The New England Patriots replaced a former quintessential NFL player – Tom Brady – with another Sunday when they signed with Cam Newton to help fill the void left by Brady.
Newton, 31, has signed a one-year incentive agreement of up to $ 7.5 million, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.
The structure of the contract, as well as Newton’s 2019 campaign ruined by injuries, followed by a long wait to sign a contract, suggest that he cannot be considered a lock to start before second-year Jarrett Stidham. Patriots NFL Nation reporter Mike Reiss agreed, noting that Newton and Stidham are wild cards and he calls it “a real open competition.”
So the question is, how do we adjust our thinking into fantasy?
Create or join a league today >>
Cheat Sheet Central >>
More people play on ESPN than anywhere else. Join or create a league in Fantasy Football Game 1! Free registration!
Mike Clay’s fantastic perspectives: Right now, I’m planning Newton for 13 starts and Stidham for three. This would assume that a healthy Newton wins the competition, but it also covers both injuries and the possibility that he is just not the same player he was at his peak.
New England has called a first-pass offensive in 11 of the past 13 seasons, but the tea leaves suggest moving to an attack in the first place in 2020. These leaves include Newton’s signature, the financial investment the heavier in the guard position and a pair of third round draft picks spent at tight ends. This likely conversion obviously takes away some of the best catch catcher Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, James White and Mohamed Sanu Sr., although that is mainly offset by a much more attractive quarterback depth graph.
It may sound strange to say about a quarterback better known for his ability to rush than his arm, but keep in mind that Newton probably had his best season as a ferryman the last time he was in good health. During this 2018 campaign with the Carolina Panthers, Newton was more conservative (7.3 career yards for average throwing depth), but this led to a completion percentage of 68% and 7, 2 YPA. Newton was still an effective rusher this season (488 yards and four touchdowns on 101 attempts in 14 games) and finished in the top eight in fantasy points per game for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Last season was another story, a pre-season foot injury that limited Newton to two games. Newton was not the same player, carrying the ball only five times for a 2-yard negative after ranking at least fourth in QB for precipitation attempts, footage and touchdowns in each of the eight previous seasons.
Prior to 2019, Newton had missed only five of the 128 games possible since entering the league, although it is fair to wonder if 929 litters during the span took a toll.
That being said, Newton really needs to be on your radar as an upside down pilot in fantasy projects. There is a reasonable chance that a healthy Newton – who offers a very high floor because of his ability to rush, working with an elite coach pair of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels – can quickly join the QB1 conversation. Even better, his average position in roughing positions is unlikely to get out of hand given the question marks mentioned above and the many safer options available. If Newton does not win the job or is fighting, you can easily cut the bait with a minimum value lost. However, if it gets back in shape, you have a flight yourself.
As for the other members of the New England offense, I don’t move the needle much. Edelman, White and Sony Michel are great mid-term targets, with Harry and Damien Harris intriguing the end-of-round flyers. Tight ends can be ignored, as can Stidham, who should only be listed in both QB and Dynasty leagues.
Cam Newton projection at 13 departures 2020: 269-of-432, 2972 yards, 17 touchdowns, 10 INT, 71 runs, 358 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Stephania Bell’s health outlook: With the 2019 season approaching, the Panthers were not worried about Newton’s shoulder injury which had caused him to miss the last two games of the 2018 campaign and had to undergo surgery. He had diligently rehabilitated, worked on the little things to help him become a better pitcher (especially better than he had been when the shoulder did not cooperate, which forced him to literally squeeze the rest of his body to try to deliver the Ball). He entered in 2019 making all the shots he should make in a match.
Of course, once he injured his left foot, he was never the same again. Even though it was a stable midfoot injury and therefore seemed to improve over time, it ultimately did not. Newton opted for surgery, undergoing a modified (less complex) Lisfranc procedure. Given the coronavirus pandemic, all we have to do regarding his workouts is Newton’s Instagram account, but this actually gives a pretty good indication that his foot is fully recovered.
Will Newton be able to put it all together on the ground? I don’t see why not. He’s certainly there to prove he still has it, and the recovery time from not playing most of last season definitely helps. Will it hold out? It’s much more difficult to answer, because the cam we know only plays one way – and this physical contact combined with his story makes him at higher risk than if he were 10 years younger.