ESPN’s Christopher Harris even claimed, “He shows no evidence of being anywhere close to even average NFL ability. He doesn't see the defense. He doesn't improvise well. He doesn't throw it where he should. It's painfully obvious.”
Cam Newton burst onto the 2011 fantasy football scene as quickly as anyone in the history of fantasy football, scoring over 37 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues in Week 1 (a total of 440 yards passing and rushing plus three touchdowns).
Even after a fantasy points explosion, many still thought it was a fluke. Most just chalked up his big day to the bad Cardinals' secondary.
After Week 1, SB Nation’s David Fucillo said, “If you want to play it safe, Newton is not the guy for you.”
Here are the top five reasons Cam Newton is the best fantasy football player in 2011.
Newton’s average draft position in fantasy drafts was around 175. Some wouldn’t consider being drafted late a fantasy football advantage.
But if your backup quarterback ends up being better than your starting quarterback, it opens up a chance to trade your starter for a running back or receiver.
Quarterbacks with a lead inherently put up less fantasy points than quarterbacks who are trailing in games.
Newton has put up many fantasy points when trailing late in games, after opposing defenses have moved to Prevent formations.
In Newton's entire playing career, he has never had any major injuries.
At 6'5" and 248 pounds, Newton is durable enough to take the same pounding that a running back would. We have even seen him leaping through tacklers at the goal line.
In addition to a top passing game, Newton has run for 266 yards, a similar total to Chis Johnson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Felix Jones and Joseph Addai.
The only difference? Cam has as many touchdowns as these five running backs combined, averaging one per game.
Newton was expected to have some dual threat fantasy value, but I don’t think anyone expected this number of touchdowns.
His scrambling abilities have turned Cam into the No. 1 option for the Panthers on the goal line, and we can expect one or two sack-escaping scrambles for 15-20 yards per game.
The main reason Cam Newton has done so well this year is Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
The man took Derek Anderson and made him a Pro Bowler with Cleveland several years ago. What he's done so far, taking Carolina's offense from dead last to a top five offense, should make him the Coach of the Year.
He wasn’t afraid to unleash Newton’s talents and has been willing to run plays you rarely see at the NFL level, such as the run option.
His unwillingness to just plug Newton into a standard pro-style offense has been Newton’s greatest asset this year.
And he still trusts Cam to throw downfield, with Cam having the most 20+-yard pass completions.
Because of these five factors, Newton has been the best fantasy player this year and most certainly won’t be overlooked next season.