5 Reasons Why Cam Newton Will Still Be a Stud Fantasy QB in 2014
The 2014 offseason has not been kind to Cam Newton's perceived fantasy value.
Despite finishing 2013 as the fourth-best fantasy quarterback, Newton's popularity within the fantasy football community has dipped considerably compared to where he was at this time last year. His ADP hovers well within Round 7, while Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard of CBS Sports have him ranked 13th and 15th, respectively, among QBs.
ESPN continues to recognize his value as a top-five QB, primarily because he could threaten triple-digit fantasy points as a rusher alone.
But the prevailing narrative is that he's not a guy you want, because of the offense around him and the lack of weapons at his disposal.
While it's true that his receiving core looks bad, there are reasons to believe that he's every bit as valuable as he was at this time last season.
5. Jerricho Cotchery Is a Serviceable No. 2
A lot of people don't realize that Jerricho Cotchery hauled in 10 touchdowns in 2013, tying for seventh best in the NFL in that department. Where he underwhelmed from a fantasy perspective was yardage (602), and vertical receptions (19.9 yards per reception), neither being a strong suit.
But he still has the potential to score and help keep Newton productive in the short game and the red zone.
Furthermore, he outperformed Steve Smith in fantasy point totals last year by 19 and had six more touchdown receptions.
4. Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell Weren't Big Losses
There was a time when Steve Smith was the go-to guy for the Carolina Panthers. But losing him after a lackluster performance in 2013 was not significant, especially when you consider he turned 35 in May.
Brandon LaFell, despite being a consistent option for Newton, has made a career out of unspectacular statistics.
When the Panthers let those two players go, there was hardly a single recognizable name at wide receiver on their depth chart, causing many to doubt Newton's fantasy value in the passing game.
But as we've already seen, their current No. 2 (Cotchery) is a statistical upgrade over Smith.
If we assume that Kelvin Benjamin (or even Jason Avant) can post better numbers than LaFell (86 fantasy points), then Carolina has in reality upgraded its receiving corps.
3. Value and Upside
What really benefits a fantasy owner is when they can combine good value (a lower ADP) with a lot of upside. With so many people down on Newton and his ADP trending in the seventh round, he has the potential to be an absolute steal for someone who is willing to draft him there.
That's a spot where you can afford to take some risk, especially when the risk posed by Newton—who has been incredibly consistent throughout his career—isn't much higher than it was last year.
2. Rushing Attack
In 2013, Newton led the NFL in all rushing categories among QBs, and he did it on a hobbled ankle.
Despite having surgery on that ankle during the offseason, the general consensus is that he's better off as a result. Christopher Harris of ESPN.com said about Newton's offense:
First, let's dispense with the surgery concerns: Everything I've read (including this article from ESPN's own Stephania Bell) indicates, if anything, that Newton's mobility should be improved after this operation.
If we can reasonably assume that Newton's mobility and the Carolina running game is going to remain consistent, that alone is reason enough to rank him higher and to draft accordingly.
In fact, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are all back for 2014, adding further to the consistency argument about the Panthers' running game.
Considering Newton's past statistical performances, you could also deduct that he's due for an increase in rushing touchdowns, having scored 14 in 2011 and eight in 2012. With a less familiar receiving core, those rushing scores could come in 2014 and balance out whatever points he might lose in the passing game.
1. Consistency and a Steller Track Record
Though Newton isn't yet the record-breaking quarterback of the Peyton Manning and Tom Brady variety, his first three years in the league have been notably consistent. If you get any week-to-week consistency from a seventh-round pick, odds are that your fantasy team will be fairly well off.
So his statistical track record is encouraging, especially when you consider he's had an unimpressive offensive cast for most of his career.
Still a Tremendous Value
One year of tepid speculation doesn't change his game, make him a bad player or make him a questionable pick.
From all reasonable metrics and analysis, he still brings a tremendous amount of upside and value to your fantasy team.
If he's sitting there in Round 7 and you need a quarterback, take him.