The Bengals traded Palmer, who had absolutely no intention of ever playing for the Bengals again, to the Raiders for a first-round pick (used to select Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick) in 2012 and what turns out to be a second-round pick next year.
Meanwhile, quarterback Andy Dalton, Palmer's replacement, had a Pro Bowl season as a rookie last year. In fact, Dalton and teammate A.J. Green became the first-ever rookie quarterback-wide receiver duo to be named to the Pro Bowl.
Granted, the Pro Bowl is a diluted group of All Stars as Super Bowl teams don't have players who play in the game and several players skip it due to injuries (and/or preference).
Despite a lockout and a rookie offensive coordinator, Dalton, the Bengals' second-round pick in 2011, finished with 3,398 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. In addition to being named to the AFC's Pro Bowl squad, Dalton helped lead the Bengals to a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance after a 4-12 season in 2010.
Dalton lacks elite arm strength, but he is an accurate passer with good anticipation and great intangibles.
One of the best things about Dalton is the presence of his No. 1 receiver, A.J. Green.
Green is a special talent capable of becoming the best receivers in the league for the foreseeable future. Green became the first 1,000-yard rookie receiver since Marques Colston (2007).
Even though the Bengals lost Jerome Simpson via free agency, they get back Jordan Shipley, who spent most of last season on injured reserve. They also added several pass-catchers in the draft: receivers Mohamed Sanu (Round 3) and Marvin Jones (Round 5) plus tight end Orson Charles (Round 4).
While Dalton had a solid year overall, he struggled down the stretch. In his final five regular-season games (Weeks 13 to 17), Dalton threw for less than 200 yards four times. Although he didn't turn the ball over (only one interception during that span), he threw only four touchdowns and completed just 53.5 percent of his passes.
In the Bengals playoff loss, Dalton threw no touchdowns, three interceptions and completed only 51.4 percent of his passes.
With the NFL continuing to become more of a pass-happy league, Dalton is unlikely to post gaudy passing statistics. If you count quarterbacks like John Beck and Chad Henne, both of whom played four games last year, 25 quarterbacks averaged more passing yards per game than Dalton (212.4) in 2011.
Dalton does not have the upside to be one of the true elite fantasy quarterbacks in 2012, but he is a solid backup quarterback with the potential of becoming a low-end QB1 in 12-team leagues.
(Strength of) Schedule
Based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks last year by all of the Bengals' opponents this year, Dalton and the Bengals' QBs have the second-least favorable schedule from a fantasy perspective and seventh-least favorable schedule in the fantasy postseason (Weeks 14-16).
Unless you're in a deep league or two-quarterback league, Dalton is solid QB2 with the potential of becoming a low-end QB1 if everything goes right in 2012. Considering the Bengals' offense ranked in the bottom half in pass attempts last year, however, Dalton is unlikely to get the volume of throws to reach the low-end QB1 level.
Only 24 years old, Dalton will be a solid (but probably backup) fantasy quarterback for a long time and he has a young nucleus of receivers around him led by Green. Especially if one of the receivers other than Green develops into a legitimate No. 2 receiver, Dalton has some upside and he's unlikely to cost you much on draft day.
Projection: (Passing) 3,475 Yards, 21 TDs, 12 INTs; (Rushing) 125 Yards, 1 TD
Also, check out: