 192 receptions, 1,600 yards and 8 TDs before lacerating his kidney and heading to the IR in Week 8. At the time of the Keenan injury, Rivers was on pace for a single season record of 5,600 passing yards and 34 TDs. Instead, he finished with only 4,792 yards and 29 TDs. Still fantastic numbers, but they pale in comparison to what he could have done with 16 games from Keenan. Keenan presumes to be back to full health, and should slot right back into his former role. Don’t be shocked if Keenan breaks the single season reception record (143 – Marvin Harrison), and Rivers is a top 5 fantasy QB.
In 2015, Palmer had the best season of his career. With fantastic weapons all over the field, he totaled 4,671 passing yards and 35 TDs. All the skill players are returning, and with David Johnson in a full time role, the offense expects to improve upon their 2015 campaign. Palmer will likely come at a small discount on draft day, as many will remember his abysmal NFC Championship game in which he turned the ball over 6 times. Palmer dealt with a thumb injury towards the end of the year, going into the playoffs, and presumes to be as healthy as he’s ever been at the start of the 2016 season. Grab Palmer in the 6th or 7th round, you won’t be sorry.
In conclusion, Manning, Rivers and Palmer represent some of the best draft day deals, and I’d be more than happy with any of them in the later rounds. Palmer will be drafted the highest, with Rivers and Manning slotting in a few rounds later. The two things they all have in common? They’re old. And they’re really good. And they deserve a chance to be your starting QB.