Stop Drafting Cam Newton as a Top-10 QB
Maybe some are just pretending they didn’t watch Cam Newton complete a career-worst 52.9% of his passes in 2016, good for 30th in the league behind Brock Osweiler, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Or perhaps some are simply convinced that a few new faces and the notably sluggish Kelvin Benjamin and his 51.5% career catch rate is enough to fuel a bounceback year. Whatever the case may be, Newton’s current ADP puts him at QB7 as the weather warms and training camp looms. He is still not cleared to throw a football at minicamp following shoulder surgery.
We all like to reminisce about the picks of fantasy seasons past, but Newton simply isn’t the player he was during his 2015 MVP run. He had the excitement factor of a two-dimensional, freakishly athletic signal-caller that never fails to suck fantasy owners in, but that player is gone. He has finished outside the top-15 in two of his last three seasons. As he continues to break down from his physical play, he is now limited by the one thing that made him most valuable.
It’s clear Newton’s rushing numbers are trending in the wrong direction following last season’s concussion and will be inconsistent at best going forward. The Panthers organization has made a conscious effort to take the stress off Newton’s legs, adding Christian McCaffrey and slasher Curtis Samuel in the first two rounds of the draft, as well as extending Jonathan Stewart. Newton has never completed more than 61.7% of his passes in a season, which would have been good for only 19th-best in 2016. If the rushing element of Newton’s game continues to evaporate, so too does his potential as a fantasy QB1.
At his current draft price, you’re banking on Newton over the likes of Jameis Winston, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Ben Roethlisberger, and more. In some cases, he is being taken ahead of reigning MVP Matt Ryan. None of this is to say that a rebound year isn’t possible, or even probable, for Newton, but I won’t be among those taking on the necessary risk to benefit from it. In a year where the consensus seems to be that the quarterback position is as deep as ever, investing in Newton’s reasonable ceiling at this point in his career is nearly guaranteed to fail to return value.