MIKE MCCARN/Associated Press
Player: Cam Newton
Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ankle surgery kept quarterback Cam Newton out for most of the offseason. He was obviously rusty when he finally got into preseason work—particularly noticeable because his practice time with an entirely new wide receiver corps was stunted—only to be knocked out early with fractured ribs.
His sore ribs are threatening to keep Newton out of his Week 1 tilt with the division foe Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He only practiced for the first time on Thursday, in limited fashion, and it may be too little, too late to trust him.
Head coach Ron Rivera was cautiously optimistic Newton would start on Sunday, but the quarterback is heading into the weekend as a game-time decision. Given he plays in a late afternoon game, that status should almost automatically disqualify him from your starting lineup.
Why risk a big fat zero at quarterback if you have a viable alternative?
Even if you are convinced he will start, his outlook is bleak for Week 1. The Buccaneers have a good defense—at least on paper after a strong offseason—and they are at home. To throw more dirt on his Week 1 grave, the over-under for the game is 39, an ugly number for fantasy scoring hopes.
Not to mention he is coming back from cracked ribs, which could mean far less running than we are used to seeing from Newton.
Unless you are stuck with EJ Manuel or Derek Carr as a backup—bottom-of-the-barrel guys—it's much safer to start someone else.
Fantasy Prediction: 20-of-33, 230 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 25 rushing yards, 0 rushing TD
Final Verdict: Newton looked shaky throughout the preseason, and he may not even play this week because of injury. Steer clear from him if you can.