Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Saying that Cam Newton has disappointed fantasy owners thus far in 2012 is like saying Jonathan Vilma is not a fan of Roger Goodell.
Completely understating a fact that everyone knows to be true. While 22.5 fantasy points per game seems OK on the surface, Newton's production has come in an inconsistent and unpredictable manner.
Could it be a sophomore slump?
As a rookie in 2011, Newton came into Week 7 with a newly-blazed NFL track record that looked like this:
Week 1 at Arizona Cardinals: 36.9 points
Week 2 vs. Green Bay Packers: 36.9 points
Week 3 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: 14.6 points
Week 4 at Chicago Bears: 38.2 points
Week 5 vs. New Orleans Saints: 27.9 points
Week 6 at Atlanta Falcons: 22.6 points
Averaging just under 30 fantasy points per game in standard leagues, Newton would go on in Week 7 to put up a 28.7 pointer in a win against the Washington Redskins.
This is Week 7 of 2012, however, and Newton faces another NFC East opponent under decidedly different circumstances:
Week 1 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 19.6 points
Week 2 vs. New Orleans Saints: 29.8 points
Week 3 at New York Giants: 18.7 points
Week 4 at Atlanta Falcons: 33.4 points
Week 5 vs. Seattle Seahawks: 11.3 points
Newton comes into Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys (my fifth-toughest matchup for opposing QBs) averaging over seven fantasy points less per-game than he racked up in his rookie campaign.
Seven points doesn't seem like much until you ask the typical Cam Newton owner how many weeks they have lost to their opposition by 6.9 points or less. It's no fun.
Football is a game of inches and fantasy football is a game of decimal points.
If you own Newton, you will, of course, be rolling with him. The Panthers are coming off a bye week, and I would love to optimistically think that the additional focus to detail and the recent ribbing from Steve Smith regarding Newton's sideline-towel-pouting may awaken the fantasy monster we came to know in 2011.
The pessimist in me says that these are the Cowboys and they are playing the QB incredibly tough right now. Anything can happen any Sunday, but downgrade your expectations (again) for Newton this week.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
I'm not sure that fantasy owners of Matt Stafford would consider him a "star" at this point, but the fact remains that he was drafted in fantasy leagues as an elite QB option for 2012.
Stafford is a 5000-yard-caliber NFL quarterback, and he was 2011's biggest success story as voted by my fellow members of the Pro Football Writers of America. What Stafford has been in 2012 is inconsistent and a liability. Both in fantasy football and in the National Football League.
For the life of me, I can't figure out the new side-armed motion that Stafford has adopted as a predominant part of his delivery, even when he has a clean pocket.
Contrary to popular belief, there have been times this season where Matt Stafford has not been under duress caused by his porous offensive line. He has had the opportunity to make "Matt Stafford throws." Throws to Calvin Johnson which lead to sailing displays of aerial dominance from the sticky-handed Megatron.
Stafford just hasn't made those throws. For some reason, Matt Stafford seems to be digressing as an NFL quarterback. Stafford seems like he would rather throw to Nate Burleson or let his perfectly placed pass bounce off of Brandon Pettigrew's numbers than look for Megatron.
Calvin Johnson has only scored one touchdown through five games, and that is simply unacceptable. Things don't get easier in Week 7 as the Lions travel to Soldier Field to face 2012's version of the Chicago "Monsters of the Midway," boasting their old-school base Cover-2 defense that everyone knows is coming but can't seem to penetrate.
The Bears are currently my second-worst matchup for opposing fantasy QBs.
Matt Stafford will bounce back. Just not this week. Hopefully, when his run occurs, your fantasy run will still be alive.