Don't Let Cam Newton Slide Too Far in Fantasy Draft

Adam SpencerCorrespondent IAugust 16, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium on August 13, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton didn't contribute to the scoring in the Panthers' 20-10 win over the New York Giants in Week 1 of the preseason.

But, there were some encouraging signs in his NFL debut.

Newton went 8-for-19 for 134 yards on Saturday night.

He didn't throw any touchdowns, but he didn't throw any interceptions either.

He also got the most playing time of the Panthers' three QBs.

Second-year QB Jimmy Clausen didn't look great, going 4-for-7 through the air for 69 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Interceptions are a problem with Clausen, so as long as Newton can avoid them, he should be able to win the Week 1 starter job.

Derek Anderson is the other Carolina QB, but we've seen what he can (or can't) do on a football field.

If Anderson is the starter, wide receiver Steve Smith might just walk off the field in protest. He saw what happened when Anderson worked with Larry Fitzgerald last season.

So, if Newton manages to keep improving this preseason, there's no reason he shouldn't be under center when the Panthers start their 2011 campaign.

After all, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, Sam Bradford, played every game for the St. Louis Rams and led them to within a win of the playoffs.

Bradford threw for more than 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns to go with 15 interceptions.

It was a great rookie season for the young QB.

If Newton continues to improve this season, he could reach that level.

He could also possibly exceed it, since he has the foot speed that Bradford can only dream about.

It'd be nice to see Newton try a couple runs this preseason (he didn't rush at all on Saturday) to show what he can do in that regard.

He ran for nearly 1,500 yards at Auburn in 2010 and added 20 rushing touchdowns. Those kind of numbers are hard to put up anywhere, let alone in the SEC. The SEC is the toughest conference in college football, and Newton made it look like a joke.

Just imagine what he can do in the NFL once he figures out how to adjust his game to the new level.

If you need a backup QB in your fantasy football league, you should take a long, hard look at Newton, who has the potential to match Bradford's rookie season and add some rushing stats as well.

He has a good chance of winning the Carolina starting job, and if he does, he'll throw and run for plenty of touchdowns, making him a viable fantasy option.