Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took the National Football League by storm last season, and despite talk of a sophomore slump, his electrifying talents will raise him to the level of elite fantasy football quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
If you were one of the lucky ones that acquired Newton last season either through the draft or waivers, kudos—because Newton offered an incredible windfall in terms of fantasy value. Getting an elite quarterback off waivers is the kind of thing that tends to win league championships.
Fantasy owners knew that Newton would excel as a runner right away in the NFL, but few had any idea how truly accomplished he is as a passer.
Unfortunately, Newton will not be so easily attainable this season and will likely be one of the most targeted players in fantasy football. Some may have doubts about his capabilities due to the term "sophomore slump" being bandied about frequently in reference to him.
Asking whether or not the former Heisman winner can sustain his production levels from year one to year two is a valid question. However, nothing suggests Newton's numbers will decrease anyway.
For starters, Newton has a huge advantage over most quarterbacks in terms of fantasy production, simply because he does so much with his feet, as evidenced by the 709 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns (second in the NFL only to Eagles RB LeSean McCoy) he compiled last season.
As a passer, Newton was equally impressive, completing 60 percent of his passes for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
One area in which the former Auburn standout could use improvement is touchdown passes, as he averaged just 1.31 per game last season—a number that should increase in 2012 with a full offseason.
The great thing about Newton is that if he doesn't get fantasy points with his arm, he gets them with his feet.
In 2011, he proved to be incredibly consistent at this, rushing for at least 50 yards in eight games and scoring at least one rushing touchdown in 10 others, which means he ran for 50 yards and scored a touchdown 50 percent of the time last season.
Taking that into account, plus the fact that Newton was held under 200 yards passing just three times in his rookie campaign, reveals how hard it will be for defensive coordinators to find ways to slow him down. But if worst comes to worst, Newton will simply tuck it and run—something he does as well as any quarterback in the history of fantasy football.
The consistency Newton showed last season as well as the many ways he can accumulate fantasy points makes talk of a sophomore slump ill-conceived.
Do not hesitate to use a high pick on Newton in 2012, because with the value he brings as both a passer and runner, he is as close to a can't-miss prospect as fantasy footballers can get.