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Rapid Reaction: Cam Newton signs with New England Patriots

Jun 29, 2020

Not so fast, Jarrett Stidham fans: someone else might very well be starting under center in New England this coming season after Cam Newton signed with the Patriots over the weekend. Will Newton be a viable fantasy football option in 2020? And what does his arrival mean for the Patriots’ pass catchers? Our analysts weigh in here:

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Q1. What is the fantasy football impact of Cam Newton signing in New England?

There are many who’ll be jumping to draft Newton as a QB1 like it’s still 2017, but you shouldn’t be one of them. Newton will be coming off shoulder surgery, which had countless teams passing on him. That’s a concern, yes, but it’s not the biggest concern. He’s now 31 years old. Do you know how many quarterbacks have rushed for more than 500 yards after turning 31? Three. Now as how many of those quarterbacks had more than four rushing touchdowns … none. Newton was once a dominating force who required coordinators to adjust game plans, but I just don’t think he’s that guy anymore. You also have to add in the fact that it’s already July and he’s had zero time with the playbook and pass-catchers. He’s a streaming quarterback in 2020.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Cam Newton has been the QB3, QB4, QB3, QB1 and QB2 in fantasy the five seasons he managed to stay healthy. Even in 2018, he was on pace to be the QB3 through nine games when he was injured. So you may be thinking he should be drafted as a QB1, but this is a 31-year-old coming off shoulder surgery and a foot injury deemed potentially career-threatening. There is upside, of course, especially in an offense with the greatest head coach of all-time, but there is quite a bit of risk as well. I have him ranked as my QB15 just behind other risky QBs with upside like Ryan Tannehill, Joe Burrow and Baker Mayfield.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Cam Newton has now been signed by the New England Patriots and will immediately step in as the starter. While there may be some attempt by the Patriots to claim that this is an “open competition” this offseason, a healthy Cam Newton is immensely more talented than Jarrett Stidham. Newton will be used heavily in the running game in this offense, which is fantasy gold. Additionally, the Patriots only signed Newton to a one-year deal, which means that they can use him heavily and not worry about long-term consequences. I’m expecting Newton to carry the ball more than 115 times this season, which immediately puts him in the Top-10 fantasy QB conversation.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Given how long it took Newton to sign and the nature of his contract, I don’t think it’s a given that he starts over Jarrett Stidham. But, for now, I’m assuming he’ll start the majority of his games and drafting him as a mid-range QB2 with upside. Newton has rarely had significant options in the receiving game, and won’t this year, with the Patriots having perhaps the worst receiver/tight end group from top to bottom in the league. But he’s obviously been successful in his career, both from a real and fantasy standpoint, regardless. The Patriots drafted two tight ends and invested in their offensive line, which should help Newton maintain his already high floor as a rusher. And with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels guiding the offense, they’ll adapt their attack to highlight Newton’s strengths. All that to say, there are risks with Newton and he shouldn’t be drafted as a QB1. But he’s certainly a QB2 with plenty of upside at this point.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Q2. Who else is impacted by Newton’s signing from a fantasy perspective?

I do believe this helps someone like N’Keal Harry, who wins in contested catch situations. Newton has not been afraid to throw the ball up in those scenarios, while Tom Brady and someone like Jarrett Stidham would’ve been. I think this negatively impacts both James White and Sony Michel, though. Newton hasn’t been one to check down and even when he does, he hasn’t been an accurate quarterback. That will impact someone like White quite heavily. And then, you obviously have Michel losing some of his valuable goal-line touches to Newton.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

I’ll dare to disagree with Tags on this one. Yes, it is true that Cam always used his big arm to be a chucker, completing just 53 percent of his passes, for instance, in 2016 on an average depth of target at 10.6 yards. Within two seasons, that soared to 68 percent because he decreased his aDOT by over 2 yards per target. Great players can sometimes morph when their bodies change (see Brady rarely throwing downfield with age) and that is what Cam has become too. Christian McCaffrey led his 2018 team in targets with 42 more than any wide receiver. James White should still be in business.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

The Newton signing balances out the offense a little bit, in my opinion. This offense is going to be drastically different than what we’ve seen with Brady behind center and should be more run-heavy than in previous seasons. If that’s the case, there are less overall targets to go around than before. Julian Edelman will still be the main target, while James White will remain heavily involved out of the backfield. Meanwhile, the only other fantasy relevant player will be Sony Michel, but he may lose out on goal line touches to Newton. N’Keal Harry is the only other player worth mentioning, but I believe he may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the necessary target volume to be a factor for fantasy football.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Newton’s signing barely moves the needle on the Patriots’ other skill players for me, other than a bump for N’Keal Harry. Newton has shown in the past not only that he doesn’t mind throwing it up to big, physical receivers but that he can make them fantasy regulars. Harry fits that mold, and has great athleticism for his size. After battling injury for most of his first year, there were reasons to expect that Harry could break out in his second year and now, even more so. Harry moved up a good 10 spots in my 1/2 PPR rankings after Newton’s signing, and is now a mid-range WR4 with upside.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

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