By: Jared Forest (@ThatGuyFromJerz) & Clay Wright (@dynasty_man2)
The Case For Cam Newton
The fact that we are at the point in dynasty in which we have to make a case for Cam Newton is ridiculous. The 28 year old former first overall pick is admittedly coming off of his worst year in the league but should still be considered in the top three in the realm of dynasty QB’s. We need to look at the past as a whole and it seems clear that this past season was an anomaly rather than a trend. Last year was the only year that Cam did not eclipse 500 yards rushing and tied for his lowest career total in rushing TD’s in a season but the fact that the Panthers were playing from behind in a majority of games has a lot to do with that. Cam Newton is not on the downside of his career, rather he is about to overcome his worst year in the league with the additions of O-Line and playmaking help.
2016 was not Cam Newton’s fault. Center Ryan Kalil sprained his shoulder in week 8 and was ultimately placed on IR. Kalil’s backup Gino Gradkowski was also placed on IR with a knee injury leaving inexperience at the anchor position of the offensive line. Michael Oher was ruled out for the season due to concussion symptoms which led the Panthers to start backup tackle Daryl Williams. Williams then got injured which forced moving right guard Trai Turner to tackle in which he was completely out of place. Mike Remmers was moved from right tackle to left tackle and Chris Scott was used to plug in any other opened spots on the line. If you’re exhausted reading the plethora of injuries to this line, just think how Cam felt running for his life. To recap, Cam was behind a line that featured one member in his original position surrounded by three backups. Its amazing that he was still able to put up borderline QB1 numbers with this group and we haven’t even gotten to the lack of talent around him yet.
I seriously think that Greg Olsen is the only member of the receiving corps that is keeping Cam Newton sane. Any quarterback that is forced to throw to Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn would have lost their mind by now. Ginn has above average speed but also features feet for hands while the twin towers have some of the worst route running in the NFL. Cam was essentially the only play maker that this offense featured so he was forced to make his own plays. Fear not people, (Former GM) Dave Gettleman has heard Newtons cries for help and has responded accordingly. Gettleman had an excellent draft by taking Christian Mccaffrey in the first round followed by play maker Curtis Samuel. The need for weapons around Cam was clear and the ability for CMC and Samuel to play both RB and WR will move mountains for this offense.
The Panthers ranked last in YAC last year and if you have seen anything from these two rookies, it’s the fact that they are both YAC monsters. If that alone won’t help Cam, Gettleman also drafted Taylor Moton as a utility offensive lineman and many experts around the league saw him as a first round talent. Bringing in Matt Kalil to protect Cam’s blindside as well as the return of Ryan Kalil & Michael Oher and moving pro-bowler Trai Turner back to guard will sure up what will be a much improved offensive line.
Ron Rivera and Cam both know that the style of play has to change in Carolina. Cam has to get the ball out quicker and if that means running a little less, then so be it. This is not going to damage his fantasy value in the slightest, rather it will increase it to the elite production that we have always expected of the QB. His rushing yards may decrease but don’t think for a second that Cam will not hesitate to run it in from the red zone. His passing yards will increase substantially with these new weapons and he will face less 8 man boxes with the new threats on the outside. With the threat of running whenever he feels the need, especially from the red-zone, and the addition of weapons in his arsenal for arguably the first time in his career, the arrow is pointing way up for the Auburn great. I personally have Cam Newton ranked 2nd among dynasty QB’s only behind A-Rod and I think that is his spot to stay.
The Case Against Cam Newton
Finishing as the QB1 in 2015, hopes for Cam Newton were high last year. Seemingly surprisingly, Newton had a disappointing 2016 campaign, finishing as the QB17, the exact same finish as 2014. However, after a deeper analysis, it is clear why Newton took a step back and why positive regression is difficult to foresee. Newton’s 53.1 Quarterback Rating (QBR according to espn.com) puts him below the likes of Brock Osweiler and Colin Kaepernick. Is it realistic to think that a QB that grades as one of the worst in the league in the most commonly accepted QB stat will be elite?
One of Newton’s most important strengths is his ability to rush. Last year, he saw a 50% decrease in rushing TDs, falling from 10 to 5. His injury history has caused the coaching staff to scale back his rushing attempts, when last year he saw a decrease to 90 rushes, the lowest of his career. With repeated appearances on the injury report with back, concussion, and right shoulder injuries, Newton has had various ailments throughout his career. Although he has only missed 3 games in his career, Newton’s injuries have led to a decrease in workload. The coaching staff has turned to the likes of Jonathan Stewart, and now 1st round draft pick Christian McCaffrey to burden the load.
The Deep Ball
Another one of Newton’s strengths is the deep ball. Last year, his main deep ball threat was Ted Ginn Jr. The loss of him to the Saints has left Newton with Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess taking the throne as his main targets, neither of which have excelled at football in general, let alone deep routes. The draft picks of McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel foreshadows the change in culture and offensive philosophy for the Panthers. This combined with the uncertainty of the recent firing of GM Dave Gettleman probes numerous questions about Newton’s future. Given all of these issues, Newton is still coming at a high price of QB7 and #59 overall ADP (according to fantasypros.com). Are you willing to pay this much for an injured QB with a lack of weapons and a shaky front office situation?
*NOTE – This verdict was determined by a third party.
After much deliberation and going through the arguments for and against, I have to rule IN FAVOR of Cam Newton.
Both sides posed great reasons for and against but at the end of the day, Jared makes a strong point about the talent they brought in during the draft and free agency. Had they gone with more defensive help in the early rounds and not addressed the offensive deficiencies, I might not have sided with Jared.
While I don’t personally have Cam as a first round dynasty pick, I’m more than willing to give him a pass for last year and keep him in the top 3-4 dynasty QBs. But be warned Mr. Newton: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, be forever banished to the Ryan Fitzpatrick tier of quarterbacks. I hold serious grudges.