So what if he has no one to throw the ball to? Cam Newton is extremely undervalued in the fantasy football world.
Log onto the fantasy section on CBS. Click on rankings and look at the QB’s. You will see someone ranked #13 and #15 by the two experts. Now go onto Yahoo’s site and you will see him as low as #8 on some of the experts’ rankings. Not as egregious of a ranking as we see on CBS – but the fact remains, people are down on Cam Newton for 2014 and you can be the one to take advantage.
Since entering the league in 2011 – Newton has taken the league by storm. He has been a top 5 fantasy QB in each of his first three seasons….a point that slips past most fantasy football players.
Any group of fantasy players that get together likely have a debate about Newton at some point. Whether it is at the draft table, while watching football on Sunday’s, or in trade discussions. With any of these debates, you will likely hear a few objections as to why Newton is not a top tier Fantasy Football QB. I disagree.
Let’s address the major concerns the industry seems to have with Newton:
- “He has no one to throw the ball to this year!”
I won’t argue that the supporting cast for Newton is lackluster at best. But let’s call a spade a spade – outside of Greg Olsen(whom he still has at his disposal), he really didn’t have weapons last year either. Steve Smith was not good in 2013. At all. Sure, he may still have a little bit left in the tank, but in 2013 Smith had 64 catches for 745 yards and 4 TD’s. I’m sorry – but the 2013 Steve Smith is extremely replaceable. I can pretty much guarantee that one of the Panthers WR’s matches those numbers in 2014 due to sheer volume of passes thrown their way alone.
- “He doesn’t run anymore!”
Ummmmmm yes he does. Sure, he will likely never post another 14 TD season via the ground like he did as a rookie in 2011. Throw that number out the window and re-adjust your expectations: 100-120 carries @ 5.5YPC nets you 500-600 rushing yards. Toss in 5-7 rushing TD’s and you have a great base of rushing stats to help augment what he brings to the table as a passer. And with any running QB, one advantage is that the rushing stats they provide helps minimize the volatility week to week for their point total. Sure some weeks he will run more than others, but running QB’s are fairly consistent with positive totals from the ground game.
- “He can’t pass the ball! He is a glorified running back!”
If rushing stats were not part of the equation in fantasy sports – I would not be drafting Newton unless it was a league that starts two QB’s. His passing stats are fine….but overall over the past two seasons they have been fairly lackluster when compared with the elite options at QB’s. But this is missing the point because rushing stats do count just as much as passing ones. It is ironic because often times QB’s that run a lot are the most volatile in terms of performance week to week from a passing standpoint. But – on the contrary, because of the base of rushing stats that they provide – their fantasy totals are not nearly as volatile as you would think.
Let’s change gears though and focus on Newton as a pure passer. He made strides in 2013, so let’s take a deeper look:
QB Rating is not a perfect statistic. Neither is completion percentage. I know that you are not rewarded with fantasy points for QBR or completion percentage. However, it is a fairly reliable evaluation of how efficient a quarterback is playing in the NFL. Newton has improved his QBR in each of his first three seasons in the league – sitting at 88.6 in 2013. He has become more efficient over time, improving his completion percentage to a career high 61.7% last year, while minimizing his mistakes with a career low 13 turnovers. Even if his fantasy stats don’t say so – he is improving as a passer. He does have a limited supporting cast – but like I mentioned above with the point about Steve Smith – this is nothing new to Newton. Will he continue to improve in 2014 and beyond? If I had to bet – I would say that he continues to make strides with his efficiency and that his yardage will sit slightly higher than it did last year when he finished at 3,379 yards.
So Brad, what does all this mean for my draft?
I am not saying he is going to repeat his 2011 rookie campaign ever again. I am not saying he should be one of the top 3 QB’s off the board. But the fact remains that he is often being taken in the QB6-QB12 range of drafts – and that is far too low. He is the type of difference maker at the QB position – and he can be had at a very reasonable price in auctions, or in round 6 of snake drafts – which is great value for a safe fantasy play with plenty of upside.
Feel safe in drafting the man with a million dollar smile for your 2014 leagues, and be ready to break out your pearly whites as you smile each time he leads your fantasy team to victory this season.