If nothing else, Cam Newton again is relevant in fantasy football.
Newton, once a perennial QB1, fell off the fantasy grid last season while playing in just two games for the Carolina Panthers. Now, the three-time Pro Bowl selection joins a fascinating situation with the New England Patriots and seemingly is extra motivated to prove he still has plenty left in the tank at age 31.
Newton, who reportedly agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden contract Sunday, comes with questions, the biggest of which involve his health. He’s undergone two shoulder surgeries and a procedure on his left foot, creating inherent concerns about his ability as both a passer and a runner moving forward.
Newton once was the NFL’s premier duel-threat quarterback. He revolutionized the position and posted huge fantasy numbers along the way. It’s reasonable to think he’s no longer the same player given the wear and tear he’s endured since entering the league as the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, but he’s certainly worth considering in fantasy as a top-flight backup or if your draft strategy simply entails waiting until the later rounds for a quarterback. Moreover, he’s a potential game-changer in two-quarterback formats, where you theoretically could draft him as a QB2 with elite QB1 upside.
Basically, Newton should be between the 15th and 20th quarterback off the board. Take him as he comes. Don’t reach. But also don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on drafting him if the opportunity presents itself.
There are better options. There are safer options. And Newton’s downside extends beyond his health, as it’s unclear how exactly he’ll fit in New England’s offense with a limited offseason and there’s presumably still a chance Jarrett Stidham beats him out for the Patriots’ starting quarterback job. Not to mention, the Patriots don’t boast the greatest collection of weapons — just ask Tom Brady — and Newton no longer is a unicorn, with several other quarterbacks now very much capable of contributing rushing stats.
Still, you — like many teams across the NFL — could regret not giving Newton a chance if everything clicks. We’re not that far removed from him being a very productive fantasy quarterback — according to ESPN, he finished in the top eight in fantasy points per game for the seventh time in eight seasons in 2018 — and he’ll be working alongside head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, two creative minds who could go a long way toward reigniting Newton’s career by putting him in a position that maximizes his strengths while minimizing whatever shortcomings now exist in his game.